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Meeting for future needs


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Emails are running hot on the topic of how to fill the void left by the collapse of Taratahi Institute of Agriculture and it looks like there’s going to be an invitation-only “targeted conversation” in Carterton on January 28.

Federated Farmers prepared a letter to mayors in the region, and copied in Wairarapa MPs. The letter politely encourages a strategy meeting and it went out early last week.

Then on Friday, various people received an email titled, “What does the future of the primary sector in Wairarapa look like”, from Phoebe Chamberlain, the economic development manager at Masterton District Council, according to people who received it.

“The three Wairarapa mayors – Lyn Patterson, John Booth and Viv Napier, alongside Dame Margaret Bazley, and Geoff Henley of Henley Hutchings, invite you to participate in a targeted conversation about the future workforce and skills requirements of the primary sector in Wairarapa,” the email says.

Yet Dame Margaret told the Times-Age on Sunday she didn’t know about a meeting.

Karen Williams

She is leading a governance group to implement a regional economic development strategy that was released last year.

“We are not doing anything about Taratahi,” she said.

Yet the email is signed off ‘Wairarapa Economic Development Strategy, [email protected]

The meeting is at Carterton Events Centre from 5pm-7pm.

Booth, who was at a wedding in the Cook Islands on Sunday, said he knew about the meeting and would be attending.

Federated Farmers Wairarapa president William Beetham said he would be away and Karen Williams, the Federated Farmers Arable Industry Group executive, will attend.

Williams said there needs to be some big picture thinking in the wake of the collapse of Taratahi.

“And Fed Farmers is hoping to work with the MPI and the minister on that and other industries.”

Maybe this Wairarapa group could put more pressure around that, she said.

Beetham said there needed to be some direction for vocation training for the sector.

“What’s happened has happened,” he said.

But there are now a significant number of students around New Zealand who can add a lot of value “not only to our rural communities but to our society” who need to be looked after.

“They have committed to a training programme that has been taken away from them through no fault of their own,” Beetham said.

They came from urban backgrounds, rural backgrounds and challenging backgrounds and had talent.

“The No 1 focus for us is how do we now fill the gap in vocational training for our industry, but we also have to think as an entire community how do we give these kids direction.

“It is so important for their lives and it affects urban communities as well as rural communities.”

He said these young people needed to be given a future and opportunity.

“We really need the leaders in our communities and in our industries to come together to work with government to fill the massive hole that has been created.”

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