Portfolio Overview

Below are links to projects that are currently in delivery, under development, or recently completed. Where a project or text is underlined, this indicates a link to further information or a report.

In Delivery

Delivery and Assessment for the 21st Century

A research project to examine what evidence is used in assessments and whether this evidence and its collection methods are still relevant in the 21st Century.

HortNZ Leadership Alignment Programme

This project will explore the potential to align HortNZ’s existing leadership programme with the Food and Fibre Leadership Framework currently under development.

Appreciating and Supporting Neurodiversity in VET

Recognising neurodiversity as an asset, this is an opportunity to explore untapped potential, and the challenges individuals face in education and employment, particularly in times of skill shortages.

Ngawha Innovation and Enterprise Park

The purpose of this project is to identify and understand the model the Ngawha Innovation Hub (Northland) has designed and implemented. This will add to the CoVE’s understanding of what good practice for a collaborative Hub looks like and may help inform current and future projects.

Quality Host Employers in Group Training

This project will seek to examine and define the characteristics of a quality host employer, how to identify existing ones and how to support less capable employers to self-identify areas for improvement.  Findings from this project will be used to inform the current Group Training initiative and could prove to be useful for other employers in the food and fibre sector. The project proposes undertaking research in the form of a high-level situational analysis resulting in a report and development of a rubric to allow for host employers to self-identify quality against set criteria. The research would seek to cover the following:

  • Identify best practice from existing host employers in New Zealand and examples from around the world, in particular from Australia where the Group Training Model is prevalent.
  • It will also consider recommendations from the new quality apprenticeship standard from the International Labour Organisation, and how these may apply to a New Zealand context and to this project in particular.

The research will seek to answer the following questions: What is a quality host employer? What are the criteria that should define a quality host employer in New Zealand based on the research? What are the unique characteristics of a quality host employer in terms of training outcomes? How would we develop quality host employers? And How best to support and reward quality host employers?

Investing in Emerging Technologies: Gamification, VR and AI Research project and pilots

This project will use VR/AI technologies to confirm they can provide smarter, faster and safer ways to train workers than traditional approaches.

Secondary School Transitions and Pathways to VET and Employment

An evaluation of the current ecosystem surrounding ākonga as they make the decisions while navigating the transition from secondary school into further education and/or working in the food and fibre sector.

Residential and Group Training (Phase 2)

A pilot to test the viability of the Residential and Group Training (RGT) model developed in Phase 1.  RGT is a a potential new delivery model for vocational education delivery for the Food and Fibre sector.  It sets out the elements of a model involving a sequenced combination of residential training and workplace learning, coordinated and supported through a group training arrangement.

Food and Fibre Leadership System Research Project (Stage 1)

Designing and adopting 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. Phase 2 will commence in April 2024 which will include pilot Leadership programmes to test the Food and Fibre Leadership underlying principles.

Food and Fibre Degree-level Apprenticeship Framework

The development of a framework by which degree programmes can be delivered as an apprenticeship (i.e. work-based learning) across the food and fibre sector.

Under Development

Food and Fibre Māori Leadership Development Framework (Phase 1)

This project will define a Food and Fibre Māori Leadership Development Framework based on the FF Leadership Framework (the handbook for which is nearing completion).

Completed Projects

A Futures Academy supporting Future Skills Needs in the Waikato  

This report provides a short summary of findings from a national and international environmental scan. It offers an evidential basis for the Waikato RSLG to consider when designing their own Futures Academy. It draws strongly from analysis undertaken for the Hawke’s Bay RSLG to inform the development of an education co-lab hub for their region. This report will be made available for all RSLGs and organisations to help inform their thinking into the establishment of similar Hubs around the country.

A New Approach to Learner Pathways: Skills Framework

The ultimate vision for this Project is to test the ideas in the “A New Approach to Learner Pathways” document which will underpin the Food and Fibre Skills Framework.

Akongoue Pasifika Horticulture Programme Evaluation

A collaboration between the Tongan Youth Trust, the New Zealand Sports Turf Institute, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Akongoue Pasifika Horticulture Programme currently runs across seven secondary schools in Auckland with high engagement among the Tongan community.  With a strong pastoral care element and a vision to guide learners through a career in horticulture, the Food and Fibre CoVE, along with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment co-funded an evaluation of the programme. The project measured the impact of the programme on its participants, their communities and stakeholders, to ascertain its viability to continue running in the medium term. A PDF of the evaluation report can be viewed here.

Apprenticeships in the Food and Fibre Sector

To become an apprentice in the NZA scheme, you must be 16 years or older, employed in the industry you are training for and enrolled in a qualification leading to a level 4 New Zealand Qualification.  A mandatory training agreement between the apprentice, employer and the tertiary provider managing the apprenticeship outlines the training and support requirements. The responsibilities of all parties are outlined in the Code of Good Practice for New Zealand Apprenticeships and include fundamental principles of good practice. This Code is under review to provide an updated version for 2023 and beyond. This April 2023 paper proposes an alternative model WDCs become custodians of apprenticeships on behalf of industry.

Attraction and Retention Research Project

An analysis of attraction initiatives and why they haven’t all been as successful as expected and a look into opportunities to improve retention across the food and fibre sector.


The Farm4Life Hub, founded by Tangaroa Walker, is an online video learning platform that delivers education 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  They have a video library of almost 1000 videos that communicate the “how” and “why” of dairy farming.  The Farm4Life hub contains individual, team and farm learning overviews and education from leading experts in the dairy industry.  This desk-based project analysed the potential for the online video resources to be used and/or linked to structured training models, across different modes of delivery e.g. schools, on-farm provision.

Forestry Trainers and Assessors Research Project

While many forestry and wood processing companies express concerns about the lack of trainers and assessors when needed, others have no such concerns.  Discussion on this topic had, until recently, failed to access funds to determine what the reality was across the sector.  This project sought to define the current reality across the forestry and wood processing industries.

Hawke’s Bay RSLG Actions

Assisting the HB RSLG through delivering the research for three initiatives:

  1. Completing a stocktake of regional pre-employment programmes, including their scope of delivery and outcomes
  2. Developing and analysing national and international evidence to inform the establishment of a co-lab
  3. Hub Conducting a national and international literature search on best practices in regional needs analysis

Four artefacts have been produced:

  1. A Literature Review of Co-lab hubs which shows that, in general, Hubs are viewed as a successful model for connecting job seekers, and young people to employers and do lead to career opportunities,
  2. A review of Best Practice in Regional Needs Analysis which provides an overview of workforce planning methodologies around the world, and the labour market interventions arising from them.
  3. A Pivot Table which, when opened in MS Excel, allows a filtered view of Hawkes Bay Pre-employment Programmes, and
  4. A PDF report on recent Official Information Act Responses from TEC on Gateway Fund Provision.

House of Science Learner and Teacher Narratives

A look at the influence House of Science kits have on primary and intermediate school students regarding their uptake of science subjects in secondary school captured in the report Growing curious minds: Student and Teacher narratives about using House of Science Resource Kits.

Ngawha Innovation and Enterprise Park Case Study

The primary objectives of this study were to identify and understand the Hub model that was designed and implemented. This adds to FFCoVE’s understanding of what good practice for a collaborative Hub looks like and may help inform current and future projects.

Non-Formal and Informal Learning in the Food and Fibre Sector

Three parallel education and training systems exist within New Zealand’s Food and Fibre Sector: formal learning providing by vocational education providers; non-formal learning provided by a range of stakeholders, such as industry bodies, but which are not recognised by NZQA; and informal learning acquired “on the job.” While formal learning is typically seen as the most appropriate way to demonstrate a specific level of knowledge and/or practical competency in a specified subject area, not all employees in the Food and Fibre Sector hold a formal qualification – nor are they necessarily interested in attaining one. On the other hand, non-formal and informal learning are widespread but their “face value” can be unpredictable and lead to challenges when learners change employers or industry or seek to obtain recognition of prior learning with the goal of engaging in formal qualifications. This project proposes a two-phase approach to evaluating the value proposition of integrating these learning systems; and gaining clarity on how it may be possible (if and where deemed valuable).

Residential and Group Training Research Project (Phase One)

This project examined in detail both Group and Residential Training within NZ. The research looked for global examples of both, discovering that residential training is not a common delivery method on the global stage (see Residential and Group Training Situational Analysis). Group Schemes are used successfully in some industries, particularly in Australia with a new Food and Fibre scheme established recently. There are two options to reading more about the project results; a 12 page final report or a six-slide summary of that report. Phase 1 also designed a 30-week hybrid Residential and Group Training Delivery Model. Phase 2 now requires that we engage a host provider to pilot this model to confirm that it not only can work, but can be scaled to cater for an ongoing demand across multiple industries.

Systems Approach to Micro-credentials

This project performed a stocktake of current micro-credentials and looked at a possible badging system for the food and fibre sector, and to ideally influence the inability for micro-credentials to stack towards qualifications.  The working group explored ways to improve the micro-credentials system (click here to open the report) and agreed an excellence rubric by which the effectiveness of a micro-credential system might be measured. The project team worked closely with NZQA and Muka Tangata and has helped guide the development of the legislation for micro credentials and scoped a further project examining in detail non/informal credentialing of qualifications.

Te Ao Māori Integration into the Level 3 Māori Cadetship Programme (Phase One)

Post-COVID there has been an increase in cadet and workforce programmes. The dominant existing ones are either focused on first-time learners at Level 1-2 or on employment outcomes. Phase 1 of this project sought to define what Te Ao Māori would look like for a vocational education and training programme (based on a future pilot using a level 3 Māori cadetship programme in the Bay of Plenty). This phase was completed in September 2022.

Training and Career Framework for the FF Sector

The vision for this project was to create a Framework that identified the career pathways and how they are aligned to programmes of study, using both proven and emerging good and innovative practice that can be scaled nationally, in a consistent manner, using various delivery methods.

Tupu Case Study 

The Tupu Programme was developed by the Te Hiku o Te Ika Iwi Development Trust to trial a local workforce development solution for the horticulture industry in Northland. The programme was learner and industry-led, locally designed and delivered, regionally supported and centrally enabled. This research project investigated the methods used by which allowed the programme to achieve outstanding results in just months of them starting it.

Work Integrated Learning

Currently two formal models of learning exist, the in-work model and the provider model. The Food and Fibre sector seeks to establish over time, Work Integrated Learning model(s) which provide greater flexibility for learners and enables simplified access to vocational education. Open Polytechnic, EIT, WITT, NMIT, NZ Young Farmers, Dairy Training Ltd and NZ Apples and Pears were all involved in this collaboration but it’s a large and diverse topic (and evolution of practices will continue over coming years). The working group developed a high-level Work Integrated Learning Ecosystem, parts of which – online assessment and online learning support – have been successfully trialed through small pilot projects.

Workforce Development Options for the Wool Harvesting Industry

The purpose of this project was to enable a clear and shared understanding of what an effective workforce development model looks like for the wool harvesting sector. This could form the basis of a model that the vocational education sector can adopt in the context of the current vocational reforms. This report is in two parts; a situational analysis (of both international and national literature reviews, and stakeholder engagement to gather a range of perspectives on effective training models, past and present) and a situational assessment which provides context to and understanding of effective training delivery modes and the preferred training model

Year 7 and 8 STEM Programme

Attracting students into Food and Fibre related training and education is an ongoing challenge. The objective of the Year 7 and 8 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Project was to expose senior Primary School pupils to the Primary Industry Sector across multiple disciplines: Plant husbandry, Hydroponics and Technology (electronic measuring tools and robotics in particular).