A significant national conference organised by Golden Bay’s Rural Service Centre finished last Tuesday. The conference of the Association of Rural Veterinary Practices attracted over 80 delegates - directors and CEOs of vet clubs from all over the country - and some inspirational keynote speakers.
Nigel Harwood is the chairman of the Golden Bay Vet Club. He credits Dave Egan, the club’s general manager, with getting his organisation active in the national organisation again. “Being involved has widened our knowledge on industry issues and given us strong avenues for good advice on all industry issues when we need it.”
The keynote speakers at various sessions of the conference were local dairy farmer Corrigan Sowman, businessman and farmer Tom Sturgess, BNZ economist Tony Alexander and the chairman of Air New Zealand, John Palmer.
At the grand conference dinner at the Pohara Hall on Monday night, delegates and their partners were entertained and inspired by Tony Christiansen, a high-achieving sportsman, businessman and motivational speaker. Tony had both legs amputated after a railway accident when he was nine and, as he says, “accepted the challenge” by deciding to become the best he could be. That has so far included playing for the Wheel Blacks, climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, becoming a surf lifesaver, and representing New Zealand five times as an athlete at various international championships such as the World Games. Altogether he won 35 medals, including 12 gold, 17 silver and 6 bronze medals. Tony has also been an active skydiver, river-rafter and motor-sports participant.
While he was in the Bay, Tony also agreed to speak to some of the students of Collingwood Area School and Golden Bay High School.
His messages are simple and straightforward - and delivered with refreshing good humour - some of it directed at himself.
He says that perception is something that holds people back from achieving their goals.
"We’re not born understanding words like ‘shouldn’t’, ‘can’t’ and ‘get real’. We learn them. Life isn’t about what happens to you; it’s about what you do about it."
Tony quickly had his audience onside last Monday night. Delegates and partners responded to his down-to-earth directness and the organisers were thrilled..
“The conference introduced a lot of new people to the Bay and benefited about 14 businesses and organisations,” said Dave Egan. “The delegates and their partners liked going to see the mussel farms and they gave Tony Christiansen a standing ovation. The feedback has been very positive, especially about the catering and the service.”