Rural Leaders International Summit Day

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Forefront - Rural Leaders Agribusiness Summit



Christchurch Town Hall, 27 March, 8:30am to 5:00pm. Registrations open 7:30am.

Open to food and fibre producers and the public, the 2023 Rural Leaders Agribusiness Summit brings together a stellar line-up of leading New Zealand and international speakers, with the goal of promoting global vision, leadership and innovation.  

This fast-paced, one-day, multi sector industry forum will examine the topical global and local agribusiness challenges with a solution-based focus through case studies and learnings. 

The Summit theme ‘Forefront’ focuses on those businesses making change now – those that provide solutions to the sector’s and the world’s biggest agribusiness challenges and opportunities. 

The Summit will discuss and debate the topical agribusiness challenges globally and locally with a solution based case studies and learnings. The day is designed for farmers, growers and associated industries with a focus on real and practical answers,” Says Murray King, Summit Day Chair. 

Organised into three streams, the Summit begins with a scene-setting session and closes with a wrap-up session. The Summit streams are:

Our World Our Natural Environment,
Our People Consumer Trends and Trade,
Our Future – Entrepreneurship and Leadership.

Each stream also features a panel discussion where leaders in food and fibre share their learnings and introduce some of their exciting business models. The panel discussion is facilitated by host and MC, Corin Dann.

Discover more about these streams below.

Supported and sponsored by industry.


Supported and sponsored by industry.



This fast-paced day will open with respected journalist Corin Dann as your host and MC and keynote speaker Devry Boughner Vorwerk.

Devry Boughner Vorwerk

Devry is a well-known global C-suite food executive and corporate officer, having served as Chief Communications Officer and Global Head of Corporate Affairs at Cargill and as Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Grubhub. She is also a sustainability entrepreneur, founding DevryBV Sustainable Strategies, her own strategy and advisory company; serving on the Advisory Board of Culinary Sciences, Inc.; and co-founding PermanentFarming, a company focused on closing the energy gaps in the animal protein supply chain.

Devry is an international business development and diplomacy strategist as well as an expert in international trade relations, demonstrated by her success as senior policy advisor at Akin Gump; leader in international and regional corporate affairs roles at Cargill; and in roles at the U.S. International Trade Commission, the Office of the US Trade Representative, and the World Bank Group.

Devry was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2014 and was named one of the world’s top 100 global communicators in 2017, 2018 and 2019 by the influential Holmes Report. She served on the Board of The Alliance to End Hunger for seven years. Currently, Devry is a member of the Advisory Board of Latin America Advisor; Board Member of US Mexico Foundation; committee member of U.S.-Pacific Economic Cooperation Council; and Board Member of Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture. In 2020, Devry was designated a senior fellow at The Conference Board and brought on as special advisor to Global Citizen. In 2021 Devry joined the International Advisory Council of APCO Worldwide.

As a result of the Russian invasion of sovereign Ukraine that triggered a global food crisis, Devry co-founded HUNGHRI, a non-profit organisation based in Minnesota whose vision is world where every human being can live without the fear of not knowing when they can eat again. 

Corin Dann - Summit Host/MC

Corin Dann will be the host and MC of the 2023 Agribusiness Summit.

An award-winning political journalist, Corin is co-host of Morning Report.

He started his journalism career over 20 years ago at RNZ as a sports reporter, and went on to become RNZ’s political and economics correspondent.

In between, Corin was the political editor for One News, hosted Business and Breakfast shows on TV One and presented TVNZ’s current affairs programme Q&A.

Te Radar – Summit Dinner Speaker

With a string of awards, including the country’s highest accolades for television and comedy, Te Radar is one of New Zealand’s most recognised entertainers and presenters.  
He has an extensive career in documentary making, writing, stage and screen directing, as well as being a celebrated comedian and satirist. Some of the remarkable adventures Te Radar has embarked on include diving with sharks, plunging into the frozen Ross Sea, interviewing Yassar Arafat under the watchful eye of gun-toting Palestinian soldiers. 
His knowledge and passion for the untold stories of New Zealand history inspired his critically-acclaimed 2017 TVNZ series, Te Radar ‘s Chequered Past. 
A natural raconteur, Te Radar’s performance is always erudite, witty and well-informed, no matter the forum or format. 

Te Radar

Supported and sponsored by industry.


OUR WORLD: Our Natural Environment

Tō Tātau Ao: Tō tātau Taiao Māori


This first session will explore leadership and innovation in the advancement and restoration of the natural resources critical to the future of agribusiness.  
It will showcase the champions nurturing the environment while also remaining profitable. The session will have a circular economy thread, exploring the businesses redesigning food chains to remove waste and reuse products not consumed. 

Speakers include:

Owner – Lone Star Farms.

Well before forming Lone Star Farms, Tom served with the US Marine Corps in Vietnam and later gained a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard. He spent six years with Ernst and Young before a career in private equity firms, food service, and aluminium. Lone Star Farms has seven businesses running sheep and beef in the South Island. 

After spending his youth in Namibia and studying and working in South Africa (he has a Master of Science in Zoology from the University of Stellenbosch), Volker started working for Unilever in Germany and the UK in the 1990s. During this time, he introduced the Marine Stewardship Council certification to the NZ deepwater industry, laying the foundation for his passion for NZ. 

Since then, Kuntzsch has had a distinguished 30-year international career with senior executive roles in Tokyo, Namibia, Germany and the US. He was the president of Nippon Suisan (USA), and president and CEO of King & Prince Seafood Corp (USA), before joining Sanford in New Zealand as CEO in 2013. In this role his experience developing awareness of seafood sustainability further strengthened Sanford’s commitment to sustainable practices.  

Currently, Volker is CEO of New Zealand’s largest independent science organisation, Cawthron Institute ‒ a key player in building sustainable primary industry in New Zealand. 

Solis Norton, Nuffield Scholar

Solis joins the Summit as a panelist. He seeks to guide the transition of New Zealand agriculture to our low emissions future by prioritising food production and other key aspects of society for resource consumption.

He uses biophysical economic methods to show the growing impact of energy and mineral scarcity, plus how this impact must be mitigated on-farm, in the agricultural sector, and in New Zealand more generally.

Solis has a Bachelors degree in Agricultural Science, Masters in Applied Science, PhD in veterinary epidemiology, is a Nuffield Scholar and member of the International Society for Biophysical Economics.

Karin StarkKarin Stark is a recognised leader in the farm renewables space and a sustainability professional with over 20 years’ experience in delivering meaningful community engagement and environmental education programmes.  Karin has a Degree in Environmental Science and Sustainable Development and worked in Western Australia before moving to the UK and finally settling to live on her partner’s family farm in Narromine, NSW.  

She founded the National Renewables in Agriculture Conference in 2019 and is Director for her business ‘Farm Renewables Consulting’. Karin has an interest in driving innovation in farm based agrivoltaics, floating solar, battery storage and hydrogen and recently was lead author of the ‘Farm Powered’ report for Farmers for Climate Action.  Karin will be speaking on Our World, as both a presenter and a panellist.  

Erica van Reenen is Managing Director of AgFirst Manawatu-Whanganui, an agribusiness and environmental consultancy. She has worked extensively in agricultural climate change policy design and implementation, extension and on-farm mitigation and adaptation across New Zealand.

She will provide a high-level overview of climate change in New Zealand agriculture, the drivers for farmers to respond and an overview of the options.

OUR PEOPLE: Consumer Trends and Trade

Tō Tātau Iwi: Kaitaki Rerenga Hua me ngā Hokohoko


The focus of this session will be on those businesses responding to the unstoppable international trends of power shifting to the consumer, business models being challenged, and the eastern movement of the world’s economic centre of gravity.
Delegates will be able to seize on the learnings of agri-food and consumer businesses meeting the challenges of fast-changing demographics, food trends and changes in consumer values.

It also explores the opportunities that may arise for agribusiness as we experience a convergence of changing world population demographics and more transparent trade policy.

Speakers in the session include:

Global view of trade from a NZ Perspective. 

Vangelis is Deputy Secretary – Trade and Economic Group. He was the APEC 2021 Senior Officials’ Meeting Chair and is the Chief Negotiator for New Zealand’s Free Trade Agreement with the European Union. Prior to taking up his role in Wellington in 2017, he was New Zealand’s Ambassador to the WTO in Geneva. 

Lain Jager is best known for his time with the hugely successful kiwifruit marketer Zespri where he was CEO from 2008 to 2017. During his tenure as CEO, Zespri grew strongly through the impact and recovery from the bacterial vine disease Psa, grower returns doubled, and the share price grew from $1.00 to $8.00.

Today, Lain is involved in a range of investment projects in Tourism and Agribusiness. He serves as a Director on several Boards, was the Chairman of the Primary Sector Council which produced the Fit for a Better World Report focused on the New Zealand Food and Fibre Sector and is the Te Puna Whakaaronui Thought Leaders Group Chair.


Anna is a food scientist married to a dairy farmer. Having spent the last ten years working in the food industry in NZ and Britain, she is fascinated with how food is produced and consumed. 
Living on a dairy farm while working in dairy processing plants gives her a unique end to end perspective of New Zealand’s milk production. A huge proportion of the products made from Kiwi milk (such as milk powders) are used as ingredients in other food products, where, often, the incredible NZ origin story is lost. This leaves NZ dairy open to substitutes that can perform the same purpose at a lower price or environmental footprint.   
Anna completed the Kellogg Rural Leadership Scheme last year, investigating the risk alternative protein could pose to New Zealand’s dairy industry.   

David joined the Investment Committee at Laguna Bay in 2020 after retiring from Australian Country Choice, one of the world’s leading vertically integrated beef operations. David is also Chair of Angel Seafoods, Laguna Bay’s premium oyster producing asset. David has more than 45 years’ experience in the agriculture industry and has provided leadership through times of transition and growth in the beef cattle and export markets.

Additionally, David represents Agricultural industry interests in his role as; Chairman of Cattle Australia, Non-Government member of Australia-Indonesia Red Meat & Cattle Partnership, member of SmartSat CRC, member of Australian Meat Industry Council – China & Halal Trade Groups, Chair of Workplace Health & Safety Queensland -Rural Industry Sector Standing Committee, Shareholder board member of Inventia Genetic Technologies (IGT) and Non-executive director of Craig Mostyn Group.

In 2010, David was awarded Rural Press Pty Ltd “Beef Achiever of the Year” in recognition of his contribution to the industry.

With a strong sense of wishing to be engaged with the next generation in Food and Ag, David has a continuing role as a mentor in the Advancing Beef Leaders Programme, a long-time active supporter of the Inter Collegiate Meat Judging Programme, as a continuing judge for the Qld and National Rural Ambassador Awards Programme and locally active for the Toogoolawah Junior Cattle Camp.

Emma ParsonsEmma Parsons – Managing Director, Strategy and Optimisation, Fonterra.

Emma has a deep connection with the dairy industry having grown up on a farm before then going on to carve out a successful career with Fonterra and its legacy companies.

She joined Fonterra’s Management Team in August 2022 and is responsible for leading the co-operative’s work on strategy and optimisation. Her team looks closely at demand choices as well as portfolio and asset management.

Her most recent roles have included GM of Capital Strategy, CEO of Agrigate – a joint venture between Fonterra and Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) – and GM Responsible Dairying. She also had assignments in Brazil and Argentina where she developed Fonterra’s export relationships and supply chain integration across Latin America. Before joining Fonterra when it was formed in 2001, she worked for the New Zealand Dairy Board and Kiwi Dairies.

Emma completed a Master of Business Administration, with First Class Honours, from Massey University, and has Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Commerce degrees from Victoria University of Wellington.

OUR FUTURE: Entrepreneurship and Leadership

Tō Tātau Mō āpōpō: ngā Rakahinongā me ngā Haututangā


The third session will concentrate on the future, social, economic and environmental wellbeing of agribusiness. It looks at the areas where value will be derived in the generations to come. It will showcase world-leading business case studies and responsive new business models.  
Speakers from a range of industries will show how economic viability is key to family business succession and intergenerational business value growth.  
Speakers include:

Never really living in the moment but always being excited about the future is what drives Julia Jones.  Change is inevitable and she works hard to help others have confidence in navigating an uncertain future.  

Her time working with KPMG fuelled her curiosity and passion for global macro trends and their impact on NZ’s prosperity.  Her role now as the Head of Insight with NZX continues to fuel her passion for supporting change in Agri and capital Markets.  

Julia has had a series of highlights over her career, the reality is however her lowlights which are not typically included in bio’s have delivered some of the most impactful opportunities for growth.  

Highlights include:  

  •      Chairing Meat the Need, a food security charity, Current  
  •      Emerging Leader Scholarship to attend Stanford University, 2017
  •      Working in Russia, 2014
  •      AWDT Escalator Program, 2011
  •      Completing the Harvard Agri Seminar in China, 2010.


CEO and Co-founder of Ārepa - New Zealand’s #1 Brainfood Technology Company. 

Ārepa, works at the intersection between nature, neuroscience and food technology. Angus has a goal goal to build a world-leading billion-dollar health food company out of New Zealand. Prior to Ārepa, Angus spent six years working for the NZ Government at the world-leading modular incubator-factory The FoodBowl. 

Dr Ellen Joan NelsonDr Ellen Joan Nelson is an ex-army academic business mum, with deep expertise and practical experience in leadership, gender, well-being and the future of work. Ellen has spoken at TEDx Auckland in 2022, advised many corporate and government organisations, including the NZ Army, and her research and ideas to improve the working world have been published multiple times.

As a speaker, facilitator and consultant, Ellen helps organisations to remove structural barriers facing women and parents, while simultaneously experiencing improvements in organisational metrics such as: wellbeing, retention, leadership, productivity, innovation and business performance. She is involved in the Food and Fibre leadership development project with Rural Leaders.

Her volunteer team evacuated 563 people from Afghanistan to New Zealand (and Ellen was recognised as a semi-finalist (top 10) for the Kiwi Bank New Zealander of the Year ‘Local Hero’ category) and she started the #workschoolhours movement

Mark joined Halter in 2017 as the COO, accountable for the people and customer functions. Prior to Halter, Mark spent 7 years at The Icehouse, a New Zealand Venture Capital firm.

He founded the Flux Accelerator at The Icehouse, now known as Icehouse Ventures. He was also the seed partner in their flagship fund, leading the seed investment in Halter and was a founding member of the board before joining Halter full-time.

Chris is the CEO of the New Zealand Rural Leadership Trust, which runs strategic leader programmes for New Zealand’s Food and Fibre Sector. Hailing from Te Tai Tokerau; Chris is a shareholding director of Hard Hill Country Genetics a 600-hectare sheep and beef genetics operation located in Northland’s steep hills.

Before returning to New Zealand to take up the role at Rural Leaders, Chris served New Zealand as the Head of Defence Staff in the UK and Europe and prior to that as the Deputy Chief of the Army.  He is also a decorated special forces officer. Chris holds master’s degrees in management and in strategy and is a Chartered Member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors.  

Chris’ charitable interests include human rights, mental health, wildlife protection, and education. Most recently, he was part of a small volunteer team that worked with Government and some very generous donors to evacuate 563 at-risk Afghans to New Zealand after the Taliban takeover. His current research is focused on designing a joined-up ecosystem for leadership development in New Zealand’s Food and Fibre Sector. In May he will assume a new role as Chief Commercial Officer at MyFarm Investments.

The key agribusiness event to attend in 2023. 

Focused on solutions for producers and those working with producers, as well as members of the public, the Summit will connect sector leaders, producers and professionals with national and international peers and with successful business models.  

The day will finish with more networking opportunities over refreshments and a Summit Dinner featuring speaker and entertainer, Te Radar. 

Supported and sponsored by industry. 

The 2023 Rural Leaders Agribusiness Summit has been made possible with the generous support of Platinum Sponsors – Fonterra and CLAAS (Landpower). Gold Sponsors – AGMARDT, FMG and MPI. Silver Sponsors – Tavendale and Partners, AgriHQ, Ravensdown, Bayer, LIC, Ballance, Colliers, MyFarm, Zimmatic, PGG Wrightson Seeds and Cardrona Distillery. And Bronze Sponsors – Barenbrug, Manawa Energy, Asure Quality, OSPRI, Pioneer and Macaulay Ford. 

Supported and sponsored by industry.


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27 March 2023. Begins at 8.30AM and finishes at 5:00PM.

Registrations open at 7:30am.


Christchurch Town Hall.


Agribusiness Summit Pass (For full day)

Standard rate $440 + GST
(valid from 01 Feb – 27 March 2023).

Summit Dinner

Agribusiness Summit Dinner, 7pm. $130 + GST

Accommodation options include – Distinction Hotel Christchurch.

Superior rooms approx. $215 + GST per night.
Available for booking upon registration.

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