Is there an awards ceremony for salary negotiators? We have a winner.

If you couldn't name the CEO of Fonterra before this week, you certainly can now. (A pub quiz question bites the dust.)

What's it say about us as a nation that we took such interest in a CEO's $8 million salary?

I'm sure I speak for us all, when I say we simultaneously rejoiced: a recent immigrant has integrated so well into society. It can't be easy to come to New Zealand, adjust to our ways, yet still find the time to invent milk.


He must have invented it, right? The money is royalties on the copyright? If dairy solids were an electric car, he'd be Elon Milk. He is Leonardo da Vin-cheese. As a nation, we beamed the grin of people so brimming with calcium, we couldn't contain our teeth. But the same time we wondered: "Yes, but is he happy?"

How would he cope with the national adoration?

How would he cope with shoppers dancing near the dairy products, rejoicing at the prices, the scoreboard of his success? Because when they win, we win.

I still wonder why we have to pay for dairy products in this country. If we're the Saudi Arabia of milk - Cow-dy Arabia - then hot and cold milk should flow from the tap.

Fonterra is a co-operative, which surely makes Theo Spierings the Usain Bolt of co-operating. You wouldn't find this much co-operation on Sesame Street. He must be able to co-operate his way out of a cardboard box.

Imagine how good you must be at co-operating when the farmers you're co-operating with decide your co-operation is worth $8 million, and theirs isn't. Imagine if those farmers had considered Jacinda a co-operator, as opposed to a communist.

His success is a reflection of theirs - surely - and much the way the price of butter somehow trickles down to us, in a good way, enabling us to see big, happy numbers in the supermarket, the farmers must be thrilled at the value he has added.

For, as Fonterra CEO, his responsibility is value-added versions of milk. He is the Pablo Escobar of milk. Like the coca leaf, milk cuts and morphs into various forms: there's the obvious drinkable, where value is not added. A cow could do that. Then there's various stages of milk going-off, which is more like ignoring the best-before date, than adding value. And then there's the ultimate human rendition: the powdered snortable version, achieved by removing all that state-gifted water, which Fonterra can take and sell in bottles.


(The bottles could be made from the melamine Fonterra no longer needs, since the failure of the value-added variety of extra-white plastic milk, like when a cow's had a breast implant.)

But whose business is his salary anyway? If the farmers are happy, then well and good. But maybe the next time they protest about the economy, we might ask out loud how good they are with numbers.

Then again, we can probably forgive farmers for being cranky: daylight saving means their cows are having to work nights.

What exactly is a CEO paid for? How would the company fare if he disappeared for a few weeks? Would the people beneath him, who earn only a million each, have the wherewithal to cope? Or would cows simply explode all over our pastures, forcing farmers to resort to fracking to mine their milk?

I can imagine in other countries, like America - the Fort Knox of morality - a large salary would be something to celebrate. Basically, he's won salary Lotto, and who can resent that? Of course his salary jackpots. But is it possible to win his salary in the regular draw, or do you have to buy the extra Powerball?

As far as adding value to milk, I have an idea. How about they sell milk in little leather jackets made from each cow? It would lend a rustic charm. And the container is re-usable. If this idea gets used, I expect to wet my beak.

Meanwhile, we live again in the Winstocracy.

If MMP can create random results, where the same ticks can be read as both for and against the government, like quantum particles, we might as well embrace the random.

How about on Election Night, once booths close, we just pull out 120 votes at random. There you go, Parliament. (And one of those lucky voters gets to run Fonterra.)