23 April 2001 Lincoln's Bledisloe Medal to Mid-Canterbury farmer
Mid-Canterbury farmer Brian Cameron of Pendarves, a pioneer in irrigation in Canterbury, founding father of the NZ agricultural cooperatives movement and a former Deputy Chairman of meat company PPCS Ltd has been awarded Lincoln University's prestigious Bledisloe Medal for outstanding contributions to New Zealand's land-based interests.
The award, instituted in 1930 by Governor-General Lord Bledisloe, will be presented at Lincoln University's Graduation Ceremony in Christchurch Town Hall on Friday. (27 April)
An agricultural science graduate of Lincoln University, Brian and wife Norma farmed together in Mid-Canterbury from 1963 and recently sold their properties for new challenges in a family-owned grape-growing and wine making enterprise.
As a farmer Brian was always interested in achieving optimum stocking rates. He knew the importance of a reliable water supply for increased production and in 1969, challenging local doubts that it would work, he sank the first deep irrigation bore in Canterbury - possibly in New Zealand and became the first farmer to use permanent underground mains.
Going on to pioneer irrigation systems in Canterbury, he developed crop rotations, stocking systems and techniques to suit and hosted numerous field days for farmers and students.
He became the foundation chairman of the New Zealand Irrigation Association, formed to promote irrigation interests nationally and represent the industry to government and other water stakeholders.
For 30 years he chaired the Rakaia Irrigation Association and his involvement in irrigation continues as Deputy Chairman of the Barrhill/Chertsey Irrigation Cooperative Company, formed from a merger of the Rakaia and Barrhill groups. This company recently obtained consent for a 40,000 hectare community irrigation scheme from the Rakaia River.
The cooperative approach to community related enterprises has always been close to Brian's heart. In 1979 he served on the cooperative association steering committee as one of two South Island representatives from Federated Farmers and he became first chairman of the New Zealand Agricultural Cooperatives Association when it was formed in 1982: He chaired that organisation and its successor, the New Zealand Cooperatives Association, until 1998.
He is regarded as the "father" of the cooperatives movement in New Zealand and was its public face through the 1980s and 1990s.
He served 20 years on the PPCS board, four of them as Deputy Chairman, and was a CFM board member for several years prior to the PPCS takeover.
In Federated Farmers Brian has been variously Pendarves branch chairman and Pendarves delegate to the Mid-Canterbury executive and Meat and Wool Section.
Agricultural education is another area which has always been close to Brian's heart. For 25 years he and wife Norma hosted Lincoln University class visits to their farm properties, he was a farm tutor for four years, a committee member of the Lincoln University Alumni Association for 10 years and president for two years. For 20 years he was a member of Lincoln University Council, and was its longest-serving member when he retired in December last year.
As a student at Lincoln, Brian was President of the Students' Association, and a Lincoln and New Zealand Universities sports blue winner several times over.
Citation: Bledisloe Medal, Brian Kennedy Cameron
When Governor-General Lord Bledisloe presented the medal which carries his name to Lincoln in 1930, he said it was a token of his admiration for the "quality of the training" given by this institution.
The quality of the training given at Lincoln - the words relate perfectly to the background of the man we honour today as the Bledisloe Medal winner for 2001, Brian Kennedy Cameron.
Brian is a Lincoln man through and through. His association with the institution spans half a century, starting in 1951 with the then compulsory intermediate year of study before the start of an agricultural science degree.
As an undergraduate Brian was President of the Students' Association, editor of the student newspaper, and a Lincoln and New Zealand Universities sports blues winner several times over.
In adult life the connections have continued - 25 years hosting student class visits, along with wife Norma, on their farm properties; four years as a farm tutor; 10 years as an Alumni Association committee member; two years as Alumni President; proud years as a parent with a daughter doing a PhD at his old university; and 20 years as a member of Lincoln University's governing body, the Council, representing alumni.
Some cynic once said that Education is what's left over when you've forgotten everything you learnt at school. There is no stronger rebuttal of that belief than the career of Brian Cameron. He took what he learnt at Lincoln, entwined it with his own personal characteristics of vision, energy, entrepreneurship and willingness to lead by example, and made a remarkable contribution to New Zealand agriculture in a range of areas.
The "Lincoln-ness" of the man has been aptly stated by the chairman of PPCS, Jim Pringle. Brian served 20 years on the cooperative meat company's board, four of them as Deputy Chairman.
In a valedictory speech the Chairman noted that Brian had been a deep thinker on the Board and as such was always listened to and respected. He went on to remark that "of course Brian graduated with a degree in Agricultural Science from Lincoln University and I am sure that is why he has such an analytical approach to most problems."
Brian, Lincoln University is honoured to take a little reflected glory from your career. The University does in fact strive to encourage an "analytical approach" in its graduates and we know the quality has always shown through in your Council work, in your involvement with the Alumni Association, and in your chairing of university bodies such as the Farm Advisory Committee and the Animal Ethics Committee.
Was there an early hint of it in your student-day sporting achievements at Lincoln? You excelled at what might be termed "calculating sports" sports with angles and distances and speeds involved The hurdles, the high jump, rifle shooting, goal-keeping in soccer - these were your forte and you broke records and represented Lincoln, South Island Universities and New Zealand Universities at tournaments winning blues at all levels. In addition you won an Australasian Universities title and a couple of provincial championships.
From a Mid-Canterbury family, Brian went to school in Ashburton and after Lincoln and several years in Australia he entered a farming partnership with his father and brother in 1961.
In 1963 he bought his first property, at Pendarves, and established a farming partnership with his wife Norma, who has been a stalwart by his side down the years. And Lincoln always readily acknowledges the immense contribution made by wives to the business of farming.
At Pendarves he immediately set about exploring stocking rate boundaries and he is remembered well for "pushing the margins". He wanted to determine optimum rates.
An extension of this was to investigate irrigation. Irrigation means reliability and increased production. The result was that in 1969 he sank the first deep irrigation bore in Canterbury (possibly in New Zealand) and became the first farmer to use permanent underground mains.
A six-inch well down to 200 feet was unheard of in those days. People thought he was crazy and that it would never work, but as fellow Lincoln graduate and well-known Ashburton farm consultant Bob Engelbrecht has said: "Brian brought theory and intuition together. His training at Lincoln gave him the confidence about what could be achieved and the presence of water made it possible."
Again reference to "training at Lincoln".
Leading by example, Brian went on to pioneer 1mgation systems in Canterbury. He developed crop rotations, stocking systems and techniques to suit and hosted numerous field days for farmers and students. Indeed the whole area of irrigation is one in which he has made a major contribution to New Zealand agriculture.
He was the foundation chairman of the New Zealand Irrigation Association, formed to promote irrigation interests nationally and represent the industry to government and other water stakeholders.
For 30 years he chaired the Rakaia Irrigation Association, developing at one stage a community irrigation scheme with the Ministry of Works for 30,000 hectares, only to see it dropped as a result of a National Conservation Order on the Rakaia River.
Brian's involvement in irrigation continues as Deputy Chairman of the Barrhill/Chertsey Irrigation Cooperative Company, formed from a merger of the Rakaia and Barrhill groups. This company recently obtained consent for a 40,000-hectare community irrigation scheme from the Rakaia River.
Very conscious of sustainable resource management considerations, the applicants pursued an energetic programme of consultation and mediation with stakeholders and the scheme will deliver a state-of-the-art, ecologically sensitive, irrigation system to Mid-Canterbury.
The words "cooperative company" in the name of this irrigation body signal another major area in Brian's career - the cooperatives movement.
Brian has always been a firm believer in individuals or small organisations getting together in a business model to achieve critical mass so they can compete in the market place.
In 1979 he went on to the co-operative association steering committee as one of two South Island representatives from Federated Farmers, and became first chairman of the New Zealand Agricultural Cooperatives Association when it was formed in 1982. He chaired that organisation and its successor, the New Zealand Cooperatives Association, until 1998.
Brian committed himself heavily to the merits of cooperatives, reading widely and establishing contact with people internationally. He is regarded as the "father" of the movement in New Zealand and was its public face through the 1980s and 1990s.
He saw the opportunity for the exclusively agricultural association to take in non-agricultural groups and he supported widening the organisation to admit the broader membership it has today.
A landmark during Brian's time was the passing of the Cooperatives Act 1996, a well-regarded piece of legislation, recognised internationally.
As with his dedication to Lincoln University, the meat industry, irrigation bodies and the cooperatives movement, Brian has been involved in Federated Farmers activities too. He has been variously Pendarves branch chairman and Pendarves delegate to the Mid-Canterbury executive and Meat and Wool Section.
Today fresh challenges face Brian and Norma. They have sold their Mid Canterbury properties for a new life in grape-growing and winemaking, introduced to it by daughter Helen and son-in-law Grant, award-winning winemakers with the Kaituna Valley label.
Madam Chancellor, Lincoln University's motto refers to "knowledge, hard work and integrity". The career of Brain Kennedy Cameron, Bachelor of Agricultural Science, reflects all three qualities to the highest order. It is with pleasure that I present him for the award of the Bledisloe Medal.
Ian Collins, Journalist, Lincoln University, Canterbury, New Zealand.