The primary sector has not been good at engaging, connecting and understanding Māori, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.
He told the Red Meat Sector conference that the laggards are farmers who ignore NAIT and animal traceability and who breach animal welfare codes and other regulations.
He says New Zealand’s reputation is determined by the lowest common-denominator farmer for whom there is no place anywhere in the primary sector.
“This is because an iPhone can send a negative message around the world and undermine all the good stories we will tell under the Taste Pure Nature brand.”
O’Connor says Taste Pure Nature is a good start but he believes NZ must promote regional differences as the wine industry does.
“Then we will have people coming to NZ to find the subtle differences in the flavour of meat between, say, Hawkes Bay and Canterbury.”
O’Connor referred to two serious concerns he hads about the meat industry: one was the lack of women at the conference -- not peculiar to the meat industry; the other was the low involvement of Maori. “They have values, kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and manaakitanga (hospitality) that embody everything we are trying to do in producing food and protecting our environment,” he says.