Injecting funds into research, without eroding the capital
remaining after the winding up of the Wool Board, is
something retiring Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand
chairman David Douglas is proud of.
The North Otago farmer, who is stepping down after eight
years as a director and five years as chairman of WRONZ, is
one of three farmer representatives on the industry body that
oversees post-farm gate wool research.
Capital had been built up from $28 million to $32 million and
all research funding commitments had been met, Mr Douglas
A key achievement during his term had been the formation of
the Wool Consortium in 2010.
That secured government funding for wool research by proving
wool processors and marketers, together with wool growers
(through WRONZ), were prepared to contribute financially to
Each year, WRONZ invested $1 million in the Wool Consortium,
and wool processors and marketers invested $500,000.
That was matched by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and
Employment, creating a total of $3 million for post-farm gate
research each year.
The consortium had not just increased the funding pool but
had also shown a shift in thinking towards research on
specific commercial projects, Mr Douglas said.
Helping private companies create new products was where New
Zealand wool growers stood the best chance of lifting wool
prices. That focus on new uses for strong wool, beyond
carpets, was where it needed to be, he said.