Publisher’s letter : Lucky, but lacking leadership

Our lucky country has the potential to provide all citizens with quality of life that we once all took for granted. For many people such standard of living is rapidly receding into memories of distant past. Lack of leadership at the very top frustrates efforts to turn our good fortune into prosperous positive future for all New Zealanders. Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett’s speaks out on the need for realistic goals and incentives for business on page 20 of this issue.
The fact remains that we have huge natural advantages: clean air, plentiful water, temperate climate and fertile soils. We have an environment that can not only support our small population but could also feed significant numbers offshore. And we have an educated workforce, benign political leadership and relatively stable infrastructure. Yet we struggle to turn these advantages into high standard of living for the majority of our citizens.
This problem is long in the making. We cut the apron strings that tied us to Mother England several decades ago following the loss of guaranteed European markets for our primary produce. It didn’t help that, round about the same time, we were emasculated by the toppling of our All Blacks from their dominance of world rugby. Since then, we’ve struggled to define our place in the world. We can’t quite capture what we’re best at – what makes us proud to be Kiwi. Our iwi governance cover story on page 22 and the accompanying piece on tikanga Māori business model (p26) provide some timely pointers.
We have crisis of leadership. We have many pockets of ingenuity and even brilliance but there is no one at the top joining the dots of premium performance and potential into cohesive gameplan for NZ Inc.
It can be hard to remain upbeat in the midst of the challenges we face in competitive global economy and its stuttering efforts to revive in the wake of the GFC. Yet we are blessed. Just read Selina Tusitala Marsh’s poem, New Zealand, the lucky country, on if you need reminding why.
We mustn’t squander our gifts. While we might gaze enviously at the phenomenal growth rates of some of the emerging economic powerhouses, their citizens will be gazing right back in wonder at our lifestyle, freedoms, climate and abundance of sustaining resources.
We want more for our future than to be low-cost playground for budget-conscious adventure tourists and the newly-affluent middle classes from growing economies. In this election year we’re all looking for the fillip that The World Cup will provide. But we’re also looking for leadership and vision from the main political contenders.

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