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We hold events for our alumni, friends, and the general public for people to connect with the important conversations in leadership.

Subject matter experts and prominent New Zealand leaders share their knowledge and engage with the audience, sparking new ideas and innovation as minds from different backgrounds converge and focus their energy on a salient issue or theme.

Session Four: Our Economy

by Wyndi Tagi, Director / Business Manager at WE Accounting & Business Services


Arriving at Caccia Birch for our fourth Leadership NZ session, I was welcomed by the beautiful surrounding grounds that were once a meeting place before war. This, I felt, was quite ironic given the discussions that I knew could very well unfold over the coming two days.

Walking into the house, a warmth came over me as familiar faces appeared followed by smiles and welcoming hugs. Although this was only the beginning of our fourth session, we were already starting to feel like whanau.

Like many Leadership NZ sessions, our Programme started with a powhiri, a Maori welcome, by our hosts Downer NZ. Our morning session continued with a quick quiz around agriculture in NZ to get us thinking about our topic, ‘Our Economy’ for the next two days. No competition, I mean quiz, is ever complete without some hilarious prizes; including castrating bands and milking teets. The remainder of the morning was spent discussing our leadership models, tools and processes; revisiting our levels of thinking; Theory U; and delving into Emotional Intelligence (EQ).

A few things that resonated with me from this session were:

  • An open will can comfortably sit without knowing what to do;
  • Give space for choice, allow time to pause;
  • Empathy is not emotional mastery; and,
  • Feel the feeling and ditch the story.

We also had time to reflect on our espoused values and lived values, which can and has been a cause for some deep thinking by some of our cohort. In the four sessions so far, we have already had members evaluate the way they spend their days and make changes, I being one of them.

Our afternoon activity came with some hesitation. With a vague indication that we would be gaining live feedback on our leadership styles, there was a bit of anxiety in the air. The out of the box leadership experience was unbelievable, showing us what it really means to be an authentic and confident leader. It is not about job titles or letters after our names.

We spent the evening at Sudbury, sharing more ‘my stories’, including my own; definitely one of the most emotional parts of the Programme for me so far. I’m ever so thankful for the support and love of my fellow cohorts. During the rest of the evening, we enjoyed an amazing dinner together by candlelight.

On day two we were back into ‘Our Economy’ mode, exploring rural New Zealand; primary industries, agribusiness, science and research; food technology and natural resources. Each syndicate started the session with a 5-minute presentation to the rest of the group, about their respective areas regarding primary industry sectors.

Our first guest speaker for the day was Mavis Mullins, Director of Paewai Mullins Shearing Ltd and a powerhouse in Maori Economy. Mavis spoke about the Maori economy, doing business with whanau; Cultural Capital and some of the challenges she has faced. I particularly loved Mavis’ inclusive approach to everything - family, community, business; iwi, government and industry.

Some of my key takings from Mavis were:

  • Love what you do;
  • Family is key;
  • Invest in a conscious higher level of thinking;
  • If you do stuff for the right reason and it resonates… then it just rolls;
  • Be brave enough… cheeky enough… to be the maker of change;
  • As a woman, she used to try to please everyone but now she just does what is right; and,
  • From her time at Stanford: There’s nothing new in the world.  It’s about how you deconstruct and reconstruct what has gone before.

After lunch we were privileged to have a panel of industry experts, Sarah von Dadelszen, Farm Owner; Richard and Jean Kibblewhite, owners of Splashzone and Professor Claire Massey from Massey University. We engaged in a discourse surrounding farming, fisheries and agribusiness. One statistic that interested me was the following: If the bottom 80% of sheep and beef performed as well as the top 20%, there would be a doubling of income. With such a short time to discuss, we really did just scratch the surface; but a message that came through loud and clear was, ‘don’t believe all of the negativity about these industries that you hear in the media’ - that in itself can be quite the conversation starter.

As co-owner with my husband of our family business, I developed a specific connection with Richard and Jean and spent extra time talking to them about their experiences running a business as a husband and wife and their takings from both having been on the LNZ Programme. They found it extremely valuable to their business having both completed the course… I hope my husband reads this!

Another session has come and gone, but the learnings will stick with me forever. I am loving the journey!