Deer industry chairwoman surprised not to be re-elected

Dr Mandy Bell. Photo: file
Dr Mandy Bell. Photo: file
Ousted Deer Industry New Zealand chairwoman Mandy Bell says her failure to be re-elected to the board came as "quite a surprise" for herself and the board.

Dr Bell, a Wānaka deer farmer and veterinarian, had retired by rotation and stood for re-election for the one-producer appointed position. The board comprises eight members: four appointed by producers through the New Zealand Deer Farmers Association selection and appointment panel and four appointed by processors/exporters. Earlier this week, a statement from DINZ said Dr Bell had not been reappointed.

Since then, Dr Bell said she had been "overwhelmed and humbled" by people thanking her and the board for their work of bringing value to the deer industry for the past two years.

A key part of the work was creating a leadership strategy and building a great team, including a "high-functioning" board.

DINZ was also recruiting for a new chief executive following the resignation of Innes Moffat in January.

A candidate who had initially agreed to lead the organisation was released from his contract in response to changed personal and family circumstances.

Dr Bell said interim chief executive Rhys Griffiths was "extremely capable and knows the industry well".

"We are in very strong shape as an industry. Unfortunately, this process has not been good timing because we are in the midst of looking for a chief executive."

The board was "very strong, motivated and unified", she said.

Dr Bell had been a DINZ director since 2021 and was elected chairwoman the following year. She said her primary focus was to support the transition on the board, work on the deer farm she co-owns with husband Jerry and continue her interest in primary industry leadership.

"It is critical that we have good leaders looking externally to our markets and communicating with our farmers that change is needed. We have a stunning product and we care for our land and we need to accept it is the right thing to do and it is what our markets are asking of us."

The deer industry was in a good position to support change.

DINZ deputy chairman Gerard Hickey said Dr Bell would remain chairwoman until the end of this month, after which a new chairperson would be announced.

"No-one has worked harder than Dr Mandy Bell to advance the interests of the sector and support the transition of DINZ to better support the deer industry in New Zealand," he said in a statement.

He thanked her for her dedication and hard work, particularly in recent months as the organisation had been working through organisational changes and new industry strategies.


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