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New Zealand needs to be more than an outpost

21 March 2005

New Zealand needs to be more than an outpost of overseas empires

New Zealand needs to take action to reverse the shortfall of people with technical skills to keep overseas dollars flowing into the country, says the former head of Montana Wines.

Peter Hubscher is one of the key speakers at the Regional Development Conference being held in Napier this week. The three-day conference is focused on moving regional development in New Zealand up a level to meet the demands of a changing international environment.

He says overseas investment is a reality. However work needs to be done in developing people with technical skills to ensure New Zealand continues to be viewed favourably.

“You can’t stop overseas investment because we are not always big enough to take our own products and services to the market. We are seeing more and more New Zealand products or companies either being swallowed up or being marketed off-shore by someone else or production shifted off-shore.”

Government needs to intervene to address the declining numbers of graduates in agriculture, horticulture, food technology and engineering, he says.

“It is abysmal that we have myriads of business graduates, yet there are shortages in other areas. If we want more production or engineer graduates then we need to encourage them at the expense of others who are really just transaction people

Peter Hubscher says the reality is that all good ideas require some technical support.

“If you want to take a good idea and develop it into something then almost certainly you will need technical back-up. To make little companies into big companies you will need a skill base.”

If this shortage is not addressed in New Zealand then the country will struggle to create wealth, he says.

“If we are just an outpost of overseas empires then we will have nothing to pay our way in the world. The innovation that creates the wealth won’t happen. Basically you need lots and lots of New Zealanders innovating with clever ideas, and a lot of people who can develop those ideas.” This year’s Regional Development Conference is the third to be held and runs from March 21-23. It is jointly hosted by the Minister for Industry and Regional Development, Jim Anderton, the Ministry of Economic Development, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, EDANZ and the Hawke’s Bay region.


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