Chief Executive update

Posted By HBFA | March 21, 2024

Embracing change, overcoming challenges

In these times of rapid change and challenge, the Hawke’s Bay Fruit Growers Association remains steadfast in its commitment to the well-being and prosperity of our growers and industry. As your CEO, I’m proud to reflect on the strides we’ve made, the hurdles we’re facing, and supporting the future of the industry we’re cultivating together.

Over the past few months, the HBFA team has been deeply engaged in reinforcing our core values and enhancing our team efficiencies and focus areas. We’re excited about the coming year, some of our key initiatives include brand awareness (watch this space) and refreshing our website enriching your experience and facilitating better interaction with us. We are also having a big push on social media to help promote up and coming industry events that target our future generations. Our focus has always been and will continue to be on promoting and protecting the incredible growers of our region.

We’re thrilled about our lineup of events for the year, with the Young Fruit Grower of the Year (YFGOTY) competition being a highlight on the 6th & 7th of June. We’re also planning exciting activities to get growers out and about, involved, connected, and entertained. So please keep an eye on this space!

Addressing the core issues: Post Cyclone, cash flow, costs, and staffing

We’re acutely aware of the challenges our growers face, from cash flow difficulties and escalating costs to the struggle in finding experienced staff. The HBFA is actively engaging with several key issues our industry is facing and advocating for growers where we can. Our Post Cyclone support alongside our HAG partners (Horticulture Advisory Group) continue to support Wellbeing, Technical and Financial initiatives has been rapidly slowing but not forgotten. We are closely monitoring the TANK water permit process, alongside many of the industry stakeholders and aim to keep you informed and prepared.

Summary RMA update from Charlotte Dury:

This newsletter will be finding many people really busy with harvest, so this RMA update is focused on a brief update about the TANK water permit replacement process that many of you are currently involved in. We had a second grower meeting in early March at the Twyford Hall, and the key messages from that were:

  1. Taking a co-ordinated approach as a primary sector was discussed and generally supported. We believe that this will likely result in the best outcome. Exactly what this will involve is still being worked out. In the meantime we suggest that people don’t engage with Regional Council further and wait for a further update from HortNZ.
  2. There is the potential to legally challenge the Regional Council’s interpretation of ‘actual and reasonable’ as it is almost entirely focused on actual volumes and doesn’t take into account the reasonable volume of water required to grow a crop. This view has been expressed by experienced local RMA lawyer Matt Lawson of Lawson Robinson Ltd and this is one of the things we are looking into more.
  3. We have received no further direction from the Regional Council about what further information they are going to request from people who don’t agree with the actual and reasonable volume they have calculated.
  4. The Regional Council has advised there are still 20-30 people that won’t have received a letter yet outlining what HBRC have calculated as their actual and reasonable volume. These are people in the Poukawa Catchment, as well as some growers located within Zone 1 (a narrow strip adjacent to the Ngaruroro River).  If you are not in one of these two areas, lodged a replacement application and haven’t received a letter form the council yet, please get in touch with me asap.
  5. If you haven’t gone back to the Regional Council and said that you do not agree with the actual and reasonable volume they have calculated for you please do that as soon as you can.  Email waterpermits@hbrc.govt.nz and say that you do not agree.
  6. Check your water meter data. If you can’t/prefer not to view it online, email Jo Rodgers who is in the Water Information Services Team at the Regional Council and ask her to send the data to you. She is very helpful. Her email address is rodgers@hbrc.govt.nz
    If you have any questions about this process, or anything else planning/consent related please get in touch with me on 027 3225595 or via email on Charlotte.Drury@hortnz.co.nz or charlotte@viewconsult.co.nz for more on this please click here.


Wellbeing: At the heart of HBFA & HAG

The well-being of our community remains our priority. The pressures of the industry and life’s uncertainties in the current market can weigh heavily, which is why we’ve introduced our Wellbeing support post cyclone. This initiative supports crucial services aimed at helping our growers and their families navigate these challenges. Below is our Wellbeing dashboard showing engagement up to March this year.

Moving Forward: Mental Health and Resilience

HBFA & the HAG group are commitment to mental health and resilience is stronger than ever. Thanks to the funding received, we’re able to offer confidential counselling sessions with Wanda Douglas, a respected local psychologist. Wanda’s expertise and compassionate approach provide a lifeline for those in need, offering strategies for stress management, resilience building, and much more.

Reach out for support

If you or someone you know is struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out. Contact me, Callum Ross, at HBFA, or directly connect with Wanda Douglas at 021 1700 506, or wandspsychology@gmail.com. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, and we’re here to support each other.

Together, we can face any challenge and emerge stronger. Let’s stay safe, stay connected, and prioritize our well-being.

Warm regards,

Callum Ross

Chief Executive Officer

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