BRIAN CAMERON, CO-OPERATIVE PIONEER

Honorary Member Brian Cameron received the Outstanding Co-operative Contribution award in recognition of his extraordinary efforts and achievements on behalf of the co-operative business sector.

In 1979 Ashburton farmer, Brian Cameron, led a group of like-minded business and community leaders in creating a voice for New Zealand’s then ailing agricultural co-operative business sector. He did this firstly through a working party, and then in 1982 via the creation of a not-for-profit membership organisation to represent the country’s co-operatives, mutuals and societies known as the NZ Agricultural Cooperatives Association. This industry body was re-named Cooperative Business NZ in 2012.

In addition, Brian has been the key founder of Irrigation NZ back in 1978. This industry body supports more than 50 separate irrigation schemes and played a pivotal role in the establishment of two large schemes in the Mid Canterbury region. Brian has also served on the board of PPCS (now known as Silver Fern Farms) from 1981-2001, while he was fully involved in the formation of Ravensdown Fertiliser Co-op and Electricity Ashburton Co-op.

Finally, Brian served on the Lincoln University Council right through the 1980s and 1990s, and was awarded the Bledisloe Medal from the university in 2001.

Craig Presland describes Mr Cameron as “a true legend within New Zealand’s co-operative economy in the modern era.”

“While chairing our fledgling membership organisation for almost two decades, Brian insisted that kiwi co-operatives and mutuals be represented, protected and supported by separate legislation.

“Due in large part to Brian’s leadership and perseverance, extensive legal work was done during the 1990s, culminating in the NZ Cooperative Companies Act 1996. It was an innovative piece of legislation which has generated considerable overseas interest. It has been highly successful with its low compliance costs and commercial focus enabling co-operatives to grow and take a significant and influential place in the economy and wider society”.