New Zealand co-op movement holds its annual awards

The apex body for the sector honoured co-ops and individuals across four categories at the Christchurch event

Cooperative Business New Zealand honoured the country’s co-ops, and individuals who made a contribution to the movement, at its annual awards.

The awards, presented on 14 August in Christchurch, where judged by an independent panel across four categories were – Outstanding co-operative contribution, Co-operation amongst co-operatives, Co-operative business of the year and Co-operative leader of the year.

Outstanding co-operative contribution went to Kim DeGarnham who retired from Foodstuffs South Island (FSSI) in July 2018 after more than 30 years with the organisation.

In 1996 she became the first appointed female manager at FSSI and in 2009 she became the first woman on the corporate executive team. The award highlighted her role as “a catalyst for change”, “a challenger of the status quo” and “pivotal in driving a more professional and progressive approach across all areas of the co-operative”.

Cooperative Business New Zealand chief executive, Craig Presland, said: “Bringing a more diverse approach towards business, and not afraid of a challenge, colleagues say Kim has successfully turned a lot of things on their head over the past three decades while often creating a more modern and progressive mind shift.

“Kim has also been an outstanding director of Cooperative Business NZ since 2014, including playing a key role in successfully negotiating legislative changes to International Financial Reporting standards as they impact on NZ’s co-operatives.”

The Co-operation amongst co-operatives category award was shared by Farmlands and Silver Fern Farms, who designed a joint governance training initiative, To the Core, involving best practice across both co-ops. The programme was developed during 2017/2018 for shareholders wishing to build their knowledge of how their co-operatives operate and to whet their appetites to develop their rural leadership and governance skills.

Clark Taylor, shareholder relations manager at Silver Fern, and Colm Hamrogue, director of strategy and communications at Farmlands, collected the joint award.

Mr Presland described To the Core as “a win-win, delivering mutual benefits while supporting the development of future rural leaders”.

Co-operative business of the year went to Westland Milk Products, a Hokitika-based, farmer-owned dairy co-operative which was praised for reinventing itself while using the co-operative model as a strength.

Set up in 1937, the co-op has 350 shareholders and 500 staff. After implementing a series of changes, the co-op increased shareholder incomes year on year from $5.18 / kg average payout in 2016/17 to $6.10 to $6.40 / kg in 2017/18.

Mr Presland said: “This is demonstrated in the co-operative’s new purpose of ‘nourishment made beautifully for generations’, highlighting the inter-generational farmer-owned structure, emphasising the importance of time and place, dedication to quality, and the personal investment that farmers have in the products that Westland Milk Products manufactures for its customers.

“Westland has had a successful 2017/18 with the gap in its milk pay-out, when compared to its leading rivals, having been reduced.”

Co-operative Leader of the Year went to Murray King, chair of Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC). First elected to the board of LIC in 2009, he led the co-op through a transformation which saw it separate into a co-operative core working with NZ’s dairy farmers and a wholly owned agri-technology subsidiary and simplify its share structure.

Mr Presland said: “The LIC board has provided a comprehensive review of its capital structure, including delivering a simpler and fairer share structure, while staying true to its stated aim of protecting the co-operative principles that are fundamental to its operations.”

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