Comment: The much-used Kiwi phrase 'No. 8-wire mentality' has long been considered the way we do things in the farming world, but Head of Analytics at NZX Julia Jones is wondering if its value has now expired.

Yes, "No. 8-wire mentality" is cute, and it's a little bit funny, but what I hear when people say it is: not asking for help, roughly stringing something together without a plan, a rip-shit-and-bust kind of attitude, a default solution and a broken piece of wire holding something together within inches of its life.

I just don't see how this is something for us to strive towards for the future; we deserve better than being seen as No. 8-wire thinkers, because we are far more than that.

READ MORE
Julia Jones: Is there is an emerging rural divide?

Advertisement

When I think of what farming needs for the future – the attitudes to get us through this crazy, uncertain world – I think that we need awesome planning capability and a desire to innovate and create solutions by design (which means understanding the desired outcomes and working hard to design long-term solutions), adaption, courage, a heck of a lot of courage and, most importantly, the desire to engage others for help and ideas.

That's a 'no' from millennials

Maybe it's just semantics; maybe that's exactly what many of you think when you use the term 'No. 8-wire mentality'.

I caught up with a young millennial from within the food and fibre industry and his thoughts were that, firstly, most of his generation have no idea what 'No. 8-wire thinking' means, other than the wire on a fence; and secondly, it just sounds dumb.

Julia Jones. Photo / Duncan Brown
Julia Jones. Photo / Duncan Brown

Now I know it seems like a very benign saying, but I felt rather affronted by it when I was reading a social media post about Future Post – the brainchild of Kiwi Jerome Wenzlick, where they take plastic and turn it into fence posts – when I read the post that very innocently said, "Taking the No. 8-fence-wire mentality to turn plastics into fence posts".

When you read the article, there is a quote within it from Jerome Wenzlick that states: "A hell of a lot of research and development followed to get where the company is today."

Does your mind jump to No. 8-wire thinking when someone uses the words research and development? I know mine does.

Respect yourselves

Advertisement

As farmers, you want respect for what you do, and you absolutely deserve it without a shadow of doubt, but to really get respect from others you need to respect yourselves and that starts with how you talk about yourselves.

READ MORE
Julia Jones: 'Dear food and fibre 2019, it's 2030 here' - a letter from the future

You are innovators, great thinkers and designers of solutions, so stop degrading that by using terms like 'No. 8-wire thinking'.

And while I am at it, PLEASE stop saying, "I'm just a farmer" because you are far more and until you believe that, no one else will.

So as for our No. 8 wire, let's try to keep it for the wire on the fences. You have all it takes to create a successful future; you don't need someone to save you; you don't need to be MacGyver.

Back yourselves to be better than No. 8; you have brains, you have ability and you have people around you who will be there to help, so maybe it's time to thank this old friend for its service to the industry and park it up as a part of our past.

- Julia Jones is Head of Analytics at NZX and a former KPMG farm enterprise specialist.