Horticulture: When a road trip bears fruit.

Central Otago Horticulture - Engagement with industry to find ways to build capability

Lincoln University and the New Zealand Rural Leadership Trust (Rural Leaders), hit the road last week, travelling throughout South and Mid Canterbury and Central Otago.

Professor Hamish Gow of Lincoln University and Chris Parsons, Rural leaders’ CEO, have successfully established stronger links with the horticulture sector and in particular, growers from the pip and stone fruit industries.  

The series of visits were expertly organised, attended, and hosted by Chelsea Donnelly, GoHort Career Progression Manager for Central Otago. The road trip was designed to gain a better understanding of the opportunities for collaboration between Lincoln University, Rural Leaders, and the horticulture sector. 

Also joining the group was Dr. Clive Kaiser, Associate Professor at Lincoln University. Clive is a legend of the cherry fruit industry, and it seemed this status was clear when growers produced Clive’s co-authored book, Sweet Cherries, also known as ‘The International Bible of Cherry Fruit Production.’ “The book would appear from bookshelves, top drawers, and coffee tables, with Clive humbly signing more than a few on request,” said Hamish Gow. 

Professor Gow went on to say,

“This was a real bonus on the trip. To have Clive Kaiser and Chris Parsons there connecting with the sector in such an authentic way, created an atmosphere where the prospect of further collaboration just seemed inevitable.”

The visits included numerous growers, orchards and packhouses, with each discussing the technical production challenges, competency requirements, and opportunities for Rural Leaders and Lincoln University to collaborate in the co-design and development of capability building programmes. 

“Everyone we met was as excited as we were to see both Lincoln University and Rural Leaders engaging with industry. It was a highly productive research trip likely to have exponential benefits for all involved,” enthused Professor Gow. 

Growers and grower groups also expressed interest in exploring the idea of ‘field-labs’ on their farms, as way to further increase productivity and capability, “That’s something we’re extremely excited about exploring”, said Hamish Gow, “If anyone would like to talk more on that idea, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.” 

Professor Gow can be contacted at Hamish.Gow@lincoln.ac.nz 

December 2021: Southland Alumni Connect

The Invercargill Workingmen’s Club saw plenty of Rural Leaders action last week, as the venue for two Thriving Southland Workshops and a get together for Southland’s Nuffield and Kellogg alumni. 

The event was conveniently held next door to the workshops, allowing some to attend both. The get together was hosted by Rural Leaders’ CEO Chris Parsons and Operations and Events Manager Annie Chant and was attended by nearly twenty alumni who listened to Guest Speakers, Steve Wilkins, and Catherine Dickson share their programme stories. 

Stephen (Steve) Wilkins was a 2013 Nuffield Scholarship recipient, who researched the synergies between arable and dairy farming with a focus on effluent and nutrients. Steve spoke about his Nuffield journey, including how he received a call driving home from the Scholarship interview, and was told ‘you’re in’.  

Catherine Dickson completed her Kellogg in 2020. Her research report was National Treasure: Native biodiversity on-farm. Catherine spoke about how important her connection with her cohort is to her.  

We’d like to thank the speakers for their time and thank you to the alumni that managed to make the event.   

Doing better by our people.

There are figures on our primary sector’s labour transience that make for alarming reading. They’re remarkably high. In case you missed them, only 29% of those entering the primary sector remain after three years.  

While factors behind the statistics are complicated, one of the simpler, often cited reasons for leaving the sector is poor workplace culture. That falls strongly into the preventable turnover basket. And preventable turnover equates to 78% of total dairy transience, meaning four out of five people who have left the sector, might’ve stayed, had we done better by them.  

Bad news, old news, good news.

It’s not just farm workplaces buckling culturally under today’s stresses either, it’s large agri-businesses too, with allegations of poor management, and unaddressed toxic cultures more common than they should be. 

In both small farms and in larger business, failure to fix a problem culture can lead to performance issues and the destruction of the relationships with the people and teams helping those operations succeed. That’s the bad news. It’s also old news and too big to wrestle with here. So, we’ll offer a couple of pieces of good news about a few people trying to make a difference instead. 

Individual farms are now leading change, enthusiastically embracing management thinking from other industries. Farm owners, exposed to high performance ideas and practises bring their learning back home, to the farm. Couple this with a wider acceptance of wellbeing philosophies (previously known as ‘that touchy-feely-stuff’) and you have individual farming operations reporting much needed decreases in staff turnover. 

Rebecca and Brent Miller: Kellogg Scholars making changes. 

At the heart of what Rebecca and Brent Miller do lies a simple idea, if you work on yourself before you work on your team, good things will follow.  

Rebecca has just won ‘Emerging Leader’ at the 2021 Westpac Champion Business Awards. It’s an award that recognises performance across all industries, not just the primary. The award blurb states, ‘recognising a leader who is ambitious in outlook and vision, one who embraces innovation, shows resilience, and who inspires and invests in others.’ All good things, so it’s worth taking a closer look for ideas worth sharing. 

“What we stand for, our values, our negotiables, and non-negotiables, are all important for us, our team, and our farm. Everything comes down to knowing our strengths, weaknesses, and how we’re likely to contribute within a collaborative framework.” 

The school of hard knocks. 

Fifteen years ago, sharemilkers Rebecca, Brent, and their young children, were at a crossroads. It’s a familiar dairying family story, 2:30am to 7:30pm, 28 days on, two days off, moving between farming positions constantly and far too many tricky experiences with farm owners – their employers. They were on the brink of breakdown. All bets were on leaving farming forever.  

“We thought something had to give. But then you realise all your skills are in dairying. It was all we knew. So, we decided to stay and really reflect on what it was we needed from our next employer.”  

“We researched farm owners who supported, coached, and mentored their staff. We knew that if we were to stay in dairying and grow, we had to find the right environment for that to happen. Sadly, at the time, they weren’t easy to find – but eventually we did.” 

“We’d put business first at all costs in the past and that approach wasn’t working for us. We now knew it had to be family first.”  

Building the trust.

The Millers found an employer who opened their books, allowing them to benchmark against over a dozen farms in the owner’s network. The power of knowing ‘the numbers’ meant better decisions could be made, and efficiencies found by gently applying the right pressure at the right time. This sharing quickly built trust between themselves and the owners.  

“Passing that on and taking care of our team, seeing them grow and succeed, became a priority for us too. We have learned that as leaders of a team, the environment we provide on the farm, the behaviour, the way we share, interact, the words we use, the decisions made, and by who, are just a few of the factors in a high trust, high-performing and connected team.”  

The Millers strongly believe in the idea of sharing what they can to help others improve their on-farm methods and culture too.  

“MilkIQ is a platform for achieving that. It’s fuelled by a passion for people and driven by a desire to help them succeed.”  

With MilkIQ the Millers have just gone out and said ‘hey, this is who we are.’ “It’s a wellbeing tool, hopefully demonstrating trust in practise.” 

Hamish Murray Bluff Station Nuffield

Hamish Murray: A Nuffielder making changes. 

In a Farmstrong article from earlier this year, Nuffield Scholar and high-country sheep and beef farmer, Hamish Murray, also acknowledged the importance of his own journey. He spent a year on his Nuffield scholarship studying businesses with high-performing team cultures, including time in Silicon Valley, and in Christchurch with the Crusaders Rugby Team. He observed their continued focus on ‘soft skills,’ and shared values. 

“Soft skills are things like the way you communicate, make decisions, reflect and feedback. If you understand each other [other’s styles], you can combine to make good decisions.” 

“We’ve also done an exercise with our team to agree on what values will drive the decisions in our business. It’s empowering everyone to move forward, and it allows me to stand back and let the others lead.” 

The results speak for themselves.

Hamish is confident this approach is paying off. One good indicator has been a reduced staff turnover. Hamish acknowledges how important it is to create an environment that allows others to flourish and one that attracts and keeps great people. A big part of that he says, is letting your ego go, getting out of people’s way and asking the questions that help others do an excellent job. To do that he says, you have to work on yourself first. 

“Sometimes it’s not until you get to breaking point that your own learning and reflection kicks in. The journey for me started at a real low, but now I look back and think I’m incredibly lucky to have had that experience.”  

Hamish is referring to the stresses created by the Marlborough and Canterbury drought of 2014/15.  

“Trying to keep everyone going when you had no control over anything was so draining … we ended up with stock on fourteen different properties. The support I’ve had from my family and my team, the groundwork we’ve done together has really given me the confidence to keep learning and growing our business.” 

It starts in your own back paddock. 

Rebecca, Brent, and Hamish have shown that one small, first step toward keeping people in primary sector, in a ‘start in your own backyard kind of way’ has to be toward yourself, then to your own ‘FarmilyTM,’ your rural community, and beyond to industry. Rebecca adds, “What we can control first is our own behaviour. When our behaviours are good, we allow others to be the same and we start creating that change.” 

Rebecca Miller did the Kellogg Rural leadership Programme in 2018. Her study topic was: Is there a need for an information platform to collaborate primary sector events? 

Brent Miller, Rebecca’s husband, did the Kellogg Programme in 2020. His study topic was: What is the true cost of transience to the New Zealand dairy industry? 

Hamish Murray is a 2019 Nuffield Scholar. Hamish’s research was Future farm workplaces. It investigated the work environment needed to attract and retain people in the primary sector.


Rural Leaders and Thriving Southland collaborate.

Workshops in Southland, collaboration between NZ RUral Leaders, Thriving Soutland and Lincoln University

Thriving Southland, in collaboration with the New Zealand Rural Leadership Trust and Lincoln University, recently ran two successful workshops, held over four days. The workshops sought to strengthen rural leadership capability in the region and inspire catchment leaders and their teams to work on problems and deliver outcomes for a thriving Southland.

Think to Thrive: Strategy

The first Strategy Workshop, ‘Think to Thrive,’ was held in Winton on the 1st and 2nd of December. It was designed to form a pathway between today’s Southland and where it might be tomorrow. 

Trust to Thrive: Leadership

The second workshop ‘Trust to Thrive’ was held in Invercargill. With a focus on leadership, it was designed to build on the outcomes of workshop one. It drew on the facilitators’ skills in delivering world-leading military intent-based team building frameworks, and helping leaders learn to empower their teams to work and win together.

The facilitators

The workshops were co-facilitated by Chris Parsons, MNZM, DSD, Rural Leaders CEO, Professor Hamish Gow, Lincoln University, Phil Morrison ONZM, Freelance Consultant and Kellogg Programme Facilitator, and Rob Hoult DSD, a Leadership Development Specialist. 

The participants

Each workshop was attended by about twenty farmers, catchment co-ordinators, stakeholders, and local and regional government leaders. Introduced to a range of tools, models, and frameworks, attendees then took a deep dive into a session of insights work. 

The groups generated two hundred key insights, from which they produced three hundred ideas. These ideas were crafted into four game plans the attending leaders could share with their catchments, the Thriving Southland Team and Board. 

When asked how the workshops were for attendees, three strong feedback themes emerged: empowering, big picture, and thought provoking. Many also felt that they had a new platform for influencing change. 

Lynsey Stratford, 2021 Nuffield Scholar and attendee, posted on LinkedIn:

“This was a great opportunity to learn some new skills and identify opportunities for the region alongside other food and fibre producers and stakeholders.” 

Another attendee stated, “We left armed with the models, tools, and insights we need to build capability with our teams.”  

If you’d like to get hold of the workshop summaries, please email either Hamish Gow or Chris Parsons, Hamish.Gow@lincoln.ac.nz or Chrisparsons@ruralleaders.co.nz 

Inviting expressions of interest in a Board Trustee role.

Inviting expressions of interest in a Board Trustee role.

The NZRLT is currently seeking expressions of interest from Nuffield Alumni in a Board Trustee role, beginning January 2022.  

Former Chair and incumbent Trustee, Andrew Watters is due to step down creating a rare opportunity to be involved in primary sector, education, and leadership governance.   
As part of a forward-thinking group of industry leaders, you will be supporting the NZRLT and its vision to grow world-class leaders for our country.    
This is a voluntary position and encompasses a four-year term. The role requires a time commitment of five board meetings annually, and three full days for the Nuffield Scholarship interview, selection process and awards.  

If you would like to express your interest in this opportunity to give back to rural New Zealand and contribute to building our country’s leadership capability, please send your CV and cover letter to Chris Parsons, NZRLT CEO, at chrisparsons@ruralleaders.co.nz 

Or, if you would like a confidential discussion, please call either Chris Parsons on 021 779 272, or NZRLT Chair, Kate Scott on 027 495 7486.  

Expressions of interest close Friday 26th November 2021. 

The new Trustee will be appointed prior to Christmas, and in time for the first board meeting in late January 2022.  

2022 Nuffield New Zealand Farming Scholarships awarded.

2022 Nuffield Farming Scholars

2022 Nuffield New Zealand Farming Scholarships awarded.

Three emerging food and fibre sector leaders have been awarded 2022 Nuffield New Zealand Farming Scholarships. Each has received a personal letter of congratulations from Hon. Damien O’Connor, Minister of Agriculture, Minister for Trade and Export Growth, Biosecurity, Land Information, and Rural Communities.

The New Zealand Rural Leadership Trust (NZRLT) is proud to announce the 2022 Nuffield New Zealand Farming Scholarship recipients. The Scholars are:

Parmindar Singh, a Waikato based Dairy Farm Manager, Company Director, and a recent master’s graduate. 

Anthony Taueki, a horticulturalist from the Hawke’s Bay, leads horticulture courses at Fruition, New Zealand Apples and Pears, Tatau Tatau o te Wairoa, and many more.

Lucie Douma, leads a new team at the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) looking at disruptions to domestic food and fibre supply chains, and primary sector COVID recovery.

Chris Parsons, NZRLT CEO said, “This group comes from the most diverse range of backgrounds we have seen in recent times. Each Scholar brings talent, passion, perspective, and a track record of performance. Their job now is to find insights and foresight to benefit our sector.

“We wish to acknowledge all those who applied. It is safe to say, there is some real talent in our regions. Selecting three Scholars this year has given our Trustees and the Industry National Advisory Committee the opportunity to fund the start-up of an exciting new programme, the Value Chain Innovation Programme. The intention will be to return to selecting five Scholars again next year”, said Parsons.

Covid 19 restrictions mean this year’s scholarship recipients’ formal awards ceremony at Parliament, will be delayed until February 2022, when Minister O’Connor will award the scholarships in person.

2022 Scholars will follow last year’s travel approach, contingent on the local and global pandemic travel situation. This lets scholars defer the international travel component of the programme until border restrictions permit.

Kate Scott, NZRLT Chair, said, “As part of their Nuffield journey, the three 2022 Scholars will also join the Value Chain Innovation Programme to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities in front of our sector, before they venture abroad.

“The Scholarship will offer new opportunities and experiences through an immersive programme and will help to shape future world-class leaders for the New Zealand food and fibre sector” said Scott.

Their research topics are likely to cover a range of our biggest food and fibre challenges including, building resilience in our value chains, data interoperability, emerging market opportunities for trade in dairy, and finding sustainable pathways into the primary industries for rangatahi.

The three new Scholars will join more than 170 Nuffield Alumni awarded scholarships over the last 71 years.

Meet our 2022 Nuffield New Zealand Farming Scholars.

Lucie Douma 

Agri-professional, Livestock

Lucie is of Dutch descent and is based in Wellington. She currently leads a new team at the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) looking at disruptions to the domestic food and fibre supply chains, and primary sector COVID recovery.

Lucie has a Master of Science degree from Oxford University, where she studied human-wildlife conflict. Her initial research topics of interest are data interoperability or building resilience within the value chain.

Lisa Rogers, NZRLT Programme Manager, commented, “Lucie is a great example of the policy talent we have coming through in our sector. She is greatly invested in the future of agriculture in New Zealand.”

Parmindar Singh

Dairy farmer, Company Director

Parmindar is a fourth generation New Zealand dairy farmer of Indian descent. A company director and independent consultant, she is near completion of her master’s degree at Waikato University.

Parmindar’s research topic of interest is emerging market opportunities for trade in dairy. On her proposed research Parmindar says, “As a proud, intergenerational dairy farmer, my goal is to identify the shift that is occurring globally and identify future trade and market opportunities for New Zealand farmers.”

On Parmindar’s selection Lisa Rogers noted, “Parmindar is bright and fearless, with a lifetime of community involvement and entrepreneurship in the Agri-sector. Nuffield is lucky to have her as a Scholar.”

Anthony Taueki

Anthony Taueki

Horticulturalist, Kaiako,
Hawke’s Bay

A horticulturalist from the Hawke’s Bay, Anthony is of Ngati Kahungunu descent. He leads, organises, and conducts horticulture courses and training programmes with Fruition Horticulture, New Zealand Apples and Pears, Tatau Tatau o te Wairoa, Ministry of Social Development and Ngati Kahungunu Inc.

Passionate about helping rangatahi find sustainable pathways into primary industries, Anthony’s research topic of interest is growing opportunities from the roots up.

Of Anthony’s selection Lisa Rogers said, “Anthony is a natural leader who is highly collaborative. He has integrity, passion, and a strong desire to influence in New Zealand’s Agri-sector.”

“I look forward to working with all three of our Scholars over their scholarship journey”, Lisa Rogers said.

About Nuffield New Zealand Farming Scholarships.

Nuffield Farming Scholarships have been offered to farmers, growers, fishers, and foresters since 1950. The scholarships were established in the United Kingdom by Lord Nuffield for farmers to explore best agricultural practice and facilitate innovation through sharing knowledge and ideas in food and fibre globally.

The scholarships are among the most respected awards in the food and fibre sector. They offer a life-changing opportunity for travel, study of the latest developments and an introduction to leaders and decision-makers around the world, who would not normally be accessible.

With a network of more than 1,600 alumni internationally, the programme continues to build New Zealand’s rural leadership capability and the food and fibre sector’s profile internationally.

For more information about Nuffield go to https://ruralleaders.co.nz/nuffield

For more information, please contact:

Matt Hampton
Marketing and Communications Manager
Rural Leaders
Ph. 0274 171 065
E: matthampton@ruralleaders.co.nz

Three Kelloggers among Zanda McDonald Awards Finalists.

Adapted from an article on the Zanda McDonald Award website. 

Judges of the Zanda McDonald Award, will crown not one but two winners for 2022 – one from each side of the Tasman. 

Now in its eighth year, the prestigious award recognises young future leaders working in agriculture and provides an impressive prize package centred around a tailored trans-Tasman mentoring programme. The eight talented finalists – include four from New Zealand, three of whom are graduates of the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme.  

All finalists have been selected for their passion for the industry, strong leadership skills, and the contributions they’re making in the primary sector. 

The four New Zealand finalists are 2019 Kellogg Scholar Katie Vickers, Head of Sustainability and Land Use for Farmlands;  

2017 Kellogg Scholar Olivia Weatherburn, National Extension Programme Manager for Beef + Lamb New Zealand;  

2017 Kellogg Scholar Rhys Roberts, CEO of market garden and farm operation Align Farms;  

and Adam Thompson, director of Restore Native Plant Nursery, beef farmer and mortgage broker. 

Richard Rains, award chairman says whilst Covid-19 travel restrictions drove the change to two awards, it has also created an exciting opportunity. With the increase to eight finalists and two winners, the award can have a positive impact on more future leaders in Australia and New Zealand.  

“We’re thrilled to be able to invest in the future of all eight finalists, and our two winners, and help with their future career and personal development. Our judges have again been overwhelmed with the level of talent and capabilities of this years’ candidates,” said Rains. 

The Australian and the New Zealand winner will each pick up an impressive personal development package, including a personalised mentoring trip in Australia and New Zealand (when travel allows), up to $10,000 worth of tailored education or training, media coaching, and other mentoring and industry opportunities. 

Winners will be announced in November 2021. 


A rural connection

By Royna Ngahuia Fifield-Hakaraia (Ngāti Rangatahi, Ngāti Whititama)  

You might have noticed a new magazine on the stands lately. Shepherdess is a publication that offers something no other magazine does: an unapologetic celebration of women in rural Aotearoa. Published by Kristy McGregor – a twenty-nine-year-old Australian based on a dairy and beef farm at Manakau, Horowhenua – the quarterly magazine unearths stories on all matters of social and cultural life in the regions. 

Humble beginnings. 

Kristy is the first person to admit that Shepherdess has come from humble beginnings. Initially, there were a series of conversations with Claire Dunne, the founder of Australian magazine Graziher, then an Instagram page and a blog, and finally the first edition was in stores in March, 2020 – a few weeks before New Zealand’s first Covid-19 lockdown.  

“I’d known Claire for a few years and in our conversations we both recognised that there was a real opportunity for a nationwide publication that spoke to rural life,” Kristy explains. “But when Claire said to me, “How about we start the magazine?” in early 2019, I had just had my first baby and was about to dive back into my resource management job in Wellington – it definitely wasn’t the best timing. Deep down, though, I knew there was never going to be a perfect time and I really believed in what the magazine could provide for rural women, so I decided to give it a go.” 

Beating the odds. 

The journey, of course, hasn’t been without its bumps. Less than 40 per cent of start-up businesses in New Zealand survive past the first two years and Kristy faced her first big hurdle early on. She found herself at the helm of Shepherdess with no experience in publishing or running a business.

“As we were preparing the first edition and pulling everything together for the March launch, Claire’s circumstances changed and she needed to focus her energy in Australia,” says Kristy. “Suddenly, I went from working with someone who has years of publishing experience to being on my own, but I just knew that I had to give it a try.  

“I had been living in New Zealand for nearly six years and I felt that I had a bit of an understanding about the experiences and perspectives of rural New Zealand, especially with living and working on my partner’s family farm in the Horowhenua.

“Really I stumbled into the role of publisher – what I really wanted to do was connect people and I could see that the magazine could be a tool to do that.” 

Growing up in suburban Sydney.

Kristy grew up on a quarter acre block in Camden, a small, suburban area on the outskirts of Sydney. But through her father’s work as an agricultural teacher as well as invitations by extended family to go and stay at their farms, Kristy’s childhood was filled with experiences of rural life. “As a kid, I would go and stay with family friends in Jamberoo, Parkes and Canowindra,” says Kristy.

“I have memories of watching a newborn calf plop onto the ground, or visiting the local butcher where, like in many small towns, they run a tab under the family name. Some days I would sit on the enclosed veranda in the baking sun for hours, trying to avoid the flies. It was this sense of simplicity and familiarity that I really loved growing up, and as I got older these were the things I found myself gravitating towards.” 

Home in Horowhenua.

Kristy moved to New Zealand in 2014, after meeting Michael Keeling, a Kiwi who was working in western Queensland before taking over the family farm back home in Horowhenua. “My first year here was really hard,” Kristy explains.

“I was away from my friends and family and everything I had built over in Australia, and my introduction to dairy farming was a partner who worked fifteen-hour days, ate and slept and then did it all again the next day. There was very little social life, and there was a lot I had to learn. I brought home a pet lamb that first year and I quickly learnt that you don’t want to add anything to your plate during calving if you can help it!” 

Despite all the challenges, Kristy is still here and still based in the Horowhenua with Michael and their two children, Hartley, three, and Tully, one. And eighteen months after its debut Shepherdess is currently curating its eighth edition, is stocked in 400 stores nationwide and has built an online community of 15,000 and growing, with an estimated readership of 18,000 per edition.

Women from across the country write to Kristy, explaining how they had always hoped a magazine like Shepherdess would appear at their local bookstore and how much it means to them to see women like themselves reflected back in its pages and stories.  

Collaboration, connection and community.

“Collaboration is what has propelled the magazine. I remember in the few months before our first edition, sitting down with Claire Dunne and she had a whiteboard and a pen and was giving me a publishing 101 lesson because I really had no idea. I even roped in my mother-in-law to bake the cakes for the recipes in the first edition! But we were lucky to have organisations like Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Farmlands, who – bravely – endorsed us from the start. And a great team of talented women have come on board so that the magazine could become a reality.” 

Shepherdess fills a large gap in Aotearoa’s media landscape: telling stories that matter to women living in rural and regional areas and providing a space for underrepresented women’s stories to be shared; with a concerted focus on Te Reo and the experiences of wāhine Māori.  

“For me, it’s just a gut feeling that I have that I couldn’t make a publication in 2021 and not honour Te Ao Maori.

Throughout this journey, I have learnt so much about our communities and businesses. Our first editions might not have been perfect, but we strive to be better and better every time, and as a team we are continually improving and refining.

Running a business is often like a jigsaw, fitting people’s strengths to their roles and figuring out how we best work together so that we can produce the best possible experience for our readers.” 

It was in talking to other rural women that Kristy realised there was a real need for a magazine that can hold space for women who might be isolated, either socially or geographically. That other women wanted a publication that spoke to their fears and struggles as well as their sense of pride and belonging for the many wonderful things happening in rural Aotearoa.  

Shepherdess connects its readers to rural and regional Aotearoa from the comfort of their couch, kitchen table or out in the paddock if need be.

“We showcase women from all parts of the country and all areas of industry who are facing the same things as everyone else and who are trying to figure out how best to do it all.

“I think reading these stories, that are all our stories, fills us up and creates a special feeling of community. I’m really frank about knowing what it’s like for most mums out there – my office is right here on the farm with my kids underfoot, the palettes of magazines on the back of a truck, roll in right after the tanker.

“I’m doing Zoom calls while breastfeeding or checking copy and looking at design mock-ups late at night after the kids are in bed. But its also extremely rewarding to be getting these amazing stories out there. It’s exciting to have found something that I really resonate with, that feels so closely connected to me.”  

To subscribe, purchase the latest edition of Shepherdess or read more stories that have featured in the magazine, head to the website www.shepherdess.co.nz or into any one of their many stockists across the country, a list of which can also be found on the website. Use the code RURALLEADERS on the website at check out for an extra edition free with any annual subscription purchased.

Good value in changing times.

If you look very hard for the Pandemic’s silver linings, you’ll find a few.  

There’s a growing appreciation for the rural sector. According to UMR data from last year, support for dairy and sheep and beef farmers has risen 9%. The reason cited was the heavy government spending on the Covid-19 relief package, leaving a public asking, “How’re we going to pay for all this?”  

Also cutting through the gloom are the countless innovations taking place as the effort to adjust continues. And like many organisations cornered by the pandemic’s refusal to negotiate, the New Zealand Rural Leadership Trust has had to adapt on the move. One example was when Nuffield Scholars were affected by the close of international travel. An innovation in the form of a New Zealand based experience emerged.  

The Global Tour of New Zealand.

The ‘Global Tour of New Zealand’, as it was quickly named by last years’ Nuffield Scholars, gave a unique view of the country’s food and fibre sector value chains. This year, the programme has been made richer still. The Value Chain Innovation Programme will begin in January 2022 and  
is now open to a larger number of people in the primary sector. 

One of the programme’s two facilitators, Sir Graeme Harrison Professorial Chair of Global Value Chains and Trade Hamish Gow says, “The Value Chain Innovation Programme provides the opportunity to lift the lid on some of New Zealand’s leading value chains, exploring their working components and analysing how they create value.”  

Building the value.

Much work has gone into building a cache of exciting and varied case studies across dairy, arable and horticulture value chains to name a few. Participants learn straight from the source. They gain unique insights into food and fibre innovation, in both domestic and international markets.

Businesses don’t always get the opportunity to explore innovation across other industries. The new programme gives a wide view of established and novel value chains. Participants compare and transpose thinking at a time when the primary industries are going through the biggest period of transformational change since the 1980’s.  

If you’re in food and fibre, now is the time to be gaining a pan-sector view of as many successful business models as possible,” says Prof. Gow. “Increasingly the most successful value chains are those with business models that are closely aligned to their customers, use protected IP, and provide innovative shared value structures.” 

The programme runs over five weeks, two of these are spent on the road. The remaining time is spent on an individual research report. “It will be a busy few weeks, with the time commitment being 100 hours on field trips, guest lectures and networking, online lectures and discussions, tutorials, and another 50 hours self-directed learning,” said Prof. Gow. 

The programme delivery team.

New Zealand Rural Leadership Trust CEO Chris Parsons remarked, “As a global leader and thinker in value chain design, innovation and entrepreneurship, Professor Gow is uniquely qualified to impart deeper strategic learning and insight into 2022’s programme.”  

The depth on the team is bolstered further with Leadership and Strategic Development Consultant, Phil Morrison, ONZM. “We are also fortunate to have Phil onboard. He brings a different leadership perspective, drawing on a career in military command, and in the delivery of innovation, strategic and leadership training as a consultant. We couldn’t hope for a stronger team.”  

Once completed, the programme will give participants the competencies, confidence, and networks to influence change and lead transformation at an enterprise level and throughout regional New Zealand.  

Chris Parsons says, “We hope this programme will lead to positive larger scale change as our graduates continue to grow and contribute to a fast-changing food and fibre sector.”

Rural Leaders are taking applications until 28 November 2021, with a scheduled start date of 16 January 2022.  

Applications can be made at ruralleaders.co.nz/value-chain/.

A Royal Connection: The Commonwealth Study Conference Global Leaders Series.

The Commonwealth Study Conference Global Leaders Series (CSC) took place online recently. This was the first occasion Rural Leaders had been invited to attend. CSC Leader and Patron, HRH The Princess Royal also attended the event for the formal launch of this quarterly programme.

The series is designed to take on the big subjects, overlaying leadership, and hearing from key leaders around the Commonwealth.

Hosted by Coutts & Co. CEO, and Deputy Chair CSC UK, Peter Flavel, and Sir Alan Parker, Chair CSC UK, 28 countries were represented, over 200 people were online. Many insightful questions were asked, including: mental health, COVID-19, loss, EV’s, sustainability and that it’s ‘OK not to be OK’.

A range of topics were covered by speakers including Bernard Looney CEO, BP, who was very open about the challenges and opportunities for BP and the environment. As CEO, he has set BP on an extremely ambitious course of transformation as an energy company.

The meeting was held in tandem with other like-minded organisations such as RASC, NZ Rural Leaders, Nuffield Scholars, and the CSC UK delivery partners ‘The Association of Commonwealth Universities.’

HRH The Princess Royal made several helpful observations on societal expectations and then on blue and green hydrogen.

The event put Nuffield and NZ Rural Leaders in the minds of some significantly senior international leaders.

Of the event, Peter Flavel said that this was a “Significant point in CSC history – delighted to be partnering with CSC Global Alumni.”

A special thanks to those who were able to attend. And for those who missed it, we will endeavour to share the recording once the Palace approves it.