Scholarship recognises students’ aspirations to help shape New Zealand’s primary industries

The John Perrin Scholarship recipients Ashleigh van Uffelen (pictured right, Palmerston North) and Abbey Dowd (pictured left, South Waikato) are proof you don’t need to be born and bred on a farm to have a passion for the industry and dreams of shaping its future.

The pair are both in their final year of a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Lincoln University, completing their Honours projects. They have each received $2,000 from Perrin Ag to put towards the final year of studies.

Perrin Ag Directors John Perrin and Trudy Laan were impressed by Ashleigh and Abbey’s passion for New Zealand’s primary industries and their drive to support its farmers.

“It’s exciting to see young people coming into the industry with real enthusiasm for supporting our primary sector, particularly young women who were not born and bred on a farm,” says Trudy.

“As well as demonstrating exceptional academic performance, both Ashleigh and Abbey model the very values our firm embodies and are heavily involved in sports, community groups and clubs.”

Ashleigh van Uffelen

Ashleigh grew up in urban Palmerston North but worked on nearby farms during her high school years. During this time, she discovered a passion for supporting farmers to navigate environmental changes and help bridge the gap between rural and urban New Zealand.

“As I approached the end of high school, I became aware of the significant future challenges farmers were expected to face, particularly in the area of environmental management, public perception and changing consumer demands. This inspired me to study a combination of agricultural science and environmental management at Lincoln University.”

Ashleigh’s Honours project is researching how environmental policy and regulation affects farmer land-use change decisions in the Selwyn District.

She hopes her findings will help inform policymakers when directing land-use decisions with an understanding of how environmental regulation interacts with factors in a farm system.

“I want to help provide pathways for increased farmer buy-in by better understanding the interaction between farmers and regulation, thereby improving environmental outcomes while maintaining farmer passion and farm profitability,” says Ashleigh.

“I’ve always been interested in bridging that gap between rural and urban communities and this project is also part of facilitating that conversation.”

John says Ashleigh’s commitment, drive and achievements made her an obvious choice.

“She has a good understanding of the environmental issues farmers are facing and a strong commitment to her social responsibilities. That’s an essential balance for an aspiring agribusiness professional.”

Abbey Dowd

Abbey grew up surrounded by dairy farms in a close-knit community in the South Waikato. She saw first-hand how local farmers supported her community, which is what inspired her to study at Lincoln.

“Growing up in a rural community I have always been impressed by how much local farmers contribute to the community,” she says.

“They were always there to lend a hand, whether it be coaching the local rugby team or organising community fundraisers. I wanted to help give back to the industry and play my part in helping our primary sector continue to produce quality food in a sustainable way.”

Abbey spent last summer as an intern on New Zealand’s first commercial deer milking operation. Her Honours project is researching deer milk alongside other more traditional milking operations and assessing the deer milking industry’s future production possibilities.

“Growing up I didn’t live on a farm, but I always knew I wanted to work in the farming sector,” says Abbey. “I wanted a role where there was a balance between working on and off farm and where I could support farmers to get the best out of their businesses.”

Trudy says Abbey is a well-organised, driven, high achieving young woman with a good understanding of the challenges that New Zealand agriculture is going to encounter in the future.

“We are excited about the contribution both she and Ashleigh will make to the future of our primary industries in New Zealand.”

About the Scholarship

The John Perrin Scholarship is one of two awards Perrin Ag offers each year to promising individuals to continue (2nd year or later) agriculture and horticulture science studies at undergraduate, post-graduate diploma or Honours level at either Lincoln, Massey or Waikato Universities. 

Named after the founder and current Chairman of the company, this scholarship recognises the qualities John has brought to his clients and colleagues for so many years – passion, dedication, the pursuit of excellence and the desire to make a positive impact on our communities.



Lee Matheson

Managing Director
Principal Consultant

B.Appl.Sc (Hons), FNZIPIM (Reg)

Lee came to agribusiness consultancy via the unlikely pathway of a suburban Wellington upbringing, an Honours degree in plant science and a six-year career in the financial markets. In his role as the firm’s MD, Lee doesn’t get out on-farm as much as he used to but makes the most of it when he does. While having swapped the paddock for the boardroom, Lee continues to provide advice in the areas of farm business strategy, farm system innovation, corporate governance, investment analysis and economic research.

Outside of Perrin Ag, Lee loves to spend his time coaching rugby, watching his three kids play sport and gardening with his wife Haidee.

“I love the challenge of empowering people in our primary sectors and the excitement of seeing clients achieving their aspirations. If we can encourage farmers to engage with their consumers, take a more active involvement in their supply chains and view their businesses through a wider lens, then I think our industries have a great future.”

Michael Booth

Senior Consultant

B.Com Af (FM)

Mike brings a wealth of agri-tech and dairy systems expertise to Perrin Ag. After graduating with a Bachelor of AgriCommerce from Massey, he started his career with DairyNZ as a consulting officer where he ran discussion groups and managed farm supervision.

He left DairyNZ to travel the world but within a few months Covid hit, the borders closed, and Mike and his wife Nikita returned home. Back in New Zealand, he took up a role managing DairyNZ’s monitor farms on the Hauraki Plains before joining Halter.

After finishing his OE, he returned home to live in Papamoa and joined the Perrin Ag team in February 2024.

“I’m not someone who likes to sit still and I like to be continually learning. I saw an opportunity with Perrin Ag. As a business their ethos is about continuous improvement and learning. There are always new and better ways of doing things and we need to be at the forefront of that for our clients.”

Abbey Dowd

Consultant

B.Ag.Sc (Hons), MNZIPIM

Abbey joined Perrin Ag in February 2023 as part of the firm’s graduate recruitment programme, Empower.

Abbey grew up surrounded by dairy farms in a close-knit community in South Waikato. She saw first-hand how local farmers supported her community, which is what inspired her to study at Lincoln University.

Growing up in a rural community Abbey has always been impressed by how much local farmers contribute to the community. She wanted to help give back to the industry and play a part in helping our primary sector continue to produce quality food in a sustainable way.

In 2022, Abbey spent the summer as an intern on one of New Zealand’s first commercial deer milking operations. Her Honours project was researching deer milk alongside other more traditional milking operations and assessing the deer milking industry’s future production possibilities.

“Growing up I didn’t live on a farm, but I always knew I wanted to work in the farming sector. I wanted a role where there was a balance between working on and off farm and where I could support farmers to get the best out of their businesses.”

Sam Gray

Consultant

Sam grew up on a dairy farm in the Far North. After graduating from the University of Otago in 2005 with an Honours degree in molecular biotechnology, he spent several years working in medical research in New Zealand and Scotland. Upon returning to New Zealand in 2012, he spent four seasons dairy farming in Northland before purchasing a 56 ha block in Taupо̄, where he was first exposed to farming under a nitrogen cap. Sam joined Perrin Ag in 2023 and brings his strong analytical skills that are grounded by a pragmatic approach to problem solving. Outside of farming and consultancy, you’ll likely find him fly fishing, hunting or snowboarding.

“A lot of farmers feel overwhelmed in the face of a rapidly changing regulatory landscape. I strive to help farmers understand what these environmental regulations mean for their business, and offer practical solutions that allow them to keep doing what they do best, whilst remaining compliant”.

Danni Armstrong

Finance administrator

Danni grew up on a life style block in Atiamuri and spent five seasons as a relief milker in the area. During this time, her full time roles were in various fields including the rental car, health care and marine industries. Danni has had a focus on administrative and accounting duties, but is also proficient in looking after customers especially well, social media and website operation, running a rental car fleet and the associated tasks like training, rosters, H&S and organising repairs! Danni joined Perrin Ag in May 2021, to be part of a business in an industry she is passionate about.

During her spare time Danni can be found reading a book with her cats or out enjoying the walks in Rotorua’s Redwoods.

“What motivates me each day is knowing that I will be challenged with a range of problem solving tasks. I love to see all the figures adding up and knowing that my role makes a difference to the team.”

Duncan Walker

Director
Principal Consultant

B.Appl.Sc, MNZIPIM (Reg)

Coming from a drystock and dairy farming background, Duncan has always been passionate about growing primary sector businesses. Whether it’s pastoral farming, forestry, horticulture or investments outside the farm gate, sustainably optimising business performance is Duncan’s passion. After graduating from Massey University with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Agribusiness, Duncan’s first opportunity to optimise a farm business was by undertaking a dairy conversion. Duncan project managed the conversion and continued to run the dairy farm for a further three years.

Since joining Perrin Ag in 2011 Duncan works with a wide range of clients including those ‘outside the farm gate’. With his strong background in investment analysis, business strategy and project management, Duncan is increasingly working with clients to analyse and integrate horticulture and forestry investments into their farm businesses.

“I enjoy helping clients navigate through the complexities of today’s operational, financial and environmental challenges. Seeing clients achieve their goals is very rewarding”

Lee Matheson

Managing Director
Principal Consultant

B.Appl.Sc (Hons), FNZIPIM (Reg)

Lee came to agribusiness consultancy via the unlikely pathway of a suburban Wellington upbringing, an Honours degree in plant science and a six-year career in the financial markets. In his role as the firm’s MD, Lee doesn’t get out on-farm as much as he used to but makes the most of it when he does. While having swapped the paddock for the boardroom, Lee continues to provide advice in the areas of farm business strategy, farm system innovation, corporate governance, investment analysis and economic research.

Outside of Perrin Ag, Lee loves to spend his time coaching rugby, watching his three kids play sport and gardening with his wife Haidee.

“I love the challenge of empowering people in our primary sectors and the excitement of seeing clients achieving their aspirations.  If we can encourage farmers to engage with their consumers, take a more active involvement in their supply chains and view their businesses through a wider lens, then I think our industries have a great future.”