Food and Fibre Leadership System Research Project (Stage 1)

Originator/Sponsor: Rural Leaders NZ

Portfolio Managers: Lilla du Toit

Status: In delivery

Planned delivery date: End February 2024

Lead Agency/Service Provider: Rural Leaders Trust

Collaborating partners: Pahautea Initiative members, AGMARDT, Te Ao Māori Advisor, Agri-Women’s Development Trust, Muka Tangata, FMG, Pāmu, Craigmore, Lincoln University, Massey University, Ministry for Primary Industries

Primary Objective(s):

To design and adopt a food and fibre leadership framework with supporting system(s), which would provide a set of success criteria that other projects would use to meet the current and future needs of New Zealand’s food and fibre sector.


Organisations the length and breadth of the Food and Fibre Sector aspire to high-performance, not least because of the economic and reputational benefits that accrue. However, overall, they are struggling with talent attraction, development, and churn. Increasingly the larger organisations are building their own leadership and high-performance training models, the corollary being that smaller organisations are being left behind.
Left unchecked, the sector will end up with a plethora of disconnected leadership programmes that are not credentialed vocationally or academically, lack logical progression, and suffer from a variety of pedagogical value. Therefore, this project is designed to have impact across the food and fibre sector.
Once embedded, the System could also be attractive to international partners, including in the South Pacific and Southeast Asia, thereby deepening our relationships, building regional capacity, and helping build trade ties for food and fibre exports.
Initial consultation has demonstrated a demand for a high-performance leadership system, underpinned by an academically credentialed framework that can lift the performance and profitability of food and fibre businesses across the sector.
The first research report produced is The State of Leadership in New Zealand’s Food and Fibre Sector (as at 23 Feb 2023). This report examines the state of leadership development in the food and fibre sector.
The second research report produced is A Principles-Centred Leadership Model for Aotearoa New Zealand.  This report builds on the findings of the first report and will be followed by two more outputs:

a progression framework for leader development that is aligned (where appropriate) to the NZQAF, and
a best-practice handbook for leadership in the sector.

The above information was current as at 15 August 2023