Gary Kelliher is the deputy chairperson of the MCWSG. A third-generation farmer at Springvale, near Alexandra, Gary and his wife Kathy farm sheep and deer, with the help of Gary’s parents. They also run a gravel and clay quarry, and an accounting and office management business.
Gary returned to the family farm in 2002 after training as a civil engineer and working for an engineering consultancy firm, and also spending five years in Ireland running a project management business.
Gary is also chairperson of the Manuherikia Irrigation Co-operative Society and is in his first term as an Otago regional councillor, representing Central Otago.
Gary first became involved with the Manuherikia Irrigation Co-operative Society board in 2002 and said he realised early on that the board could not deal with all the issues it faced on its own.
“I personally think that being part of a catchment-wide group is the best possible way forward, to improve our irrigation reliability and to put in place the consenting security required, so we can farm on with confidence. I grew up with irrigation and know that it’s the difference as to whether we are viable as a farm or not.”
Gary said community support for the project was vital “so that environmentally and socially we improve, rather than degrade, this wonderful place we live in.”
The Kelliher’s farm and other businesses, plus Gary’s off-farm roles, take up the majority of his time, but he tries to fit in a few days of skiing with the family each winter.
“And I gaze longingly at every helicopter I see and have done a bit of training in one, but really am just waiting for the day when time and money allows.”
Gary and Kathy have two daughters who are 12 and 10 years old.