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Doing the honours .. Dave Finlay unveils the memorial plaque acknowledging Sidney Murray Hurst OBE as a "Visionary Farmer and Irrigation Pioneer; Champion of the Waitaki". PHOTO: SALLY BROOKER

The man who brought water to Waitaki farmland has been honoured with a plaque alongside Bortons Pond.

Sid Hurst, who died aged 97 in July 2016, is now officially commemorated as a “Visionary Farmer and Irrigation Pioneer; Champion of the Waitaki”.

The plaque site was chosen for its significance to the Lower Waitaki irrigation scheme, which Mr Hurst instigated. Bortons Pond, just west of Georgetown, is where water diverted from the Waitaki River is held for distribution to thousands of hectares of drought-prone land.

It has become a popular place for kayaking, with amenity trees and bulrushes enhancing the landscape.

Mr Hurst had always wanted to buy that land but was never able to, his friend and fellow irrigation pioneer, Dave Finlay, said at Friday’s unveiling ceremony.

Family, friends, admirers … Fellow irrigation stalwarts Jim Dennison (front left) and Dave Finlay speak at the unveiling of a plaque alongside Bortons Pond honouring Sid Hurst. PHOTO: SALLY BROOKER

“Today, we will ensure his memory on this piece of ground. Let’s call it Hurst Park and be done with it.”

Mr Hurst’s contribution to farming was acknowledged with an honorary doctorate of science from Lincoln University, an OBE for services to agriculture and education, the Ron Cocks Memorial Award for leadership in irrigation, and life membership of Federated Farmers.

However, “he never wanted accolades”, Mr Finlay said.

“If he could today, he would chase me out of here.”

Only a few people have the DNA of leadership such as Mr Hurst’s, Mr Finlay said.

Awamoko addition .. The plaque at the Awamoko Domain, unveiled in 1982 by then Prime Minister Rob Muldoon to commemorate the completion of the Lower Waitaki irrigation scheme construction, is now accompanied by a second plaque honouring scheme instigator Sid Hurst.

“We’re so fortunate to have had Sid in the community.”

He thanked Mr Hurst’s family for “how unselfish you were with Sid”.

“With the time and energy he put in, he had to have a good support team. You allowed the community to get the benefit of him.”

A second, identical plaque has been added to the one unveiled at the Awamoko Domain in 1982 by then Prime Minister Robert Muldoon when the irrigation scheme construction was finished.