Alliance Group Announces Annual Roadshows Programme

Farmers are invited to attend Alliance Group’s 2020 Annual Roadshows over September and October.

Twenty-three meetings will be held across the country, starting out in Omihi on 22 September and finishing in Cromwell on 20 October.

Alliance Group chief executive David Surveyor said the roadshow is an opportunity for the co- operative’s farmer shareholders and other farmers who would like to learn about the co-operative
to hear first-hand from directors and senior managers.

“Those attending will receive an update on the co-operative’s performance, progress on our strategy and our plans for the future. We will be setting out the challenges, opportunities and outlook.

Importantly, it’s also an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback.” For more details, please see the schedule below. To register, please visit:

District Date Time Venue
Omihi Tuesday 22 September 7:30pm Omihi Community Hall
Akaroa Monday 28 September 1:00pm Akaroa Golf Club
Darfield Monday 28 September 7:30pm Darfield Recreation & Community Centre
Methven Thursday 1 October 1.30pm Mt Hutt Memorial Hall
Fairlie Thursday 1 October 7:30pm Mackenzie Rugby Football Club
Bridge Pa Monday 5 October 1:30pm Hastings Golf Club
Dannevirke Monday 5 October 7:30pm The Hub
Taihape Tuesday 6 October 1.30pm Taihape Golf Club
Feilding Tuesday 6 October 7:30pm Manfeild Park
Masterton Wednesday 7 October 1:30pm Copthorne Solway Park
Blenheim Thursday 8 October 1:00pm Quality Hotel Marlborough
Nelson Thursday 8 October 7:30pm Moutere Hills Community Centre
Middlemarch Monday 12 October 1.30pm Middlemarch Golf Club
Balclutha Monday 12 October 7:30pm South Otago Town & Country Club
Heriot Tuesday 13 October 1.30pm Heriot Community Centre
Fortrose Tuesday 13 October 7:30pm Tokanui Golf Club
Mossburn Wednesday 14 October 1.30pm Mossburn Community Centre
Tuatapere Wednesday 14 October 7:30pm Waiau Town & Country Club
Winton Thursday 15 October 1:30pm Midlands Rugby Club
Gore Thursday 15 October 7:30pm Longford Function Centre
Oamaru Monday 19 October 7:30pm Brydone Hotel
Ranfurly Tuesday 20 October 1.30pm Ranfurly Bowling Club
Cromwell Tuesday 20 October 7:30pm Heritage Collection Lake Resort

Milford Businesses Fear For The Future After A Series Of Calamities

Close to one million people visited Milford Sound last year, but that’s slowed from a torrent to a trickle as borders have closed.

But Covid-19 is just the latest calamity to strike, coming off the back of devastating floods in February and even earthquakes.

While many businesses experienced a welcome boost over the school holidays, visitors numbers have already slowed.

Cruise Milford operations manager Hamish Egerton said travelling New Zealanders were a saving grace for many businesses.

“School holidays have been great, numbers have been really really pleasing, but of course, that’s over so we’re going to be potentially falling into the precipice now.”

Most businesses usually tried to hold onto staff through the quieter winter months in the expectation of things picking up in summer, he said.

“For a lot of people there is no summer so there’s no point in carrying those staff, so most companies are running bare skeleton.”

Milford Sound Tourism owns and operates infrastructure including the harbour, wharves, and visitor terminal.

Its operations leader Tony Woodham said Milford was a resilient community with many long-term businesses, but it had been a year like no other, including flooding through the terminal which was still being fixed.

“So Covid really coming along was an unbelievable experience. No one could imagine the immediate effect on this place,” he said.

Milford was here to stay and businesses would continue to act as guardians of the taonga, Woodham said.

“It is a privilege actually to serve this place, and we try to employ people who feel like that. We’re trying to hang on to a team of people and surround ourselves with cruise operators who believe that too.

“They’re passionate about sharing it. It will continue, people will find their way there and it’s a matter of hanging in there.”

About 80 percent of guests with tour company, Southern Discoveries, are from overseas.

Operations manager Wolfgang Hainzl said the school holidays saw an influx of locals – a much needed morale and financial boost – and some scrambling to find larger vessels to accommodate everybody.

But he said staff numbers still had to be cut and, across the fiord, were probably down by about 60 percent on normal levels.

“It is one of those iconic areas which probably a lot of New Zealanders have never experienced, especially if you’re in the city. You don’t see that you’ve got to drive 120 kilometres to the next supermarket,” he said.

“It’s quite unusual for New Zealanders. They like to go down to the corner dairy and grab the bottle of milk. Well, for us, it’s a 240 kilometre return trip.”

Photo: RNZ / Tess Brunton

Hainzl estimated staffing across Milford businesses had reduced by about 60 percent, but said businesses were holding on and he remained hopeful for the future.

“I think the advantage for our company – most companies in Milford actually – is they’re all family owned. Our company is owned by a Southland family. It is actually something quite positive.

“We are here to stay but it will be a bit challenging. I think if we can get the Australian bubble going, it would be fine.”

He wanted to see the government’s plan for the future of tourism and where Milford Sound fits in.

Real Journeys general manager Paul Norris said they would be operating on weekends only for the rest of winter when usually there’d be a couple of cruises a day.

But he was continuing to stay positive.

“The Kiwis that are going in there are just loving having the place to themselves,” Norris said.

“We think it’s going fine and Milford will always be Milford and will always be an iconic destination for Kiwis and hopefully the international tourists when they come back again in the future.”

And for locals put off by the rain, Rachida Toure from Mitre Peak Tours, had this message:

“Don’t let the rain deter anyone from coming into Milford. It’s a rainforest so it rains here quite often and you’ll get to see some spectacular waterfalls so come rain or shine, you’re always going to have a lovely time in Milford Sound.”

Milford businesses said when it came to normal service resuming in paradise and the visitors returning, it wasn’t a matter of if, but rather when.

Source: Republished by arrangement.


Air New Zealand Domestic Schedule Ramps Up

Air New Zealand has ramped up its domestic schedule for August to 70 percent of pre-COVID-19 levels.

The airline had planned to operate around 55 percent of its usual domestic capacity (compared to pre-COVID-19 levels) during August.

Air New Zealand General Manager Networks Scott Carr says the airline has been pleasantly surprised with demand for domestic travel.

“As a result of demand, we’ve added or upgauged more than 400 one-way flights in August. This includes operating an additional 408 one-way flights and 18 flights which have been upgauged to a larger aircraft.”

Travelers from Invers will have more connecting services to and from Christchurch from August

There will also be an increase in services from Queenstown and Dunedin.

Earlier in the week Air New Zealand’s online credit tool went live allowing customers who hold credit directly with the airline to manage their credit online.

Alliance Group – Major Investment To Upgrade Lorneville Plant

Alliance Group is to invest $3.2 million to further upgrade its Lorneville plant near Invercargill as it seeks to improve the operational efficiency of the co-operative’s largest site.

The plant’s Engine Room Two provides key refrigeration for four cold stores, some blast freezers and several product chillers at the plant, which in peak season employs almost 2,000 people.

Alliance will be investing in safety features in the engine room, upgrading equipment and the building structure. The programme will improve the company’s ability to control the refrigeration system remotely and provide a platform for further investment.

It will also give Alliance the opportunity to have more control points and sensors, improve the ability to provide automation control and result in significant savings through energy efficiency. The plant’s Engine Room One was upgraded in 2018.

David Surveyor, chief executive of Alliance Group, said the multi-million investment underlines Alliance’s commitment to Lorneville and to Southland.

“This is part of what has been a continual programme over the last five years to upgrade and invest in our facilities for the long-term benefit of farmers, employees and local communities.

“Alliance Group is Southland’s largest employer. With the current global environment, COVID-19 pandemic and pressures on the New Zealand economy, it is more important than ever that we continue to invest and build forward.”

The project is expected to be completed by spring 2021.

Meanwhile, Alliance Group’s $4 million project to reconfigure its venison processing plant at Lorneville so it can also process beef is being supported by a $2.8 million loan from the Provincial Growth Fund.

“We welcome this investment from the Provincial Growth Fund,” said Mr Surveyor.

“The PGF support will enable Alliance Group to further accelerate our investment programmes to better meet the needs of farmers.

“As our supply volumes have continued to grow year on year, our farmers have been asking for more beef capacity in peak season.

“This means we will be able to make a meaningful difference for our farmers by processing some cull cows at Lorneville and free up our Mataura plant for prime steer, heifer and bull. The investment also demonstrates our commitment to the New Zealand deer industry because the reconfiguration will also boost our deer processing capacity.”


Tarras Site Eyed Up For New Airport – No, It’s Not April Fools Day

Tarras – a small farming settlement in Central Otago – is being eyed up as a possible location for a new airport.


The current concept idea is to build a 2.2km, jet capable runway on a 750 hectare block of land in Tarras.

So far, $45 million has been spent on the project – which includes purchasing the land bordered by State Highway 8 and 8A.

Christchurch Aiport chief executive Malcolm Johns said in a written statement the airport team was pleased to have secured the land so it can begin discussions.

“Our top priority is a conversation with the people who live closest to the site – the Tarras community. This is their home and it’s important they are given the opportunity to ask us their questions directly and understand our thinking.”

Johns said the project team would consult with people across the South Island.

“South Islanders are great at rolling up their sleeves and working together to get things done. We want to hear from those with ideas and feedback as we further investigate the feasibility of the project and shape its design.

He said Christchurch Airport had long seen the potential for a new airport in Central Otago.

Christchurch Airport started work on the proposal before Covid-19 disrupted air travel globally.

“The virus doesn’t change too much of this proposal – except for timeframes. We are confident the central and southern South Island will always be a place where people seek to live, visit and work.

“We can now look beyond the status quo to talk about and plan for that future.

“This is an opportunity for all South Islanders to work together on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a piece of vital infrastructure, that is one of the most sustainable airports in the world and able to make a real difference for future generations.”

Central Otago District Council said in a written statement that leaders today received the word of the plans.

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan said it was surprising and big news for the community.

“Christchurch Airport has signalled in a media release this afternoon that they are taking a long-term approach and their top priority is having conversations with and working alongside the community. This is very early days in what will be a very long process. At this early stage I encourage all our community to get informed and get engaged in the process and form their own view.”

Chief executive Sanchia Jacobs said her executive team had just learned of the news today.

“As a consenting authority, we don’t have a view on this but will be watching with interest and in the event an application is made for consent we will follow the statutory process.”

Source: Republished by arrangement.

Champion of The Regions Brings the Dosh

While it was cold outside, freezing actually, the self styled champion of the regions Shane Jones brought warmth, some laughter and a big bag of money for various southern organisations and businesses.

One of the big handouts is for  stop-bank upgrade work for our rivers. This follows on from the catastrophic floods of earlier this year.

Otago gets a slice of the pie but the lion’s share comes to protect our lands from ever increasing adverse climatic events.

Minister Jones also said there is no solution to the dross issue but added that there would be a lot more to say soon.

Two Southland businesses will receive loans from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) to boost production and take on more local workers, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced.

Up to $5.3 million will go to Alliance Group Limited’s meat processing facility and Drysdale Hydroponics’ vegetable growing business.

“These businesses are in line with Southland’s priority to diversify its economic base, and will create new jobs during construction and in the longer-term,” Shane Jones said.

“These businesses are in line with Southland’s priority to diversify its economic base, and will create new jobs during construction and in the longer-term,” Shane Jones said.

“Alliance Group Limited (AGL), a farmer owned co-operative meat processing company, will receive a $2.8 million loan to assist with the conversion of its Lorneville venison processing plant to include beef processing. This will provide its workers with a 10–12 week longer work season and will also create up to 20 new jobs.

“This expansion brings several benefits to the region, including more jobs, upskilling of new and existing staff and increased beef processing capacity in Southland during the peak season which will increase staff earnings through enabling a longer processing season.

“The conversion of AGL’s plant will start in a few months and will create jobs for approximately 100 people on the construction site, including jobs for designers and engineers over an eight-month construction period.

“Drysdale Hydroponics will receive a loan of up to $2.5 million towards the expansion of its existing hydroponic vegetable growing operation into producing a more diverse range of hydroponically grown produce, which includes tomatoes, capsicums, strawberries and micro-greens.

“The 16-year old horticulture business supplies local wholesalers, supermarkets, as well as businesses preparing food for sale, such as cafes and caterers.

“Two new greenhouses, a pack house and staff amenities will be built, with work starting within the next two months. A total of 30 new jobs will be created at the business, 17 of which will be added in the first six months of operation.

“Southland needs a wider variety of food production other than beef and dairy, sheep and root-stock vegetables for commercial supply. Drysdale Hydroponics has proven it can commercially produce lettuce and other leafy greens in Southland.

“This will be a great asset to the region where demand for fresh, locally grown produce can often outstrip supply. Produce not produced in Southland needs to be airfreighted from the top of the North Island, at considerable extra economic and environmental cost to both growers and consumers.

“Both businesses we’re supporting today are proud Southland entities and their respective expansions will quite rightly benefit locals,” Shane Jones said.




Government Plan Aims To Boost Primary Sector Export Earnings By $44bn

The government has launched a plan to boost primary sector export earnings by $44 billion over the next decade.

It said the plan was focused on unlocking greater value for a sector which is vital to New Zealand’s economic recovery post Covid-19.

The report is a follow up to a strategy unveiled in December last year. That was released by the government’s Primary Sector Council and called for a move away from volume, towards value-added products, which would get premium prices in the marketplace.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said today’s new report outlined practical ways for the sector to achieve that goal. Some of the recommended actions included modernising export legislation, establishing a Māori Primary Sector Leaders Forum and using food science to support health and provenance claims.

He said the sector had to act quickly and couldn’t continue to rely on volume growth to generate greater returns.

“Our Fit for a Better World Roadmap builds on the work both primary industries and the government have already started and brings together actions, investment, and resources that will work in concert to accelerate the transformation we need.”

O’Connor said the next step was to develop a phased implementation programme.

“Over the coming months we’ll be working with the sector on rolling it out. There is huge potential in this roadmap but it can only be achieved through a close partnership with industry and Māori,” he said.

In the year ended June 2019, primary sector exports reached $46.3 billion. A report released by the Ministry for Primary Industries last month found despite the impacts of Covid-19, primary sector exports for 2020 were tracking 4.5 percent, or $1.7 billion, higher than 2019 levels.

Source: Republished by arrangement

National Feildays Goes Online – A World First

The National Agricultural Fieldays was officially opened online today (Mon) , replacing its usual opening event, normally held at Mystery Creek near Hamilton.

The event, which attracted 130,000 people last year, was due to start in June but was postponed as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

New Zealand National Agricultural Feildays Society (NZNFS) president James Allan said it was exciting to finally launch the event.

“It was 90 days ago we had to pivot from the physical event to the online and there has been a lot of hard work involved,” he said.

“If the farmers can’t come to the feildays, we will bring it to them.”

The Feildays online platform will host exhibitors’ sites, a series of webinars, live video and sales.

NZNFS chief executive Peter Nation said the benefit of having the online event was it had a global reach.

“This is a world first for any agricultural event and it is providing another level of connectivity beyond borders,” he said.

The event was officially opened by Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern and attendees were welcomed by Prince Charles, who beamed in from Clarence House.

In her opening speech, Ardern thanked rural communities for the role they played through Covid-19 and acknowledged the significance of the primary sector in New Zealand’s economy.

“Feildays is a key part of this, contributing over $500m in business revenue during the 2019 event,” Ardern said.

The Prince of Wales said he first attended the Feildays when it was in its second year in 1970 and noted the online platform was a remarkable response to the pandemic’s restrictions.

“The growth and success of this event is a credit to New Zealand’s primary sector,” he said.

Fieldays Online will remain open until 26 July.

Source: Republished by arrangement

South Port Updated Trade and Profit Guidance

On 27 March South Port provided a Covid-19 Pandemic update when the Company made a slight adjustment to its profit guidance advising that it was now expected that full year earnings would be
at the lower end of the previous estimated profit range of $8.2M to $8.7M or slightly less. Further updates were to be provided if there were any material changes.

South Port Chief Executive, Nigel Gear said today that “As we reported on 27 March approximately one third of our cargoes were classified as non-essential and were effected by the Alert Level 4 restrictions announced. The most affected cargoes were logs, woodchips and processed forestry products. It was anticipated that the loss of these cargoes together with unbudgeted additional labour and operating costs would have an impact on the forecasted current year profit.”

Mr Gear went on to say that “Since the lifting of lockdown restrictions there has been a strong uplift in log volumes exported through the Port. There has also been an increase of imported fertiliser and stock food, an improved contribution from our cold storage operation along with a lift in container volumes.”

South Port Chairman, Rex Chapman said that “The Company is now pleased to advise that this higher than expected trade activity late in the financial year will result in a much improved full year profit compared with earlier expectations. The Company now expects that full year earnings will exceed the top end of the previous forecast range of $8.2M to $8.7M (FY 2019 $9.7M).”


Fonterra Announces Peter McBride as Chairman-lect

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited (FCG) has announced that current Farmer Director, Peter McBride has been selected as the Co-operative’s Chairman-elect by his fellow Directors.

Under Fonterra’s constitution, its Chairman is selected by the Board from within its pool of seven elected Farmer Directors.

Mr McBride will replace current Fonterra Chairman, John Monaghan when he retires as a Director of the Co-op at its Annual Meeting this November.

Mr Monaghan says that the early announcement of Mr McBride as Chairman-elect is part of the Board’s commitment to planned governance succession.

“We have made significant progress over the past two years in our effort to refresh our Co-op’s purpose, strategy and culture. It is important to the Board that we provide stability while Miles and his team continue to embed the changes and maintain our momentum.

“Making this decision now also gives our farmer-owners transparency of leadership prior to this years’ Director elections and allows Peter and I a period of handover before I retire from the Board in November,” says Monaghan.

Mr McBride says he is humbled to be selected by his fellow Directors and is looking forward to leading the Co-op on behalf of its 10,000 farming families.

“I grew up on a dairy farm near Te Aroha and today my wife Linda and I run the family farm milking 950 cows in the South Waikato, so dairy has always been part of my life.

“I’m looking forward to working alongside John for the next few months before leading our Co-op into its next phase and creating value for the benefit of our farmer owners and unit holders.

“When John retires from the Board in November it will mark almost two decades of service to our Co-op, the last 12 years as a Director. He will leave behind a board culture of shared responsibility, which is something I will look to build on as the new Chairman,” says Mr McBride.

Peter McBride Bio:

Peter grew up on a dairy farm near Te Aroha before his father sold the farm and moved into kiwifruit horticulture in Te Puke.

He holds a Bachelor of Horticulture from Massey University and a Post Graduate Diploma in Commerce from Lincoln University.

Peter and his wife Linda run their family’s dairy farm in the South Waikato, with 950 cows, supplying Fonterra.

He has four adult children with his wife Linda. They are based near Tauranga on an avocado orchard.

Peter is an experienced primary producer and agricultural businessman – specialising in two of New Zealand’s iconic industries – dairy and kiwifruit.

A former Director and Chairman of Zespri International, he was voted on to the Fonterra Board as a farmer-elected Director in 2018.

His corporate agricultural experience has provided him with exposure in a number of international markets, in particular the Asia Pacific Region, Middle East and Latin America.

Peter has leadership experience in the New Zealand rural sector through his work with Zespri, particularly in his command of the PSA crisis, which had the potential to decimate the New Zealand kiwifruit industry.

He was previously a Director of the New Zealand International Business Forum and a member of the Executive Board of the New Zealand China Council.

In 2018, Peter was awarded Horticulture NZ’s Bledisloe Cup for leadership, and Deloitte NZ Chairperson of the year. He was praised by the Deloitte judges as chairing a united and constructive board.