Univer­sity hon­ours ecol­o­gist

South Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE -

A man who has spent more than 50 years work­ing on and for the land is to re­ceive the Univer­sity of Waikato’s high­est hon­our.

Farmer and en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist Gor­don Stephen­son, of Waotu, near Pu­taruru, will re­ceive an Honorary Doc­tor­ate from the Univer­sity of Waikato for his lengthy and on­go­ing con­tri­bu­tion to the en­vi­ron­ment.

Mr Stephen­son has achieved a re­mark­able amount in the 55 years he has been in New Zealand.

He es­tab­lished the QEII Na­tional Trust in 1977 and be­came the first per­son to covenant land un­der the trust. To­day more than 3500 covenants have been reg­is­tered cov­er­ing more than 100,000 hectares.

He’s been on the na­tional body of Fed­er­ated Farm­ers and For­est & Bird and had lead­ing roles in or­gan­i­sa­tions such as the Waikato Con­ser­va­tion Board, the Maun­gatau­tari Eco­log­i­cal Is­land Trust, the New Zealand Land­care Trust and the South Is­land High Coun­try Re­view Com­mit­tee.

He in­sti­gated the Farm En­vi­ron­ment Awards, which are now held na­tion­ally with the win­ner re­ceiv­ing the Stephen­son Tro­phy.

In 1992 Mr Stephen­son and his wife Celia were jointly awarded the Loder Cup, New Zealand’s most pres­ti­gious con­ser­va­tion award.

In 1998 he be­came a Com­pan­ion of the New Zealand Or­der of Merit and in 2000 he re­ceived a Bio­di­ver­sity Ac­co­lade at the launch of the Bio­di­ver­sity Strat­egy. Mr Stephen­son is a Distin­guished Life Mem­ber of For­est & Bird and honorary kau­matua at Pik­itu Marae, Waotu.

Univer­sity of Waikato vicechan­cel­lor Pro­fes­sor Roy Craw­ford said Mr Stephen­son is a great ex­am­ple of some­one who self­lessly gives of his time and skills for the pub­lic good.

‘‘He has led by ex­am­ple in so many ar­eas and what he has achieved is ab­so­lutely re­mark­able,’’ Prof Craw­ford says.

Mr Stephen­son will re­ceive his doc­tor­ate at the univer­sity’s grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony on April 16.

Waotu farmer and en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist Gor­don Stephen­son will be hon­oured by the Univer­sity of Waikato.

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