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What is Meat & Wool Innovation?

A new vision     A great heritage     Company structure/directors

Wool is a fibre that's exclusive to sheep. So is WoolPro.

Everything we do is focussed on improving the long-term profitability of New Zealand sheep farming.

  • We fund research
  • We co-ordinate technology development, extension, education and training
  • We help sheep farmers respond to market demands
  • We encourage innovation at all levels of the industry

A new vision

During the McKinsey process it became clear that the sheep industry's technology engine was running on empty. There was no effective co-ordination of technology development, extension communications, education and training.

  • The workforce was ageing at all levels, from the laboratory to the farm.
  • Research spending was declining
  • Vital technical expertise was being lost overseas and to retirement.
  • New and the best of existing technology was not effectively being communicated to students, farmers and extension specialists.
  • Farming was seen as a nowhere career by go-ahead young people.

The recent move by WoolPro to offices at Massey and Lincoln Universities reflects an enthusiasm by WoolPro to work co-operatively with others to ensure a profitable long-term future for the sheep industry.

WoolPro is the major source of farmer funds for sheep industry research. It's our responsibility to ensure they are used to best effect and that key technical skills are retained in New Zealand. All the research we fund is required to meet the strategic goals of the industry.

Also, we don't allow research findings to gather dust. Our 'package approach' to technology development reaches out with the best of new and existing technology to lecturers, teachers, trainers and those whom farmers rely on for advice, as well as directly to farmers themselves.


A great heritage

WoolPro began life in the early 1970s as the grower services section of the New Zealand Wool Board, with the legendary Godfrey Bowen as its first employee. His shearing technique revolutionised shearing in New Zealand and around the world.

Bowen was soon joined by Lance Wiggins who set up a network of wool production officers nationwide. This team initiated a host of grower-good activities and campaigns. Objective wool measurement and capless wool packs were two of their greatest successes.

In the 1980s, when the government closed MAF's farm advisory service and reduced funding for production research, WoolPro stepped into the gap - providing funds for essential research programmes.

In the 1990s our role broadened, from profitable wool production to profitable sheep production. The Sheep Council, Sheep Improvement Limited, the FITT programme, Monitor farms and No 8 Wired videos and TV were among the initiatives that followed. All were jointly funded by Meat New Zealand.

Since late 1997 WoolPro has been a standalone company with an independent chairman.

In 2000 our role was endorsed by the McKinsey enquiry and by an independent expert panel. They recommended that the farmer-good functions of the Wool Board and Meat Board should be merged.

In mid-2001 Lance Wiggins retired and Richard Gardner was appointed chief executive.

In early 2002, the two boards negotiated the formation of a new farmer-good organisation, which they have yet to name. This organisation will be based on WoolPro and the R&D division of Meat NZ.

We expect to seek a sheep farmer mandate for a commodity levy some time in 2002/2003. As a farmer-good organisation, WoolPro welcomes the accountability to levy payers envisaged by the Commodity Levy Act.

While the WoolPro name implies a wool - rather than a sheep - focus, it won't change until the outcome of negotiations between the Meat and Wool Boards is known. If there is going to be a name change, we want to do it only once.

Until then, it's full steam ahead. There's a lot of work to be done.

Company structure

WoolPro is a private company, currently 100 per cent owned by the NZ Wool Board. About 75 per cent of its operating budget is funded by the Wool Board using money derived from the wool levy. The balance comes from user charges, such as training course fees.

The WoolPro Board of Directors is made up of two Wool Board members, the Wool Board chief executive and three independent directors, one of whom is the chairman.

Chairman: Terry Heiler
Wool Board members: Tom Mandeno, Walter Cameron
Wool Board chief executive: Mark O'Grady
Independent members: Terry Heiler, Bill Kain, Lance Wiggins
Chief executive: Richard Gardner

Full staff list, with contact details


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