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Source: New Zealand Government

E ngā reo, e ngā mana, rau rangatira mā, tēnā rā koutou katoa. Greetings to all languages, cultures and peoples. Namaste and kia ora.

I am pleased to join you at this year’s World Dairy Summit here in New Delhi, India. I bring with me the warm regards of the Government and people of Aotearoa New Zealand. To the International Dairy Federation President Brazzale and the Director General Caroline Edmonds, thank you for the kind invite and warm welcome. 

To the Hon Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, May I extend my appreciation for your warm welcome and opening comments to the summit. Your ongoing commitment to the Indian Dairy sector specifically in growing both indigenous and women opportunities and leadership is pleasing to hear as an indigenous woman myself, but more importantly for its application in an international context.

New Zealand’s Trade Agenda for all has a strong focus on indigenous people and women, so we stand ready to work in cooperation with India towards these shared goals in the dairy and wider primary sector.

May I acknowledge the recent and historic appointment of Madame President Droupadi Murmu as President of India, marking the first time a tribal person has held India’s Head of State role. Congratulations and well done!

I acknowledge my Ministerial colleagues joining me on the panel today, I look forward to our discussion. I also acknowledge our distinguished guests, your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

To the important theme of this Summit, Dairy for Nutrition and Livelihood. Dairy Farming is an important part of Aotearoa New Zealand’s story. Today I am going to discuss the key policies and regulations impacting on New Zealand’s dairy sector.

I have chosen three Māori proverbs on which I will base my comments here today, which will demonstrate how we are caring for our environment, our people and our animals.

Theme 1: Caring for the Environment

Whatungarongaro te tangata, toitū te whenua

(As humans disappear from sight, the land remains)

Firstly, caring for the environment. In the Māori culture there is a proverb that says “Whatungarongaro te tangata, toitū te whenua” which, simply translated, means “as humans disappear from sight, the land will always remain”. Māori believe that the earth is our mother, and that if we care for her, she will provide for us in return.

In line with that worldview, the New Zealand Government is undertaking a comprehensive programme of regulatory reforms to ensure our food is produced to the highest standards of sustainability.

Fit for a Better World is New Zealand’s primary sector strategy which embraces the indigenous Māori concept of Te Taiao, a deep relationship of respect and reciprocity with the natural world.

Through this environmental lens, we have signalled our commitment to meet the greatest challenges humanity faces: rapidly moving to a low carbon emissions society, restoring the health of our water, reversing the decline in biodiversity, and at the same time feeding our people and many more people the world over in a way that aligns with our values.

In addition to our Nationally Determined Contribution, our Zero Carbon Act commits us to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, including a specific biogenic methane emissions reduction target of between 24 – 47%. This world-leading separate emissions target reflects the major focus for reducing emissions from agriculture in New Zealand, which latest figures show represents around 50% of our overall emissions.

How will we achieve these targets?

We are already making progress, including through pricing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 – another world leading approach.

To achieve this, we have been working in partnership with industry groups and Māori agribusiness through the He Waka Eke Noa – Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership. The Partnership is equipping farmers and growers to measure, manage, and reduce on-farm agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. As of
May 2022, 61 percent of farmers in New Zealand know their on-farm emissions profile, and 21 percent have a written plan to reduce their emissions.

Our first Emissions Reduction Plan published earlier this year also includes a set of key actions to support farmers, growers, and Māori landowners to lower agricultural emissions, while continuing to produce high-value, high-quality food and fibres.

Theme 2: Caring for People

He aha te mea nui o te ao? He Tangata, He Tangata, He Tangata

(The most important thing in the world is people)

Secondly, caring for people. The second proverb I would like to introduce is “He aha te mea nui o te ao? He Tangata, He Tangata, He Tangata” – simply translated as “What is the greatest entity in the world, it is People, it is People, it is People”. Put simply, people are our greatest treasure and our greatest asset.

Addressing mental health, farm safety and food safety are ways that the New Zealand Government is focusing on caring for people.

Anecdotal evidence and analysis of mental health statistics reveal that rural communities have high rates of burn out and stress, which have the potential to lead to depression and other forms of mental illness. The aim is to enable rural health professionals to support rural communities to be better able to cope with the ups and downs of farming. The focus is on community-based and farmer-to-farmer support.

One of the initiatives the New Zealand government has established to deal with this is the establishment of a number of public awareness and support programmes to increase social inclusion and end discrimination towards people who experience mental illness or distress. We are doing this through public awareness campaigns, community projects and research.

Ensuring that the safety of food is maintained through each step of the production chain is another important way that we care for the health and wellbeing of our people by preventing foodborne illnesses.

We provide assurances domestically and internationally, based on strict rules and criteria, under the Ministry for Primary Industries, and provide education and guidance to New Zealand businesses and consumers around the safety of foods. Consumers can then trust that the food they eat is safe, suitable and accurately labelled.

We also acknowledge that many of our rural Māori communities have to rely more heavily on their natural environment for food due to their geographic remoteness. For this reason, it is even more important for New Zealand to ensure that we develop better environmental sustainability practices to care for our people.

Theme 3: Caring for Animals

The final proverb that I would like to introduce is “E koekoe te tūī, e kete te kākā, e kūkū te kereru”. This proverb acknowledges that animals too have their own voice and right to be respected, having an important place and role in this world. 

New Zealand is naturally blessed when it comes to making milk. New Zealand’s climate, soil and abundant water create the perfect environment for growing grass. Our cows can access pasture all year-round following their natural inclinations to be outside. As an island nation, far from everywhere, New Zealand is free from many pests and animal diseases found elsewhere in the world.

New Zealand and international audiences have high expectations that the animals under our care are well looked after. New Zealand’s reputation as a responsible producer of animals and animal products underpins our trade and industry.

I understand that care for animals is very important to the people of India, as it is to our own people. This shared philosophy supports our work together on animal welfare under the World Organisation for Animal Health’s Regional Animal Welfare Strategy for Asia, the Far East and Oceania, amongst other connections. I want to acknowledge this relationship and shared commitment to progress animal welfare.

We work closely with the dairy sector to support farmers to care for their cows. Our pastoral sector is generally very good for animal welfare as cows can engage in normal behaviours outdoors, like lying down and having social interactions. In poor weather farming outdoors can be challenging for animals.

For several years my officials have been working collaboratively with industry to develop resources deliver and seminars to improve the welfare of animals during winter. Much credit goes to farmers, who have made improvements to their winter grazing systems, and are trialling new and innovative approaches to caring for animals in inclement weather.

I also want to acknowledge the support of the International Dairy Federation in promoting dairy welfare globally and for transparent reporting on animal welfare.

I believe that as we work to care for our environment, people and animals, we will be in a much better position overall both now and into the future as we continue to look to nourishing the world.

New Zealand has a deep stake in the wider Indo-Pacific region’s stability. We share the common ambition of Peace and Prosperity for the region, including through greater economic integration, and adherence to its institutions and norms.

Underpinning all of our efforts are our people-to-people relationships. These are the building blocks for our international connections bilaterally, regionally and globally. We look forward to deepening and expanding our cooperation relationship with India moving forward.

Nōreira tēnā koutou katoa. Thank you.