Life membership takes Elliot by surprise

When Mike Elliot was presented with life membership of Otago Federated Farmers, he said it took him by complete surprise.

''It certainly blew my socks off. It was totally unexpected; just brilliant,'' the 66 year old South Otago farmer said.

Mr Elliot first became involved with the rural lobby organisation in the early 1980s, attending Clinton branch meetings. In those days, the branch system in the organisation was very strong.

He later became chairman of the dairy section of Otago Federated Farmers and served as national senior vice president of the section. He was also a former provincial president.

In presenting Mr Elliot with his life membership, outgoing Otago president Stephen Korteweg spoke of the ''significant'' contribution he had made to the organisation.

He had demonstrated the organisation's attributes and values through his long service and valuable commitment to the organisation, Mr Korteweg said.

Originally from the United Kingdom, Mr Elliot said he had maintained his involvement with Federated Farmers as he saw it doing ''an awful lot'' for farmers and being a voice for them. He also enjoyed the discussions and had met a ''huge'' number of people, who had the interests of farmers at heart.

The structure of the organisation had changed since his involvement first began, with branches having mostly ''disappeared''; there tended to be executive meetings instead.

A lot of work fell on Federated Farmers' policy analysts and Otago farmers had been very lucky to have the likes of Matt Harcombe (who now works for Beef and Lamb New Zealand), Kim Reilly and David Cooper representing them.

''Their knowledge and ability to get to the nub of things and know who to talk to has been absolutely wonderful,'' Mr Elliot said.

He represented Federated Farmers on the Telford Farm board of management and he found Telford to be a ''fascinating place''.

''It's one of those places that very quickly gets under the skin. I find it just a great asset, firstly for the people of Otago, secondly to the people of New Zealand.''


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