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First, I hope wherever you are, you and your family are safe and well. These are indeed strange times. Closed borders have new meaning, because today, I can travel to Hamilton, but not to Auckland. However, in the world of Agritech New Zealand, things are not slowing down!

Earlier this month, we elected our new Executive Council. Kenneth Irons is the new Chair and Dion Cawood, the Deputy Chair. I would like to congratulate all the new members on their successful election. Meet the new team here.

As promised in our last newsletter, July was an epic month! I joined Ministers Twyford and O’Connor in Tauranga as we launched the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan (ITP). Almost 100 Agritech New Zealand members attended the launch at Zespri. Looking ahead, we will be establishing Industry Reference Groups to support the Key Impact Projects and work streams contained within the Plan. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – ongoing industry engagement is critical to ensure the successful delivery and implementation of the Plan.

Minister O’Connor also used the occasion to release Aotearoa Agritech Unleashed, a major research report prepared by Agritech New Zealand on the economic impact of the sector on New Zealand’s broader economy. The significant impact of the sector on New Zealand’s economic performance was further enhanced by the release of the inaugural TIN Agritech Insights Report. 

July also saw two major digital events; Fieldays Online and Techweek2020. Agritech New Zealand hosted eight sessions across the two events. Again, I would like to congratulate the teams behind both events. In the past, I would have expected to be wearing my red band gumboots at Mystery Creek and criss-crossing the country during Techweek to support regional agritech events. However, this year, I was in a studio on Auckland’s North Shore and live at Techweek TV at AUT. Both teams did an amazing job, especially as they pivoted from hosting significant physical events to creating very successful digital ones.

And now for some personal news, this will be my last Agritech New Zealand newsletter as Executive Director. Over the past few months, Jacqui and I have become very aware of the impact of closed international borders on many of our members. We have decided to focus exclusively on leveraging our global networks to support keeping lines open between New Zealand’s agritech sector and offshore markets. 

The good news is that when our current term finishes on Friday 4 September, Jacqui and I will sign a new contract with NZTech to help grow Agritech New Zealand’s offshore footprint. In the meantime, the Executive Council is actively recruiting my successor.

In closing, I would like to thank our members for their ongoing support over the past 2+ years. I would like to pay special tribute to the members of the former Establishment Council for their significant contribution and service to the sector both before and since the organisation was established. You were awesome! 

It was your support that helped get the Agritech ITP across the line and it is the ongoing support that will take this organisation to new heights.

Ngā mihi

Peter Wren-Hilton
Executive Director
AgriTech New Zealand

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