Wednesday, 17 January 2024 07:55

Landcorp chair dies suddenly

Written by  Peter Burke
Warren Parker made a deep impact on the NZ primary sector. Warren Parker made a deep impact on the NZ primary sector.

Tributes have continued to flow in for Warren Parker, who died suddenly just after Christmas.

The academic, chief executive and company director had a profound impact on the NZ primary sector. At the time of his death, Parker was the chairman of Pāmu - AKA Landcorp.

He was a former chief executive of Scion (the NZ Forest Research Institute) and Landcare Research and previously chief operating officer of AgResearch. Parker held several board roles including on Predator Free 2050 Ltd, Farmlands Co-operative Society, Genomics Aotearoa and was the chair of the Forestry Ministerial Advisory Group. He was also chair of the New Zealand Conservation Authority and recently appointed independent chair of Quayside Holdings.

Agriculture Minister Todd McClay says Parker's contribution to the primary sector is significant and his death is extremely sad.

"He has a lifetime of work across all parts of the industry. His dedication was obvious and he had earned a huge amount of respect. New Zealand agriculture has lost one of its big thinkers."

McClay says, as the local MP, he knew Warren Parker for a long time when he was chief executive of Scion, based in Rotorua. He had the opportunity to not only talk about Parker's work at Scion but also the many things that needed to be done across the primary sector.

"I have nothing but respect for him and am saddened by his death," McClay told Rural News. "His leadership will be missed right across the primary sector because he was so active both in the private sector and also in the public sector."

Pāmu, Landcorp Farming Limited, chief executive Mark Leslie says a great tree has fallen and Parker was a highly respected primary sector leader.

"It was an honour for me to have had Warren as a lecturer at Massey University nearly 30 years ago and then work shoulder-to-shoulder with his guidance and support when I joined Pāmu as CEO just under two years ago," Leslie added. "Warren will be remembered for his vision, wisdom, and experience, as well as his kindness, which together have ensured a strong culture and clear strategic path for our organisation."

A large number of primary sector leaders and friends attended Parker's funeral in Rotorua - including the chancellor of Massey University, Michael Ahie, where Parker was Professor of Agribusiness and Resource Management. He spent 18 years in various roles at the university, including supervising the 9000-stock unit Riverside Farm, in the Wairarapa.

Scion, where Parker was chief executive, joined many others in its praise for him. On Scion's website it says he'll be remembered for his vision, expertise and kind and compassionate leadership.

Early Life

Parker was born in the small Northland town of Tutamoe, where his parents ran a mixed dairy, sheep and cattle farm.

As a young man, he excelled academically, going on to be the head prefect and dux of Northland College. He was a keen rugby player and was in the first fifteen at college. Parker was also known as a mighty axe man.

It is said that these early years laid the foundation for what would be an abundant career in agriculture. Parker obtained a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Honours), a Masters in Farm Management and a PhD in Animal Science from Massey University.

He was only 68 years old when he passed away on December 29.

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