Primary Industries Good Employer Awards

Media Release from MPI:

Entries are open for the 2021 Primary Industries Good Employer Awards, says Ministry for Primary Industries’ director of investment, skills and performance, Cheyne Gillooly.

The awards, run by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust (AGMARDT), celebrate primary sector employers who demonstrate exceptional employment practices.

“The Primary Industries Good Employer Awards provide the opportunity to recognise and celebrate outstanding employers who put their staff at the heart of their operations,” says Mr Gillooly.

“We’re on the lookout for employers who go above and beyond by creating productive, safe, supportive, and healthy work environments for their people.”

“2020 was a difficult year for many employers and employees, and this is an opportunity to celebrate the extensive work executed by so many people to keep businesses going.”

The awards are open to all food and fibres sector employers and the businesses that service them. Entries open today and close at 5pm on 5 February 2021.

Mr Gillooly says good employers are key to attracting, developing, and retaining the skills New Zealand’s food and fibres sector needs now, and in the future.

“Our Fit for a Better World – Accelerating our Economic Potential Roadmap sets goals of employing 10 percent more Kiwis from all walks of life in the primary sector by 2030, and 10,000 more New Zealanders in the primary sector workforce over the next 4 years.

“It also sets the goal of lifting the value of our food and fibre exports by an additional $44 billion over the next 10 years.

“Our food and fibre products continue to be sought by consumers around the world, and we need to ensure New Zealand has the right workforce to meet this demand.

“Employers play a critical role in showing that the food and fibres sector is a great place to work, and where people can build long-term, rewarding careers.

“The awards are a great way to showcase employers who are creating workplaces that put people first. Having the right environment to nurture and develop workers is critical to the future of our food and fibres sector.”

Additional information

The objectives of the awards are to:

  • highlight good employers and good employment practices across all primary industries
  • provide an incentive to employers in the primary industries to strive for good practice
  • change perceptions about employers in the primary industries.

The awards are open to all food and fibre sector employers and the businesses that provide services to the sector.

There are 4 award categories:

  • Employee Development
  • Safe and Healthy Work Environment
  • Māori Agribusiness
  • The Supreme Award, presented by the Minister of Agriculture.

The Supreme Award recognises regional employers that have invested in improving employment conditions in their region with a focus on promoting diversity within their workplaces.

AGMARDT 2019/20 Annual Report


We are pleased to present the AGMARDT Annual Report for 2019/2020. Without a doubt it has been a year of unprecedented challenge and disruption due to COVID-19.

That said, the global impact of COVID has also shown us just how important agribusiness is to New Zealand’s economy and the health and wellbeing of our communities. And during the year, amidst the turmoil, AGMARDT successfully undertook a strategy review resulting in a new future focused strategy with a clear purpose of ‘igniting a better future for food and fibres in Aotearoa New Zealand’.  This lays the foundations for an exciting year ahead.

COVID obviously impacted some of our grant recipients, and while some projects were not able to endure, through extending milestones and timeframes, the majority were able to continue with the likelihood of delivering positive outcomes.

Meanwhile, we approved $3.6 million in grant funding during the year – a pleasing result given the unprecedented nature of the year, and a step up from $3.1 million in the previous year. Agribusiness innovation grants remain the leading grant type at 55% of grant expenditure.

During the year we also worked on development of a new initiative designed to spur innovation in areas of priority and catalyse a unified and collaborative sector, the Food & Fibres Aotearoa New Zealand Challenge.

And last but definitely not least – in this we showcase some of our fantastic grant recipients, telling the stories of who they are and what they are achieving, from taking engineered socks into the global market and turning wool fibre into filter media to supporting emerging leaders to build their capability through global immersion programmes.

Read our annual report here.

On Farm Story – Mount Albert Grammar School

Just a 10-minute drive from Auckland’s bustling Queen Street lies a farm where our future farmers are being taught. Sonita Chandar (Farmers Weekly) reports.

AGMARDT sponsored this On Farm Story as well as also sponsoring Peter Brice from ASB MAGS Farm at Mount Albert Grammar School.

For more information please go to the full article where there is also a link to the video:

AGMARDT’s response to COVID-19

These are challenging and unprecedented times, but such disruption can also be the trigger for new and exciting opportunities that drive innovation, pursue transformational ideas and foster collaboration throughout the value chain.
AGMARDT is observing the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 and all staff are working from home. However, it is business as usual and although we are working remotely, we are well positioned and committed to providing a seamless service for both new applications and existing grant recipients.
Having difficulty meeting your current grant milestones? Perhaps your application requires changes to accommodate the current restrictions due to COVID-19? Please contact us by email ( we are here to help.
We understand that we are all adjusting to new working environments and we encourage everyone to stay safe in the workplace and at home.

AGMARDT Adds Two More Strings to its Bow with Newly Appointed Trustees


The Agricultural and Marketing Research Development Trust, better known as AGMARDT, has announced the appointments of Nick Pyke and Miriana Stephens as Trustees, following the recent retirements of former Chair, Tony Egan and Trustee, Sarah von Dadelszen.

Nick Pyke is a Founder and Director of complimentary rural businesses – Ag Innovate Ltd and Leftfield Innovation Ltd.

A former CEO for the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR), Nick has also worked as a scientist for various Agricultural organisations and held a number of governance and advisory positions across agricultural businesses, farms, industry good and sport organisations.

He says he is thrilled with his appointment and looks forward to being part of an organisation that delivers so much value to New Zealand Agribusiness.

Miriana Stephens has held various governance roles, including 11 years as Director on the board of Wakatū Incorporation – a Nelson based business with around 4,000 shareholders and a $300 million asset base.

She holds a Law Degree, majoring in Commercial Law as well as a Bachelor of Arts in New Zealand History.

Miriana is ready to hit the ground running as part of the AGMARDT team, saying with the many incredible things already happening in the sector the future is really bright.

“The limelight is well and truly on Agriculture these days, so it’s vital the industry continues to move forward and innovate. The key, and where I believe we come in, is in ensuring we support and equip our emerging leaders and innovation ideas so they can reach their potential and futureproof NZ Agribusiness for tomorrow’s world.”

Newly appointed Chair, Richard Green, is delighted with the new appointments, saying their combined skills and experience will bring a lot to the table.

He also acknowledged the contributions of retiring Chair, Tony Egan, and retiring Trustee, Sarah von Dadelszen had made to the Trust and thanked them for their six years of outstanding service.

The full team of Trustees is now Richard Green, Justine Gilliland, Nick Pyke and Miriana Stephens. Over the past 32 years AGMARDT has given out grants in excess of $90 million to over 1,600 applicants.

2019 Young Horticulturist Announced

Simon Gourley of Domaine Thomson Wines is the 2019 Young Horticulturist of the Year.


From Central Otago, Simon (28) represented the NZ Winegrowers sector at the competition, which celebrates excellence in people aged under 30, employed in the horticulture industry.

It’s the second consecutive year the Young Horticulturist (Kaiahuone rangatahi o te tau) title has been won by a viticulturist. Last year’s winner was Annabel Bulk, who is also from Central Otago. The winners were announced at a gala dinner in Auckland last night.

In second place was Rico Mannall, of Christchurch, representing the NZ Plant Producers sector; with Jono Sutton taking third place honours. Jono, from Nelson, was representing the Horticulture NZ sector.

Speaking immediately after the winning announcement, Simon said he felt privileged to be involved in the Young Horticulturist competition and to represent the wine industry. The last few months had been very busy in preparation.

“It was hard work and strong competition to get to this point. But I’m feeling pretty good now and definitely happy the award has gone to Central Otago for the second year in a row.”

Simon will now head to Blenheim for the NZ Wine Awards, then back to his family on Sunday, before returning to work on Monday. He suspects a special celebratory bottle of wine could be consumed somewhere along that journey.

Simon receives not only the winner’s trophy but also $7,500 from Fruitfed supplies in travel and accommodation; $1,000 from ICL Specialty Fertilisers; one-year membership to the NZ Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science; and a selection of Aorangi merchant pruning tools.

The 2019 Young Horticulturist award winner studied a Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenoloy at Lincoln University. He has worked at Two Paddocks as Assistant Vineyard Manager, Central Otago Wine Company as Assistant Winemaker and Domaine Thomson Wines – where he has been for the past 18 months – as viticulturist. He also did a small stint as a vineyard hand in Australia for Treasury Wines.

Simon went to school in Invercargill and now lives in Clyde.

AGMARDT General Manager Malcolm Nitschke says AGMARDT recognises the Young Horticulturist competition truly reflects the diversity of the industry with competing representatives from various sectors.

“AGMARDT is proud to be a significant sponsor of this event, which is a great way to demonstrate to the wider public that there are opportunities for employment and career growth within the horticultural sectors.”

The Young Horticulturist Competition is in its 15th year and remains a rigorous competition that attracts impressive young people from the wider horticultural industry, says the competition’s chairperson Elle Anderson. “It provides an opportunity for personal and professional growth for these exemplary young leaders who will inspire the industry and others to ensure our horticultural industry stays ahead of the world with innovations.”

It’s an important event for the primary sectors of NZ, she says.

For more information and other prize winners please go to:

Congratulations to the AWDT 2019 Escalator Graduates

Leadership and governance development of women involved in the primary sector was celebrated on 14th November as the Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) marked another successful graduation from its Escalator programme.



Justine Gilliland, AGMARDT Trustee attended the celebrations and took the opportunity to get a photo with our two scholarship recipients, Tracy Benge and Jan Early.






The 10-month Escalator programme provides leadership and governance development to women each year. It takes a wide approach to development, providing women with skills and support, and addresses the real barriers women can face when engaging in decision-making. Participants have come from across the primary industries. The programme is supported by AGMARDT, ANZ, Beef + Lamb, DairyNZ, MPI, CRS Software, Farmers Weekly NZ, KPMG NZ Farming Business.

Nuffield Scholars 2020 Announced

Five prestigious Nuffield New Zealand Scholarships have been announced for 2020. The scholars were announced on Tuesday 5th November at parliament by by Hon Stuart Nash, Minister of Police, Fisheries, Revenue, and Small Business.


About Nuffield Farming Scholarships

Nuffield Farming Scholarships have been offered to innovative New Zealand farmers since 1950. They were first established in the UK by Lord Nuffield to create an opportunity for farmers to explore best agricultural practice around the world and facilitate innovation in the sector through travel and networking.

The programme has since grown both in New Zealand and internationally, building up a 150-strong network of scholars nationally, and more than 1,600 alumni internationally.

For more information please go to:

The 2020 Nuffield NZ Scholars are:

Tracy Brown

Tracy Brown is a Shareholder/Director of Tiroroa Farms Ltd a 700 cow dairy farm near Matamata in the Waikato, began her career as an agricultural  economist in the sheep and beef sector. A multi environmental award winner, she has been leading environmental change for dairy for almost a decade. Chair of the DairyNZ Dairy Environment Leaders Forum and the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, Tracy is also a member of the Dairy Environment Leadership Group (DELG) which oversees the Water Accord and has recently been appointed by Cabinet to the Essential Freshwater Independent Advisory Panel.

As a Nuffield scholar Tracey is keen to understand more around what policies, mechanisms and processes have been successful in other countries and other industries around the world to create positive environmental change at pace and scale while balancing economic, social and cultural outcomes for communities.

Shannon Harnett

Growing up on a sheep & beef farm in the Hawkes Bay, Shannon Harnett graduated at Massey with a BBS in Accounting and Management and holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Agri Commerce. She has experience in several start-up horticultural businesses, dealing with PVR varieties. An investor in agriculture, horticulture and aquaculture businesses, Shannon is truly passionate about the New Zealand primary sector.

Shannon is a Chartered Accountant and director and co-owner of Rural Accountants, a progressive accounting firm in Whakatane. She is a Chartered Member of the Institute of Directors and holds directorships in several agricultural and horticultural businesses.

As a Nuffield scholar, Shannon intends to research how PVRs provide growers the opportunity to successfully develop new business internationally, citing G3 kiwifruit, Rockit Apple and hops as examples.

Phil Weir

Phil Weir is the co-owner of a 240ha dry stock farm in the Waikato. Phil is currently an Agribusiness consultant with AgFirst (Waikato) where he focuses on helping a range of clients consider land use diversification. Phil completed the Kellogg rural leadership programme in 2016 and is a member of the Beef and Lamb Mid Northern North Island Farmer Council.

Before taking up farming Phil worked in environmental science, research and development, commercialisation and intellectual property management. Phil holds a Masters degree in Marine Management from Canada’s Dalhousie University and a Bachelor of Social Science from Waikato University.

As a Nuffield Scholar Phil will wants to explore the NZ primary sector landscape to determine if there are fundamental barriers restricting collaboration, and to consider how NZ primary producers can best work together.

Edward Pinckney

Edward Pinckney is a director and owner of Jericho Station a 12500 SU sheep, beef andgrazing property near Manapouri and Waipango Dairy Ltd a 700 cow dairy farm near Riverton Southland.

Edward graduated from Telford, Walford Agricultural College (UK) and Lincoln University, and then had several roles on properties throughout the South Island. Since 2006 Edward has been involved in his family business firstly managing Morley Creek near Ohai. Then subsequently leasing, family succession and growing through further acquisitions. He developed the business from 6000 SUs to 15000 SUs before selling and purchasing Jericho and Waipango.

He is involved in several agricultural community organisations and as a Nuffield Scholar has a passion to see people enter the agricultural industry and develop their skills and plans to further research opportunities in this topic as part of his scholarship.

Ben McLauchlan

Ben McLauchlan is the owner of a 102 H vineyard and 30 H beef finishing unit in Rapaura, Marlborough. Growing up in Marlborough during a time of huge development for the NZ wine industry fostered Ben’s interest in viticulture, leading to him completing a Commerce Degree, followed by post graduate studies in Viticulture and Oenology. After 20 years of working in the wine industry internationally, in sales and marketing roles, Ben moved back to
Marlborough with his family and is now running the family farm. Ben is currently Deputy Chair of Marlborough Grape Growers Cooperative and Chair of Rapaura School Board of Trustee’s.

As a Nuffield Scholar Ben’s focus is to enhance the sustainability of Viticulture by lessening its reliance on scarce resources such as labour and fossil fuel with the use of technology found in global primary industries.