OPINION: There’s some agitation out there at the moment about farming being under threat from forestry. Much of what’s circulating is based on misinformation so it’s time to lay out the facts.
He told Federated Farmers annual conference last week that Māori agribusiness will be a big part of New Zealand’s future. Māori have huge land holdings and huge potential, they don’t sell their land and will be here forever, he said.
So NZ must do better at connecting with Māori and their aspirations and appreciating and utilising their values such as kaitiakitanga (guardianship, wise utilisation not preservation), and manaakitanga (sharing the goods we have with others).
“These are the things that will drive us into the future because the new consumers -- our children -- have values different from those we grew up with. They are not bad, they are just different, and they are looking for different things.
“In my view and experience those underlying values of sustainability and sharing and caring are what drive decisionmaking at the consumer level.”
O’Connor says more people are looking for sustainability in our products. They want to know we care about our environment and are engaged in climate change initiatives.
“This is the new world in which we are selling our products. We have to be the Swiss watch producers of protein products – the very very best, worthy of the highest possible prices and selling to people less concerned about price and more concerned about value.”
NZ must ensure all its primary industry is seen in a positive light. The dairy industry has been challenged on this and so has tourism, O’Connor said. This must be worked through.
Primary sector growth has been spectacular in the past year -- 7% growth and $45 billion in export earnings.
“But we need better health and education. [We struggle] to attract and retain passionate young enthusiastic people to our sector. Every sector is complaining they can’t get enough of these people.”