Euan was an Honorary Life member of The New Zealand Institute of Agricultural & Horticultural Science (late 1970s to 2000) and the New Zealand Plant Protection Society during the 1970s and 1980s. He was actively involved in both organisations.
Euan grew up in Wellington and attended Wellington College. His early interest in horticulture was fostered when he was a teenager after each of his home-grown potatoes, carrots, radishes and parsnips won a prize at the Karori Horticulture Show. He went on to attend Massey College (now Massey University) completing his Bachelor of Agriculture Science in Horticulture in 1961. He then became a Horticultural advisory officer with the Department of Agriculture based in Hastings with the responsibility of advising vegetable growers, many of whom were Chinese. From the experience he was able to gain and collate information on many different vegetable crops resulting in “The New Zealand Vegetable Growers Handbook”, first published in 1975 and subsequently updated. It became a standard student textbook at both Massey and Lincoln Universities.
After 10 years with the Department he was offered a job as a research officer with Henry H. York, a chemical company conglomerate of Bayer, BASF, Hoechst and Schering AG. This involved undertaking trials on current and new candidate agrichemicals for fruit, vegetable and arable crops primarily in the Hawkes Bay. He fell out with the German hierarchy for recommending a competitor company’s product to a grower and was made redundant.
Discussions with several industry people resulted in him establishing New Zealand’s first independent non-Government contract research company, Agro-Research Enterprises Ltd in 1978. This was based in Havelock North on a small 0.8 ha block in St George’s Road. His reputation quickly spread, and he undertook trials on a broad range of agrichemicals for companies from many parts of the world.
In the mid 1980s he diversified into two main directions. He exited the research business as he was increasingly involved in what he termed “forensic horticulture”. This involved undertaking in-depth investigations into cases where agrichemicals were suspected of being the culprit in damaging crops. His perceptive nature and ability to work with the legal fraternity resulted in him being an expert witness in many court cases across the country over the ensuing years, finally retiring from it when around 75 years old.
Euan’s other passion was the Hawkes Bay Fire Brigade. He became their chemical adviser and was deployed when a chemical or even suspected-chemical incident occurred. He had the satisfaction of being able to respond to an incident more quickly in his red Audi sports car than either the fire service or any other emergency vehicle
As a result of his work with the Fire Service he authored in 2002 the book “HRH: A Manual for the Management of Agrichemical Emergencies”, with four subsequent editions. This handbook listed beside each agrichemical the type of hazard, type of protective gear to wear and how to deal with spillages most effectively. The New Zealand Fire Service still uses this handbook as an authoritative reference, and It is also used internationally. Although not a fireman himself, he was made an Honorary Member of the Havelock North Brigade on 23 December 2016.
He joined the New Zealand Weed & Pest Society (now the New Zealand Plant Protection Society) in the early 1970s and was involved at both the local branch and national levels serving on the national Committee for several years.
Euan was also a strong supporter of NZIAHS and served on its executive for several years. Euan was a deep thinker and had long felt that the Institute had too strong a focus on sheep and beef and all things agricultural. He felt that horticultural interests in the primary production sector were under-developed, particularly in advocacy and government representation. Along with Professor Ken Milne and Dr Errol Hewitt and others he was instrumental in establishing in 1981 the New Zealand Society for Horticultural Science, a sister organisation to the Institute, but one which focussed specifically on the interests of horticulture and horticulturalists. He served as President for several years and played a key role in raising the level of government and industry awareness around issues associated with horticulture. After some years apart, the Institute and the Society gradually became more closely aligned and finally merged into one entity in 2005 and became The New Zealand Institute of Agricultural & Horticultural Science, which today represents both agriculture and horticulture. He was made an Honorary Life Member of the Institute in 1993 for his services to the wider agricultural industry and the Institute.
Euan was a strong supporter of professional development for scientists and consultants and the recognition of excellence and credibility that came with that. With others, he advocated for agriculture and horticulture consultant registration in the 1980s, which eventually morphed into the formation of CPAg, the professional accreditation and continuing education system for agricultural and horticultural professionals.
Euan will be remembered for his sense of humour, his keen observational skills in the field, his measured approach to problem solving, and his technical and debating expertise. His legacy will be the high regard in which he is held for his work across many facets of the agricultural and horticultural sectors as well as the New Zealand Fire Service. He is survived by his wife of almost 60 years, Marlene, his three children and grandchildren.
Karen Cooper and Andre Geelen