Hawkes Bay farmers win premier deer environmental award

Hawkes Bay farmers win premier deer environmental award

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

The winners of the 2021 Elworthy Award, the premier environmental accolade for deer farmers, are Grant and Sally Charteris, Forest Road Farm, Central Hawkes Bay. The award was presented at the Deer Industry Conference in Invercargill earlier this month.

Central Hawkes Bay deer farmers Grant and Sally Charteris, winners of the 2021 Elworthy Award, the premier environmental accolade for deer farmers

This is the second Elworthy Award in a row to be awarded to a Hawkes Bay farm. The previous winners were Evan and Linda Potter of Elsthorpe. More recently, the Potters been recognised as the winners of the 2020 East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards. They also won the Gordon Stephenson Trophy, a national award in which recipients become ambassadors for sustainable farming.

Lead judge, Janet Gregory, said the eight entrants in the biennial deer environmental awards had many things in common: active farm environment and business plans and involvement in the deer industry’s productivity and environmental activities.

“All are leaders in the industry, show great passion and stewardship of the land, and are supporting their local communities. Many of them have calculated their greenhouse gas emissions or are planning to do so,” she said.

“All were of exceptional standard, separated from each other by the narrowest of margins. But the Charterises were notable for their meticulous planning, documentation and analysis. This informs their stock and feed management in their district’s challenging climate.

“Their Forest Road Farm is a 327-hectare red deer stud and velvet operation which also runs some beef cattle and Wiltshire sheep. It’s a great example of a sustainable farming business where the environment is being progressively protected and enhanced, with gullies and streambanks fenced off and planted in trees to reduce soil erosion and to minimise sediment run-off.”

The couple have planted more than 15,000 native trees over the past three years on the 327-hectare rolling to steep hill country property. More tree planting is planned.  

“Soil protection is a key focus of everything they do. For example, care is taken when selecting paddocks for cropping and buffer strips of non-cultivated land are left alongside gullies. Break feeding of crops is avoided and high grass covers are maintained on pasture,” Gregory said.

As well as winning the premier Elworthy Environmental Award sponsored by SP Corporation and Dr Gyong Jai Lee, a major South Korean marketer of NZ deer velvet, the Charterises won a further new category award created and also sponsored by the SP Corporation. The Dr Gyong Jai Lee Award is for ‘leading, environmentally sustainable, velvet farming’.

Award convenor Dr Lindsay Fung, says this is the first time a deer industry environmental award has been sponsored by an overseas customer. “It underlines the importance of sustainability to consumers of NZ deer products in Asia as well as in other markets and we are thrilled to have this level of interest and support of these awards.”

Lead judge Janet Gregory

The other category winners in the awards were: Arawata Deer Farm, Pine Bush, Southland; Three Rivers Ag, Otorohanga; Goudies Station, Central North Island; Balquidder, Taihape and Wharerata Farm, Featherston, Wairarapa.

John and Mel Somerville, Arawata Deer Farm, were awarded the Duncan New Zealand Award for "forward thinking and innovative farm practices while operating their business within a demanding environment."

Mike Ferrier, manager, Three Rivers Ag, (owners: William and Karen Oliver) won the Gallagher Technology and Innovation Award ‘for utilisation of farming technologies to improve productivity and manage resources’. Tim Bowron, manager and Chris Smith, deer manager of Pamu’s Goudies Station won the First Light Foods Award ‘for total commitment to farming sustainably with a strong customer focus.’

Andrew and Pam Peters, Balquhidder, won the NZ Landcare Trust Award ‘for excellence in sustainable deer farming through action on the ground’. Sophie Atkinson, Wharerata Farm (owner: Heather Atkinson Family Trust), won the NZDFA Next Generation Award ‘for outstanding performance across environmental, financial and social aspects of the business’.

Tony, Michelle and Kate Roberts, Maitland, Southland and John and Mary Falconer, Ranfurly, Otago were strong contenders in several of the award categories further emphasising the high calibre of all of the entrants and an indication of the lifting of environmental standards across the industry since the awards inception in 2001.

The judges were Janet Gregory (lead judge); Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) environmental stewardship manager, Lindsay Fung; DINZ producer manager Tony Pearse; and Evan Potter, winner (with Linda), of the 2019 Elworthy Environmental Award & Gordon Stephenson Trophy.

Deer Farming Environmental Awards 2021

Judges’ Key Points

Grant & Sally Charteris, Forest Road Farm, Central Hawkes Bay
Meticulous planning, documentation and analysis resulting in excellent stock and feed management that fits a challenging climate.

  • Strong partnership continuing to look for opportunities – excellent sustainable business and farm planning is evident.
  • Progressive protection and enhancement of farm environment mitigating for biggest risks through gully protection.
  • Excellent stock management driven by attention to feeding and genetic improvement.
  • Excellent community and industry involvement to assist others into the agriculture industry.


John & Mel Somerville, Arawata Deer, Pine Bush, Southland
An excellent property exhibiting high quality animals and pastures that meets the challenges of a long demanding winter climate while minimising environmental impacts.

  • Outstanding quality of stock showing benefits of good genetics and excellent feeding over a long period of time.
  • Excellent management of environmental effects in a challenging climate by protection of wetland gully systems and critical source areas. This includes the long-term use of wintering barns and self-feeding silage pits
  • Excellent riparian management and enhancement with a range of native and exotic plant species.


Mike Ferrier, Manager, Three Rivers Ag Ltd, Otorohanga
Owners: William & Karen Oliver

Thorough planning, documentation, and actions to protect and enhance the natural resources in a challenging environment.

  • Innovative thinking to meet the challenges of the farm environment with a water wheel to power the stock water system and Guinea fowl to overcome tics.
  • Excellent biodiversity protection and engagement with community to share knowledge to help with identifying and managing values.
  • Excellent nutrient management to meet pasture and crop needs within a steep environment with high rainfall.


Tim Bowron, Manager, Goudies Station, Reporoa
Owner: Pāmu

Total integration and management of an extensive property building on its strengths and knowledge within the team to provide a high achieving sustainable business.

  • Exceptional stock management with multiple stud breeding programmes requiring excellent records, use of technology and huge attention to detail.
  • Excellent infrastructure allowing integration of farm management and retirement of gully systems.
  • Excellent pasture and crop management to meet feed requirements for a range of stock classes through the year resulting in a highly productive business. The deer were in fantastic condition and well on the way to meet chilled venison prices.


Andrew & Pam Peters, Balquhidder, Taihape
Exceptional management of a challenging property protecting soils, biodiversity and water quality while enhancing the environment with thousands of trees resulting in a stunning property.

  • Long term planning and vision for a sustainable farm business is strongly evident. Good match of stock class and stocking rate to land class underpins this.
  • Excellent leadership within the Ōtaihape catchment to engage the community in environmental monitoring and enhancement.
  • Progressive retirement and enhancement of gullies and critical source areas resulting in excellent habitat of native and exotic plants. A farm foresters dream!


Sophie Atkinson, Wharerata Farm, Featherston
Owners: Heather Atkinson Family Trust

Excellent protection and enhancement of biodiversity and respect for the land and substantial family legacy and values strongly evident, while willing to learn and innovate in a complex business.

  • Excellent records and attention to detail in a challenging business with diverse income streams that utilises family skills and knowledge.
  • Excellent family leadership to share knowledge and encourage community protection of biodiversity. Strong adherence to family values underpins this farming business.
  • Passion for the land and the property is clearly evident in meeting the present and future challenges.


Tony, Michelle and Kate Roberts, Top Deck Trading, Maitland, Southland
A highly motivated family committed to their community, ensuring protection and enhancement of the farm environment combined with thorough planning and recording provides a strong platform for a sustainable farm business.

  • Strong strategic planning with a clear vision and undertaking actions to achieve that in a short period of time. Intergenerational involvement in management is a major strength.
  • Excellent engagement in industry and community activities to share and gain knowledge.
  • Excellent business planning and farm environment plan providing ongoing records of activities.


John & Mary Falconer, Clachanburn, Ranfurly, Otago
Well integrated, diverse business showing innovative thinking and excellent stock management that fit different land classes whilst minimising environments effects.

  • Scale, scope, and management of native hill country that protects soils and biodiversity while supporting additional sustainable segments of farm business.
  • Excellent innovation and use of technology to enhance stud breeding
  • Excellent stock management with particular attention to animal nutritional demands throughout the year.