Economic Development Minister addresses Co-operative Business Leaders’ Forum

Economic Development Minister addresses Co-operative Business Leaders’ Forum

University researchers, top executives and a leading cabinet minister were among the presenters at the first Co-operative Business Leaders’ Forum held at Auckland’s Fonterra Centre on Friday, March 3rd.

The event was initiated by Cooperative Business New Zealand, the industry peak body which represents the country’s co-operatives and mutuals, collectively a business model of success, sustainability and social responsibility.

Chief Executive Craig Presland says the forum “provided a great opportunity for those attending to learn from each other as part of the strong co-operative and collaborative spirit that exists amongst our Members, as well as across the co-operative sector globally”.

The day’s highlights included an address by Hon. Simon Bridges, the Minister for Economic Development, Transport and Communications, and Associate Minister of Finance, as well as an overview provided by leading academics Dr Lisa Callagher and Dr Elena Garnevska from the University of Auckland’s Business School and Massey University respectively of a recently published joint university research project titled: “The New Zealand Co-operative Economy”.

“This independent survey, the results of which can be found on our website, provides a much-needed glimpse into a sector of significant economic and social importance to New Zealand. Our top 30 co-operatives and mutuals generate annual revenues of more than $42.3 billion which equates to 17.5% of New Zealand’s GDP, while being responsible for 1.4 million memberships and the employment of 48,500 Kiwis,” says Mr Presland.

“We now have the opportunity to extend this research further into such areas as what makes the co-operative business model one of sustainability economically, environmentally and socially (two-thirds of our current 60 Full Members in NZ now being over 25 years old), and further comparisons internationally including why there is almost a complete lack of co-operatives within the New Zealand public sector.

“We had an outstanding line-up of speakers representing the broad spectrum of New Zealand co-operatives, mutual and societies. With the co-operative sector representing about one-fifth of our economy, and almost one in three Kiwis now being served as a Member of a co-operative, mutual or society, this sector represents the backbone of our economy. These are sustainable and enduring businesses with many trusted brands, products and services that been provided locally and internationally for decades and even centuries.”

Cooperative Business NZ represents New Zealand’s co-operatives, mutuals and societies operating across the spectrum of industries including agriculture, manufacturing, insurance, banking and other financial services, utilities, pharmaceuticals, education, health, wholesale and retail.

CAPTION: Minister for Economic Development Hon. Simon Bridges, pictured, was the guest speaker at the Co-operative Business Leaders’ Forum held on Friday, March 3rd at Fonterra’s Auckland offices.

In his address, he said that while the New Zealand economy was performing well currently, the challenge was to keep it going over the long term and that consistency was required.

“You’re a really big part of the economy and you’ve stayed very strong for a long time,” he told the audience of Cooperative Business NZ Members. “You’re responsible for 20 per cent of our GDP and those profits and value stay local,” he said.

Mr Bridges talked about the challenges facing Kiwi exporters, including co-operatives, with the risk of protectionism.

“As far as the importance of free trade is concerned, you get it really deeply. Co-ops are the poster children for this,” he said.

For more information, please contact:
Craig Presland, Chief Executive Officer
DDI         09 539 5482
M            021 800 387

Jonathan Lee, Chair
DDI         09 522 3545
M            027 473 7784

Level 3, 25 Teed St, Newmarket, Auckland 1023 | PO Box 9582, Newmarket, Auckland 1149 |

Issued by:

Paul S Thompson FPRINZ
Communications Counsel
64 274 948868