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BFEA Canterbury Regional Awards

A diverse, multi-generational farming operation sees the Guild and Dunbar families of High Peak Station take out the Regional Supreme Award at the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

High Peak Station has traditional farm roots, however it has diversified in recent years to include a wide range of income streams to add value to the farming operation.

The 3,760ha (3,450ha effective) property is managed by an eight-way partnership that runs four different businesses. The partnership is comprised of the Guilds – James, Anna, Hamish, Gemma, Simon and Kate – and Amelia and Tom Dunbar.

The judges noted that strategic planning, spanning multiple generations, has not only enhanced the core business but has also resulted in successful diversification. There’s a strong focus on adding value to all the enterprises, with the team striving toward high-end products and experiences. Almost half of High Peak Station’s income is derived from tourism, with the remainder split between sheep, cattle, deer and honey.

James and Anna have been at the property since 1973. Their children Simon, Hamish and Amelia became actively involved in the business 30 years later. Today, the four separate entities all share synergies – enhancing the overall success of the business.

Each family member brings different strengths to the table which has ensured a sustainable and robust business. The judges were particularly impressed with James’s forward-looking approach to regulation, and Hamish’s vast knowledge of the property’s soil, topography and how winter grazing is managed.

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Protecting and enhancing the environment is another priority. Natural wetlands, QEII National Trust covenant areas, and riparian corridors are all well protected – creating an environment that is rich with biodiversity.

In awarding the Regional Supreme Award, the judges noted that High Peak Station is one of the most diverse high-country businesses they have encountered, with the Guild and Dunbar families being true guardians of the land who champion environmental stewardship and advocate for sustainable farming practices.

The Guild and Dunbar Families also won the following awards:

  • Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award
  • Rabobank Agri-Business Management Award
  • NZFET Biodiversity Award
  • NZFET Climate Recognition Award
  • Environment Canterbury Water Quality Award

Other Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Award winners include:

John Wright & Richard Green — Wainono Dairy, Fairlie

  • Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award
  • DairyNZ Sustainability and Stewardship Award

Andrew and Peter Gilchrist — Gilchrist Brothers, Swannanoa

  • Hill Laboratories Agri-Science Award
  • Norwood Farming Efficiency Award
  • NZFET Innovation Award

Sam & Jo Spencer-Bower — Claxby Estate, Swannanoa

  • Bayleys People in Primary Sector Award

The Ballance Farm Environment Awards are run by the NZ Farm Environment Trust and champion sustainable farming and growing. The Supreme Winner from each of the eleven regions involved in the awards will go through to be considered for the Gordon Stephenson Trophy at the Trust’s National Showcase in Hamilton in June. The recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy then become 2024’s National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing.

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