Wednesday, 24 November 2021 07:55

Tributes to a dairy champion

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Born in Morrinsville, John Luxton came from a family of dairy farmers. Born in Morrinsville, John Luxton came from a family of dairy farmers.

Fonterra chairman Peter McBride has paid tribute to dairy industry leader John Luxton, who passed away earlier this month.

McBride says he had a huge amount of respect for Luxton, a former Agriculture Minister and founding chairman of DairyNZ.

McBride recalled first meeting Luxton during the Christchurch earthquake in 2016.

They were both in Christchurch attending a meeting on the Trans Pacific Partnership with US officials. After the meeting was disrupted by the earthquake, McBride and Luxton ended up walking across the devastated city.

"We were also part of several overseas trade delegations," McBride told Dairy News.

"He was a lovely guy."

Born in Morrinsville, Luxton came from a family of dairy farmers. The Luxton family have continuously supplied milk to small independent processor Tatua since 1921. Luxton served on the Tatua board for 24 years, stepping down in 2018.

He was also the co-chair of Waikato River Authority until 2020 and the founding chairman of DairyNZ. He stepped down from DairyNZ in November 2015 after more than a decade of service.

DairyNZ chairman Jim van der Poel says Luxton will be remembered for his longstanding, unfaltering contribution to the rural sector, particularly dairy.

"John has had a major role in the success of New Zealand's dairy industry. John has always demonstrated strong leadership and longstanding commitment to the sector," says van der Poel.

"John was instrumental in a number of significant policy and legislative changes in New Zealand, including the foundation policy work that led to the formation of Fonterra and the deregulation of producer boards.

"One of his major achievements was shaping the development of DairyNZ - the first industry-good body of its kind and the largest in Australasia."

He played a major role in heloing guide the dairy industry through a significant period of change, which would soon become New Zealand's number one export industry.

He was instrumental in supporting a successful, viable, competitive dairy industry in New Zealand, with the sector employing 42,240 people and contributing $13.2 billion to New Zealand's export revenue during his time as chair of DairyNZ.

Luxton was a National MP for 15 years and held various portfolios including agriculture. He entered Parliament in 1987 as MP for Matamata, replacing his father Jack Luxton.

Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says Luxton's political contribution was significant across numerous ministerial roles, including his time as Minister of Agriculture.

"The dairy sector would not be the same if it weren't for John's work towards forming DairyNZ and then chairing the organisation between 2008 and 2015.

"He spearheaded the formation of several dairy companies, including Open Country Cheese and Kaimai Cheese company."

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