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Taranaki Dairy Industry Stalwart Recognised

Like his Jersey sire, 'Glanton Red Dante', Taranaki dairy industry stalwart Jim Thwaites has made his presence known in the dairy industry.

Mr Thwaites was last night recognised for his service to the dairy industry when he received a Holden Lifetime Achievement Award during the Fonterra Westpac Dairy Excellence Awards.

The Holden Lifetime Achievement Award is a new initiative of the awards and aims to recognise outstanding contribution to the industry both regionally and nationally.

Glanton Red Dante is a legend in Jersey breeding circles and now Mr Thwaites' own service to the industry has been recognised by his peers. His work in the industry has focused on governance and in improving the performance of the national dairy herd. It has spanned more than 35 years.

In 1991 he received an MBE for services to dairying and last year he was awarded the 'World Dairy Expo International Dairy Person of the Year'. This award is given each year at the World Dairy Expo to someone living outside the United States. Mr Thwaites is the first New Zealander to receive this award.

Kakaramea dairy farmer and last year's Taranaki Fonterra Westpac Farmer of the Year winner David Werder says Jim Thwaites started his dairy-farming career with wife Betty in 1949 at Mokoia in South Taranaki. They stayed there, raising their family of five, until 1971 when they moved to their present farm at Manaia.

"Jim was a returned serviceman who came home to farm and from that point on he took an interest in not only his farm but also his community," Mr Werder says.

"The dairy industry has played a big part in Jim's life but this is still rated only second to his wife Betty and family."

In 1953 his involvement in the dairy industry began in earnest when he was elected to the board of the Mokoia Dairy Company. The same year, Mr Thwaites was also elected to the first Artificial Breeding Committee in Taranaki and the couple established their Jersey stud, Glanton, which is today run by their son, Robin.

In 1960 he became chairman of the Mokoia Dairy Company, a position he held until it amalgamated with Kiwi Dairies. He then became a director of Kiwi Dairies from 1968 until his retirement in 1988.

"During this time, as a director he saw many amalgamations which left only one dairy company in the Central and South Taranaki area," Mr Werder says. The most successful sire from his stud was 'Glanton Red Dante'. Dante was first used in 1974 and became the first bull to exceed 400,000 inseminations and sire more than 28,000 herd tested daughters, as well as four sons in the Premier Sires Team.

"Today more than 90% of the top Jersey sires in New Zealand are descended from Glanton Red Dante and in 2002 Glanton Red Dante was voted 'Sire of the Century' by the New Zealand Jersey Breeders Association," Mr Werder says.

Mr Thwaites had a long association with the Jersey breed and in 1976 he was made a Life Member of the New Zealand Jersey Breeders Association. He was also a widely respected judge and classifier. He became chairman of the Taranaki Herd Improvement Association from 1969 until his retirement in 1988. He was also a director of the New Zealand Herd Improvement Council for 20 years and was its chairman from 1982 to 1984. In 1984 it changed its name to the New Zealand Livestock Improvement Council and he served another four years as a director until 1988 when he retired, bringing to an end 35 years of service to Livestock Improvement. He has also been a director of a number of other dairy industry related organisations, such as NDA and Farmers Mutual Group.

In 1990 Jim was awarded the 50th Jubilee Medal on the N.Z. Animal Production Society.

The Fonterra Westpac Dairy Excellence Awards are being run in seven regions and are sponsored by Fonterra, Westpac, Ravensdown, Pioneer, Livestock Improvement, DTS, RD1, Holden and Fegan and Co.

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