Newsletter #1 2019

Read online

In this issue

  • Meeting with government officials
  • Proposed education changes
  • Biosecurity news
  • Imports advocacy
  • Employment law changes
  • Biodegradable pots
  • Regional visits
  • Conference
  • Young Achiever Award

Meeting with government officials

On 14 February Board members Andrew Harrison, Geoff Thorpe and Mike Simpson went with CE Matthew Dolan to meet with the CE of Te Uru Rakau (NZ Forestry), Chief of Ministry of Primary Industries and Head of Biosecurity NZ. The team also met with CE of the Primary Industry Organisation, Linda Sissons, to discuss a way to bridge the large training gap for those interested in a career in horticulture.

Due to the Nelson fires Damien O’Connor was unavailable on the day but we have rescheduled this meeting for March 6.

Matthew Dolan, Mike Simpson, Andrew Harrison, Julie Collins, Geoff Thorpe

These meetings were an opportunity to highlight the importance of our sector and to raise issues in our key advocacy areas including: imports, biosecurity, the One Billion Trees programme and training and education.

We will provide an update following the meeting with the Minister and a progress report on the issues we raised with officials.

A copy of the briefing paper we provided to the Minister is available on our website.

Minister of Education announces shakeup for vocational training

On 13 February the Minister of Education announced the reform of the vocational education and training (VET) system. He is aiming for a consistent, nationally driven and regionally networked system.

From the Minster’s speech:

“The strong labour market is encouraging young people to move directly into the workforce rather than continue in formal education, and our system isn’t geared up for the future economy, where re-training and up-skilling will be a regular feature of everyone’s working life. It’s time to reset the whole system and fundamentally rethink the way we view vocational education and training, and how it’s delivered.”

“We need to move from a system where educational institutions and on the job training compete with one another, to a system where on the job and provider-based learning is seamlessly integrated.”

The three main proposals for change are:

  • changing the role of ITO’s to be more focussed on arranging training
  • establish a new organisation to set standards for training (currently an ITO task)
  • replacing regional polytechnics with a single NZ Polytechnic.


Consultation on the proposed reforms is underway and public feedback is open until 27 March. Information about making a submission can be found here

Biosecurity news

The first NZPPI biosecurity update was sent out mid-January to producers and here is the link for those of you that didn’t receive it.

Fruit flies

The detection of a fifth fruit fly in the Auckland region is clearly of great concern to the industry and MPI and industry are managing the crisis. These detections appear to be unrelated and there is no evidence of an established population.

Here is a link to the MPI updates. NZPPI also issued an alert, which can be found here.

Tradescantia fluminensis (Wandering Jew)

NZPPI was recently made aware that Tradescantia fluminensis (Wandering Jew) cultivars were being made available commercially.

Tradescantia fluminensis cultivars are covered under the National Pest Plant Accord (NPPA) and it is illegal to grow and trade them. This is a timely reminder to check the NPPA list if you are unsure about any plants you are growing and selling.

PPBS pilot audits and workshops are underway

The second phase of work in the development of the biosecurity scheme (PPBS) is underway with workshops and training sessions this week. Pilot audits will begin in March.

Auckland workshop

This project is very much on track to enable the full implementation of the programme later this year.

There is a more detailed update of the programme on the NZPPI website

Imports advocacy

NZPPI is currently advocating for reform in the plant imports system. Over the past 2 years new importation rules and administrative hurdles have become a barrier to the importation of a wide range of plants and germplasm. NZPPI supports the need for a strong biosecurity system, however, the importation of plants and germplasm is vital to provide the clean plant material and new genetics that enable NZ to remain competitive.

Many of the new import rules are proving to be unnecessary and unworkable and in many cases these rules have been poorly planned and implemented.

Our advocacy includes:

  • More effective ways to manage biosecurity risk that are workable and enable the safe and efficient importation of germplasm
  • Better processes in areas such as import permits, risk assessments and at the border
  • Greater resourcing within the plant imports team and better allocation of resources
  • Better infrastructure and capacity for quarantine and laboratory facilities.

We are working with MPI at every level to raise these issues and press for change. We will continue to report back to you on our work and our progress in this area.

Employment Law changes 1 April 2019

The Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Act 2018

Government has recently passed two employment bills which come into force next year. The changes are mostly focussed on enhancing employee rights.

As a result, in 2019 you will need to review your employment agreements, policies and practices to ensure they reflect these changes.

The Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Bill was passed and the changes will come into effect on 1 April 2019. The new law entitles employees affected by domestic violence to up to 10 days of paid domestic violence leave per year in order to deal with the effects of domestic violence. Employees will be able to take this leave as needed – similar to the existing sick leave and bereavement leave provisions.

  • Employers must give affected employees up to 10 days’ domestic violence leave if required.
  • Employers must respond within 10 working days to a request from an employee affected by domestic violence for a short-term variation to their working arrangements (up to two months or shorter).  
  • Employers cannot unreasonably refuse a request made under this provision.
  • Employers must not treat an employee adversely in their employment on the grounds that they are, or are suspected to be, a person affected by domestic violence.

Read the Act here

The Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018

The Government passed the Employment Relations Amendment Bill on 6 December 2018. The Bill largely repeals the National Party’s amendments to the Employment Relations Act 2000 (ERA) over its nine years in Government and restored several employee and union rights. The main changes included:

  • reinstating set meal and rest breaks
  • strengthening collective bargaining and union rights  
  • restoring protections for vulnerable workers, such as those in the cleaning and catering industries, regardless of the size of their employer
  • limiting 90-day trial to businesses with fewer than 20 employees.

Most changes take effect on Monday 6 May 2019.

There is more information on the MBIE website

Biodegradable plant pots on the horizon

Developing functional biodegradable plant pots is becoming increasingly important to the sector. NZPPI and Scion have been working together to drive the development of this innovation. We are collaborating with Scion on a pilot project to trial biodegradable plant pots on a small scale.

Our involvement means that plant producers can have input into the design, function, and other important features of the new pots.

The first trial pots will be produced in March and we’ll update you with results from the trials and any further developments. Through our partnership with Scion, NZPPI is enabling plant producers to be able to access more sustainable materials.

Visits to the regions

Wairarapa and Palmerston North

Matthew and Karen (Communications Manager) went to the Wairarapa recently to catch up with some members on their issues. Matthew also went on to visit members in Woodville and Palmerston North.

What Matthew heard from Wairarapa members is increasing concern about changes around consents for water use and management. These are happening at a time when the region along with Nelson is on the verge of drought.

Evan Hooper with rare Wairarapa Coprosma

Members are looking for more warning from Council about possible changes and a far better consultation process. Members feel that regional council don’t understand their issues and smaller councils have too much ability to ‘pull the rug out from under them’. NZPPI is keeping a watching brief on this matter.

Following this, Evan Hooper, of Norfolk Road Nursery with manager Taylor, attended the One Billion Trees forum in Masterton run by the Wellington Regional Council and MPI. This was the start of regional conversations with land owners, iwi and council about the opportunities that are becoming apparent in the 1BT programme.

Nelson water restrictions

This week, Matthew Dolan went to Nelson to meet with members affected by the drought.

Nurseries and other horticulture businesses in the Nelson region are being severely affected by water restrictions on the Waimea plains. Drought conditions and low river levels have resulted in the Council imposing restrictions on water use to 65% of permitted allocations. Without rain in the next two weeks these restrictions may be increased to 80%.

A medium-scale adverse event for both the fire and drought has been declared for Tasman district, meaning that Government support for farmers and growers is available.

NZPPI is working with other industry groups to get information and advice to our members in the region.

French grapevine genetic experts in Gisborne

Over 30 participants from grapevine nurseries around New Zealand converge on Gisborne this week for a series of Ampelography workshops with Professor Jean-Michel Boursiquot and Laurent Audeguin from France.

Ampelography is the identification and classification of grapevines traditionally done by comparing the shape and colour of leaves and berries. THe workshops will provide an in depth look at grapevine rootstock, varieties and clones.

Professor Boursiquot is widely recognised as ‘THE’ world authority in this field of study and research and Mr Audeguin as head of clonal selection at ENTAV in France, is equally knowledgeable in this field. An Engineer in Viticulture and Enology, Mr Audeguin has been working with The French Wine & Vine Institute (IFV) for over 21 years. The institute is a research centre specialising in vine and wine including selection of grape plant material, vineyard management and wine making.

Riversun Nursery is hosting the Gisborne workshops and has the country’s biggest collection of high-health varieties and clones.

Geoff Thorpe at Riversun, Gisborne

Riversun Managing Director, Geoff Thorpe says, “We are delighted to once again host Professor Jean-Michel Boursiquot and Laurent Audeguin here in Gisborne. For the New Zealand vine and wine industry - to have access to their encyclopaedic knowledge of all things to do with grapevine breeding and clonal selection is indeed a huge honour. “

For more information contact: Riversun Nursery Marketing Manager, Tania Kearns phone 021 357 417.

NZPPI Annual Survey is live!

Please check your emails for a message from Frances Palmer with a link to the Member Survey 2019. We need your views and feedback so we can focus on your priorities and improve as a member organisation. Thank you in advance and thanks to those 40 or so that did the survey on the first day.

2019 Conference - registrations open soon!

It is less than three months until the NZPPI conference kicks off! There will be an announcement in the next fews days opening registrations.

Christchurch, Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 May 2019

Day one has a predominant focus on the science and technology happening that will move business into the future and day two more on building successful business models and a forward focused workforce.

Speakers secured include:

  • Ian Proudfoot, head of Agribusiness, KPMG
  • Mike Chapman, CE Horticulture NZ
  • Philip Hulme, Plant & Food Research
  • Leanne Watson, CE Canterbury Chamber of Commerce
  • Alan Curtis, former CE Irrigation NZ
  • John Manhire, Sustainability Dashboard
  • Andrew Allen, Turners & Growers

We intend to hold a retailer breakout session again. This will be a chance to share views and ideas with the retail sector group and to hear from an innovative retail speaker. There will likely be a session on biodegradable pots and other environmental sustainability matters.

Sponsorship opportunities are now available. To discuss please conatact Karen Coltman: ph 04 9183511

2019 Young Achiever Competition is open

We are delighted to announce the 2019 Young Achiever Award run by New Zealand Plant Producers is open to receive entries. The competition seeks to reward and recognise the best young nursery people in the country.


The Young Achiever competition will push entrants to learn valuable new skills, give them exceptional networking opportunities with industry leaders and boost their careers.

Young Achiever trophy

The finalists will attend the NZPPI conference in Christchurch in May, and the winner will be announced at the Gala Dinner.

Please spread the word about the competition and start the conversation now with your employees / employer. The entry form is available here.

For more information and to check out past winners, visit the website here. We look forward to receiving applications.

Any questions please contact Frances Palmer: 04 918 3511

Volunteer Service Abroad

Fancy working in Bourgainville? The community needs an agribusiness mentor.

There are jobs on VSA that people old or young in your networks may be interested in. Other less developed countries need our skills and it would be great if NZPPI could spread the word. New Zealanders can use their experience to support sustainable horticulture practices in Bougainville and other pacific counties and contribute to its pursuit of sustainable and inclusive economy.

Here are links to a couple of roles, closing dates 10 March.:


©2019 NZPPI
New Zealand Plant Producers Incorporated
PO Box 3443, Wellington 6140
Level 5, 23 Waring Taylor Street, Wellington
P: 04 918 3511 | F: 04 499 9589
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