Dear Members and Friends,
As I near the end of week four at IrrigationNZ and get ready to meet many of you at our AGM next week, I thought it might be helpful to let you know what we have been up to for the past few weeks.
The last four weeks
Having joined straight after the election and the resounding support for the Labour Party to form the new Government, there has been a significant appetite to engage and work with us following our thoughtful election manifesto presented by our previous chief executive Elizabeth Soal. Elizabeth had done an excellent job creating a dialogue with the ministries over the past few months enabling my transition into Wellington to be a smooth one, and one in which the Ministry for the Environment and Ministry of Primary Industries welcomed us. It is safe to say the Government has a big agenda, as we enter the post COVID phase and seek to build back better, and one we are keen to help guide and influence where we can, by providing practical solutions and credible evidence to back up the precision use of water for the benefits to the environment as well as the economy.
Changing the Conversation
We have some challenges coming with the implementation of freshwater reforms, as well as the increasing impact of climate change and the need for ongoing investment in water infrastructure, storage, and accurate use. We are part of the solution rather than the problem and we are working on informing and educating officials on why irrigation is so important and why it needs to move away from a conversation about agriculture intensification to one about risk mitigation, food surety, drinking water, community benefit and regional development.
To date the media and Government have been receptive to this change in conversation, and it is one I am keen we continue to have as an ‘irrigation collective’ – this is not a journey we can take in isolation. From industry experts, suppliers, schemes, and individual irrigators, we have a massive opportunity to demonstrate best practice, and work with our communities to create a sustainable and stronger outcome for all. I have even found a welcoming group of Non-Government Organisations wanting to collaborate and understand more about how irrigation works.
I have been privileged to meet with several of you including irrigation schemes, irrigation specialists and some very passionate individuals Thank you to those that reached out and have been very supportive. We have a lot of work to do, getting our much leaner and focused organisation back on track after the disruption COVID. We have a focus on an increased regional and national presence, creating a better understanding of the sector, improved Government engagement, stronger relationships with industry partners, and a real focus on improving member engagement to ensure we are meeting your needs.
The first four weeks have gone quickly, but it is clear we have a huge opportunity to influence and improve perceptions about water use.
The IrrigationNZ Team
For clarity, it is also important to note we have significantly decreased our footprint – we moved our head office to Wellington the day I started, with Lynn and myself in the office here, Julie is working from Timaru, Ella - Canterbury, Liz from Oamaru and we are continuing to contract Vicky out of the Hawkes Bay. It is fair to say we are more regionally diverse than the past, with me being an Aucklander, and our geographical spread a bit wider than previously. We are hoping this also ensures we have a more national approach and can further support the newer horticulture based schemes in the North Island, while continuing to service our valued members in the south.
I have been impressed with the dedication from the small team we have remaining and want to thank the members and long term supporters who have helped us while we have transitioned into the new office and refocused.The passion for our cause and the help being provided has been well received. I would also like to thank the sponsors who continued to back us even after the conference was cancelled and have helped see us through to a pretty positive result despite the impact of COVID . I know we are all looking at ways we can cut our cloth, and without this support, and the leaning up of the organisation, we wouldn’t be in such a good position from which to build back up.
Our AGM - look forward to seeing you there!
I am hoping you will join me and the board at the AGM next week – 19th November at Russley Golf Course in Christchurch from 4-6pm. We will also use this opportunity to celebrate the winners of the Ron Cocks award and the Innovation in Irrigation award, proudly sponsored by Ballance. With refreshments kindly supplied by Anderson Lloyd. Please email
RSVP for catering purposes. Following our board meeting the next day, it is our intention to also share our business plan and engagement approach for the coming year.
I welcome your feedback/ ideas on how we can improve this organisation and support you better, so please do send me a message with any thoughts or concerns.