AS I SEE IT

How would you describe the New Zealand identity?
Confused. Let’s face it, our world was lot less complex 30 or 40 years ago. Assuming that our sense of identity is influenced by social, cultural and economic parameters, New Zealand in the 1960s and 1970s had little in the way of “material” to process. Still strongly aligned with mother England our most serious identity crisis was the adoption of decimal currency. We were yet to experience the change that would come as result of events like the Bastion Point protest, the infamous Springbok tour, economic reform (led by Labour Party!), and changes to our political system with the introduction of MMP. Along with the rest of the world we would eventually be exposed to increased immigration, an aging population and, as some would argue, the exploitation of diminishing natural resources.

What will be our next major challenge?
Relevance. We have long considered ourselves able to punch above our weight on the world stage. However, as impressive as our sporting track record, for example, may have been, it will become increasingly more difficult for New Zealand to remain relevant as the world competes for basics such as food, water and land. These are all required to feed global population dominated by those with the means to consume more than they need, versus those emerging from state of relative poverty and wanting to emulate their rivals or simply feed the mouths of those underpinning new-found prosperity.
With the potential to offer so much in the way of food production, New Zealand’s relevance is potentially marred by its geographic location, economic prowess (our GDP is now less than that of some cities), and our ability to generate sufficient capital necessary to stimulate growth.

What do we need to do to prepare ourselves for this?
Cooperate. Seems simple and almost cliché. But, when you are not the biggest the only real option is to combine forces with those with similar objectives. How many New Zealand firms market products with similar attributes, sourced from the same resource, sold in to the same markets … meat, milk powder, fish, shell fish, timber? All products derived, ironically, from the only real competitive advantage we have – our land, climate, innovation and knowhow.
The key to success with any cooperative partner (domestically or abroad) will be our ability to leverage all means at our collective disposal in pursuit of an outcome consistent with our need to remain relevant.

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