New Zealand Century Farms and Station Awards Dinner

Kia ora koutou. Thank you for your warm welcome. It’s my pleasure to be here in Lawrence to present tonight’s New Zealand Century Farm and Station Awards.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of the awards committee. The committee has put in a lot of effort to bring us this event.

The awards are a chance to acknowledge the significant contribution of generations of New Zealand farming families to our primary sector, our rural communities, and
New Zealand’s development and prosperity.

I’d also like to thank the sponsors and supporters for your contribution towards the awards. Without your generosity, tonight’s event would not have been possible.

I would also like to give my very special thanks to the families receiving the awards in person tonight. Thank you for taking time away from the farm and for travelling here from different parts of the country.

All of you here tonight now share a special bond. I hope that over this event, you can establish new relationships and networks across the ever-growing Century Farm and Station Awards family.

Your families, the agricultural families of this country, have long played an important role in the development of our vibrant economy, in which agriculture is an ingrained part.

Not only were you integral in shaping New Zealand as it is today, you were part of the effort that shaped the country as we know it: New Zealand’s agricultural contribution in the early 1900s was worth $18 billion in today’s money. Through your hard work this has grown to an expected export revenue in the year to 30 June 2023 of $55 billion.

Along the way, you’ve all weathered a few storms, both in literal terms and economic. But, New Zealand’s prowess in trading its agricultural products has gone from strength to strength. We are recognised as leaders in supplying high quality products to the world. We are also one of the world’s largest exporters of dairy products and sheep meat.

You are, to this day, the core of the country’s economic engine. In the year to 30 June 2022, the food and fibre sector accounted for 81 percent of New Zealand’s merchandise exports, 11 percent of New Zealand’s GDP, and represented 13 percent of the total workforce.

Farming is such a huge part of this country – where it has come from, where it is now, and where it will go in the future.

Our early farming families faced many challenges. The land was raw and wild, and they dedicated their lives to transforming it to make their living.

It’s said that farming runs in the blood – and I think there’s a lot of truth in that. That your family farm is still your family farm after 100, or perhaps now 150 years suggests that it’s a way of life that continues to draw you in – year after year.

Had your ancestors not been as dedicated, hardworking, and innovative as they were, and were you not similarly resilient, we would not be here tonight celebrating the multigenerational family farm.

Over the generations, both our land and our agricultural practices have continuously transformed and evolved to the point where primary production is a huge part of our economy.

We have come a long way since your ancestors first started farming the land. As a nation, we owe much to you, our farming families.

I’d like to speak about your families, those who showcase successful farm succession over multiple generations.

Your families have owned and operated your farms since the 19th century, and they will have lived through both tough times and good times.

As many of you will know, growing up on a farm can give you a tonne of great experiences along with opportunities to learn new life-long skills.

You get to experience the outdoors, be part of close-knit communities and get up every day knowing that your work is providing vital food and fibre to people across Aotearoa, and millions more around the world.

I believe that your successful stories will inspire other farming families across
New Zealand to develop early and effective succession planning, recognising the integral link between livelihood and family.

The recent COVID-19 pandemic created some of the toughest challenges in our food and fibre sector’s history.

However, the sector, including your families, have navigated these challenges admirably.

And you are all playing a vital role in the recovery of our economy, focusing on sustainability, productivity, and inclusiveness – these are the fundamental hallmarks of the Government and sector’s Fit for a Better World 10-year roadmap, launched in 2020 to help drive Aotearoa’s economic recovery from the pandemic.

Finally, I want again to acknowledge everything that you do for your communities and for Aotearoa, including the successes of your families achieved over the last 100 to 150 years on the land.

I look forward to learning more about the heritage and journey that has brought each family here tonight.

Enjoy the rest of the evening and I can’t wait to hear about all of the amazing families here tonight.