Rural Value's national manager David Paterson has seen many
changes in both the farming industry and his profession
over more than three decades. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
When David Paterson started work as a rural valuer more
than 30 years ago, things were very different.
A day could be spent walking over a farm using rudimentary
equipment, as there was no such thing as digital cameras or
''When I started in 1981, you'd sit on top of a hill and look
down and try and draw on the map where a gully was. Nowadays,
of course, technology really has taken control,'' Mr
Paterson, the Dunedin-based national manager for Rural Value,
During that same period, there had also been ''massive''
changes in farming, including the expansion of the dairy
industry and the advances in technology used in the sector.
One thing that had not changed, however, was the people and
the ''lovely aspect'' of doing such work was developing
relationships with farmers and people on the land, usually
accompanied by an invitation ''for a cup of tea or scone''.
Brought up on a farm in Southland and a self-professed
Southern Man, Mr Paterson (55) has always had an affinity for
the rural sector.
When it came to a career, he decided to do something
different from his three elder brothers, who all headed to
the University of Otago to study commerce. He went to Lincoln
to study agricultural commerce.
Having decided to specialise in valuation, he started working
for the Valuation Department in Dunedin, where he spent five
years doing what was then called government valuations on
rural properties in Otago, from Roxburgh to the Waitaki and
down to South Otago.
That was followed by a move to Invercargill, where he
continued to do the government valuation work along with some
other work, including a mix of commercial, industrial and
Restructuring in 1988 saw the entity become Valuation New
Zealand and Mr Paterson was appointed senior valuer in
Invercargill, where his responsibility was primarily to look
after the urban side in the city, but he also had a team of
valuers doing rural work.
A major change came a decade later when, in 1998, Quotable
Value Ltd (QV) was formed as a result of the corporatisation
of Valuation New Zealand. It was originally established as a
crown-owned company and became a state-owned enterprise in
As part of the restructure, Mr Paterson was appointed to
manage the Alexandra office. But within a few months, further
restructuring saw the manager positions in small offices like
Alexandra, Blenheim and Hokitika disestablished.
He moved back to Dunedin and managed the southern region of
QV Valuations, a division of QV that did commercial and
residential work for the public.
The global financial crisis arrived and there was yet more
restructuring, and Mr Paterson looked after the southern
region for Darroch Valuations.
There was a lot of rural work involved, particularly high
country pastoral lease management and tenure review
management work. Tenure review work became a focus for Mr
Paterson and he found it very interesting. It was also
challenging, as although it was very process oriented, it was
very political, he said.
There had been changes of government through the process and
policy changes and it tended to create uncertainty. A lot of
farmers had got sick of it and decided they did not want to
But it was ''quite neat'' seeing farmers come through the
process and have a freehold property ''and do what they want
to do with it''.
Rural Value was set up last year with the aim of diversifying
work in the rural sector.
There was a team in Dunedin, along with valuers in
Christchurch, Invercargill, Alexandra, Hamilton and New
Zealand. There was also access to QV staff in other areas of
the North Island.
The dairy industry had been identified as the growth area in
the southern South Island and that was where the future of
Rural Value was seen.
Mr Paterson was concerned about the ageing population of
rural valuers. Getting graduates was a ''real problem'', yet
there were ''huge opportunities'', particularly given the
lack of numbers in the profession.
Asked why there was a problem, he believed that rural valuers
themselves were to blame ''to a large extent''. He saw, in
some cases, a reluctance from some to pass on their
knowledge, which was a shame, he said.
He was concerned that if ''all of a sudden'' banks decided to
use rural valuers, there would not be enough to do the work.
Mr Paterson, who has also been involved with the New Zealand
Institute of Valuers for the past 20 years, believed there
was a bright future for Rural Value.
There were benefits from being part of a large organisation
and the challenge now was to diversify work away from the
Land Information New Zealand (Linz) contracts.
He believed that would be aided by the increase in
corporatisation in farming and properties needing to be
valued for financial reporting purposes.
Another area for potential growth was in the insurance area.
He was seeing farmers wanting valuations for insurance
purposes and he believed that could continue to grow, while
the banking finance area was another that he was keen to be