Pioneering woman among co-operative champions recognized

Pioneering woman among co-operative champions recognized

15 August 2018

  • Innovation, leadership and diversity celebrated at annual co-op awards
  • Pioneering woman co-op executive among winners
  • Co-operatives: the enduring and sustainable business model


Westland Milk Products, Farmlands, Silver Fern Farms, Murray King and Kim DeGarnham have won Cooperative Business New Zealand’s 2018 Annual Awards.

The awards, which recognise outstanding contributions to the co-operative business sector, were presented last night in Christchurch at an event hosted by New Zealand’s apex body for co-operatives, mutuals and societies.

An independent judging panel selected the winners from a host of impressive nominations across four categories.


Outstanding Co-operative ContributionKim DeGarnham

A pioneering co-operative executive, Christchurch’s Kim DeGarnham has been recognised for her significant contributions stretching over 30 years.

In 1996 Mrs DeGarnham became the first appointed female manager at Foodstuffs South Island and then, in 2009, when she was appointed to the Corporate Executive team, she also broke new ground as its first female executive. She has mentored, supported and encouraged female co-op members and staff throughout her career.

Cooperative Business NZ CEO Craig Presland said, “bringing a more diverse approach towards business, and not afraid of a challenge, colleagues say that Kim has turned a lot of things on their head over the past three decades while often creating a more modern and progressive mind shift.” READ MORE

Co-operative Business of the Year: Westland Milk Products

The Hokitika-based, farmer-owned dairy co-operative won recognition for successfully re-inventing itself using the enduring co-operative model as a strength, while promoting to its customers the productive relationship it has with its 350 shareholding farmers.

Craig Presland said Westland showed how the co-operative model can compete internationally in an increasingly complex and highly competitive industry.

“This is demonstrated in the co-operative’s new purpose of ‘nourishment made beautifully for generations’. Highlighting the inter-generational farmer-owned structure, this emphasises the importance of time and place, dedication to quality, and the personal investment that farmers have in the products that Westland Milk Products manufactures for its customers.” READ MORE


Co-operative Leader of the Year: Murray King | Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC)

Chairman of Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), Nelson’s Murray King has been recognised for his exceptional leadership while steering the agri-tech co-operative through a sustained period of disruption and uncertainty.

With Mr King at the helm, Craig Presland said “the LIC board stayed true to its stated aim of protecting the co-operative principles that are fundamental to LIC and which are key to how LIC operates.

“When others’ energy and enthusiasm might have waned, Murray continued to lead the change, retaining the focus of protecting and growing LIC while holding the board to account for decisions on the way through.” READ MORE


Co-operation Amongst Co-operativesFarmlands & Silver Fern Farms (jointly)

This award, which takes its name from one of the co-operative movement’s founding seven Rochdale Principles, was jointly won by Farmlands and Silver Fern Farms for To the Core, a joint governance training initiative.

Craig Presland described To the Core as “a win-win, delivering mutual benefits while supporting the development of future rural leaders.

“The three-day course was run at Farmlands’ Christchurch support office, with 23 Farmlands and Silver Fern Farms shareholders from around New Zealand attending. The two co-operatives teamed up because some issues are better solved by working together. It was a great opportunity to share resources and facilities while avoiding duplication.” READ MORE


Enduring Service Awards were also presented to three co-operatives celebrating key milestones.

50+ years

  • Composite Retail Co-operative
  • First Credit Union
  • Southern Cross Health Society


Notes to Editors:

  • The Cooperative Business NZ Annual Awards began in 2016.
  • This year the independent judging panel comprised Dr Lisa Callagher (University of Auckland), Phil McKendry (Electricity Ashburton and RuralCo) and Alastair Hercus (Buddle Findlay).
  • Cooperative Business NZ represents New Zealand’s co-operatives, mutuals and societies operating across the spectrum of industries including agriculture, manufacturing, insurance, banking and other financial services, utilities, wholesale and retail.
  • With the co-operative sector representing about one-fifth of our economy, and almost one-in-three Kiwis now being served as a Member of a co-operative, mutual or society, this sector represents the backbone of our economy.