27 June 2011
Southland farmers and QEII covenantors Grant and Bernadette Weller are the first holders of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy after being named National winners of the 2011 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
Their win was announced at the New Zealand Farm Environment Award (NZFEA) Trust’s Sustainability showcase event held in Hastings on June 25.
The announcement was greeted with thunderous applause from around 300 guests who attended the gala function.
The Wellers, who farm an 890ha (850ha effective) sheep and beef farm in the Waimea were chosen from the nine regional Supreme winners of the 2011 Ballance Farm Environment Awards. This is the first time a national winner has been named in the competition.
Sir Brian Lochore, Chair of the QEII National Trust, presented the award. He said the Wellers were a true inspiration and proof that profitable farming and conservation initiatives can be successfully integrated.
NZFEA chairman Jim Cotman says the initiative has captured an enormous amount of interest, much to the delight of competition supporters.
Mr Cotman says the Wellers will be great ambassadors for New Zealand agriculture.
“They are successful business people and strong communicators who will be able to effectively convey their sustainable farming beliefs and actions to a wide audience within New Zealand and beyond.”
The Gordon Stephenson Trophy will be presented annually at the Sustainability Showcase – an event that salutes people who are farming in a manner that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.
The Gordon Stephenson Trophy is named after the Waotu farmer who started the Farm Environment Awards. He was also a key instigator in the establishment of the QEII National Trust and has lent his time and skills to many community and farming organisations, including Federated Farmers. Gordon Stephenson was the first person in New Zealand to covenant land with the QEII National Trust.
The Wellers' farm has three areas covenanted under QEII protecting 20 ha of native bush on their 890 ha property. The broadleaf dominated forested areas protected by their covenant blocks contain a number of threatened species and are the only known site of the nationally vulnerable native miniature buttercup (Ranunculus ternatifolius) in Hokonui. The presence of miniature toetoe and mountain ribbonwood is also unusual for Southland covenants.
The QEII Trust were one of the sponsors of the inaugural Gordon Stephenson Trophy award package and are a partners with the New Zealand Farm Environment Awards Trust which operates the Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
For more information:
Anne McLean, QEII communications advisor, 04 474 1680.