Queen’s birthday honours: Taranaki farming identity humbled by gong

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Bryan Hocken is the happiest on the farm, but he's also very honored to have been honored on this queen's birthday.

LISA BURD/Stuff

Bryan Hocken is the happiest on the farm, but he’s also very honored to have been honored on this queen’s birthday.

Taranaki’s farming identity, Bryan Hocken, will finally be able to relax on Monday morning after hiding a huge secret from his wife and children for weeks.

And in the afternoon, he plans to party with the rest of Tarata at the party hall.

Hiding the fact that he was due to be made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit as part of the Queen’s Birthday and Platinum Jubilee Honors List for the past two months has been stressful for the 73-year-old man, which led to more than a few sleepless nights.

But in no way does he want to be put on a pedestal for the contributions he has made to agriculture and the rural community during his more than 50-year farming career.

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The honor belongs more to the community he calls home than to him, Hocken said.

“I didn’t do this alone.”

Hocken said he was still coming to terms with the award which he described as the biggest highlight of his life, equal to when he married Helen, his wife of nearly 50 years.

The father-of-three’s efforts and activism to help the farming community and promote New Zealand’s sheep and beef industry are among the reasons for the official recognition.

“I don’t like farmers being walked on, they need to be appreciated.”

His dedication to promoting the virtues of beef and mutton has led him to welcome people from all over the world to his farm on Toetoe Rd.

Taranaki Farm Identity and Tarata Pillar Bryan Hocken is a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

LISA BURD/Stuff

Taranaki Farm Identity and Tarata Pillar Bryan Hocken is a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

He was president of Taranaki Federated Farmers from 2006 to 2008, and an agricultural champion in other ways as well.

This included his role in a nationwide Federated Farmers campaign in 2013 to oppose a tax on animal emissions, commonly known as a fart tax.

Away from national politics, Hocken is a true pillar of the Tarata community, of which he has been the unofficial mayor since 1989.

He was Chairman of the Tarata Hall Committee for 36 years before becoming its Patron, is President and Life Member of the Taranaki Sheep Dog Trial Club and President of the Inglewood Veterinary Group.

In 2019 he also won a Taranaki Balance Farm Environment Award, alongside his wife, daughter Sarah and husband Jarred Coogan.

But the possibility of rewards was never a driving force for Hocken.

“I just wanted to be one of the boys in the crowd and I just put my hand up.”

Once the news is announced for his own family on Monday, Hocken will host a shindig at Tarata Hall after lunch and invited the community “to bring a plate and a companion for afternoon tea.”

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