‘To the Core’ of rural governance

The second edition of To the Core brought 24 rural leaders from around New Zealand to Christchurch for three days of discussion, networking and presentations.

To the Core is a leadership and governance development programme jointly run between rural co-operatives Farmlands and Silver Fern Farms. Places are reserved for people that are shareholders of one or both co-operatives. The aim is to provide insight into the governance of these organisations and to foster the next generation of rural leaders.

The packed schedule shared governance knowledge and discussed opportunities and challenges for the future. Participants heard from experienced New Zealand directors and senior company leaders who freely shared their governance experiences and observations with them.

There was a diverse mix of participants from across the primary sector, which Farmlands Chairman Lachie Johnstone says is crucial to securing the future of rural governance in New Zealand. “Working alongside Silver Fern Farms, Farmlands has an opportunity to be a leader on both sides of the Board table,” Lachie says. “The calibre of people putting their hands up for To the Core shows we have bright minds that can bring success to our co-operatives. Providing our shareholders with an opportunity to learn from industry leaders is a vital step in their own professional development.”

Kate Faulks is Farm Manager of a Waitaki Valley dairy support and beef farm. She said that key messages were reinforced by multiple speakers – that of the importance of transparency, agility, sustainability and diversity of thought. In 2018, To the Core won the Cooperative Business New Zealand Award for ‘Co-operation Amongst Co-operatives’. Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Chairman – and Chairman-elect of Farmlands – Rob Hewett says feedback from the course continues to be overwhelmingly positive.

“We want to grow this programme to ensure the ongoing success of our co-operatives,” Rob says. “Participants appreciate the access they get to industry leaders. They enjoy having their own line of thinking and perspective challenged and embracing the diverse views that come from these forums.”

This was echoed by Tane Little, a dairy farm owner from Hokitika: “All the speakers blew me away – I took a massive amount out of all of them. I’ve got confidence in the talent in this room for the future of farming.”