2022 Nuffield Scholar Induction and tour of Canterbury Alumni.

From on the same Zoom to in the same room.

Selected as 2022 Nuffield New Zealand Farming Scholars in November 2021, Lucie Douma, Parmindar Singh and Anthony Taueki, finally got to meet face to face recently.

The two-week Lincoln induction got underway in late January and provided the scholars with their first real opportunity to spend time together and to prepare for the year ahead.

As Parmindar explains, “Our Nuffield journey really begins now. We had a few conversations since receiving our scholarships and had engaged through Zoom meetings, but finally meeting face to face was truly awesome.”

Lucie Douma, recently appointed Covid Recovery and Supply Chain Manager at the Ministry for Primary Industries, recalls a significant work-related event marking the beginning of her Nuffield induction at Lincoln.

“The 2022 Nuffield Programme kicked off with a bang, with the announcement of community transmission of Omicron the day before we were due to arrive at Lincoln. Nothing like a bit of excitement to get us started,” recounts Lucie.

Parmindar recalls her first day in Christchurch. “The media skills training got us working hard on our first day – after a 4am start to get down to Christchurch. It was a busy few hours on day one, with a valuable in-front-of-camera exercise designed to sharpen our ability to deliver key messages, clearly and succinctly – a lot harder than it sounds.”

After bravely volunteering to be the first to have a go at the practical interview exercise, Anthony agrees, “I’m really at ease talking to people in all kinds of settings. This is the nature of my work as a regional coordinator and Kaiako (teacher, instructor) at Tū Te Wana, Fruition Horticulture. But I was surprised at how difficult it could be to talk in front of the camera.”

“My first words as I sat for the practical exercise were, “Oh man, this is going to be hard. But we got there.”

Leadership at Lincoln.

Next on the schedule were a number of sessions on Lincoln campus.

For Parmindar, taking part in elements of the Kellogg Programme was an opportunity to get to know her fellow Scholars. “It was great to hear from Primary Sector leaders together and to learn from a range of highly skilled and engaging Kellogg facilitators and guest speakers.”

“We spent a fantastic first week learning about our core drivers on our leadership training and along the way getting to know the scholars on the Kellogg Programme running at the time (K46). The theories and practical sessions were the perfect prelude to the second week, out on the road”, adds Lucie.

In between Kellogg sessions, media training, and induction, the 2022 Scholars had an in-person meeting with James Parsons on strong wools. For Parmindar, it was also inspiring to hear about James’ leadership pathway after Nuffield. She also notes the video calls with Nuffield and Kellogg Scholars, including Kate Scott, Tom Lambie, and Andrew MacFarlane from Blinc Innovation. “All of these conversations made this induction a stimulating and thought-provoking time.”

The Nuffield Alumni road trip.

The induction also included a road trip, designed to help scholars build broader knowledge and give a current context of the primary sector – while also sharpening observation skills.

For Parmindar, the road trip was the highlight of the induction. Parmindar is a Waikato dairy farmer, also involved in a number of business and community organisations.

“Spending time together as a cohort off campus, meeting with incredible Primary Sector leaders, passionate about what they do, what their people did before them and growing and developing the people in their businesses now.”

“We met with Nuffield Scholars as business owners, who welcomed us, shared their knowledge and experience, and encouraged us to step up on our Nuffield Scholarship journeys. Special thanks here to Craige Mackenzie, Ben Todhunter, and to Rosemary and John Acland for sharing so much with us in the stunning setting of Mt Peel Station.”

Anthony echoes the sentiment, “We had an awesome time catching up with Hamish and fellow tohunga. Being immersed in the wealth of knowledge and history by all was awesome. It allowed us to have a better understanding of the land and history across multiple sectors, which helps us define and mold our research topics.”

What’s next for these Nuffielders?

Despite the uncertain times, the three scholars remain upbeat, and all feel the sky is the limit.

“Being a Nuffield Scholar comes with great privilege and responsibility. We are committed to learning, creating impact, and giving back to the sector that has done so much for us all,” says Parmindar.

Lucie is already planning the next trip. “We are now busy planning for the year ahead with the announcement of the border opening and being able to partake in the Contemporary Scholars Conference in Norfolk, in early March. Watch this space.”

Parmindar and Anthony acknowledged that none of this was possible without a strong and connected team and community to make a programme like this successful, particularly during these challenging Covid times.

“We want to thank everyone for their generosity of time and information. New Zealand is lucky to have such an incredible farming community. We also want to sincerely thank Rural Leaders for being so agile and committed in an ever-changing Covid world,” said Lucie.

For the team here at Rural Leaders it was pleasure meeting this new group of scholars and facilitating the first phase of their Nuffield journeys. We look forward to sharing more in the months to come.

Our programmes work in partnership with some of New Zealand’s leading agribusiness organisations – click here for more.​