“We’re ready for the challenge,” declares DINZ chair

Oct 19, 2023

A new Government is incoming, with the electorate deciding on a new National-led coalition on Saturday night. The deer industry is ready for whatever challenges come its way, Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chair Mandy Bell told deer farming leaders in Wellington ahead of the election last week.

Changes to the deer sector’s industry board, DINZ, were well received by the leaders, when the NZ Deer Farmers Association (NZDFA)’s branch chairmen met in Wellington on 5/6 October. The NZDFA representatives were in town for their six-monthly meeting, at which they learned more about developments in the sector’s new strategy and gained updates on activities and market information from DINZ board and executive.

The deer industry is looking forwards and has a strong foundation to realise opportunities, says Mandy Bell.

When looking to refresh the deer industry strategy last year, the board understood the challenges facing the industry, “were big,” and serious and rapid action on the “strategy, people and structure” needed to be taken, DINZ chair Mandy Bell reminded branch chairs at the meeting.

Those challenges included, among other things, “significant growth in the velvet part of our industry, hind numbers falling and concerns particularly around hind profitability, market developments post-Covid, increasing regulation and siloed thinking in government.

“Working on those policies was taking a huge amount of energy both for us as farmers and the DINZ executive and the Board.”

Taking a deep dive over four months from the end-July 2022 board meeting, the board directors worked together, with facilitation, and “pushed hard” to pull together their thoughts on where the industry needed to go. It was clear leadership from the industry board in creating change was key.

While the NZDFA itself wasn’t involved in the early stages of the development, Bell assured the branch chairs, “it will be, going forwards.”

The DINZ board worked over the summer with external advice to pull together the new ‘Thrive with Passion’ strategy. Conversations with the NZDFA National Executive and branches, and other deer farmers and stakeholders around the country “reconfirmed that we’d landed on the mark,” she said. The strategy was fine-tuned as those conversations developed and was presented at May’s Deer Industry Conference.

Hamish Glendinning, as this year’s Board observer, witnessed the progress of the organisation restructure first-hand.

“The maturity of Innes and the team to go through that and the work that various board members have put into making sure no rock was left unturned was quite phenomenal,” he commented. 

“To deliver on the strategy, you need a team that is fit-for-purpose,” said Bell, who announced that the DINZ restructuring that resulted from the process is now complete with a full complement of staff.

She welcomed the newest additions, new industry capability manager John Ladley, who joined the DINZ executive last month, and Luka Jansen, who was added two weeks ago.

“We’re really excited to have you all on board,” said Bell.

The changes have been generally well received by the NZDFA branch chairs.

NZDFA Hawke’s Bay chair Evan Potter was “looking forward to seeing how the new [staff] members fit into DINZ and how that transforms into gains for us on the ground,” he said.

DINZ Board members ready for questioning are (left to right) Hamish Glendinning (observer), Dr Jacqueline Rowarth, Gerard Hickey, Nigel Jones and Paddy Boyd.

DINZ board member and Haldon Station manager Paddy Boyd thought “it’s important for the whole industry that we all know where we are going and that we’re all going the same way. It’s a great team that’s being developed right now,” he believed. Accountability back to the levy payers, was also “really important.”

As a small and agile industry, the changes are enabling, said Bell.

“We are niche, and that gives us a huge opportunity to be agile, to be closer to and part of value chains. Change is coming, it is here and DINZ is well positioned to work with our stakeholders on opportunities that come with that change.”

Pure Advantage’s ‘Recloaking Papatūānuku’ initiative, is a potential win-win for New Zealand and landowners, to offset against likely emissions charges and support farmers in biodiversity work programmes, “this could be very beneficial to us as deer farmers given many of our properties are extensive,” she thought. “Let’s be at the front of it as an industry that has great people. We are organised, we have a strategy, we are ready now for opportunity.”

Bell believes the sector is “ready, willing and able” to seize these opportunities. “I think we are very ready to together take our industry forwards.”


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