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New Act for Ken Shirley: Head of Organics Aotearoa

Media Release 15 May 2006

New Act for Ken Shirley as Head of Organics Aotearoa New Zealand

Ken Shirley, the former deputy leader of Act, is returning to Wellington to take on a new challenge to implement a strategy to grow domestic and export sales of organic products to a billion dollars by 2013.

As Executive Director of the recently established umbrella organisation, Organics Aotearoa New Zealand, Mr Shirley will co-ordinate a diverse sector with representatives ranging from large international exporters of kiwifruit, apples and dairy to lifestyle farmers, certification bodies, educators, researchers and product innovators in the fabric, fibre, cosmetics and beverage segments.

“We have a reputation as a world leader in innovation and sustainable environmental management and our biggest challenge is to lift production to meet increasing global demand for organic products that have internationally recognised certification and consumer appeal,” said Mr Shirley who starts his new job today (Monday).

“The organic sector is dynamic and welcomes a very broad spectrum of participant. We have the focus, discipline and commitment to achieve the growth strategy through a coordinated, co-operative and innovative approach."

OANZ chairman, Doug Voss, said Mr Shirley had the right credentials and experience in primary and resource based industries, including heading the New Zealand Forest Owners’ Association, as well as dealing with a disparate range of competing opinions, needs and wants through his long political career.

“Communication and education will be a key part of the role to win support for organics as a vital contributor to the primary sector, food chain and our national reputation,” Mr Voss said. “Mr Shirley has the professional skills, networks and drive to turn strategy into action and provide the clear direction and co-ordination the sector requires to unleash its potential."

Mr Shirley left politics at the last election in 2005 having first entered the House in 1984, succeeding the Rt. Hon. Bill Rowling as the Labour Member for Tasman. During his political career Mr Shirley was a Minister of Fisheries and Associate Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Health, chaired parliamentary committees, ministerial working groups and represented New Zealand at various international forums from the Earth Summit to the ISO Working Group on Sustainable Forestry Management.

The new OANZ Executive Director will be based in Wellington where a small administrative headquarters will be set up.

Mr Shirley said the organisation, which received a much appreciated $1.5 million in Government funding for the next three years, had to be self sufficient by the end of that period.

ENDS

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