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 ([email protected]) 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.