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Craig Smith is the new chairman of the National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests. Photo:...
Craig Smith is the new chairman of the National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests. Photo: Mark Clinton
Long-time wool advocate Craig Smith says his new role as chairman of the National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests is about "championing the cause of wool".

The council is an association of organisations engaged in the production, testing, merchandising, processing, spinning and weaving of wool and allied fibres.

Mr Smith, who is general manager of Devold Wool Direct, was the first New Zealander to be appointed to the global executive committee of the International Wool Textile Organisation, and he has also been heavily involved with Campaign for Wool, a global project initiated by Prince Charles.

Mr Smith said he would strive to leave the wool industry in a better place when he eventually handed over the chairmanship.

"To be given the opportunity and backing of New Zealand’s wool industry to ... be the voice of the industry, is very humbling and extremely exciting."

The system in place in New Zealand worked well, when it came to the transformation of wool from the farm through to the scouring and testing process.

The biggest challenge was getting consumers to recognise that wool was "not only the best product in the world, but the best fibre" and that came down to education.

Alongside the Wool Working Group, which had been involved in how to create a more sustainable and profitable sector, Mr Smith would lobby the Government to focus on education about and the promotion of wool.

"That’s the bit that’s missing in the link already," he said.

That would mean working with everybody with the industry, he said.

During the Covid-19 lockdown, all industry participants had really come together and it had given him hope and enthusiasm that everyone was going forward in the same direction.

He believed there would be some opportunities for the wool industry in the wake of the pandemic, saying people were "pushing the reset button".

There was an opportunity now to challenge wool and put it into products that had never previously been looked at.

While acknowledging the crossbred wool sector was in "dire straits", Mr Smith believed there were opportunities for it — "we just have to be smarter and get out there and really challenge the norm. Now we can. What does normal look like today? No-one knows".

He was also keen to highlight the opportunities available within the sector for young people, to get them involved.



Go wool!

With the climate at the start of the grand solar minimum wool will be an essential commodity. NASA recently reported that this cycle will be the weakest of the last 200 years. Woollen mills shut down should be cranked up before the extreme cold sets in.