New Zealand co-op apex welcomes four new directors to board

‘It’s an honour to have the opportunity to work alongside such a high calibre group of individuals’

Four directors have been elected to the board of New Zealand’s Cooperative Business NZ, which says their governance experience reflects “the breadth and depth” of the sector.

The apex said it was keen to ensure its board represented “the complex make-up of New Zealand’s co-operative landscape”, which takes in mutiple sectors.

Newly elected as member directors at September’s virtual AGM are: Mike Brown, CEO of Marlborough Grape Growers Cooperative; Greg Gent, chair of Southern Cross Health Society; and Matthew Washington, CFO of Mitre 10 Limited. Professor Nicola Shadbolt, of Massey University, was subsequently brought in as an independent director.

CBNZ says Mr Brown brings specialist knowledge of New Zealand’s primary, horticulture, and export sectors, and has done significant work in sustainability, Te Ao Māori, and ‘NZ Inc’ initiatives.

Mr Gent has an extensive career in governance, spanning several decades across multiple sectors. Previous roles include chair of Farmers’ Mutual Group, and director of Fonterra, and he works as a dairy farmer in Ruawai.

Mr Washington is chief financial office at retail co-op Mitre 10, and has 30 years’ experience in professional services, building, construction, and retail, giving him an “understanding of how co-operative governance differs from those of a corporate entity”.

Prof Shadbolt has extensive governance exposure and is an experienced advocate of the co-operative model. A professor of farm and agri business management at Massey University, she is the current chair of the Plant and Food Research Institute, a climate change commissioner, and a former director of Fonterra.

Stefan Azzopardi, chief financial and risk advisor at Southern Cross Society, joins as a board observer.

The new directors join Christine Burr (chair), commercial manager, milk supply at Fonterra; Lisa Murray, general counsel at Farmers’ Mutual Group, along with re-elected director Andy Grant, director at Ashburton Lyndhurst Irrigation Ltd.

CEO Roz Henry said: “It’s an honour to have the opportunity to work alongside such a high calibre group of individuals. Their combined experience, knowledge and skills, covering a range of sectors and specialist knowledge will prove invaluable and greatly assist in pursuing the interest of our members, in particular working alongside our government and educators to support New Zealand member-owned businesses.”