Economically, New Zealand is entering a dramatic era of unprecedented change, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told the Federated Farmers conference.
But New Zealand has shown in more ways than one, that is not the norm when it comes to supporting its own.
When the voting for the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) stalled in May, with New Zealand’s Dr John Barker one of two vying for the job, the big guns came out. Big guns in terms of our Prime Minister.
The Right Honorable Jacinda Ardern was approached by New Zealand Winegrowers about sending a video with her endorsing Dr Barker, to all voting members of the OIV. She readily agreed. Below is what she had to say to those members.
Yours is a very important organization and which is why we think Dr John Barker would be an ideal candidate to be your next Director General. He has spent his career at the forefront of this sector and has a positive plan to take the OIV forward. As a New Zealander he knows the value of open and inclusive, forward-looking participation at the international level.
Now New Zealand is not the biggest or the oldest country to grow grapes and make wine; but we are successful. Wine is now our 5th largest export and we are the 7th largest exporter in the world by value.
Beyond the numbers, New Zealand wine is about our land and our people.
We pride ourselves on quality, integrity, respect for the environment and respect for the international rules that help the sector succeed. These are important values for all OIV members.
But this is a time of challenge for many industries. That’s why it’s even more important today that the OIV makes progress on our shared interests.
In September, you choose the next leader of the OIV. For those who supported New Zealand’s candidate so far, I thank you and hope you maintain your support in the upcoming vote.
For other members, I encourage you to consider Dr Barker’s plan to take the OIV and the positive message electing a New Zealand Director General could send.
This is a sector that is rich in history, culture and tradition; but it succeeds because it readily adapts to new challenges and new opportunities and the same is true of the OIV.
So, on September 19, I encourage you to look to the future and to vote for Dr John Barker.