Overview 2024 Deer Industry Conference | Issue 199

May 17, 2024

Industry Conference, Field Day and Hawkes Bay Hospitality

This year the 49th annual Deer Industry New Zealand conference was hosted by the art deco capital of the world, Napier. While the weather wasn’t quite the stunning warm days we had been blessed with leading up to the conference, most Southlanders likely considered it fairly mild. For those that had the time to glance out the picture frame windows, the Pacific Ocean was a comparable vista to the stunning landscapes we all call home.

The one-day format while compact and perhaps a little chaotic for those different groups that need to have one-on-one meetings, once again proved a success with a good turnout of farmers. It was fantastic to see many of the local HBDFA members make the most of the opportunity of the conference in their backyard. The day started with the NZDFA AGM, three remits were presented to the floor and the awarding of Life membership to Murray Matuschka, all of which were resoundingly endorsed. The NZDFA Executive Committee clearly communicated all they have been doing this past year on our behalf and their plans for the coming year.

Mandy Bell our DINZ Chair gave us her state of the industry address and by all accounts the Board has been working tirelessly for our benefit across a variety of issues. It was noted there has been a lot of changes and these will hopefully start to deliver the envisaged benefit in this coming year. The dynamic Rhys Griffiths gave us an energy packed update on markets and changing trends while Emil Murphy enlightened us on current research. Damon Paling then provided an insight into the velvet access issue into China and listening to all the rhetoric from our industry leaders I am optimistic a solution might be found by the time we start velvetting. The Board Q & A session provided more food for thought and it was pleasing to see them mingling and engaging with farmers throughout the day.

From a farmer’s perspective the mix of workshop options available in the afternoon was both relevant and informative. I personally attended the Farming for venison, how does this fit in with other livestock farming systems, Linking Science to Environmental Actions and Genetics for profit – 2024 Breeding Values and Indices. The presenters all knew their stuff and provided clear take home messaging. The fourth option was new forages, feeding strategies which I had a glimpse into when two of the presenters hosted a workshop at the inaugural HBDFA Deer to Succeed field day earlier in the year.

Jen Corkran from Rabobank was our guest speaker and clearly knew her stuff providing clear insights into global trends and the positioning of New Zealand’s products from a global perspective. She was very clear on what our competitive advantage was over the rest of the world and how we should leverage this. Finally the key note speaker Murray Matuschka was given the floor, he soon had the audience in howls of laughter as he shared his journey of life and foray into deer with I imagine and endless array of one liners and jokes honed in his many years of tourism and passion for life. Time absolutely vanished and Toddy our MC did an admirable job of keeping us on task.

The Awards dinner was once again well supported, with Helen Clarke being the deserving recipient of the Matuschka award and Professor Peter Wilson receiving the New Zealand Deer Industry award. The number of entries in the MSD/Allflex animal health photo competition continues to grow with some stunning moments captured. I really don’t envy the judges separating the place getters from the rest of the pack.

The following day the HBDFA in conjunction with the Gaddum Family welcomed participants to the iconic Rangimoe Station nestled in the renowned Hakes Bay farming district of Kereru. While the weather was a little brisk it was a fantastic day out. Ben Gaddum gave an enlightening glimpse into the history of the Kereru district and followed up with a brief overview of the Gaddum family’s early years on Rangimoe.

Our Hosts Ru and Kate Gaddum then took us on a tour over some of the more accessible parts of Rangimoe that showcased the fantastic work being done in partnership with Mauri Oho. This initiative to restore biodiversity in the Northern Ruahine area and develop skill sets of those involved is impressive. Both parties clearly had a shared vision, desire for positive outcomes and were a natural fit, what has been achieved in a relatively short time frame is a credit to all involved.

The next stop was a vantage point that allowed attendees to get a feel for the scope, natural landscapes of Rangimoe and how they are integrated into daily farming operations. Ru covered off the current system and his and Kate’s plans for the future, with cameos from Grant Charteris of Forest Road Farm talking about velvet Genetics and Matt Gibson from Firstlight sharing their Elk marketing plan.

Finally, we headed back to the shed via a family memorial to Ru’s grandparents and tucked into some delicious burgers generously donated by Firstlight and Silver Fern Farms. By all accounts the Hawke’s Bay hospitality was on point and an insight into a local family’s legacy, the past, the present and the future was a privilege to share.

 Rangimoe Station. Photo taken by Louise Balkham

Rangimoe learnings. Photo taken by Louise Balkham 

Evan Potter -NZDFA Executive Committee

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