Keynote Speaker

Mr Gerald Hope

 Chief Executive - Marlborough Research Centre (MRC)





Is Sustainability Achievable for the Predominate Land & Water Users in Marlborough? 

What Role & Responsibility do the Wineries have to Mitigate & Manage Waste in Support of Landowners?


MRC Trust is a charitable organisation established in 1984 for the purpose of ‘ensuring the sustainable use of Marlborough’s natural resources through innovative research, technical development and the transfer of knowledge’.

In recent years the focus has been on connecting research providers and business, business to business through strategic regional development initiatives. A key priority is facilitating the growth and success of the Marlborough Food and Beverage Innovation Cluster that was launched in September 2013.

MRC performs the role of facilitator, seed funder with the primary purpose of connecting research and business to improve Marlborough’s economy. A key function is the management and administration of the Marlborough Research Centre Budge Street campus, Grovetown Park business park and 10 hectares of sauvignon blanc vineyard. As a landlord MRC has twelve tenant group totalling sixty people

Gerald has had a diverse career that started as a graduate teacher in the 1970’s, followed by OE for several years that on return to New Zealand morphed into a ten-year craft pottery business based at several locations in Marlborough. Through 1980 – 1990 he was a shareholder in a wine company start up and eventually became a grape grower before selling all investments in the wine grape sector in 2003.

With a keen interest in local government he was elected to the Marlborough District Council in 1995 and Mayor of Marlborough 1998 – 2001. He served a total of twelve years on council and has been chairman of the Environment Committee and Finance and Community Development committees.

While still with MRC in 2005 – 2009 he was contracted to Wine Marlborough during a transitional period when the organisation became part of a unified national organisation under NZ Wine.

He is currently an elected member of the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board (NMDHB) chairing the Hospital Advisory Committee, and a Trustee of Cawthron Institute. Cawthron provides research based solutions to enable the sustainable management and development of New Zealand's coastal and freshwater systems and resources for the benefit of the top of the south region and wider New Zealand.

Presentation Abstract

Since the first settlers from East Polynesia set foot on the coast of Marlborough around 1320AD their impact on land and water resources began to alter the natural ecosystems. Significant environmental impact occurred after the first European settlers arrived in the mid-1800s and began to colonise the Wairau Plains, Waihopai and Awatere Valley. Today, with most of the good and accessible land now planted in grapes, is this sustainable?

Looking back over the past 160 years gives us an insight into how man has imposed his will and used technology to accelerate land use changes. Regardless of the economic return to the district from primary production, there can be no argument that land use has changed the landscape itself. But are those changes irreversible, carrying an environmental cost, or progressive adaptation that provides essential certainty of return for the land users themselves?

Today the Wairau Valley with its broad alluvial gravels and layers of silt and clay is a special place recognised through a singularly famous sauvignon blanc grape variety. Grape growers and wine companies share responsibility for the future of sustainable production and the use of natural resources while keeping in balance with the demands and expectations of consumers and the communities of Marlborough.