Learner-Focused, Industry-Led, Government-Enabled

Research & Insights Forum 2024 - Ticket Sales Closed


Putting Ideas Into Action

Investing in people is crucial for the food and fibre sector to thrive. Putting ideas into action is key to our success.

Research & Insights Forum 2024 is a two day event showcasing the latest thinking in innovative vocational education for Aotearoa New Zealand’s food and fibre sector, with presentations and interactive workshops, and plenty of opportunities to leverage our collective voice.


  • Tuesday 5 March – 11:30am – 5pm (with networking 5-7pm)
  • Wednesday 6 March – 8:30am – 2pm

Location: Wharewaka Function Centre, Taranaki Wharf, Wellington.

*Note*: Forum 2024 is a two-day event. One-day tickets are not available. 



This two-day event will share knowledge, research and insights on food and fibre vocational education in Aotearoa New Zealand and provide an opportunity for you to participate in workshops and discussions. 

Our Portfolio Managers will facilitate the sessions and together with the presenters answer any questions you have about the projects.

DAY 1: Tuesday 5 March 2024

11:30am – Registration, Welcome and Lunch


Vocational education and training meet the labour market: better understand relationships between providers, industry and communities; look at different operating and engagement models; and understand the power of the education sector and employers working together. 

Insights and learnings from several projects including: Ngawha Business and Innovation Park Case Study; Hawke’s Bay RSLG Project and Waikato RSLG Futures Academy Project will be shared with the opportunity to provide ideas and input to the development of guidelines for future hubs.

Workshop Facilitators: Taryn Eparaima and Josh Williams, Skills Group


A mix of workshops and presentations – three on Tuesday, and the final one Wednesday morning – this session shares a variety of projects covering: influence future generations of food and fibre workers; shift the dial when it comes to how and when to learn and upskill; and the importance of leadership in the food and fibre sector:

Secondary School Transitions to VET and Employment

Explore the incredible work supporting young New Zealanders transitioning from secondary school, to reach their fulfilled career potential. Going beyond the attraction and retention of young people it will take a broad and future-focused lens of the secondary-tertiary-employment interface and evaluate:

  • Careers advice and guidance
  • How well educators and employers support programmes
  • System leadership and strategy
  • Pathways that create effective ecosystems between education and work.

Presenters: Josh Williams and Arthur Graves, Skills Group

Non-Formal and Informal Learning

This project evaluated the opportunity to better integrate non-formal, informal and formal learning systems; identified five potential concepts for integration or better recognition of skills gained through non-formal and informal learning and assessed them against a set of criteria. The research will help to shape the planning and implementation of a new project: 21st Century Delivery and Assessment (Session 3).

Presenters: Adam Barker and Julie Moularde, Scarlatti

Workshop: Degree Level Apprenticeship 

An update on work done to date and an opportunity to participate in a workshop to help build this concept, with a focus on thinking about the considerations around core content and specialisms required, and how best to streamline qualifications, while meaningfully upskilling the workforce.

Facilitator: Kathryn Koopmanschap, Boost Business Services

5-7pm – Networking (same venue)

8:30am Coffee

Leadership System Project

Building on the momentum of the work done to date (shared at Forum 2023) Lisa Rogers will provide an update on how what we have learned and how this has shaped the next stage of the project.

Presenter: Lisa Rogers, Rural Leaders


Looking to the future we need to truly understand what food and fibre VET looks like, and what tools we need to develop or evolve. The session will be a blend of presentations, short sharp snapshots and interactive participation giving you an opportunity to contribute to the future of vocational excellence for the food and fibre sector.

Workshop: Interactive Vocational Excellence Framework

Your chance to participate in a workshop to inform what happens with the interactive and self-assessment version of the Vocational Excellence Framework being developed for the food and fibre sector.

Presenter: Mel Escott, Scarlatti

Snapshot: Workforce Skills Data and Insights Platform

Muka Tangata WDC will provide a brief overview of the platform, and how it is being used and updated in real time.

Presenters: Justine Stephens and Nichola Shackleton, Muka Tangata WDC

Snapshot: Residential Group Training

As a follow-up to Forum 2023, Paul Hollings, GM Food and Fibre CoVE will share what has happened since and where to from here.

White paper: Food and Fibre Youth Network – He Tātai Rangahua (FFYN)

Tapping into their network to begin to understand what’s motivating the next generation to make a difference, FFYN will share insights into the driving forces behind youth getting into the industry, their career aspirations, growth opportunities and the importance of transferrable skills.

Join us for an insightful presentation to understand how we can continue to attract and retain youth within the sector and shape the future of this thriving industry.

Presenters: Ben Purua and Alex Reid, FFYN Council

Workshop: 21st Century Delivery and Assessment

Muka Tangata and Te Pūkenga have identified the need for provider programmes with delivery models and flexible assessment methods relevant for the 21st Century.

The project will deep dive into delivery and assessment in all its forms, the reasons for change, the implications for learners and the real or perceived barrier(s) to qualification completion, engaging with industry and learners to better understand the challenges and opportunities.

Facilitators: Lester Hoare, Muka Tangata, Andrea Leslie, Primary ITO I Te Pukēnga and Paulette Elliott, KPMG

Emerging Technology

Sharing the early stages of a research project to understand how current virtual reality, artificial intelligence and gamification technologies are used in education and training, and how best to deploy them across the food and fibre sector.

Presenter: Taryn Eparaima, Skills Group and Lilla du Toit, Food and Fibre CoVE

2pm Forum closes


Presenters 2024

Our presenters and facilitators, together with our portfolio management team, bring extensive vocational education, research and industry experience.

Kathryn Koopmanschap - Director - Boost Business Services

Kathryn has a wealth of experience across sectors such as IT&T, construction, wine, hospitality and vocational education, in both NZ and UK. Most recently she was working with industry on micro-credentials and developing the online learning platform Learning Engine for eCampus. She is a problem-solver – using analytics, market research and strategic thinking to build solid recommendations for future focused products and services. In addition, her project management and organised approach ensures efficient delivery of milestones. She is based in Nelson with her partner, Peter, and black labrador, Tana.

Adam Barker - Director – Scarlatti

Adam founded Scarlatti in 2004 and is still very much hands-on and at the wheel. His work for clients spans most of the areas that Scarlatti operates in including extension programme design, market research, workforce research, impact modelling and operations research. Over the past decade Adam has led a range of people and skills-related projects for organisations in the food and fibre sector. Many of those have focused on measuring how effective programmes have been at attracting, growing and retaining people.

Julie Moularde - Research Manager – Scarlatti

Julie is a Research Manager with Scarlatti, a research and evaluation firm supporting organisations to drive practice change. Originally from France, Julie came to Aotearoa in 2013 after a decade in Canada. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Ottawa, Canada, and a Masters of Tourism Management (First Class Honours) from Victoria University of Wellington. Julie’s work with Food and Fibre CoVE includes leading the Non-formal and informal project. She has also been involved in other VET research projects with Te Pūkenga. Her strength is using mixed methodologies and qualitative research to investigate consumer attitudes and behaviour change.

Ben Purua - Council Member – Food & Fibre Youth Network - He Tātai Rangahua

Ko Tainui tōku iwi, Ko Ngati Amaru tōku hapū, Ko Te Awamarahi tōku marae, Nō Pukekohe ahau. Ben, a finalist in the Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer and the NZ Dairy Industry Awards in 2021, has completed his Agriculture Apprenticeship and is currently a Dairy Farm Manager. Ben’s passion for farming started in challenging circumstances during his youth, which led him through youth justice facilities and eventually prison where he was given the opportunity to work on a farm. Dedicated to helping others overcome adversity. Ben works with various community organisations and shares his transformative journey, inspiring young individuals to explore careers in agriculture.

Alex Reid - Council Member – Food & Fibre Youth Network - He Tātai Rangahua

Based in the Bay of Plenty, Alex is working as Project Development Support at Trevelyan’s Pack & Cool Ltd, a kiwifruit and avocado packhouse in Te Puke. Her role involves working on a range of strategic projects across the business. Originally from Wellington Ales grew up living in Southeast Asia (Thailand and Singapore) for six years during her schooling years. Seeing New Zealand agri-food in market sparked her interest in the primary sector. Subsequently, Alex studied a Bachelor of Agri Commerce (International Agribusiness) at Massey University. She is one of eight councillors on the Food & Fibre Youth Network (He Tātai Rangahua) Council.

Lisa Rogers - CEO – Rural Leaders

Born and raised in Canterbury, Canty University Alum. Lisa has had a busy career for 30 years and the common thread throughout has been leadership. A background in Policy, Finance, event management and programme design and delivery, things have always been kept varied and interesting. Some roles have been supported by formal qualifications- others learnt on the job, she doesn’t see formal tertiary education as a prerequisite or a barrier. Lisa’a passion is seeing people develop towards their true potential – it might not be all at once -as long as they are moving in the right direction. Other than her role at Rural Leaders, she enjoys golf, skiing, catching up with friends, and being part of a busy family. Lisa is also (slowly) learning to fly helicopters as a passion project on the side.

Josh Williams - Principal Consultant – Skills Consulting Group

Josh has been at the leading edge of critical developments in the NZ education system over the last 20+ years. He brings fresh thinking and real solutions to school-to-work transitions, curriculum, qualifications, assessment and quality assurance issues. A former CE of the Industry Training Federation, Josh was also a senior policy manager at the NZ Ministry of Education, where he led policy for foundational and vocational education. Josh was one of the architects of New Zealand’s system of Vocational Pathways. Principal Consultant for Skills Consulting Group, Josh has a keen desire to work with organisations globally to improve vocational outcomes.

Taryn Eparaima - Vocational Education Consultant – Skills Consulting Group

Taryn Eparaima (Ngāti Kahungunu) is a Vocational Education Consultant at Skills Consulting Group. While based in the Hawkes Bay, Taryn works with clients all over New Zealand to support workforce development and raise industry capability. Her role includes undertaking research and analysis, and partnering with clients to develop vocational education solutions to support their success and growth. Taryn has spent her career working in tertiary education with roles in government and the former ITOs. Her previous roles include Investment Manager for TEC, International Policy Analyst at the Minister of Education, and as a Key Account Manager with the former Skills Organisation ITO.

Arthur Graves - Consultant – Edu Based Solutions

Arthur Graves has had a long and respected career as a secondary and tertiary sector leader. Formerly Principal of Greymouth High School, Deputy Chief Executive of Whitireia Polytechnic, Chief Executive of Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre, as well as the Chair of the Secondary Principals’ Association and Careers NZ. Arthur is well known as a systems thinker and strategist, including as Youth Guarantee implementation manager, where he led and managed the cross-agency implementation programme to operationalise secondary-tertiary interface initiatives. As a consultant Arthur now works extensively with industry partners and government, including the development of the National Education Learning Priorities and Tertiary Education Strategy.

Mel Escott - Research Manager – Scarlatti

Mel is a Research Manager at Scarlatti. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Marketing, and a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Statistics and Psychology from the University of Auckland and has over a decade of research experience in both New Zealand and Singapore. During Mel’s six years at Scarlatti, her work has been focused on projects in the primary industries and tertiary education sector. She enjoys all aspects of the project life cycle – from the initial gathering of information to inform the project design, right through to evaluating the impact of projects. Her work with Food and Fibre CoVE has involved managing the System for Micro-credentials and Excellence Framework projects, as well as contributing to the Non-formal and Informal learning work.

Lester Hoare - GM Quality Assurance and Enhancement – Muka Tangata

Lester has worked in the Vocational Education and Training system in Aotearoa for the past 23 years and has held roles with an Industry Training Provider and a number of ITOs. He started his career as an automotive mechanic and later mechanical engineer before moving into vocational education in the UK. Lester has a proven track record in building quality systems and working with teams and stakeholders to meet business needs, he is passionate about helping others achieve and getting the very best skill outcomes for employers and ākonga. Lester has enjoyed working with the Food and Fibre CoVE on a number of projects over the last couple of years that have supported the food and fibre sector, and Muka Tangata’s mahi in meeting industry skill needs.

Muka Tangata - Shared Data Platform

Nichola Shakleton and Justine Stephen from the Skills Leadership and Advice Team.