Peter Jackson: Affco saviour

By Glenys Christian

In Community4 Minutes
Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson, a former chairman of meat company Affco has been remembered as an industry leader at a turbulent time, who was widely credited with saving the company from financial difficulties. He died recently, aged 75.

The eulogy given by Tom Mandeno, a past director of the Wool Board, the Meat Board and Meat and Wool NZ, as well as a second cousin, told of Peter being born in Wairoa and being brought up in Te Akau, in southwest Waikato. He was head boy at Southwell School and head prefect at Kings College, later becoming chairman of both their boards of governors.

Deciding on farming as his future he completed a Massey University Diploma in Sheep farming in 1966, catching the eye of Professor Al Rae, then head of the sheep husbandry and animal genetics department.

“I believe Prof Rae saw in Pete a sheep breeder with the potential to make a significant contribution towards lifting the productivity of the New Zealand sheep flock,” Mandeno said.

“The professor’s assessment was correct and Pete’s establishment of the Piquet Hill Stud and work with the NZ Romney Development Group and other progressive breeders has resulted in the spectacular productivity gains of the NZ sheep flock.”

The stud strongly supported performance recording and selection for structural soundness, screening more than 100,000 ewes and for 40 years recording through Sheeplan, Animalplan and SIL. More recently there’s been a strong emphasis on facial eczema testing and now sires selected for that programme are also tested for worm resistance, with results so far being encouraging.

In 1981 a Nuffield Scholarship took him to the United States, Europe and United Kingdom. He joined the board of Affco, then the country’s largest meat company, in 1987 and became chairman two years later. During his chairmanship, which ended in 1999, there were a number of failures of meat plants around the country such as Fortex and Benmore due to high bank debt.

With Waitaki’s failure Affco took over its North Island assets and Alliance its South Island assets.

Much overseas travel was the order of the day due to Affco having a number of offshore joint ventures in the UK, China, Europe and Canada.

He was also a director of New Zealand Wool Services International, set up by the Wool Board, chairman of Mount Linton Station in Southland, and had governance roles with two other large scale operations, the Sisam farm at Whakatane and the King Country’s Maraekowhai Station.

Two sons, Thomas and William, joined the Piquet Hill Stud business in 2003 then 10 years later went into partnership to buy it. William later bought the stud, and the dairy bull lease services he and Thomas had set up and the farm, now comprising 1600 hectares.

Peter is survived by his wife, Prudence and sons Samuel, Thomas, William and James.