The season ahead – August 2021
By Jen Scoular
Heading down to Christchurch to attend the New Zealand Merino conference I didn’t expect to be in a room of 450 people, mostly farmers, there to hear from some of the most inspiring lovers of New Zealand wool that I have ever heard. NZ Merino hosts this conference annually and I was invited as part of the Te Hono alumni, a primary industry initiative seeking linkages between our amazing country and the products we products in it, and the creation of value and stories to enhance the sales of those products offshore.
As we head into what will be a very challenging season, I needed the aspiration, the opportunity to look at things differently, the chance to share our challenges with others and to hear how others are facing their challenges. We heard from Owen Eastwood, the author of Belonging, a wonderful read about whakapapa, about leveraging your identity to create strong teams. New Zealanders have such amazing pride in being kiwi, we identify with so many aspects of the very essence of being a New Zealander. So there is automatically a connection between us, we “belong” in the same team, and that belonging strengthens what we do in that team.
Across the avocado industry we are a diverse team, but we have a game plan, a strategy and hundreds of years of combined experience amongst us. We are facing an unprecedented season, but rather than think just of the negatives, we need to take some comfort from that experience, the connections we have, the assets we have built up over a long periods. It is impossible for our exporters to visit their customers, but they have built some of those relationships over a long time, and the connections they have made are assets as we face the tough times.
I really enjoy hearing about other sectors, whether it is those that are similar to avocados like kiwifruit or apples and pears, or sectors very different from ours, like the wool sector. How inspiring to hear about some of the initiatives that have strengthened the wool industry, we heard from the founder and CEO of All Birds – I hope readers have all tried their shoes, which are the most comfortable shoes in the world. We heard from the CEO of VF, the owners of clothing brands Ice Breaker and Vans. They love the story behind wool from New Zealand, the provenance, the passion of the farmers looking after their farms and their sheep for future generations. That story resonates, and their story well told supports the similar story we tell in our export markets, the power of New Zealand, the significance of our connections and the amazing products that New Zealand produces.