Leadership in the spotlight at Rabobank awards: Photos

Rabobank leadership awards draw Aussie ag leaders to NZ: Photos

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Rabobank Australia and NZ managing director, Peter Knoblanche, with leadership award winner, Volker Kuntzsch, and emerging leader, Mat Hocken, and Rabobank NZ chief executive officer, Todd Charteris at the Rabobank Leadership Awards dinner.

Rabobank Australia and NZ managing director, Peter Knoblanche, with leadership award winner, Volker Kuntzsch, and emerging leader, Mat Hocken, and Rabobank NZ chief executive officer, Todd Charteris at the Rabobank Leadership Awards dinner.

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Farmers and agribusiness leaders from around Australia were in Auckland to mark the 20th anniversary of Rabobank's leadership awards.

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Farming is a serious game, immensely valuable to the economies of Australia and New Zealand and probably never more in need of good leadership to tackle today's market and environmental challenges.

Rabobank's Australian and NZ managing director, Peter Knoblanche, has told leading farmers and agribusiness representatives from both sides of the Tasman, good leadership and business success in any one sector of agriculture also has a halo effect.

It spreads confidence and sustainability across the whole industry.

Addressing this year's Rabobank Leadership Awards, held for the first time in NZ, Mr Knoblanche said good leadership in agriculture was also essential to represent the industry's interests in the community, and to advocate sound policy initiatives to government.

He pointed to notable top of mind issues such as drought and water policy planning in Australia, and fresh water management in NZ.

Carbon emissions also represented both a challenge and a largely untapped opportunity for agriculture and its business leaders.

The farm sectors in both countries could work together to learn from each other and achieve market advantages and environmental wins.

Embrace carbon opportunity

"Farming is one of the few areas where dealing with carbon in the environment can be a big sequestering opportunity which we need to embrace," he said.

"It has plenty of challenges, too, but it is where we have to go."

The leadership dinner in Auckland, attended by more than 60 Australian farm sector representatives, marked the 20th anniversary of the agribusiness awards.

This year's leadership winner was the chief executive officer of NZ's largest seafood company, Volker Kuntzsch, and the emerging leader winner NZ dairy farmer, Mat Hocken, who returned to the family farm 11 years ago after a business career in Australia and Europe.

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A Nuffield scholar and founder of the Rural Innovation Lab in the North Island's Manawatu-Whanganui region, Mr Hocken returned from a Nuffield fact-finding tour looking at global agricultural innovation, deciding to have a crack at solving some of farming's "wicked problems" - rising global food demand, population growth clashing with climate change and shrinking access to land and clean water.

He told the leadership dinner he wanted to play his role in making NZ a food and agribusiness hot spot.

He believed good leadership required preparation, a willingness to get in and roll your sleeves and get on with the job, and it needed people who were willing to take on a challenge.

Like Mr Knoblanche, he also talked of the need for farmers to take on the the carbon challenge.

"The game is changing and we have to move with it," he said.

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