First week as HortNZ CE
15 June 2021
This is my first official week as HortNZ Chief Executive. However, prior to starting, I enjoyed the benefit of three regional visits, where I started the process of meeting as many in the horticulture sector as possible over the next few months. I have also met several Government Ministers and officials in the past few weeks.
For those of you that do not know, I have been in horticulture before, predominantly in the apple and pear industry as an exporter, director and chair. I have just spent the past four years in the Mānuka Honey industry and have been fortunate to be involved in several other roles across the food and fibre sector. In all of this, I have enjoyed my grower / farmer interactions above all.
One of my key concerns is to ensure that the horticulture sector is not overburdened with unrealistic expectations. As growers, all of you know and understand that your successes have not been a matter of luck. Rather, they have been the product of a long and often arduous journey, which involved many years of refining your knowledge and expertise – as individuals, an industry and at times, in cooperation with research institutes. Those investments of both time and money are not easily replicated.
As I settle into my role as HortNZ Chief Executive, I will be very mindful of the pressure that growers and the horticulture sector are under. On the one hand, we are being lauded as a key part of New Zealand’s answer to climate change but on the other, we cannot get enough workers; compliance and the cost of compliance are increasing; in some cases, houses look easier to grow than fruit and vegetables; and even if you can get your produce harvested, if you are an exporter, you might not be able to get it overseas.
This is the type of conversation that I am having with Government Ministers and officials, with the objective of increasing understanding of the horticulture sector and what we need to be able to deliver on the Government’s objectives.
No doubt you will be interested in how these conversations pan out and what actions Government Ministers might direct officials to take. I will keep you posted.