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Future Leaders Examine NZ Issues

Future Leaders Examine NZ Issues

A group of 14 potential community and industry leaders from throughout the Commonwealth will visit a variety of business and institutions in the central North Island next week as part of a six-yearly study tour and Commonwealth Study Conference.

The group is part of a 200-strong delegation from 40 countries attending the conference and an intensive two-week course based on workplace enquiry and discussion.

The Central North Island programme has been put together by Commonwealth Scholar of 1998 and head of Ballance Agri-Nutrients Agro-sciences, Warwick Catto.

"These people are the future leaders of their communities and industries," Mr Catto says. "It is important they have a good understanding of a wide spectrum of societal issues such as social justice, conservation, economics, business and so on."

On their study tour, the scholars have the opportunity to meet with local companies and people, and talk about their future, their societal challenges and the implications of global changes.

"It gives them a far more rounded view of the world than they might otherwise have," Mr Catto says.

When he was a Commonwealth Scholar, he was the only agricultural person out of 200 scholars and he says it was enormously valuable to be able to see issues from other people's perspectives.

Some of the issues the scholars will be exposed to on the programme Mr Catto has developed include:

* A visit to the Lake Taupo Development Trust where they will learn how rural regions in New Zealand are competing to retain and attract employment.

* A farm in the Kinloch area to hear about the contrasting rural and urban/tourism values and costs of improving water quality.

* First nation issues.

* The Kinleith Mill where they will hear trade union and employer delegates discuss a recent dispute and the processes used to conclude it.

* Ballance Agri-Nutrients to learn about the value of large international companies as shareholders.

* And other issues from roading to prison management to kiwi conservation.

The scholars on the Central North Island tour come from New Zealand, Australia, Kenya, Canada, Bermuda, Malta, Cook Islands, India, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom from sectors including government, union, community and business.

"We've put together a well balanced programme which will expose them to cultural, industrial, social, rural, urban and environmental issues to name a few," Mr Catto says. "They'll be meeting with some very interesting and knowledgeable people who will certainly get them thinking.

While not able to isolate what might be the highlight of the tour, Mr Catto says he's thinks the encounter for delegates with prisoners at Waikeria Prison will provide some real challenges to stereotypes they may have.

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