Fiona Hancox's father was Colin Richardson, a man who started
life as a townie, before eventually owning 12 West Otago
farms as well as being extensively involved in farming
Although the son of a tailor, he decided at an early age he
wanted to be a farmer.
His first agricultural job was on a property at Crookston,
before moving to Gimmerburn to work for the Paterson family
and to be a fencing contractor.
Jim Paterson helped him into his first farm - Avalon - at
Heriot, when he was 24.
He made the run-down property a success, increasing the stock
rate, fertility and production before he and his wife Bev,
along with their four children, bought a further 11 farms in
the Heriot/Wilden area during his 50-year career.
She said he believed in paying off debt as quickly as
possible, before making his next move.
''He was the first to go into self-feed silage here and was
an early adopter of the Perendale breed, to better the
genetics,'' Mrs Hancox said.
He also spent money on fertiliser and gorse and broom control
to bring additional land into production. In addition to
farming, he served on the Otago Regional Council and PPCS
board (now Silver Fern Farms) and was president of the
Federated Farmers Otago branch.
He was involved with the Moa Flat Water scheme and the Heriot
Rugby Club as well as other community projects.
He was also famous for telling the then Prime Minister David
Lange a few home truths about the rural recession the farming
industry was going through, during the opening of the
Invermay research facility in 1986.
The rural recession of the 1980s, brought on by Rogernomics,
the removal of subsidies, interest rate hikes and land and
stock value drops forced many farmers into bankruptcy or to
Mrs Hancox said her father was a firm believer in
''agriculture and knew it had a strong future''.
''He valued farming and he valued the community.''
He was awarded the 1974 A. C. Cameron Award and the 1978
Grasslands Memorial Award.
He died in 2011. His wife Bev died the same year, leaving
four children: Allan, Fiona, Anne and Janet.