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Richard Hilson

Catchment Chair

Key professional skills

  • Thirty one years experience as a production animal veterinarian
    with a
    primary focus on sheep, beef cattle and deer. 

  • Leadership and governance roles within several veterinary and
    farm related

  • Facilitator of the DINZ Monitor Farm 2007-2010, the HB Originals

  • Advance Party, and discussion groups.



Governance and leadership experience

  • Immediate past General Manager of Vet Services (HB) Ltd.

  • Past shareholder, director and chairman of Vet Services (HB) Ltd.

  • Past director and chairman of Vet Services (Dannevirke) Ltd.

  • Director of DeerPro Ltd.

  • Shareholder and director of Jedburgh Farms Ltd.

  • Executive Committee of Society of Sheep and Beef Cattle Veterinarians.

  • Executive Committee of the Deer Branch of the NZVA.

  • Secretary of the Committee of the HB Deer Farmers Association.

  • Secretary of the Maraharakeke Porangahau catchment group.

  • Chair of Howard Estate Advisory Board (Smedley Station)

  • Chair of Tukituki Land Care catchment group.



Relevant study and experience

  • Recipient of the Alan Baldry Memorial Crook in 2015. This award is to a member of the Society of Sheep and Beef Cattle Veterinarians who has made a significant lifetime contribution to the country’s sheep and beef cattle industries.

  • Initiated and completed the POP Group Study into vaginal prolapse in ewes in 2001-2002, involving 140 farms and 40000 recorded ewes.

  • Published numerous veterinary papers, primarily on clinical aspects of sheep and deer disease and management. Presented to national and international veterinary conferences.

  • Newsletter producer and communicator for Vet Services as well as a frequent contributor to VetScript, the Deer Industry News and several rural publications.

  • Attended two Institute of Directors governance courses.

  • Hosting the BVSc final year students annually, both the Sheep and Beef Special Topic and the Deer Special Topic, for over fifteen years.

  • 2021 HB Rural Professional of the Year, HB Primary Sector Awards.



Farming experience

  • Farming 780ha of sheep, beef and deer in CHB, with a focus on fecund and productive ewes as well as a fully recorded deer herd with equal emphasis on venison and velvet production.

  • Experience in recorded sheep, cattle and deer systems.

  • Member of three sub-catchment groups within the Tukituki catchment.

  • Award winner in inaugural Deer Industry Elworthy Environmental Awards 2000



Tertiary qualifications

  • Bachelor of Veterinary Science, graduating May 1990.

TLC Interview with Richard Hilson March 2024

🌿 Farming Operation and Location:

Karen and I farm 220ha at Takapau, which is in both the Tukipo and Makaretu catchments, and 600ha in the hills at Hatuma, in the Maharakeke catchment. We breed and finish deer, sheep and cattle, plus run velvet stags.

🌿 Goals in the Role at TLC:
Change. On-farm change with more happy waterways and lots of proud farmers. Off-farm change through better interaction with regulators. Change of Wellington’s rules and regulation from aspirational and disconnected, to financially and practically possible for land owners.  

🌿 Benefits of Joining a Catchment Group:
Weight in numbers makes a difference. It has been interesting to see many minds in action, as the solutions are often right in front of us. It just takes a collective thought and a strong, sensible voice to articulate that.
And the catchment groups genuinely interest people – land owners really do enjoy a project, especially when it will not only improve their working environment (often aesthetically in the first instance) but also have genuine downstream benefits for all.
The manner in which large parts of a community will rally around a catchment group are something to behold and it is nice to now be in a position where we are doing that for all the right reasons – and not because Wellington is threatening us all with a Big Stick.


🌿  Environmental Enhancement Projects:
We’ve done quite a lot, when I look back on it. We have fully fenced the home block from a riparian aspect with at least seven kilometres of sheep and deer fence, that excludes about 10ha of grazing land, and planted thousands of trees. That means we have the Makaretu river boundary fenced, plus both sides of the Mangapoho stream and a small un-named stream on the northern side. From winning a deer industry environmental award back in the early 2000’s, we have plugged away at beautifying our work environment.
The other farm is largely fenced along riparian areas, with sediment traps and some great wetlands. That’s a similar amount of fencing, plus specific fencing around springs and the installation of two solar pumps and a new reticulated water system as a result. Karen was closely involved in a five year deer industry study on this block, with AgResearch. That certainly shows how complicated it is to reach national targets when local data is not taken into consideration.


Gabrielle gave a lot of our hard work a bit of a hiding though, and the cost of reinstating a whole lot of infrastructure is no small sum. We all need to take a considered look at what we plan in future, as events like that cyclone have added a cost on top of a cost in our riparian areas. But we’ll keep at it, being proud of where we live and work!

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