Horticulture New Zealand’s collective voice vital

10 Feb 2017

Parliament House Beehive Bowen House Wellington

Whether showing rapid growth, or facing challenges, it is vital to have a pan-industry representative voice for horticulture growers. I’ve now been at HortNZ for one year, and during that time my belief in a pan-industry group has been fortified. There are three good reasons for this.

First, the industry needs “a canary in the mine” in Wellington, where central Government is based. Maintaining regular contact with Ministers, MPs and government departments is vital; we get the early warning of what policy and new rules are being developed, we get the opportunity to have early input, and we get the chance to influence the policy and rules with growers’ needs in mind. Last year HortNZ made, on average, one submission per week on government policy.

Second, our real strength comes from uniting the horticultural sector to work together on the development of policies and rules. With each of the submissions we make, we go out to our key contacts in the product groups, district associations, and of course growers, seeking their input and support for the submissions. What we aim to develop for each government initiative is a united voice from horticulture. It is very much “united we stand, divided we fall”; the strong, collective voice for horticulture has significant impact with government. This does not replace the need for each sector to work through its own initiatives with government, either with or without our input and support, but on key issues the united voice for horticulture is vital if we are to have a real and measurable impact.

The third reason is the need for the horticulture story to be told. We will only have influence with Government if the New Zealand public, and their representing MPs, have an understanding about horticulture. It is also particularly important that the officials who work in government departments have a detailed understanding of horticulture, as they give advice to decision-makers. It is HortNZ’s job to tell that story, and to tell it so that when there are issues facing horticulture, there is understanding and support for our positions.

So for these reasons – monitoring government, uniting the horticultural sector on government proposals, and being the voice for horticulture – pan-industry groups such as HortNZ have a vital and very valuable role for their sectors.

- Mike Chapman, CEO