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Maniototo farmer Ian Smith has been involved in much in his life but there are a few moments and causes which have impacted more than most.
Mr Smith was last month awarded an honorary life membership of the New Zealand Romney Sheep Breeders Association.
He said the honour reflected the respect he had for the breed.
‘‘I’ve been a strong advocate for the breed for a long time.’’
Mr Smith started breeding halfbreds as a second generation Wedderburn farmer when his father bought some merinos in the mid 1950s.
Mr Smith became a member of the New Zealand Romney Sheep Breeders Association in 1964 when, with his brother Jim, they started their Romney stud flock.
He was elected on to the Romney Association Council in 1996 and served a term as president from 2001-03.
Mr Smith now lives in Patearoa. He has been involved with many other organisations as well, including long stints on farming and health organisations. He was an elected member of the Meat & Wool Board Electoral College for nine years, a longserving member of Federated Farmers, and chairman of the Maniototo A&P Association for its 75th and 100th anniversary shows. He continues to be patron of the A&P association.
Mr Smith also served on the board of trustees for St Hilda’s Collegiate School for 12 years, and spent six years on the committee of the school’s Tolcarne boarding house; his four daughters were all educated at St Hilda’s.
But it was Mr Smith’s involvement in the health sector that had most struck a chord with him, he said.
He spent 18 years on the then Maniototo Hospital Board and six years as deputy chairman of the then Otago Area Health Board, from 1974 to 1980.
Those were tumultuous times, with the area health board charged with closing down various hospitals.
But although hospitals such as Queen Mary and Cherry Farm ended up closing during that time, grieving many, Mr Smith was proud of having taken the time to listen to members of the public and their concerns and help them understand the rationale behind the closures.
‘‘People would come out of those discussions with a degree of understanding. There was a fair degree of satisfaction in listening to people and helping them understand and I’m proud of helping with that.’’
He is also proud of the survival of Maniototo’s hospital, in Ranfurly, saying health board members acknowledged the need for the hospital to keep serving the community.
Strong community networks continued to serve the Maniototo well, including during tough times on the farm, Mr Smith said.
He said he knew many farmers were reluctant to ask for help, but reminded them that was ‘‘how things worked’’ in the Maniototo.
‘‘We’re farming in a pretty special part of New Zealand, where you get a lot of support from the community. If things are hard going, talk to your neighbour, but if you see someone who you think won’t ask for help then go to them first. In a lot of cases people are leaning over the fence and offering to help before they get asked, which is a good thing.’’