Ata Rangi founder and co-owner Clive Paton has been appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in recognition of his contribution to Conservation and Viticulture.

Award-winning Martinborough winemaker and conservationist Clive Paton says his Queen's Birthday Honour is recognition of the many unsung heroes who have helped him over the years. Mr Paton, who was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, said he accepted the award on behalf of all those who supported him.

"The recognition is nice, even if a little surprising," he said.

"What I do is in the bloodstream. But there are heaps of people who have given me inspiration, so thanks to them."

Mr Paton is one of a handful of people who pioneered winemaking in the Martinborough area, owning the Ata Rangi vineyard since 1980. The vineyard won the inaugural Tipuranga Teitei o Aotearoa award in 2010, which was created to recognise those who have shown commitment in developing New Zealand pinot noir.

Mr Paton's wife, Phyll, said when her husband established the vineyard, many questioned his sanity.

"Most people thought Clive was quite mad to give up his profitable dairy cows for a small, scruffy paddock and a handful of grape cuttings," she said.

In keeping with Ata Rangi's policy of sustainable wine production, Mr Paton said he had also been heavily involved in planting trees for the past 30 years. He owns the Bush Block, a 130ha farm adjoining the Aorangi Forest Park producing native plants for revegetation.

He also formed a conservation group to protect the Waihora Stream, which contains native fish, and helped the Department of Conservation, the Greater Wellington Regional Council and Forest and Bird establish the Aorangi Restoration Trust for re-introducing threatened species into the Aorangi Mountains and adjoining forest."


Clive credits his passion for trees and for conservation to a number of inspirational individuals - people like Richard Henry who established the first offshore island sanctuaries for endangered birds, and ecologist/author Geoff Park and his acclaimed 1995 book Nga Uruora

“My Aunty Noeline would post me her well-thumbed Forest & Bird magazines back in the 70’s. Somehow I understood, and got hooked. Over the past ten years I’ve been able to move more and more into conservation initiatives, thanks to the support of the team who keep Ata Rangi humming.”

“Our involvement with Project Crimson is well known to wine-lovers who enjoy our ‘Crimson’ Pinot Noir,” says Phyll. “Sales of this wine support the restoration and protection of rata and pohutukawa. But the formation of the Aorangi Restoration Trust is easily Clive’s most significant contribution to conservation to date.”

The Aorangi Trust members collectively have a wealth of conservation knowledge, experience and passion. They come from diverse backgrounds including Council, Deer-hunters, DOC and Forest & Bird. The Trust’s mission is bring the Aorangi forest in the range south-east of Martinborough back to its natural heritage state in order to reverse the decline of local indigenous species. He has gathered a group of like-minded individuals from various organisations, including local and regional councils, deer-hunters, Forest & Bird, Dept of Conservation and, perhaps most importantly, surrounding landowners to form this Trust. Local friends have volunteered invaluable admin support. The Trust’s aim is to enhance biodiversity, eradicate pests, and ultimately restore this unique area of New Zealand into a haven for native birds such as kiwi, whio and weka all of which once thrived in the area.

For more information email Phyll on or visit the Ata Rangi Website

Author's Bio: 

Ata Rangi is a small family owned winery in Martinborough, New Zealand. They are most known for producing quality internationally recognised Pinot Noir.