For the first time in the award’s eight year history, a government official has been awarded the Outstanding Contribution to the Industry accolade.
At the recent pipfruit industry conference hosted by industry organisation NZ Apples and Pears Inc. (NZAPI), the coveted award was presented to John Randall, a Plant Exports Senior Adviser at Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for his influence and collaboration with industry.
Past recipients have come from diverse areas within or supporting the pipfruit industry including research bodies, industry organisations and member companies. However, this year the honour was given to a person working in government in Wellington.
“Most, if not all previous recipients lived or worked in New Zealand’s growing regions and were familiar to everyone in the apple and pear industry. This year saw someone receive the award who may not be familiar to everyone,” said export industry Market Access Advisory Group (MAAG) member Simon Thursfield.
“Sitting on the MAAG, I realise the complications, risks and constant challenges of maintaining and in some cases, obtaining market access to every country we would like to sell our apples and pears to. It is an ever-evolving challenge, as countries around the world either for political, biosecurity or other reasons make life tougher with more complex phytosanitary and food safety demands.
“John has been with MPI for 40 years in various roles and over that time has gained immense experience and even greater respect. Thinking about John and his 10 year history with the industry, his contributions are many and his strength is in his collaborative approach to issues as they arise,” he says.
Examples of John’s collaboration with industry include his involvement with OAPs (Official Assurance Programmes) negotiated between MPI and importing countries; working with industry and overseas regulators to improve and simplify the pre-clearance programme for pipfruit to the United States; and his ongoing work towards the universal acceptance of a systems approach across all markets. John also has a great understanding of any issues arising out of MAOs (MPI Approved Organisations) involved in the export chain, including post-harvest, exporters and ports.
“Receiving the award was a huge honour especially knowing some of the previous recipients,” says John. “It came as a complete surprise. I think the award is also a reflection how well the apple and pear industry and the Ministry are working together to meet importing country requirements and maximise exports.”
Simon adds that the ongoing success of market access for pipfruit relies on industry and MPI working together to find practical solutions to issues as they arise.
“John is testament of the way in which MPI and industry have learned to collaborate professionally. It takes a certain type of person to work with these sensitive and sometimes political issues and a certain type of person to survive the machinations in the bowels of government. He has been a rock for our industry.”
Photo: (L to R) Simon Thursfield, GM of Freshco Hawke’s Bay; Hon. Meka Whaitiri; John Randall; Richard Punter, NZAPI chairman; Pete Thomson, director, Animal and Plant Health Directorate, Biosecurity New Zealand, MPI.