Agritech Logo

Welcome to the final AgriTech New Zealand newsletter of the year. Whilst some might be starting to think about the upcoming festive season, the beach and Christmas fruit mince pies, we seem to have managed to save the best until last!

On 29 November, the Precision Agriculture Association of New Zealand (PAANZ) agreed unanimously at their Annual General Meeting, to disestablish themselves as an incorporated society and join the Agritech New Zealand initiative within the New Zealand Tech Alliance. This is a truly momentous development for New Zealand’s wider agritech sector.

Established in 2013, the core focus of PAANZ has been to connect land users, researchers, commercial companies, Regional Councils, primary industry organisations, rural professionals and students. Its focus has been on increasing the uptake of precision agriculture technologies in land based primary production systems, accessing funding for research and the development of precision agriculture technologies, building capability within the sector and promoting adoption of precision agriculture through industry events, symposiums and field days.

This core focus will be 100 percent maintained as a working group within the Agritech New Zealand initiative. It brings both the supply and demand side of agritech together. Promoting the adoption of agritech on New Zealand farms and orchards perfectly complements Agritech New Zealand’s traditional mission to grow and scale the sector.  From a personal perspective, I would like to thank Graeme Muller, CEO of NZTech and Roger Robson-Williams and Brendan O’Connell, Chair and Vice-Chair respectively of PAANZ, for the background discussions that led to this decision. Also, to Kenneth Irons and Sophie Rebbeck, both members of the PAANZ National Committee who have been working with the Agritech New Zealand Executive Council over the past few months.

As we look to 2020, by bringing the two organisations together, industry will have much stronger, united and coordinated role to play in supporting the execution and delivery of the Government’s Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) for the agritech sector.

I plan to share the outcome of the recent cabinet meeting that discussed the Plan with Agritech New Zealand and PAANZ members shortly. My expectation is that in the first quarter of 2020, we will see considerable opportunity for members to engage with this process. 

Looking ahead, there is no shortage of activity already locked in for early 2020. A large delegation of New Zealand agritech entrepreneurs, researchers and support agencies are heading over to Melbourne in February for the evokeAG conference. If you have not already booked a spot, you can find more details at

At the end of February, we will be releasing our first major research report on New Zealand Agritech’s Competitive Advantage. It will contain a series of recommendations designed to assist policy makers and regulators look at ways of accelerating the growth of New Zealand’s agritech sector.

In March, another group will be heading to San Francisco for the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit. It’s a key date in the global calendar as an estimated 1500 delegates from around the world meet to discuss some of the most disruptive technologies transforming the global food system. 

Back home, MobileTECH is hosting its 2020 conference in Rotorua from 7-8 April. Agritech New Zealand is the event’s Strategic Partner and you can view the event’s latest event announcements here

Finally, applications for the 2020 National Fieldays Innovations are now open. Fieldays Innovations provides a global platform for creative problem solvers to showcase their innovation to the primary sector. 

That’s just about it for 2019!  It’s been a fantastic year for the sector and it’s been an honour for Agritech New Zealand to have been a part of it. Next year looks even more hectic (surely that’s not possible – Ed) as we embark on bringing some of the key actions and initiatives from the ITP to market. We look forward to working with you to make this happen.

Wishing you a happy and relaxing festive season.

Ngā mihi,

Peter Wren-Hilton
Executive Director
Agritech New Zealand


In local news, Kiwi farmers will be the first to breed low methane sheep as Beef and Lamb New Zealand has added low methane production to the list of traits breeders can target when choosing rams. There’s also been more discussion on reducing enteric methane through productivity gains.

A new genetically modified corn produces up to 10 percent more than similar types, while CRISPR has produced rice plants that are resistant to blight. In other news, researchers in the USA have used genome editing to breed hornless cattle.

The New Zealand Hi-Tech Trust is seeking a trustee to join its board. Expressions of interest close on 20 December.

Entries for the NZ Hi-Tech Awards are now open. Save the date for the 2020 awards gala dinner on 22 May in Wellington.

A new AI Forum report predicts up to $6.4 billion of economic benefits for New Zealand by 2035 from AI-driven labour efficiencies. Discover how AI is transforming agriculture.

Meet our TechWomen, learn how they kick started their careers and what they do on the job. Watch the #TechWomenNZ online series here.

Register for Hack Aotearoa and MobileTECH Ag 2020. Register for early bird tickets for Future Government 2020 on 25 March in Wellington.

Attend evokeAg, 18-19 February, 2020 in Melbourne. The World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit returns to San Francisco March 17-18, 2020.