The new year brings us fresh aspirations and expectations for ourselves, our families and our community.
Hawke’s Bay will be carried forward in the coming year by many familiar, longstanding leaders in our various sectors, many of whom we’ve featured in the past as ‘Buzzmakers’.
However we decided to focus at the onset of 2013 on individuals who will be taking on new opportunities, wearing new hats, or facing unique challenges.
We asked BayBuzz’s network of writers and stalwart supporters to recommend people who fit that description. Thanks to those folks for their many great suggestions, from which we made the final selections.
Most are fresh ‘unheralded’ faces. Some are individuals well-known, but who are assuming new roles of special significance or facing new tests.
Here are BayBuzz’s 25 stars to watch in 2013. Hopefully many will succeed in their goals for the coming year; some might not. Given their reputations, we can expect that all will make a difference.
Having returned home to the Bay this year to take up the newly-created role of Designer, Taonga Mãori at Hawke’s Bay Museum and Art Gallery, Desna Whaanga- Schollum has found herself with little time to sit still.
Her job at the museum is a big one, using her design talent to help bring about a new direction for the taonga Mãori collection and exhibition. And what she brings to that assignment is a wide breadth of design and creative excellence.
Desna has been based in Auckland for many years, her time there interspersed with significant periods overseas for travel and work. While in Auckland, she’s been working nationwide on design, marketing and branding through her company DWS Creative. A highlight of her CV is her involvement in 2011’s Rugby World Cup. Desna managed Mãori-focussed design contracts for Mastercard (Man of the Match) and worked on the tournament’s Māori merchandise. Big-name projects have sat alongside closer-to-home work such as the rebranding of Hastings City Art Gallery in 2009.
She’s also Co-Chair of Ngã Aho Society of Mãori Design Professionals, a national network which works to further the professional interests of practitioners and promote design within Mãori communities.
Recently she’s been photographing sites of significance for the Mahia-Wairoa treaty claim, work that is representative of Desna’s keenness to immerse herself in the local scene and the issues faced here.
On top of all this, Desna somehow finds time to continue her own artistic practice, with work included in the regional showcase exhibition EAST 2012.
Hamish White, CEO of local telco NOW, believes greater innovation in food, beverage and technology and luring the head offices of large service-sector giants, is the key to a business boom in the Bay.
White, credited as the marketing man behind the creation of $10 unlimited text in Telecom’s battle with Vodafone in 2002, gave up on commuting to Wellington from Napier and formed his own marketing company Tank, a couple of years later.
When local wireless Internet provider Airnet began making serious inroads as a full-service telco and winning market share in neighbouring regions, he stepped up as CEO, ahead of the name change to NOW.
The company, now offering fixed line broadband, fibre, wireless and mobile services is seriously investing in back-up and storage technology with a view to taking 20% of the telco business in other regions. “2013 will see us entering neighboring provinces, with Rotorua being the first cab off the rank.”
Hamish makes a tantalizing but mysterious further promise: “In March, we will revolutionize telecommunications for businesses – we’re going to bring you stuff that the other telcos are too scared to talk about because it threatens established revenue streams.” We’ll need to watch that space.
White believes he can grow the company from a staff of 21 currently to 150, including a call centre, within five years. But quality counts. “We’re only ever as good as our people, so building and growing as a team will be a significant area of emphasis – to deliver against our claim of being awesome, we need to be awesome!”
He believes a successful telecommuni-cations company will attract other software and technology-based businesses to the Bay, forming the basis for a technology hub.
Dr Suzette Major
Since arriving here in 2010 Dr Suzette Major has turned arts education in the Bay on its head, not just for artists, but for arts advocates, audiences and ambassadors.
She’s rethought EIT’s School of Arts and Design relaunching it as Ideaschool. She’s rewritten its degree in Visual Arts and Design to become project-based, a shift that’s happening internationally in arts education but is only now reaching New Zealand. Sitting on the board of Creative Hawke’s Bay, she’s helped introduce Pecha Kucha here and begun planning the inaugural ‘State of the Arts’, a creative communities hui set for early 2013.
Driven by a belief that the arts are vital to the wellbeing of society in general, even more so in times of change, Major has embedded herself in the fabric of HB’s arts and culture scene. “On a regional level, the arts strengthen our sense of belonging; at a national level, they help us hang on to who we are – as globalisation continues, localisation becomes more and more important.”
In 2013 Major wants to consolidate the progress she has made since arriving in Hawke’s Bay. With other tertiary institutions in New Zealand struggling she is well aware of the need for strength and stability. “Other arts degrees are really suffering, but we’ve adapted ahead of the wave. We have other people looking at our degree and using it as an example of how to teach the arts in the future.”
Also in the cards for 2013 are a trip to Colombia to speak at the 12th International Conference on Arts and Culture Management in June, and the early stages of penning a book on arts education.
Like so many before him, native son Michael Whittaker finished his schooling here in Havelock North, went off to Uni (Massey) to get a business degree, then to Auckland to make his way in the world of commerce.
Twenty years then spent building, buying and selling diverse businesses, most notably Atlantis Health Care. But spending 200 nights away from home; making the Auckland-London trip monthly. The benefit of that travel: “I’ve had a lot more time than most people to think about my businesses.”
That thinking paid off, enabling Whittaker to return to the Bay for good in 2008.
Then he began to look for HB ventures to channel his energy. Two of those have gained media attention lately.
Whittaker acquired Havelock North’s Te Mata Mushrooms, at 25 tonnes per week of product and 110 employees, NZ’s second-largest producer of mushrooms. “I wanted to be in the food-producing business.” The 46-year-old company was on the market. He assiduously studied mushrooms and the mushroom business, saw opportunity for significant growth, and is now a mushroom evangelist!
What’s in store for 2013? Soon to be implemented is an innovation Michael discovered at a US university that will unlock more nutritional value in the mushroom. Watch this space.
Speaking of space, Whittaker also wears the hat of urban developer. He’s purchased the landmark Albert Hotel, the oldest wooden building in Hastings, but a building deteriorated “past the point of no return”.
Officialdom permitting, Whittaker has imaginative – and fast-moving – ideas for that space, planning an inner-city green space – Albert Square – centered around food, entertainment, water features. He believes this concept can help attract people and buzz to the section of Heretaunga Street between the hotel’s current location and the Opera House.
How soon? Whittaker wants to see people enjoying the park by next Christmas!
Little did Tikokino farmer Phil King know he’d one day become a player in the luxury linens business. But he has, thanks to an eye for opportunity, an enterprising daughter, and the Ruataha Poll Dorset stud he’s been running for about 30 years.
“Pressing Dorset wool is like trying to put froth back into a beer glass” because it’s so fluffy and lightweight says Phil. For years, this meant bales of only 130kg compared to the 180kg standard for Romney wool. And yet Phil knew Dorset wool had unrealized potential: it was an ideal filler for quality duvets. “I’d been hankering to go in this direction for a long time, but just couldn’t manage the logistics,” he said.
Until his daughter, a chartered accountant, launched her own business selling high-end linens over the internet. From there, it was only a matter of time to the creation of Purely Dorset premium wool duvets. Available through www.crisphome.co.nz., the duvets caught the eye of a group of American MBA students, who agreed to market and distribute them in the US where the first container load arrived this past November.
To say Phil is stoked about his new business venture would be an understatement. He’s thrilled with the new product that is natural, sustainable, long-lasting, hypo-allergenic, flame retardant, and has great insulating properties. “And it’s beautifully made,” he says, sounding the born-salesman. “It really ticks all the boxes,” including being a family business.
Full steam ahead in 2013. Phil wants to buy all the Dorset wool in New Zealand. “Suppliers are lining up to supports us,” he says. “We can only take small steps at the moment until demand grows. But when it starts to rumble, I’ll be on their tails.”
Schooled in total immersion Mãori in Hawke’s Bay, Migoto Eria is a ‘returnee’, recently taking the position of Curator Taonga Mãori at the Hawke’s Bay Museum and Art Gallery.
She comes to us from Wellington, where she has spent the last three years working at state-owned enterprise Learning Media. There, her focus was on writing and editing educational books in te reo Mãori for the education market. Before Learning Media, Migoto worked at the Mãori Language Commission for two years.
Having stepped away from books and publishing and into the museum sphere, Migoto has remained involved and invested in language and culture. She currently has her hands full researching, planning and writing exhibition material, publications and presentations for the opening taonga Mãori show, Ukaipõ at Hawke’s Bay Museum and Art Gallery. The museum will re-open after a major redevelopment project in September.
So what excites Migoto most about the upcoming show, and her role in bringing it to the public? “Seeing how our Mãori community, particularly, respond to the opening taonga exhibition,” Migoto says.
And as for right now? Migoto comments that real excitement and pleasure comes frequently in her job when she gets to show significant collection items that she’s discovered and learned about to individuals in the Mãori community. Migoto and the team are the access point for the taonga collection, meaning that if they need to, people are still able to interact with the treasures housed at the museum, even while it’s officially closed.
We’re looking forward to seeing the finished product come September, though probably not as much as Migoto is!
There are routine building projects … and then there are the Big Ones.
Graeme Hansen, trained as a civil engineer, hopes to bring to fruition construction of the Ruataniwha water storage dam, whose direct cost will tally in the $250 million range.
For an engineer like Graeme, who has laboured over Hawke’s Bay’s flood control and drainage schemes as a Regional Council manager for 30 years, his current assignment is the brass ring … a “once in a career opportunity”.
And 2013 will be a pivotal year in determining whether Graeme eventually gets to break ground.
As group manager of Water Initiatives since January 2011, Graeme supervised the multi-faceted feasibility analysis that Council argues confirms the viability of the dam and storage scheme. Now he is the Council’s point man for driving the project through the consenting process, as well as coming up with the final engineering plans and costings.
Officially, Graeme and his team are accountable to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company, a HBRC-controlled business entity that will apply for the necessary resource consent and hold the Regional Council’s financial stake in the project.
If all goes to plan (from HBRC’s perspective), the engineering preparations, which will involve two short-listed firms competing with final design and costings, are targeted for completion in July. A key milestone for Graeme.
However, the consenting process, presumed to involve a special Board of Inquiry, won’t be completed until early 2014. And might or might not yield the decision sought by HBRC. So, no popping the champagne this year.
Still, for dam supporters and skeptics alike, given all the heavy lifting required to progress the project in the coming critical year, Graeme Hansen is the man to watch.
Nicole Masters entered university wanting to become a great white shark researcher. First they made her study earth worms. She’s never looked back. Now soil is the primary focus of her company Integrity Soils, which advises on biological farming methods and practices.
“Everything comes back to soil and how we treat it,” says Masters. “Biological farming is about proactively managing systems, it’s preventative medicine for the land.”
Rather than being solely focused on ecological drivers Masters is well aware of the need for viable practices in terms of economics. She maintains that moving to biological farming has strong economic benefits.
Masters observes that farmers often feel disempowered and uninformed about what they’re putting on to their land, and independent advice is hard to come by.
“We have to ask where does information come from? Chemical suppliers, vets, fertilizer companies. Is that in the best interests of farmers?” Masters asks. She advocates tapping in to farmers’ innate knowledge and building their own confidence around land use.
While assisting others with their land, she also works her own – 50 acres in Waipukurau she manages with her husband, a horse-breaker. They frequently run workshops to show people ways they can reduce the chemicals they put into their soil.
In 2013 Masters hopes to get a soil health programme running nationwide whereby farmers receive free support through regional councils.
Although she has considerable science-based knowledge, Masters’ work is also deeply personal. “What I’m learning is it is an emotional response that shifts people. Not being afraid to talk about your passion, lightening up and enjoying the process. It’s not simply about hard science, you’ve got to connect, because we are all social beings.”
Nominated for Rural Business Woman of the Year in 2012, Masters will in part spend 2013 completing her Masters in Ag Science.
A dozen years ago, with Graeme Avery of Sileni and Kim Thorp of Black Barn, Rebecca Turner helped conceive and eventually chaired Hawke’s Bay’s first effort to establish a regional brand.
‘Hawke’s Bay Wine Country’ bottled and sold well a most attractive aspect of the Bay’s ambiance and lifestyle.
Then her focus shifted more to family business, investment and philanthropy outside the Bay. More recently, she and husband Lyn Williams have been developing the award-winning Parkhill Farm in Haumoana.
However 2012 saw Turner intensify her community involvements, taking the leadership of two initiatives holding the potential to shape the future of Hawke’s Bay.
First, she became chair of the Hawke’s Bay Foundation, revitalizing what had operated as The Community Foundation. This has meant quickly gaining over $1 million in new funding commitments from local benefactors.
The Foundation will amass a growing permanent capital base, often through bequests, protect that capital through prudent investment, and then distribute only the earned income for strategic projects in the region. Right now, the Foundation is exploring a major ‘catalyst’ project to underscore the leadership role a community foundation can play both as a funder and mobilizer.
As it builds, the Foundation will award nearly $200,000 in 2013. But Rebecca’s goal is to see the Hawke’s Bay Foundation grow a fund of at least $10 million over the next ten years.
At the same time, Rebecca chairs A Better Hawke’s Bay, the broad-based community group that advocates reorganisation of the region’s five councils.
Her goal there? “To see a community working unselfishly together towards a shared vision, embracing the benefits of reorganisation in a referendum in 2013.”
After running a group of multinational companies supplying online and mobile financial market data to banks and private traders around the world, Mike Purchas returned to Hawke’s Bay in 2002, determined that his children would not grow up as “big city shopping mall kids”.
Leveraging his knowledge of setting up databases and internet content aggregation he formed Sportsground.co.nz, an online publishing system which has grown to be the largest single provider to the country’s sports clubs and organisations.
The business, based on the outskirts of Havelock North and with a sales office in Auckland, is rated among the top three online sports publishing sites in the country.
Like many other successful ex-pats, Purchas wants to contribute to “a sustainable improvement” in the local economy. Apart from growing his own business, Mike serves on the board of Business Hawke’s Bay. He’s passionate about the smart use of technology but also believes the Bay needs to be made more accessible for tourism and business.
The best place to start getting that right, he says, is more competitive domestic airfares and direct flights to Australia. Purchas has long argued that the Hastings and Napier Councils, as 50% co-owners of the airport (with the Crown owning 50%), should take a more ambitious role in the strategic direction of the facility. As a regular presenter to our councils, he’s been pressing for lengthening of the airport runway and opportunities to get ticket prices down.
His personal wish for 2013? Seeing HB Airport issue to carriers a RFP for a 3 – 5 year exclusive on trans-Tasman services from Napier, possibly with intermittent legs through Auckland to introduce some domestic competition at the same time.
Anyone flying in and out of the Hawke’s Bay Airport – or promoting tourism – should wish Purchas success!
To the Rescue …
When Helen Blaxland and Annie Dundas assumed their respective posts in 2010, Blaxland as general manger at Cranford and Dundas as general manager at Hawke’s Bay Inc (now HB Tourism), both institutions were in turmoil, with key stakeholders displeased. Significant positive changes have occurred since then in both cases.
According to an oft-cited management maxim, a new leader should be hitting full stride in their third year at the helm. So what do Blaxland and Dundas have in store?
“Cranford is fixed,” says Blaxland. “We’re at the place where we can call ourselves a healthy organization.” She quickly adds that all sorts of improvements in service can still be made.
The “service is not a building,” she emphasizes.
Blaxland believes that the role of palliative care needs to be better understood in the community. “Death and dying force each of us to think about our responsibilities as members of the community.” Steadily, more palliative care will be given outside the hospice itself. “We need to provide our service at whatever bed the patient is in,”
In the year to June 2012, Cranford cared for 595 patients, with an average monthly caseload of 134. In that period, there were 372 deaths, only 22% of those in the hospice, compared to 30% at home. Meanwhile, 5,760 community home nurse visits were provided.
It’s Cranford’s reach into the community that most challenges Blaxland.
One objective is to better support GPs. Blaxland wants to create a ‘register’ of individuals likely to need palliative care, whatever the setting. This would involve more support to GPs, asking them to signal patients in their care who might be approaching the need for palliative service.
That would enable the Cranford team to engage earlier with patients and their families, especially caretakers. We need to “start more conversations about death and dying … how do they want to be cared for?”
Other areas Blaxland will focus on in 2013 include extending Cranford’s reach into the Mãori community (Mãori referrals, now 18%, have been growing); maintaining a strong volunteer base; more service integration with the hospital; and expanding the new “Day Hospice” programme, which offers social support and counseling services to Cranford patients who are otherwise out in the community.
As Annie Dundas enters her third year as the tourism champion for our region, she battles with global factors affecting travel, over which Hawke’s Bay Tourism has no influence, and still incomplete visitor data with which to measure her efforts.
Many visitors to Hawke’s Bay stay in private or otherwise unrecorded accommodations. Dundas hopes a new regional tourism indicator launched nationwide will better measure of performance, not simply regarding visitor numbers, but more importantly, visitor spend.
Meantime, Dundas says, the organization itself has been rebuilt and established credibility. The Hawke’s Bay brand has been refined, is well-used within the region, and better advanced outside. Rugby World Cup represented both a distraction from bedding-in and normal planning, and a unique opportunity that she believes Hawke’s Bay capitalized upon well. And cruise ship visitors are better catered to, including exposure by tour operators to more of the Bay than nearby Napier.
Dundas says the focus going forward needs to be on visitor spend. “We need a more realistic view of what our visitor economy is all about.”
“We also need to take stock of the product we deliver” as a region, she says. “There’s so much competition for those visitors.” So, we need to “be realistic about what we offer” – asking what our core products are and just how good are they to attract a given market, like families.
Dundas leans toward the food and wine experience, backed by very capable providers, as the main drawing card for Hawke’s Bay. She adds to that the distinction of Napier itself as a destination.
Her key goal for 2013? More, new events in Hawke’s Bay. Clearly events drive visiting. A regional event strategy has been prepared, but implementation funding is still required.
Among the many choices facing local voters next October is whether or not to continue adding fluoride to Hastings District drinking water. For Havelock North resident and environmental activist Angela Hair, the correct decision is a resounding “No!”
“Fluoride is added to the water to have a medical effect yet people are not asked if they want this drug in their water. The chemical is classed as a ‘dangerous poison’ and yet its long term impacts on human health have never been properly monitored,” she says.
Angela led the charge pressuring Council to take action on the issue and prompting the upcoming public referendum. And, leading up to the vote, she’ll continue mobilizing anti-fluoride public education efforts in conjunction with citizen-action group Fluoride Free Hastings.
But for this founding member of Bay Watch, removing fluoride from the water supply is just one step along the path toward sustainable community development. That goal has motivated her passionate involvement over the years with key public initiatives including the cycle-ways and other low-carbon transit projects, regional water issues, and now the anti-fracking campaign. And it is integral also to her well-established homeopathy practice based in Havelock.
“I have to think in terms of ‘what action am I taking’ rather than just talking about it,” she says, “If we don’t take action we can’t change anything.”
That’s a message more people need to take to heart, says Angela. As she sees it, the debate on fluoride – like fracking – offers an opportunity not only for people to take a stand against exposure to toxic chemicals, but also to grow their confidence for tackling the even bigger issues – like climate change – that are shaping our futures.
Let’s see what happens in October.
Resilience, good fortune and “quite a bit of drive” have seen Adri Isbister go from teen mother to seasoned CEO of Radius Medical Group, which provides services and support to medical clinics around New Zealand. Although she does consider herself lucky, she also says that she has “made her own breaks” along the way.
Isbister began her working life at age nine in a florist. By the time she was 16 she’d saved enough for a house deposit. In her late teens she set up and ran a drug and alcohol rehab centre and trained as a counsellor before moving on to insurance brokering, and, in her 30s, senior management roles. She holds an MBA from Massey.
Isbister believes good leadership is more than just setting strategic direction. “It’s about providing clear expectations, role modelling expected behaviours, and working from a place of understanding what’s happening at a practical level,” says Isbister.
With Radius for two years, and in Hawke’s Bay for five, Isbister now has her feet firmly under the desk. Her vision for 2013 focuses on growing the talent of her team. “If you surround yourself with good people, you can do anything,” she says.
Isbister has a set a target to double the size of the company by 2015. Rethinking inequalities in the health system, investing back into the community and becoming smarter in the way the company works are also all on the table for the new year. Plus her service as a board member of Health Hawke’s Bay.
“It’s a challenge but a great challenge. And fancy being able to do it from Hawke’s Bay!” She says.
3R is one of Hawke’s Bay’s business successes. In 2012 it was listed as one of the top 50 NZ companies making money improving the environment. Just appointed to the helm is Adele Rose, who began with the company in 2007.
As General Manager she is leading 3R on a mission to enable solutions for waste at every point of the supply chain, specifically in the areas of paint and agri waste.
“We focus on some of the nastiest waste and resource problems in New Zealand,” Rose explains.
Although the company has a nationwide presence, it is firmly based in Hawke’s Bay.
“3R invests heavily in the Bay. We keep 3R here because of lifestyle, but also the Bay is attracting back into it people who have done time overseas and bring with them a global knowledge and perspective,” Rose says.
With an understanding that New Zealand is unique in many ways 3R does look at local responses to waste issues. “However, the problems we are having are global problems and so we often look offshore at best practice solutions,” says Rose.
As General Manager, “I am particularly focused on upskilling our senior team so we can grow the business,” says Rose. Two new areas of growth are pinpointed for 3R in 2013: end-of life tyres and vehicles.
With a recent change in 3R’s company structure comes Rose’s personal motivation to add to her experience on the HB Chamber of Commerce board by undertaking professional development in good governance. “My long term goal is to work towards directorships of businesses of this size in all sorts of spaces.”
Since childhood John Cheyne has been in and around rivers. A recreational user of waterways, now with his children and his grandchildren, Cheyne has seen them deteriorate considerably over the 25 years he’s lived in Hawke’s Bay.
With decades of conservation experience under his belt, Cheyne, a wildlife biologist and biodiversity officer at Fish and Game, advocates better outcomes for our rivers, lakes, streams and estuaries. He is coordinating a key new initiative, Te Taiao Hawke’s Bay Environment Forum, bringing together environmental groups and Mãori to share knowledge and collectively lobby councils.
“The umbrella group doesn’t usurp the opinions or objectives of the individual parts,” Cheyne is careful to point out. “And Te Taiao will not take over the responsibilities of its member groups. You can get caught up in ‘talk fests’ but working in a collaborative way is important,” says Cheyne.
Over the past year, Te Taiao has been a forum for sharing information and educating member groups on biodiversity and water issues in the Bay. Te Taiao itself has lobbied on those issues and supported members to make submissions, predominantly to Regional Council.
An early win for Te Taiao has been speeding up preparation of the long-overdue regional biodiversity strategy from three years to 18 months.
In 2013 Cheyne would like to see improved protection of indigenous biodiversity both on the land and in the water, improved river flows and water quality, and improved sustainable land management.
“Big decisions will be made on water in 2013, both positive and negative, including the Tukituki plan change and the Ruataniwha water storage project,” says Cheyne. “I am a positive person. I do want to see a vibrant Hawke’s Bay economy. But it needs to be achieved within a sustainable environmental framework.”
The HB Chamber of Commerce has seen significant change over the past six months. In September it announced a new CEO when Murray Douglas resigned from the role. By November the new CEO had resigned.
A few months earlier changes at the Chamber had already begun when president Stuart McLauchlan stood down and Katja Williams took up that role.
In many ways thoughout the changes Williams has been the single constant. A board member since 2008 and vice president for three of those years, Chamber business is not new territory for Williams, who balances her role with that of Relationship Manager Agri/Commercial for ANZ.
Throughout her working life Williams has volunteered time to community organisations, from Books on Wheels to the Starship Foundation. So when she first came to Hawke’s Bay from Auckland (although originally from Germany) Williams investigated becoming a volunteer fire fighter, but instead turned her mind to business and joined the Chamber.
She sees her role as bringing together many varied voices, getting an understanding of wants and needs, and lobbying for better outcomes for business in the Bay.
“My role is also to chair meetings and that is about encouraging collaboration. The job title enables me to draw people together and get them talking,” says Williams.
In 2013 Williams would like to see Hawke’s Bay cement itself as a centre where businesses can grow and learn; and from there create employment opportunities and show evidence of businesses working together for the greater good of the Bay.
After a tumultuous end to 2012, some regrouping is required at the Chamber, but in the long run Williams is confident the organisation will come out stronger. Surely the business community will be watching her leadership in the coming year.
After winning a trolley-full of prizes upon graduating as Dux from Havelock North HS in 2007, Louis went on to complete a law degree at the University of Otago, where his lowest grade was a single A-.
Saying simply that Louis ‘went to Uni’ would be misleading. During those years, he also tutored, won several mooting competitions, and played an organizing role in numerous environmental initiatives, one taking him to the Copenhagen climate negotiations.
So, will he practice law? “At this stage it’s looking unlikely. My predominant concern is how I can make a useful contribution to society, and I’m not too concerned about whether that involves legal work, policy advice, business or campaigning at the grassroots.”
The challenge that most occupies Louis is global warming – the focus of his internship at the Environmental Defense Fund in Washington, DC, perhaps the chief advocacy group on that issue in the States. “I’m really concerned about the effects that climate change is having. I can see myself working for a large NGO encouraging people and governments to adopt low-carbon practices and technologies.”
The big news … Louis will carry his interest in climate change to Oxford University this year as Hawke’s Bay’s first Rhodes Scholar, doing studies in law and environmental management. “The legal work should teach me to think logically about tough questions, and the BSc lets me further my interest in environmental issues – it has a strong focus on energy and climate change.”
Louis’ future is probably outside Hawke’s Bay. Asked if he will return: “If I had to guess, I would say it’s unlikely. The difficulty is that climate change is a huge problem, and there may be more valuable places that I can invest my efforts.”
Pauline Elliott is an unlikely rebel, but the gentle grandmother has, over the last 18 months, earned her place as Hawke’s Bay’s leading ‘fracktavist’.
Having held senior management roles in education and labour, Elliott came to the Bay 15 years ago “on holiday”; she and her family settling here almost by accident. Two years ago Elliott put down roots, starting to connect with the place and taking on some of the big issues.
One of the catalysts for Elliott’s activism came when Tag Apache was granted exploration rights in Hawke’s Bay with no community consultation and little understanding by HBRC councillors. Out of that came the group “Don’t Frack the Bay”.
“I seeded the issue in people’s minds but it grew a huge body of interest at all levels of the spectrum,” says Elliott. She and a committed core group investigated the issues, compiling information and reporting it to HBRC.
“The thing I feel strongest about is democracy,” says Elliott. “People’s right to find out what’s going on and know how things will affect them.”
A key goal for Don’t Frack the Bay was an independent report on fracking. Goal achieved when an interim report was issued in late 2012 by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.
The report will inform much of what happens next. “We have to absolutely demand transparency and that if fracking goes ahead it is in fact what Hawke’s Bay wants for its future.”
Elliott’s vision for 2013 is to see a Hawke’s Bay that communicates; a place where there is greater transparency in decision making. She is also committed to ensuring there is no exploratory drilling in Hawke’s Bay until the Commissioner’s recommendations are completed and considered in June. Standing for elected office is also a possibility.
Martin Genet, Principal at Peterhead School, has been awarded a prestigious Woolf Fisher Fellowship 2013 and as a consequence will embark on ten weeks study leave in Europe and the USA, including two weeks at Harvard University.
The award is recognition not just of Genet’s personal achievements in education, but also of the successes of the Flaxmere-based school, its parents, board and teachers as well as the support and encouragement of its surrounding community.
Genet is proud of Peterhead, which he has led for eight years and considers it one of the best decile1 schools in the country.
Aspirations for 2013 include making the most of his time at Harvard, and his visits to overseas schools and initiatives. “I’m looking forward to seeing schools that have done very innovative things. I want to go and have a look and bring those ideas back with me,” says Genet.
At a school level, in 2013 Genet will rollout mobile technology, with teachers and children all using hand-held devices such as tablets. One project could involve moviemaking: “Making movies brings together a huge amount of skills. It’s exciting too and that’s motivating.”
Genet came to Peterhead eight years ago from Palmerston North where he was an advisor to Massey University and head of Newbury School. He’s been in primary teaching for 30 years.
“I enjoy the challenge of giving kids keys for success. It’s as much about motivating them as it is about celebrating them,” he says.
Bayden Barber, cites his grandmother Haumihia Tiakitai as his most formative influence. “She instilled a lot into me about whakapapa, language and history,” he says. It was to her in Waimarama that he went as a ten year old. “I was nudged into roles of leadership quite young.”
At 39, Bayden is chairman of Waimarama Marae, Tiakitai Marae and Waimarama Sec 3 Block 2 Trust. He also sits on the Hastings District Council Mãori Joint Committee and is currently contracted to Ngã Kairauhii (funded by HBDHB and Te Puni Kokiri), six marae collectively taking charge of their own health programmes and sharing medical resources.
“My goal has always been to be in positions of influence to support Mãori development, whether it’s about natural resources, health or language.”
For Barber connectivity is all important. “We can’t talk about health without talking about resource management, we can’t talk about education without talking about health.”
Inspiration for Barber comes from the people who have gone before. “Our ancestors had responsibilities over hapu and marae, and they took those responsibilities very seriously.”
2013 will see Barber continue existing projects including leadership camps, held at Waimarama Marae, for 14-18 year olds, and the rebuild of the 100 year-old Tiakitai Marae in Havelock North. In early 2013 Barber, as part of Te Rerenga Kotuku, will travel to Rotorua to perform in the national kapahaka competition Te Matatini. Later in the year he will see the Waimarama Marae Health Clinic open after three years of work. Another highlight will be the placing of pou from 18 Heretaunga marae into Hastings’ Civic Square, set for Matariki 2013.
An Auckland-based research firm, Coriolis, just published an investors guide to growth opportunities in NZ food and beverage exports. They tipped salmon, honey and distilled spirits as the hot opportunities.
Why not grass-fed Wagyu beef? That’s a question Gerard Hickey, co-owner of HB-based Firstlight Foods might ask.
While everyone in the ag biz is talking about developing added value products for premium niche markets, and escaping the price-taker commodity trap, Hickey and Firstlight are doing it.
At present, Firstlight sources from its dedicated farmers/shareholders and markets two products – ethically–produced venison and grass-fed Wagyu beef. “We’re a value-chain link between some of New Zealand’s top farmers and some top global customers,” says Hickey.
Customers in California, the Middle East, Russia and the UK seem to agree they’re marketing a quality product. Firstlight has grown 25% year-over–year in revenue over the last five years. The company’s venison and beef products consistently command a 12%-15% premium over the spot market.
Not bad for a company founded only eight years ago. Together, the Firstlight team has decades of management experience in the meat industry, with Hickey doing stints at Richmond and Bernard Matthews Ltd (now Ovation).
Ask him what limits Firstlight’s growth and it’s not demand, it’s finding beef farmers with the right long-term commitment to meeting the company’s quality standards and business ambition.
Coming up in 2013?
Hickey lists: Begin implementing a $24 million project with Brownrigg Agriculture (with MPI’s Primary Growth Partnership support), aiming to expand fivefold the number of farmers growing premium Wagyu beef , continuing to grow our venison business, and launching a lamb product range.
Lyn Cheyne, formerly Bevin, heads into 2013 in a state of flux. After 10 years with Hawke’s Bay Wine Growers, Cheyne begins a new role with Business Hawke’s Bay as Food Facilitator.
Alongside this she will be exploring growth opportunities for Central Hawke’s Bay as a member of the CHB Promotions Board, establishing her own marketing business, developing mobile apps following the launch of her first: Walk the History (a self-guided walking tour of historical Napier) and, in March running HB’s inaugural Start-Up Weekend (a 54-hour experience where aspiring entrepreneurs test their startup ideas).
The constant theme in her enterprises is a passion for Hawke’s Bay and a love of entrepreneurship. “Opportunities exist in Hawke’s Bay and we need to make the most of them,” Cheyne says. “I love business and marketing, and the entrepreneur environment. It’s inspiring, motivating, re-energising.”
As Food Facilitator, a role she takes up in February, Cheyne wants to see the food sector in Hawke’s Bay make the most of its growth potential, collectively securing Hawke’s Bay’s place as NZ’s premium food-producing region.
“It’s all about helping our food businesses help themselves to be the best they can be,” she says. Part of this will be about navigating existing resources from the likes of the HB Food Network, the NZ Food Innovation Network, NZ Trade and Enterprise, and the Ministry of Science and Innovation.
“There’s a range of collaboration opportunities and the potential for achievement is huge. The key is working with others rather than in isolation,” Cheyne says.
Martin Williams’ own history and the history of the Napier Pilot City Trust, of which he is Chair, have common roots. The trust was set up in 1983 out of a need to chart a course for a different vision of community empowerment. Also during this time, with the reforms of the 1980s as a backdrop, Williams began considering the nature of ‘community’ and what it meant to be part of one.
“We can do more with less by looking after the people around us,” explains Williams, who became a trustee in 2009.
The Trust, recently renamed Community Solutions: Whakakotahitanga, is run on a shoestring with a board of committed volunteers. “I’ve never worked with a more grassroots bunch of people in my life and they have extraordinary bandwidth in terms of issues,” says Williams. It encourages proactive rather than reactive community-based solutions for addressing inequality; works to develop relationships and networks locally so communities aren’t so reliant on the state.
Examples are Neighbourhood Watch, the Citizens Advice Bureau and the Pilot City Awards, now in its 20th year. A current project is a support group for women on release or currently incarcerated in Arohata Prison.
The big project for 2013 will be an internet portal that gives online space to community groups in Napier; a place where the community can offer or find assistance.
Currently 380 community groups are listed by Napier City Council, with some duplication and many gaps. “The portal will be a real-time resource for connecting people who are working in the community,” says Williams.
Getting people engaged in Community Solutions is a key aspiration for 2013. “The more people we can get to share the task, the better.”
Not many people can say they change lives for a living; but that’s Paul Fong’s stock and trade. Founder and Director of Youth Quest, Paul helps at-risk youth turn their lives around through a structured program of character development, practical training, and positive mentoring.
Building on Youth Quest’s successful track record on the Kapiti Coast, Paul in 2012 opened Youth Quest Hawke’s Bay, taking over the sprawling Camp David outdoor education centre on Middle Road.
All told, Paul and his team have steered over 600 troubled boys through Youth Quest’s six-week training program followed by 12 months of active mentoring. “Most of what the boys are dealing with, I’ve dealt with myself,” says Paul who grew up as one of nine siblings in a household dominated by alcohol and violence. “But there came a time when I got an opportunity to change my life thanks to my Mum, the Army and the Police. And I want to make sure others can do the same.”
That commitment led Paul in 2006 to chuck in his successful career in the police force and – with wife Tanya – put heart, soul and life’s savings into creating Youth Quest to help kids that everyone else was giving up on. Soon enough, Kapiti law enforcement officials began crediting his program with reduced youth offending
“There’s nothing like seeing the boys succeed,” says Paul. “Each one who makes it means one more good young man with a chance to break the intergenerational cycle that creates the problems in the first place.”
By that measure, Paul himself deserves to be counted as one of Youth Quest’s shining stars. His organization has just been named one of ten world-wide winners of this year’s Graham Maher Award from Vodafone’s “World of Difference” fund.