Irrigation New Zealand

Media Statement– for immediate release

15 October 2020

IrrigationNZ is delighted to announce that Vanessa Winning has been appointed as the organisation’s new chief executive starting on Monday 19th October, based in its new Wellington HQ.

Vanessa is a strategic executive leader with over 20 years experience in the agriculture, banking and corporate sectors with excellent stakeholder management and engagement skills.

Vanessa was most recently General Manager Farm Performance at DairyNZ, where she led a large team across the country to help farmers improve their businesses and reduce environmental impacts. Prior to DairyNZ, Vanessa spent 18 years in banking; trade; product development; marketing and communications. Vanessa has a commerce degree in economics and management, and a postgraduate degree in marketing.

Vanessa has also just completed a contract for the Federation of Māori Authorities (FOMA) on a He Waka Eke Noa project.

“The irrigation sector has much work ahead to continue building public trust and bridge knowledge gaps about the benefits that fair water management can bring to our communities and environment - we believe Vanessa is the right person to drive this,” says Keri Johnston, chair of IrrigationNZ.

“Vanessa has the strategic vision to lead our sector in the right direction: she partners to achieve positive outcomes; has commercial experience to grow an effective organisation; understands the primary sector and has worked in it managing large teams; and can navigate the increasingly complex area of water management in New Zealand.”

Commenting on her new position, Vanessa said: “I see so much potential for water in our country - its sensible harvesting, fair management, and pragmatic use for balanced outcomes across the economy, environment, and all of our communities, including mana whenua. I can’t wait to get stuck into the role!”

Vanessa is a mum of two girls and during her time as a senior executive, has given time to several ‘not-for-profits’. She is on the board of Surf Lifesaving New Zealand, and until recently was on the board of the Institute of Primary Industry Management professionals. Vanessa was also on the organising committee of Ahuwhenua, and the Pasture Summit (a farmer-led board focused on pasture based farming).

In addition to appointing a new chief executive in Wellington, IrrigationNZ has established a new position of Regional Policy and Planning Manager, taken on by Elizabeth Soal.

Elizabeth will represent and support members in regional planning changes following the roll-out of new freshwater regulations and amendments to the RMA. This role will assist members ‘on the ground’ to understand these important changes, undertake advocacy and policy work at the regional level, support the chief executive’s national advocacy work by providing regional perspectives into national policy development, and work with stakeholders around developing regionally-led water infrastructure solutions.

For further information on IrrigationNZ’s recent restructure have a look here.

To see IrrigationNZ’s election manifesto, click here.

Media contact:

Ruth Lavelle Treacy, 021 104 6909

Further information

IrrigationNZ strategy:

IrrigationNZ will be guided by a refreshed strategy which will:

- Advocate for irrigation as core to a healthy and thriving Aotearoa New Zealand

- Support the industry’s wise use and management of water for resilient and responsible food and fibre production

- Continue to develop clear, recognised and unambiguous standards for irrigation to ensure efficient, effective and equitable water use and work to ensure widespread adoption of the standards.

- Access and articulate both economic and scientific evidence in order to educate decision-makers and the public and to provide a counterpoint to those arguments made by irrigation opponents that are not supported by data or scientific studies

- Engage and communicate transparently with existing and potential members, stakeholders, and the wider community. It is important to tackle the unbalanced pressure on the industry for the good of all communities.

Background on IrrigationNZ:

IrrigationNZ is a not-for-profit national-level organisation that represents around 3500 members across the irrigation sector, including irrigation schemes, individual farmer-irrigators, and the irrigation service sector. We support the critical role our members play in producing sustainable food and fibre for a healthy and thriving Aotearoa New Zealand. Irrigating farmers represent 800,000 hectares of New Zealand (7 percent of farmland) and directly contribute an estimated $5.4bn to GDP (20 percent of total agricultural contribution). Irrigation schemes represent the largest number of water consents in agriculture.