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Top Business Leaders Promote Territorial Forces

New Zealand Defence Force
Te Ope Kaatua O Aotearoa

Media Release

Thursday, 26 October 2006.

Top Business Leaders Promote Territorial Forces

A prominent New Zealand business leader is calling for the business community to back the country's Territorial Forces, and his company is preparing to lead the way.

John Allen, CEO of New Zealand Post, is the Chairperson of the newly-established Territorial Forces Employer Support Council. The council was set up by Defence Minister Phil Goff to find ways to make the reservist system more employer-friendly and to promote the benefits of employing part-time soldiers, and air and naval reservists.

John Allen says he has a clear message for business owners - Territorial Force employees are good for business.

"I want to say to employers, forget your prejudices and what you think you know about the Territorial Forces. The leadership, team work and technical skills given to Territorials by the Defence Force is world class. You will be much more successful with people like this in your work force. "

John Allen is practising what preaches, with plans under way to review how New Zealand Post engages with its Territorial Force employees. "I would like to see us become a benchmark for how the relationships between employers and employees can be managed," he says.

There are 2,230 people serving in the part-time Territorial Forces - the Territorial Army, Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserves and Territorial Air Force. The Territorial Forces are a key part of the New Zealand Defence Force and they have been involved in peacekeeping missions in the Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Afghanistan and the Middle East. Territorial Forces also assist in times of natural disaster and in military training exercises.

John Allen says he is very impressed by the contribution being made by Territorials and full-time Defence personnel. "They are making a difference in hot spots around the world. New Zealanders have a unique ability to engage and talk across cultures because we understand partnership, reconciliation and communication."

Reservists are volunteers who are required to train a minimum of 20 days a year. Training takes place at evenings, on weekends, and at a two-week annual exercise over summer. Reservists often use their annual leave to attend this exercise.

As well as the technical, management and leadership skills gained through Territorial Forces' training, there is a real focus on personal development.

Tenby Powell, CEO of the Rakino Group, knows first hand the value of the Territorial Forces. He has been in the Territorial Army for 23 years and is currently serving as the commanding officer of the 3rd Northland/Auckland Regiment. "My business leadership success and my success in business generally would not have been the same without my military training," he says.

Tenby Powell points out that for some commercial employers, especially owners of small to medium-sized businesses, there are issues with employing reservists. Key concerns are the costs associated with covering leave taken for training and finding appropriate temporary staff. He sees the appointment of the council as "an extremely positive" first step in finding ways to address these issues.

Following its first meeting last week, the council is now liaising with Territorial Force employees and their employers to identify key issues before developing advice for the Minister. Six regional employer support committees will also be set up to engage directly with local business communities.

ENDS

Note to editors: Members of the Territorial Employers Support Council:

John Allen - CEO New Zealand Post
David McGregor - senior partner Bell Gully
Ted Dean - Manager, Financial Operations at the Ministry of Social Development
Mary Bourke - Mayor of Hawera District
Sandra Manderson - District Commander Canterbury Police
Julian Smith - CEO Allied Press
Rodger Kerr-Newell - CEO of New Plymouth District Council
Lindsay Taiaroa - Executive Director of the New Zealand Vice Chancellors' Committee
Brigadier Tim Brewer - Director General Reserve Forces
Ross Wilson - Council of Trade Unions
Julie Craig - Deputy Commissioner of State Services Commission
The 12th member is to be confirmed.

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