Under the Mikeroscope
Your story goes national
January 2018 will be my two year anniversary as chief executive for Horticulture New Zealand. During those two years, the way Horticulture New Zealand works for growers has changed, building on our past successes, at the same time as developing new levels of support and service.
The direction was set by the board, with an updated strategic plan at the start of my employment. The mission in that plan was directed at Horticulture New Zealand staff by requiring us to: create an enduring environment where growers prosper.
A key element in the refreshed strategic plan is telling the horticulture story, not only to politicians and rural communities, but also to the public at large who eat the food you grow. It has taken all of the two years for our stories to break through onto national TV and into national radio and print media. In addition, we have run a strong social media programme producing blogs and talking about our fresh produce on a regular basis to reach those age groups that do not use traditional media. Telling the story has been assisted by the two campaigns we ran this year: first, for mandatory country of origin labelling (CoOL) and second, for the creation of a national food security policy to ensure that New Zealand can feed itself by protecting our class 1, 2 and 3 soils and having access to water and labour.
In the lead up to the general election, we produced an election manifesto and we took an active role in publicly pointing out the unintended consequences of Labour’s proposed water tax, as we did not believe it would achieve their desired outcome of “cleaning up waterways”. We are fully committed to environmental sustainability and continue supporting programmes to achieve that. We are working in Canterbury with Environment Canterbury (ECan) so that growers can meet ECan’s environmental requirements. Linked to our heightened media profile has been increasing our contact with politicians and the government departments. This is so that we can be ahead of policy development, and work to lessen the impact of government decisions on policy, law and regulation on your businesses. For example, in conjunction with Worksafe, we produced a guide booklet and on-line tool to enable you to meet new health and safety requirements.
We heard and acted on your requests to increase our expertise with biosecurity and the Resource Management Act. In each of these areas we have recruited two new staff members who between them have significant experience and expertise. Our focus has been not to recruit managers, but to recruit experts who have the ability to create the enduring environment where you can prosper. We have also worked to integrate Horticulture New Zealand’s teams so that staff members with the skills undertake what they are best at, regardless of what team they work in.
In our other areas of work we are prioritising and working out the best way to deliver what you need. This means we have not automatically replaced staff when they have left, but rather we have assessed how we can deliver the required service better. Integral to this is working with all our stakeholders, particularly the district associations and product groups, so that we can complement each other’s activities and work together.
In 2018 we will continue to give you the services you need to prosper. We will be asking for your support in our sixyearly levy vote, but our main focus is on giving full effect to our strategic plan by continuing to tell the great horticulture story and produce results in the areas that matter the most to you.
"I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year."