Any new work between the Otago Regional Council (ORC) and
Invermay agricultural research centre is a ''sideline'' to
the ''damage'' done by the restructuring plan confirmed this
week, ORC chairman Stephen Woodhouse says.
Mr Woodhouse was asked to comment on Dunedin-based National
List MP Michael Woodhouse's undertaking in yesterday's
Otago Daily Times to work with stakeholders like the
Otago Regional Council to encourage more work at Invermay.
Under controversial plans confirmed on Thursday, Invermay
will lose most of its more than 100 staff to Lincoln when
restructuring has been completed in 2017.
AgResearch did make minor changes to the proposal, including
retaining the 900-strong deer herd at Invermay. The centre
will have 38 staff once restructuring has been completed.
The ORC chairman said the council had had discussions with
AgResearch about possible future collaboration involving
environmental challenges, such as freshwater management.
''We have an existing relationship. We've been working with
AgResearch staff recently to see whether there's
opportunities to further that ... but that would have
''It doesn't take away from the damage that we believe will
be done to AgResearch as an organisation with the restructure
they're intending following through with - in particular, the
loss of skilled staff around the genetics field.''
He was pleased that the deer farm was being retained at
''At the end of the day, the key to the damage from this
proposal is the dismantling and attempt to move the genetics
staff team away from Invermay, where they are part of a wider
hub involving the university [of Otago] and several other
''Science delivery is not about new buildings, it's about
people, and if you lose those key people then you've got
nothing. It doesn't matter how flash your infrastructure
Environment Southland chairwoman Ali Timms said Invermay's
work on southern-specific agricultural issues continued to be
crucial. However, she deplored the ''flawed'' plan to shift
the bulk of the staff to Lincoln.
''This is to advantage Lincoln. It's not to advantage in any
way the work that's currently taking place in Invermay.''
She supported the decision to move AgResearch's sheep flock
in Woodlands, Southland, north to Invermay.
''We have to strengthen what we have at Invermay,'' Ms Timms
In a prepared statement, National MP Mr Woodhouse, who was
unavailable for an interview, said he believed there was a
good opportunity to develop Invermay into a regional
environmental science hub.
''We can realise that opportunity if a number of local
stakeholders work together with that goal in mind.
''That includes the regional councils, who are advocating for
Invermay, making more use of the local expertise at the
facility and potentially setting up a joint venture with
AgResearch and others to conduct some of their environmental
''The best way we can ensure a facility like Invermay grows
in Otago is by backing it with more local investment and
offering high-quality services its stakeholders want and are
willing to pay for.''