All-round excellence in sustainability earns Andy and Gemma Phillips of Motumatai the Regional Supreme Award at the Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards.


Home / News / Award News / All-round excellence in sustainability earns Andy and Gemma Phillips of Motumatai the Regional Supreme Award at the Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Andy and Gemma Phillips of Motumatai have been named the Regional Supreme Winners at the Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards in Carterton this evening.

Motumatai has been in Gemma’s family since 1914, with the couple farming the property since 2009. After purchasing the sheep and beef farm in 2017, they have focused on both lifting livestock production and enhancing the property’s natural beauty.

In addition to Motumatai, Gemma and Andy lease three other properties, bringing their total farming area to 1,365ha (1,185ha effective). The sheep and beef, breeding and finishing operation runs about 500 cattle and almost 6,500 sheep.

Decision-making is guided by a vision to farm in a way that is both financially and environmentally sustainable. Soil and pastures are carefully managed, pests and predators are actively controlled, and waterways are protected by substantial fencing. There’s a strong focus on people and creating a culture that is both inclusive and supportive, with the couple mentoring new staff to help them work toward owning their own businesses.

Andy and Gemma have planted trees across the property for many years, with the farm now boasting significant areas of established native habitats. Teaming up with two other local families, the couple has established a commercial native plant nursery, with many of those trees being planted at Motumatai.

In awarding the Regional Supreme Award, the judges noted that Andy and Gemma have founded a business that excels in all aspects of sustainability.

“Their farm systems are carefully aligned with the diverse physical resources available, and they prioritise continual improvement in environmental sustainability. Central to their business ethos is a distinctive approach to involving people for mutually beneficial outcomes, along with a dedication to mentoring and contributing to the community, catchment, and industry.

“Additionally, the business demonstrates strong financial performance when benchmarked against comparable enterprises. This enables further investment in on-farm projects, expansion of the nursery, and the creation of future opportunities for both the family and the farm team.”

Gemma and Andy also won the following awards:

· Bayleys People in Primary Sector Award

· Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award

· NZFET Climate Recognition Award

Other Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Award winners include:

Harry, Tim and Kate Gibbs — Stanmore Farm, Te Horo

· Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award

· Hill Labs Agri-Science Award

· Rabobank Agri-Business Management Award

Michael Grace and Guy & Carolyn Parkinson — Terawhiti Station, Makara

· NZFET Innovation Award

· NZFET Biodiversity Award

Jason Christensen — Fernhill, Masterton

· DairyNZ Sustainability and Stewardship Award

· Greater Wellington Regional Council Award

Scott & Ana Gudsell — Ngahau Trust, Pirinoa

· Norwood Farming Efficiency Award

Stan & Jenny Braaksma — Motuiti, Masterton

· Greater Wellington BFEA Lifestyle Award

John & Nancy Keating — Domus Arborum, Carterton

· Greater Wellington BFEA Lifestyle Highly Commended

The awards also served to showcase the Ahiaruhe Eco Area Catchment Group, which was formed in 2020 and has since doubled the local land area protected by QEII National Trust covenants. The catchment group has worked with the wider community to plant tens of thousands of native trees and has a collective and sustained focus on predator control. Their approach involves supporting landowners to develop a long-term vision around caring for the land, water and wider environment, and balancing profitability with environmental goals such as reducing their carbon footprint, restoring native species and improving water quality.

The Ballance Farm Environment Awards are run by the NZ Farm Environment Trust and champion sustainable farming and growing. The Supreme Winner from each of the eleven regions involved in the awards will go through to be considered for the Gordon Stephenson Trophy at the Trust’s National Showcase in Hamilton in June. The recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy then become 2024’s National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing.

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