Craig Adams is so passionate about wool, he stepped out at a conference in Dannevirke last week dressed in a 100 per cent merino wool skirt.
Acknowledged as "the guy on steroids", Mavis Mullins, director of Paewai Mullins Shearing, said she was pleased Maori were able to tap into that same energy.
Mr Adams, the commercial manager for the New Zealand Merino Company, told those at the conference it was time for the sheep industry to fight back.
"If we keep doing the same things we're going to keep getting the same results," he said.
In a highly volatile commodity market, New Zealand Merino has successfully implemented a strategy of differentiation and branding for its fibre and meat, creating value and a stable demand.
However, Mr Adams acknowledged it was hard to make it in the marketplace.
"When New Zealand Merino started 15 years ago, our wool had to be blended with Australian wool, now it's pure New Zealand merino. It's important for you (wool growers) to connect with the market and everyone along the supply chain to tell your story."
Mr Adams said the power for wool growers was the story they took to the market.
"You've taken your sheep through the droughts and snow storms and rather than sitting at a computer producing a synthetic yarn, you've got a marketable product," he said.
Fifteen years ago, the focus for NZ Merino was on men's suiting. Now with with the surge in mountain biking and outdoor activities, supplying clothing for companies such as Icebreaker was at the forefront.
"It's important to explore opportunities and there must be input into innovation to find markets we don't know about yet. Now we want to take a Maori brand to the marketplace and we're quietly working behind the scenes. But we can't afford to be fighting each other. We want your wool, but it's in your hands."
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