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Scholarship winner an advocate for Māori agribusiness principles

Caleb Dudin believes that the principles of sustainability and kaitiakitanga (guardianship and conservation) that are interwoven through Māori agribusiness could help New Zealand farmers future-proof their operations.

The Lincoln University student is in his final year of a Bachelor of Commerce in Agriculture and is the recipient of Perrin Ag’s 2023 John Perrin Scholarship, receiving $3,000 towards his final year of study.

While Caleb grew up on his parents' farm in Winton, Southland, he spread his wings into sheep and beef farming. He gained experience as a general farm assistant on an 850-hectare sheep and beef operation at Dipton in Southland during the winter and university holidays.

“Mum and dad always involved us in the farm at home, so I had a pretty good handle on dairy operations, but I wanted to learn more about sheep and beef farming,” says Caleb.

It spurred him on to take forestry and water papers in his final year at the university. He has also just completed a Māori language paper, which has deepened his interest in Māori Agribusiness.

“While I’m still learning, it seems the approaches used in Māori agribusiness could be the way forward for New Zealand,” says Caleb. “We have a unique point of difference, and I am interested in the principles of sustainability and kaitiakitanga that are interwoven through Māori Agribusiness.

“At its most basic level, it’s about future-proofing our businesses for hundreds of years using a sustainable, Māori worldview approach to farming.”

Caleb says his forestry paper also illustrated to him the huge potential for sheep and beef farmers to integrate forestry into their systems.

“The key takeaway from that paper was how you can use forestry and trees and integrate them into traditional pastoral systems, not just for ETS benefit but wider environmental benefit.”

Before studying agriculture at Lincoln, Caleb had his sights set on a career in banking.

“As I’ve gone through my study, I’ve realised I want to work directly with farmers. New Zealand farming is going through the biggest change since the discovery of nitrogen fertiliser, and I want to be able to use my skills to help farmers navigate that.”

Caleb says the scholarship from Perrin Ag will help him focus on his studies and reinforces that he is on the right path.

“Throughout the application process, I had to talk about my papers, what I’m studying, and my experience. It reinforced to me that I am on the right track and that my thinking resonates with others,” says Caleb.

He hopes to pursue a career in agribusiness with a focus on sustainability.

“I want to feel like I’m doing something bigger than just working for myself and to feel like we’re doing the work as a collective, alongside farmers.”

The scholarship selection and interview process was led by Perrin Ag Directors John Perrin and Trudy Laan. They were impressed by Caleb’s passion for New Zealand’s primary industries and his drive to support sustainability in farming and Māori agribusiness.

“It’s exciting to see young people entering the industry with fresh ideas and unique skill sets to support our primary sector,” says Trudy.

“As well as demonstrating exceptional academic performance, Caleb also shares the values Perrin Ag embodies, including his eagerness to learn, his work ethic, and involvement in community sports and clubs.”

About the Scholarship: The John Perrin Scholarship is one of two awards Perrin Ag offers each year to promising individuals to continue (2nd year or later) agriculture and horticulture science studies at the undergraduate, post-graduate diploma, or Honors level at either Lincoln, Massey, or Waikato Universities.

Named after the founder and current Chairman of the company, this scholarship recognises the qualities John has brought to his clients and colleagues for so many years – passion, dedication, the pursuit of excellence, and the desire to make a positive impact on our communities.