Have your say via the AGMs

18 July 2023

HortNZ, three product groups and the Growers Relief Fund are all using Horticulture Conference Week (31 July-4 August) to hold their Annual General Meetings or as they are more commonly known, AGMs. 

AGMs are a formal opportunity for members – in this case, levy paying growers – to provide boards and executive teams with feedback. A lot of effort goes into preparing for AGMs so that members have all the information they need for transparency and in order to have an informed discussion. Given the role this type of meeting plays in accountability, this level of preparation is to be expected.

While there’s usually a bit of tension around AGMs – particularly if the year in question’s been challenging – it is also getting harder to achieve a quorum, not just in our industry but across the board. This is a somewhat distressing trend as it means it is getting harder for organisations to obtain feedback through engagement with their members.

For HortNZ, the end of the financial year to 31 March 2023 was affected by the impact of Cyclone Gabrielle while at the start of that financial year, we were still grappling with the ongoing effects of Covid. As an industry, we have been operating in a type of crisis environment for more than three years. Furthermore, the current Government has pursued an aggressive reform and regulatory programme over that time, in order to take advantage of its majority in Parliament.

HortNZ’s approach has been to maintain its seat at the negotiating table. We have done this believing that if we were not there, we would not have the opportunity to influence and increase understanding of our industry’s dynamics and the possible impact of proposals and at the end of the day, decisions.

We often hear from growers who are disappointed in what we have achieved for the industry. This is perhaps a reflection of the New Zealand way of looking at things – the idea that we can always do better, even on the rugby field.

This way of looking at things is hard to counter. It’s tempting to say, ‘it could have been worse’, but that’s hard to accept, unless you’ve been part of the journey that gets you to the point where the Government makes a decision. Some growers are part of this journey, which may take years, but most are not. 

As an industry, we are passionate and committed because we believe in what we do – grow nutritious, great-tasting, low-carbon food for New Zealand and the rest of the world. We try and shout this fact from the rooftops but sometimes we are not heard. That said, there is a high level of support for our industry amongst the public, the current Government and officials in most areas but yes, there could always be more.

I would like to encourage as many growers as possible to attend the AGMs – either in person or online. They are important opportunities to provide feedback – good and bad – in order to enable organisations like ours to ensure alignment with growers’ needs and views.