State-owned enterprise Landcorp Farming, which is trying to move its business away from mass commodities and into higher-value branded contracts, should change its name to reflect its new identity, Labour MP Rino Tirikatene told the company at parliament's Primary Production select committee.
As part of a strategy to better connect with its customers, Landcorp has launched the Pamu brand, meaning "to farm" in Maori. Chief executive Steven Carden, who joined three years ago, wants to shift Landcorp's focus away from being a volume-based supplier of agricultural commodities toward developing more valuable, specialised contracts.
"I like the brand Pamu," Mr Tirikatene told Landcorp representatives appearing before the committee, including chairwoman Traci Houpapa, Carden and chief financial officer Steve McJorrow. "But I'm surprised. Why didn't you use the opportunity to do something bold and rename Landcorp 'Pamu' or really embrace that brand. It just seems like this is a real 1980s name, Landcorp. It's just got a very old-fashioned name ... you are about 30 years old. Why didn't you use the opportunity to really drive the transformation through the business and say' let's give ourselves a new name, and let's really do something new and bold?'"
In response, Ms Houpapa acknowledged that the company was at a "change point" in its history, and it would take "a little while" to turn around its 30-year history of farming.
"We agree with you that a change of name would also indicate strongly a change of nature and focus," she said. Pressed by Mr Tirikatene if a change of name was on the cards, Ms Houpapa replied "hmmm."
Asked outside the committee about Landcorp's views, Ms Houpapa indicated the issue was under consideration.
"We think that the testing we have done in the market for the Pamu brand indicates that the idea of a change of name for the organisation and company is probably on the cards," she said.
"At this stage we have launched Pamu, and we are getting some really good feedback domestically and internationally on that. People understand Pamu. People can immediately pronounce that, it shows origin, it gives a whakapapa to our land and people, it denotes the move toward an Aotearoa and New Zealand lnc kind of philosophy and nature of the industry, so it's certainly on the cards."
However, she noted that under the SOE Act, a name change was a decision for the government shareholder.
She said Landcorp had "a conversation" with the shareholder about the Pamu strategy and where the company was heading, but she declined to say if it had made a recommendation on changing the company name.
Landcorp was created out of the Department of Lands and Survey in 1987 and its latest annual report for the year ended June 30, 2016, showed it farmed 144 properties. Of the total 385,503 hectares, it owned 158,561 hectares and managed 226,942 hectares. In that year, it produced 11,733 tonnes of sheep meat, 9543 tonnes of beef, 2026 tonnes of venison, 19,692 tonnes of milk solids, 8.6 tonnes of velvet and 2762 tonnes of wool.
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