Fourth generation bull breeder Bruce McKenzie was appointed a Companion of The New Zealand Order of Merit in this year’s honours. PHOTO/GIANINA SCHWANECKE
For services to the cattle industry
There’s much to celebrate for fourth generation farmer Bruce McKenzie at Maungahina Stud, just outside Masterton.
Not only will he celebrate their 75th on-farm bull sale next month, the longest running private Hereford sales in the whole of Australasia, but he has also been appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to the cattle industry.
McKenzie said there was never any doubt he would follow in the family business and carry on perfecting Hereford lines.
“I was always quite keen,” he said adding he had been to all other 74 sales, including as a baby in a bassinet.
“It’s something really quite special.”
McKenzie is credited with being at the forefront of genetic development in the primary sector in New Zealand for more than 50 years, embracing technological advancements in the industry.
“We’ve improved the breed no end from years ago. The cattle were too small. We’ve put a bit of frame and length on them.”
McKenzie is also well known as a leading cattle judge at events around the world.
He said the stud game had changed completely since his son Mark McKenzie took over the main farm.
Originally, records of all 113 years’ worth of breeding lines were kept in a book still guarded in a safe.
These days, much of this valuable information is stored on the cloud instead, but the book is still a valuable resource.
He’s also pioneered the importation of different livestock breeds, as well as material such as frozen embryos and semen, with the aim of improving herd quality in New Zealand.
“We’ve concentrated on quality rather than quantity.”
This included refining the Charolais breed, which created the Red Charolais, and introducing the increasingly popular Speck Park breed to the country.
The effects of the Maungahina Stud genetics over New Zealand meat production continues to contribute to millions of dollars of value both in meat production and the value of female genetics.
Looking back over the years, he said there had been some pretty remarkable sales including one bull which fetched $80,000 at an auction in the late 1970s.
McKenzie was still surprised to have been recognised.
So much so that he initially thought it was a hoax and called Parliamentary Services to check.
“It was just a huge honour,” he said.
“It’s just something I’ve enjoyed. I like getting up in the morning and feeding the bulls.”
He credited a lot of the tree planting and environmental work on the farm to his late wife Jennie.
Despite handing over the reins to the fifth and sixth generations of McKenzies, he still enjoys many projects on the farm including the establishment of a vineyard which is run by Johner Estate.
“We’ve had a few good vintages from it.”