Irrigation New Zealand

First and foremost, a massive thank you to Nicky Hyslop, who has stepped down as the chair of Irrigation NZ (INZ) after 6 years at the helm. Nicky has been a wonderful mentor for me.  She is intelligent, relatable, hardworking and well respected, and it has been her solid and forward-thinking leadership that has put INZ in good stead for the future.  She will remain on the INZ board until the 2019 AGM. 

Leading the board of an organisation as its chair is a privilege and I am truly privileged to have been elected as the new chair of INZ.    

I am a woman of many hats.  I am a mother of two teenage daughters, a farming partner, an environmental engineer and consultant, a netball player and coach, a horse rider, an avid reader, a trustee on my daughter’s school Board of Trustees, a member of my local catchment group, and a business owner.  A diverse CV with an equally diverse set of skills.   

Many of you will know me in my role as an environmental engineer and consultant.  This puts me at the coal face of working through and addressing the many issues facing our membership – unworkable policy; changeable policy leading to uncertainty; frustration at the lack of understanding of farm systems and irrigation in policy setting; and the tension that exists between the sustainable development of land for food production, environmental degradation, and social, cultural and economic values. 

But as well as this, I am a farming partner.  I was raised on a sheep and beef farm in North Otago, and now with my husband, farm 440 hectares between two farms in South Canterbury.  We are mainly now beef finishing, but still have a few dairy grazers as well.  Our home block is partly irrigated from two deep groundwater bores.   With the many challenges being lobbied at the wider farming sector, we too are working our way through the plethora of regulation that we face.   The two roles are a dynamic combination. 

As Chair, I am looking forward to working with the other board members as we lead the direction of INZ in the form of our newly adopted strategy.   At the heart of our strategy is the vision “Irrigation for a thriving and sustainable New Zealand” and mission “Creating and Environment for the Responsible Use of Water for Food and Fibre Production.

Our vision, mission and strategic priorities must now become embedded in our organisation, with our people focused on delivering the strategy for the benefit of our membership. We also need to ensure that we have regular, honest communication with our membership to ensure that there is a good understanding of the rationale for our strategy and what our performance actions are. It also allows members to provide feedback on the matters they consider to be important and any issues which require addressing.  Ultimately, our membership is at the heart of everything we do. 

Thank you,

Keri Johnston