Finalist Judges L-R: Sam Johnson, Rob Davison, Competition Kaumatua Abe Seymour, Chief Judge Dana Blackburn, Dr Gavin Sheath
Dana Blackburn – Chief Judge (Ngāti Rangi, Atihaunui a Pāpārangi, Tūwharetoa) farms an 800 hectare semi intensive sheep and beef unit at Karioi, Ohakune, a property initially developed on family and ancestral land. He is the immediate past Chair of the Atihau Whanganui Incorporation (AWI) which won the Ahuwhenua Trophy in 2007. Under his Chairmanship the AWI group increased its net farm income by more than $2M in the last financial year. This is Dana’s second stint as Chief Judge of the Ahuwhenua Trophy competition.
Rob Davison has been head of the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Economic Service since 1989. His early working life was spent working on farms but he has spent most of the last 40 years working in the fields of agricultural economics and policy, and farm sector output forecasting. The Economic Service’s Survey of sheep and beef farms regularly gathers data on livestock, production, revenue, expenditure and the financial structure of farms.
Dr Gavin Sheath is an agricultural systems consultant with extensive international and domestic experience as a scientist and businessman. Dr Sheath has spent over 40 years with AgResearch in various senior management roles. Most recently he has provided strategic planning services to Māori agribusinesses, Deer Industry NZ, and DairyNZ. He has participated in technical reviews for the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Waikato River Authority and has worked in both the private and public sectors, in Japan, Mongolia and South America.
Sam Johnson joined BNZ as an Agribusiness Manager and Sales Manager in 1993. As one of BNZ’s Managing Partners, Sam leads the Northland team of agribusiness, commercial and private banking partners. Along with his wife he manages 30 heifers on their 10 hectare block at Kamo, outside of Whangarei.
Abe Seymour is the competition kaumātua and supported both the first round and finalist judges on all of their visits. Abe Seymour is of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Kahungunu and Atihaunui a Pāpārangi extraction and is currently a Strategic Contractor providing advice to a number of organisations including Primary ITO. He is a stakeholder in a number of trusts in and around the Central North Island and from time to time provides advice in those areas. He has also sat on a number of boards and directorships for Māori and is heavily involved and a strong advocate in training programmes for young Māori who are likely to be tomorrow’s leaders. He is also involved in tertiary programmes, programme design and delivery with the Waiariki Polytechnic among others.
Lead Judge Chad Hoggard has worked with BNZ as an Agribusiness Partner for nearly 8 years, firstly in Tauranga and then in Rotorua. He has been BNZ’s Senior Partner for Rotorua and Whakatane for 18 months, managing an 18 strong team of bankers and support staff. Chad, who has a farming background, has a Bachelor of Applied Science majoring in Valuation and Farm Management from Massey University and has worked has a fertiliser consultant. He is currently a shareholder and director of a Manawatu based farming company.
Peter MacGregor (Ngāti Kahungunu; Atihaunui a Pāpārangi; Ngāti Raukawa; Maniapoto, Rangitane, Ngāti Apa and Ngāti Paoa) is AgITO’s Strategic Relationships Manager. He has been energetically promoting the benefits of the reinvigorated competition at Field Days and to farm workers and employers since AgITO became a bronze sponsor in 2005. Peter has previously held a variety of positions in the Housing, Education and Training and Land Development divisions of the former Department of Māori Affairs and several other positions with Te Puni Kōkiri.
As Beef+Lamb New Zealand’s Uptake Manager, Gary Walton has spent the last two years developing and delivering extension programmes such as the Demonstration Farm Project, Farming for Profit and the Profit Partnership. He has been heavily involved with building tools and service for farmers such as the lambing calculator and on farm workshops like Feedsmart and Farming the Wild Weather. Gary has worked with Beef + Lamb New Zealand and its predecessors, in a variety of roles, mainly in the Northern South Island Regional Manager of the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Economic Service. Based in Christchurch, Gary has a strong background in farm management and analysis, and has been a registered farm management consultant for over 20 years.
Peter Ettema has worked for the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and its predecessors since 2005. His current role is as an acting manager for a five person team within the Sector Policy Directorate at MPI. Peter has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science and a Masters of Environmental Management. He has worked in the agricultural sector both in New Zealand and overseas as well as maintaining strong rural links through previous roles at the Department of Conservation and as the Wellington representative for the QEII National Trust.