Cam Henderson 2019 Nuffield Scholar: CSC Report

We heard repeatedly about the growing world population and the related demand for food driving the need for bigger, better yields of commodity products (sound familiar?!).

America has always been known of the land where bigger is better. We saw that on show in Ames, Iowa for the 2019 Nuffield Contemporary Scholars Conference. The week served as a celebration of US agriculture and the role corn and soybean production has in feeding the world. We heard repeatedly about the growing world population and the related demand for food driving the need for bigger, better yields of commodity products (sound familiar?!). This is a message from policy makers, researchers and farmers alike. Throw in a question about the current trade disagreements and their effect on ag exports and the response is surprisingly positive. Trade needs to be fair so, despite the current blip, it will be better in the long run – rural support for the current administration is strong.

Research and Technology

Iowa State University hosted the conference. It has one of the best agri-colleges in the country with some impressive projects such as individual plant level crop management, animal vaccination by drone and genetic products. They collaborate with industry to bring products to market quickly and have a well organised extension service that ensures research reaches farmers at pace.

Iowa is also the home of John Deere who showed us a vision of the farming future with automated cropping, sensing and decision making.

Innovative Farmers

Joe Sweeny of Eagle’s Catch, a 27 year old entrepreneur, has built a $16 million glass house to farm Tilapia, a tropical fish often served whole in Hispanic cuisine. A brave move considering his glass houses are often under two feet of snow in a tornado prone area. But with a well constructed business plan and local backing, it demonstrates the willingness to ‘just do it’ here.

Ben Riensche of Blue Diamond Farming saw the inefficiency in his fleet of cropping machinery sitting in the shed for most of the year so bought a farm in a state further south growing different crops and ships his gear backwards and forwards.

Environmental Standards

The few farms we visited were very proud of their environmental work. There is a growing recognition of farming’s impact on the environment however the policy and mitigations still lag that in New Zealand. Climate change is often seen as an opportunity to grow higher yields but a threat long term.

Learning from Other Scholars

The other scholars added the most value during the week, sharing their stories, insights and many laughs. We are all struggling with similar issues of labour, public perception, succession and the environment – an insight that is both a relief and a worry. Our new global network of friends will help as we continue on the Nuffield journey. Next stop – Washington DC.

Finally – a big thankyou to all the organisers and sponsors in NZ for your support and Kia Kaha Christchurch.

Hamish Murray 2019 Nuffield Scholar: CSC Report

A look into the Land Grant University system and their education, research and extension work reminded me of the importance of strong institutions in our agriculture sector.

Travelling to the American mid-west in the middle of winter was a shock to the system. Stepping out after 6 weeks of 25-30 degrees into -5 was only the first, there were many more surprises instore as we explored the States of Illinoi and Iowa, the corn and soybean capital of the world for a week before joining the Nuffield 2019 Contemporary Scholars Conference in Ames.

A week together allowed the five kiwis to quickly acclimatise and the chance to use some of the work done in preparation for the year ahead. A meeting with the Chicago IDEO office in the first days of our visit, quickly challenged our thinking as it provided new insights in to the processes and insights from a professional Design Thinking Team. The idea of a broader design brief, multi-functional teams and the testing a small protypes with ever present feedback loops quickly became a theme for the week.

We went to the Fonterra head office in Chicago for a quick overview of their US operations, before heading to an Agritech Summit at the University of Illinoi. A look into the Land Grant University system and their education, research and extension work reminded me of the importance of strong institutions in our agriculture sector. The Summit illustrated both their role in innovation of ideas and the verification of data providing confidence in research. The public private partnerships were providing benefits to the all involved.

  • Students gaining real world experience, and reward for work rather than ever increasing student loans
  • Tech talent paired with innovated companies at a lower cost than Silicon Valley competition
  • A beach head for tech, engineering and biotech students into Ag which would previously not have been considered
  • Real world experience and innovation without the downside risk, providing a pipeline of ideas
  • Sharing data and ideas in collaborative ways between seemingly competing companies
  • Real importance of discovery teams for addressing the real need (ICOR teams)

De Moine, the global head office of John Deere and combine factory was a highlight, not only because like little boys in a toyshop we were excited to see the big gear, but for me it illustrated how the culture of a company flows right through from top to bottom. The guy on the factory floor had as much pride in his work as the tour guide showed and allowed us access to sit at the table in the board room. Examples of how they have instilled that culture and have been able to maintain it over 180 years were evident throughout and a good reason why they are one of only and handful of companies to sit within the Fortune 500 for over 50 years.

The five kiwi scholars hit the ground running as we joined 70 other International Scholars in Ames, however at this point it stepped up a gear again and we got a further shock to our already overloaded systems. We had built a tight group and some confidence amongst each other, but even as I sit and write this report on the plane home it is hard to explain what just happened.  The intensity of the CSC, meeting so many other scholars, a packed programme of speakers and panels, field trips and social events kept pushing me to the edge all week. On reflection it is an incredible exercise in human capacity building, and I am excited for the next step in this year as I travel for GFP in June.

Three further brief points of interest – gleaned from the CSC and travels

  • America an example of big Ag – bigger, faster, stronger however this is slowing and beginning to shift more to thinking about smarter more efficient and lower impact.
  • Heard a lot about feeding the world – but it is no longer about growing more when 40% of the food grown is wasted. Consideration is shifting to the importance of providing the right nutrition to underfed and those overfed as everything in this later area is reducing our ability to tackle the 1st problem
  • Food trends breaking into three sectors – convenience now, convenience delivery and bulk buying of quality, natural and almost unlabelled product.

Ben Hancock 2019 Nuffield Scholar: CSC Report

I would like to acknowledge the investment that the New Zealand Scholars received prior to leaving for the Contemporary Scholars Conference (CSC). While the preparation covered a range of skills, personality assesments, and sessions with industry leaders and government officials, I would like to highlight two skills that have helped us hit the ground running at the CSC.

In particular, the reflective techniques got us off to a strong start. During our second meeting in Wellington, Hamish Gow went over some reflective strategies and gave us some material. With a little practice before we left New Zealand and our pre-CSC, we were well prepped before by the time we arrived in Ames, Iowa – though it will continue to be developed.

A noticeable example of this was during the CSC was after a fieldtrip where many scholars were focused on some of the negative aspects of the operation that wouldn’t apply in their own country. However, the conversation amongst the kiwi scholars had different tone that centred around the context and why he was farming in this manner, and why the CSC went there. My observations and reflection from this conversation helped me develop the background and why my research project area is directly relevant to primary producers.

My Global Focus Programme (GFP) group met during the CSC to plan our team rules and roles. The techniques that the New Zealanders were developing were noticed by other scholars and I’ve taken an lead in the initial reflective sessions and the format of these.

The second skill was the open questioning that Corene Walker and Hamish Gow coached us on. On our pre-CSC trip we practiced this technique often, whether expanding on the observations made in our reflection sessions, discussing how ideas could apply to our own systems, or developing our own research projects.

The coaching and practice prior to the CSC helped to internalise this skill, helping myself to think through presentations and visits, which feeds back into more concise reflective skills. I have been able to use open questioning in my own personal life outside of the Nuffield Scholarship and believe it will be helpful in farm succession discussions when I return to the Wairarapa.

Towards the end of the CSC, we had a session when we were paired up to practice open questioning. My partner had not used this structured technique before, so I was to help coach him because of our earlier introduction and previous practice. In helping my partner, it made helped myself to view the process from another aspect and be more conscious of straying from the process.

An instance where these two techniques combined was a chance meeting with the owner of restaurant that employs recovering opioid addicts. While this business was not directly involved with primary production, the discussion provided aspects of this operation I was able to consider for my own research. For instance, a field of research used to engage individuals removed marginalised from society by addiction back into the community, which reduces relapses, that could possibly be applied to engage those removed from how their food is produced.

The investment in the scholars prior to leaving New Zealand enhanced my ability to get more out of the CSC and the week prior. Furthermore, these are skills that can be applied in my personal life and will be valuable going forward.

Hamish Marr, 2019 Nuffield Scholar: CSC Report

If you asked any of the five scholars from this year they will all say the same I’m sure, our preparation was the key to our success not only in our pre CSC travel together but also at the CSC in Des Moines.  We must thank the board for three key pieces of personal training they allowed us to undertake.  Juliet Maclean, Hamish Gow and Corene Walker all spoke to us at length and we gained a lot from them.

Juliet Maclean, past chairperson of Nuffield New Zealand and Nuffield Scholar was able to not only impart a lot of her knowledge from her own experience but strategies we could use when dealing with other people in situations that always arise in groups.  Juliet also spoke with our partners about their expectations and what the 12 – 18 months was probably going to be like and walked us through some of those.

Hamish Gow’s insights into what is in store for us in the year ahead have been invaluable and reassuring. The explanation and classification of the stages of our journey being initially a divergent phase as we explore the world of many agricultural businesses, practices and views on the world.  The concept that you can’t solve the issue on day one until you have fully understood and defined the actual problem. The idea and encouragement to keep our topics broad and the skills imparted around reflective thinking really set us apart in keeping an open-minded approach. Often the Kiwi scholars were leading those reflective practices with small groups after various discussions or field trips.  “What did you see, what did you hear, what didn’t you see, what weren’t you told?” These skills were touched upon in the CSC but nowhere to the extent that we had from Hamish. New Zealand really cemented those skills prior to the CSC which allowed us to get a lot more out of it than some other countries.  This fact we know from the feedback throughout the CSC. As an example we visited a beef farm during the CSC, it was the middle of winter, snow on the ground, muddy and very cold.  It wasn’t the best advertisement for feedlotting cattle but it was where we went on the day.  A large number of scholars were less than impressed and could see no benefit in the visit.  However, the New Zealand contingent saw the potential in simple management decisions such as EID’s for weighing and feeding, regular marketing channels both in and out.  Some take homes, cattle can obviously survive outdoors in -25 deg C and its not wrong, just different. Hamish’s advice was always in the back of our minds, “what is the one take home from every visit you go on?”

Corene Walker spent a day with us detailing the science of getting along with people. The first phase being you must know yourself, your strengths, your weaknesses and how you deal with these things.  The second phase involves knowing and dealing with other people’s personality traits and the strategies to use these to everyone’s advantage. These soft and yet subtle skills certainly came to the fore at the CSC when faced with 80 strangers. It gave us the confidence not only in self-regulating our own feelings but also recognising the signs within the others in the group.

We also had a range of trade and government briefings prior to departure from New Zealand which helped us greatly. Even in such a short space of time, it is incredible how often people are interested in what goes on within New Zealand and how it is managed politically. Briefings from KPMG, Wakatu Farming, NZTE, MFAT, MPI, Wine NZ, Fonterra, Kiwifruit NZ, Hort NZ, FAR and Beef and Lamb NZ all helped to paint a picture of where New Zealand sits in the world.

The outcome of these meetings was that we left New Zealand as a very tight unit and we were set up well for what we encountered and what we will encounter throughout the year.

As a group, we must acknowledge and thank the Nuffield Board and also the tireless work of Anne Hindson and Lisa Rogers. Our pre-work and our travelling to date have exceeded our expectations and I know we are all very much looking forward to what happens next.

General Manager Update: Anne Hindson, April 2019

This update for December through to April summarises the activities of NZRLT which is the operational arm of both Nuffield and Kellogg programmes.

With the recruitment period for 2020 Nuffield scholars and the 2020 Kellogg programmes about to kick off, word of mouth and encouragement from those who have completed the programmes are still the prime drivers of quality and diverse applicants so we hope you will all take time to approach some emerging leaders and encourage them to apply for these life changing experiences.

The 2019 scholars announced in the November E Nuff are well into their programme having undertaken a two day NZ briefing in early December which enabled the group to bond, be briefed by industry and government on global activities and priorities and put into practice some of the research and reflection tools provided by Hamish Gow at their November orientation.

In January the group opted to do a 1.5-day leadership workshop with the Course 39 ‘Kelloggers’ providing further tools and new understanding of their own and others leadership styles and how to operate as a team. The combined tools were well utilised at the Contemporary Scholars Conference where the NZ scholars were sharing and coaching other international scholars on these tools.

This April E Nuff provides the five scholar reflections on their CSC experience and the 5-day tour & business visits the group undertook between Chicago and Des Moines in Iowa which was the location for the 2019 CSC.

Meanwhile the 2018 scholars reports are just released after scholars spent the summer working on their draft and incorporating the feedback received.  There is a lot of industry interest in the reports with requests for copies and speakers at industry events. As mentioned by Andrew, we are looking at how we leverage these leading insights and learnings together with our alumni to start making a difference.

Nuffield2020 is a huge undertaking for the organisation and the hardworking committee with four events over 11 days. It will be vital that NZ alumni support this event as country hosts but also in generating interest by encouraging year cohorts and GFP groups to combine the event with a group reunion but the invites and suggestions need to get out now!.

Having just attended the two day Grow 2019 Boma conference in Christchurch, with a few of our  organising committee we have reflected on the content and focus of the one day Summit as a key component  of Nuffield2020, and particularly ways to to differentiate it from other industry conferences. With the event open to Kellogg alumni and industry it is an opportunity to gain greater exposure for NuffieldNZ.

The website has just been updated with more details on the different events under Nuffield2020 so check out on https://www.nuffield2020.com/

Noting other NZRLT activities, The Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme continues to attract high quality applicants and deliver great networks, friendships and leadership skills on farm and in industry forums and businesses. It is great to see the Kellogg alumni now in government  (5 in total) and their willingness along with Minister O’Connor to share experiences with the group.

In June, the 40th course of Kelloggers will be welcomed onto the programme and this is a major milestone for the programme. The cohort will receive different content to those who undertook the first programme in 1979, reflecting the new leadership environment and skills needed but the fundamental principles of the programme remain the same.

On the management front, in May we regretfully farewell Clara Sweetman who has been our Marketing and Comms Contractor for the last 12 months as her family move to Auckland. We are actively recruiting a replacement for the role along with a newly created Event/Project Coordinator role to help with regional seminars etc.

With the NZRLT financial year running between 1 April & 31 March we are just wrapping up the 2018-19 year financials and the Board & I have been reviewing our strategy and new alumni initiatives as we plan for the next twelve months.

Chair Update: Andrew Watters

Andrew Watters, Nuffield New Zealand Chair

The Trustees held our second Board meeting of the year last week (early April) to address ‘business as usual’ matters focused on running two high quality leadership development programmes as well as the strategic development of the organisation.  The New Zealand Rural Leadership Trust (NZRLT) is the operational entity with the Nuffield New Zealand Farming Scholarship Trust (NFST) now operating as a capital fund for the future reinvestment in Nuffield Farming Scholarships. Nuffield Scholars at our biennial meetings can elect two (existing or new) trustees to make a total of four Nuffield appointed Trustees, with two independent appointees appointed by our National Advisory Committee made up from our investor partners. We also have an associate Trustee appointed from recent Nuffield scholars.

I reference this because under the Charities Act we must hold our ‘annual’ meeting every year, with the proposed date for the 2018 financial year being Friday 10 May 2019. We will conduct the meeting by a zoom video-conference invite.  During the meeting we will cover off the normal requirements, including the 2018 year-end financial position with the NFST. As requested at last year’s AGM we will provide you with an update on the financial situation with the RLT and we will also provide updates on Nuffield International, the 2020 Triennial, and our Rural Communities project.

As part of the AGM we will provide some feedback on the ‘one kitchen two restaurants’ concept developed five years ago – that saw the NZRLT be formed and take over the operations of both the Kellogg and Nuffield programmes in June 2017. The analysis shows that Kelloggs has been a great contributor to the financial performance of the NZRLT, which in turn has enabled us to improve and extend the Nuffield Scholarship programme.

As a reminder, our two programs are as follows:


  • Develop emerging producer (farming) leaders by fast tracking their leadership pathway through GLOBAL exposure & learning
  • Equip scholars to analyse and untangle wicked /complex problems, thereby enabling effective provide producer input into decision making
  • Experiential learning with the tools to maximise opportunities available
  • High quality research project and global insights delivered to partners, farmers /growers and industry


  • Providing the ideas, capability, motivation and skills to “enable” and empower leaders who can collaborate across sectors and geographically.
  • Providing the tools, skills, and pan sector understanding of NZ AGRIFOOD sector
  • Creating networks/friendships across sectors and country
  • Applying & demonstrating critical analysis, design thinking, strategic analysis, problem /opportunity solving
  • Transferable skills being Collaboration, Creativity and Communication
  • Kelloggs is an ideal pathway development programme into the Nuffield scholarship although candidates can successfully enter the Nuffield program directly.

As the NZRLT our unique proposition as an organisation is:

  • Experiential learning focus and global exposure (Nuffield)
  • The combined Kellogg and Nuffield alumni
  • Our proud and successful history with a positive view of change
  • Our insightful reports
  • Our pan sector representation and national reach

Craige Mackenzie and Anne Hindson attended the recent CSC programme in Iowa in the US. It is pleasing to see our five scholars standing out as a group with their enthusiasm, team work and work ethic. They were well prepared and showed their capability and potential. Craige represents New Zealand on the international board with the current focus on the financial sustainability of the organisation and delivering on current international scholar commitments. Nuffield International has important goals to extend Nuffield beyond the Commonwealth countries but is still in start-up mode.

Michael Tayler and his able team are making excellent progress on planning for the 2020 Triennial. The combination of the Nuffield New Zealand conference, the Agri-business Summit and the Nuffield 2020 Triennial (10 days from 20 March to 29 March, plus technical tours) makes this job a massive feat to organise with the resources of one contractor, volunteers and some support from NZRLT. We hope all our alumni will take on the host role and be part of the full programme.

Whilst we plan to update you on strategic matters at the AGM, our short-term focus is on building our potential pipeline of people (with an emphasis on farmers and growers) considering our two programmes. To that end we are to repeat our successful regional meeting initiative from 2017 to attract new potential applicants. This time the meetings will be open to both Kellogg and Nuffield applicants; we intend to utilise the meetings, to showcase our best scholars and to discuss the potential Rural Communities project. Our initial focus for meetings is Northland, Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay, top of the South, Central Otago and Southland. The NZRLT team may be in touch for suggestions and ideas for these meetings.

We look forward to a good discussion at the AGM on May 10th at 12.00pm!