University honours ecologist
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.