The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) is teaming up with online safety and wellbeing initiative Tahi Ngātahi to help Kiwi growers maintain their competitive edge.
NZM's ZQ natural fibre is recognised as a world leader for ethical wool and its popularity with global brands and consumers is heavily reliant on a values-driven approach to growing, shearing and preparing fit-for-purpose fibre.
"I found out about Tahi Ngtāhi's online learning platform about 18 months ago," said Donna Didham, NZM's CSR & Ethical Sourcing Manager, "and was immediately excited by it, because it ties in nicely with what we're doing with our on-farm ZQ programme."
Tahi Ngātahi is a joint initiative between the NZ Shearing Contractors' Association (NZSCA), Federated Farmers, Worksafe NZ and ACC.
In 2017 there were 755 work-related injuries in wool harvesting, resulting in 9,300 working days lost to the industry. Tahi Ngātahi is aiming to reduce preventable injuries by 30 per cent. The online platform uses short video clips to pass on wellbeing and safety tips to farmers, contractors and their employees.
Read more from Federated Farmers here.
All ZQ certified growers must adhere to independently-audited standards for animal welfare, environmental sustainability, quality, traceability to source and social responsibility.
Over 400 growers across merino, mid micron and strong wool are now ZQ certified.
"Part of our ZQ programme is health and safety and shearing best practice," Didham said.
"The Tahi Ngātahi platform brings those two together in terms of lifting skills, raising awareness about health and safety and improving facilities in the woolshed. That's all part of the ZQ brand too."
"So, we've developed a promo code function so all ZQ growers in New Zealand have free access to videos and learning modules on the Tahi Ngātahi site."
"We will be working with Tahi Ngātahi to promote the benefits of the platform to our growers and our ZQ On Farm team will encourage them to use it with their family and employees."
Didham is clear about the benefits of the partnership.
"The beauty of Tahi Ngātahi is that it goes beyond the traditional, 'tick the box' sense of health and safety and encompasses people's wellbeing, such as managing stress, eating well, body conditioning, which is great. The whole way it has been developed using video is also perfect for getting the point across quickly."
"Tahi Ngātahi 's going to be a great way to get our growers thinking more broadly about looking after themselves and their employees."
NZM now sells 75 per cent of the fine wool they transact through direct fibre supply contracts with brands.
"Our brand partners want ethically-sourced wool. ZQ fibre needs to be produced, shorn and prepared to a high standard to meet their specifications. Tahi Ngātahi is about raising the woolshed game and that's what we're all about too. Our brands need to know that the shearing and preparation has been done in a manner which cares for animal welfare and people alike. Sustainable farming is closely linked with the health and wellness of our farmers, their families, the farm workers and local community," Didham said.
"We want Tahi Ngātahi to become part of business as usual as it's a really good platform and resource for farmers. We anticipate there'll be a good uptake. Our growers are audited by a third party and one of the requirements is to have a health and safety programme in place for the woolshed. Tahi Ngātahi will enable them to do that in the way that works best for them."
- To find out more check out www.tahingatahi.co.nz for videos, training tips and advice from the best in the industry.