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Annual General Meeting 2020 – Chair Report

“Life is like a box of chocolates” 2020 has felt like it – full of surprises, connections, and uncertainties. And like “Forrest” we ran.

Our many strengths as an organisation have been part of that run.

Connection – we are on the eve of holding Leadership Forum in Rotorua, an event that is core to our existence, a celebration of our Regional Leaders.  Eagerly awaited and attendance unwavering in that the majority decided to still attend while coming to terms with the uncertainty that was befalling us around what the country was going to encounter in it’s stand to control Covid-19. 

Nimble – we twisted and turned further that week with making the commitment to take Conference on-line – a first, the first, of many that followed.  A small team of committed capable and courageous women achieved what felt like the impossible in a few short weeks. 

The pride that we can take from these two achievements alone should be huge for it is testament, a mirror of all that we as Dairy Women do.  We greet challenge and opportunity equally, with sleeves rolled up, and purpose in our approach.  Accomplishment is often humble, understated and moved forward from with little more than acknowledgement of a ‘job done’.  It was a ‘job done’ and done well.

Relationship Strength – we have grown and reinforced this, with our Partners and our members.  We thank our Partners for believing in us, supporting us, and standing by us in these uncharted times.  We acknowledge our members and their uptake of all things on-line.  Poor internet, children at foot, and the weight of BAU when undertaking an essential service did not deter you, in fact you pushed through all obstacles to be there, being real, sharing the relevant and you were all but touchable on screen.

Leadership by doing – We welcomed Rachel Haskew, Jenna Smith, and Trish Rankin to the Board table.  We celebrated Ash-leigh Campbell as the Dairy Woman of the Year 2020.  We acknowledged Tania Burrows commitment to DWN through being the inaugural DWN Regional Leader of the Year 2020.  We initiated the ‘Hub Leader’ pilot, an opportunity for those Regional Leaders who eat, breathe and sleep DWN to stretch themselves by supporting and growing those within their region.  As an organisation we led the way to the heart of our tribe with ‘Our people – their stories’.  Business Groups these have moved from being a pilot to having a future in the Network they are a place to land where leadership is the pulse within the room.  It is in every member of the group, leading themselves, leading others.

Leadership done – we farewelled Cathy Brown as Chair, her contribution.  Her legacy to DWN among many things is her often repeated The Gold is in the Room.  We too farewelled both Alison Gibb and Tracy Brown.  Along with Cathy they gave hours, many hours of their time, they came with passion for women and the industry and they contributed with insight, wisdom, and integrity. 

Leadership with a voice – We encouraged and challenged each other to submit on Fresh Water. We submitted regarding the Banking Capital Review.  We welcomed a group of American University students on farm and we hosted a Zambian Delegation.  

It is my first year as Chair of what I call my tribe, it has been an honour to be in the role.  I have found it challenging, rewarding and downright overwhelming at times.  We are moving through an era of unprecedented change on farm and beyond the gate.  It is with huge gratitude that I acknowledge; the Board, for all that they bring to the table; Jules and her team, those indoors and those of you scattered throughout N, for all that you do, hold together, and create, so that we can come together as a Network.  And I acknowledge each of our members for all that you bring to the Network for it is together as a connected group that we will as Dr Paul Wood said at Conference last year endeavour to get better each day. That small statement will give us a culture that will endorse transformational change and see us prevail.

Kia kaha.

Karen Forlong
DWN Chair

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