Water feeds New Zealand’s economic development
Water has always been a critical issue in New Zealand’s economic future, and an increasingly divisive one.
Silvereye has worked with nonprofit industry membership body Irrigation New Zealand since 2009. Silvereye has played a key role in establishing the organisation to promote ‘excellence in irrigation’ through education, advocacy and the development of a world-class resource base.
IrrigationNZ needed to carve out and maintain its niche within the primary industry sector, and develop and maintain relationships with a wide range of stakeholders, from environmental groups, to agritech firms, to local and national government.
To be effective, the organisation also has to flex its communications approach from the needs of consumer audiences concerned about water quality to the more technical requirements of their members and the irrigation and agritech industries.
Most recently, an announcement by the Labour Party to propose charging irrigators for the water that they use has created a new set of challenges and opportunities for the organisation to manage on behalf of their members.
Water Tax 2017
Aware of the increasing political appetite in some quarters to introduce a fundamental change to water management in New Zealand by imposing a water tax, IrrigationNZ began to raise its concerns on a water tax prior to the Labour Party’s announcement on introducing a water tax in 2017. Following Labour’s announcement, Silvereye worked with IrrigationNZ to engage government, media, industry and ordinary New Zealanders to raise the organisation’s concerns the concept, application and implications of a water tax. From media and social media activity to public and private meetings with politicians, Silvereye supported IrrigationNZ to reach an audience of more than 10 million in just six weeks IrrigationNZ’s voice was heard at all levels within New Zealand and the water tax became one of the key political issues of the election.
We supported IrrigationNZ to develop a broad-based communications strategy, using comprehensive stakeholder feedback and research into New Zealanders’ view on irrigation. Silvereye also ran communications strategy workshops with the INZ team to shape that focus and direction and to establish key messages.
The strategy focused on three key areas: Media relations, industry engagement and government relations.
Our media relations goal was to establish IrrigationNZ as a leading voice on water use and water quality, and as the representative of the irrigation industry.
The industry engagement focus was to raise awareness of the key issues affecting the industry and the organisation’s advocacy role, advertise training opportunities available, and find and feature case studies in INZ channels. We supported the development of a SMART irrigation brand, with the word SMART encapsulating IrrigationNZ’s goal of promoting better irrigation management in New Zealand to achieve production and environmental goals.
The government relations objective was to ensure decision makers saw irrigation as essential infrastructure, raise awareness of affordability issues, and influence local and national policy.
Ongoing engagement with New Zealand’s leading media channels, from television and radio broadcasters to major metropolitan daily newspapers and websites and specialist magazines, has set the agenda for irrigation industry commentary. IrrigationNZ’s Chair and CEO have been established as leading sector experts and reliable commentators on important questions around irrigation.
We media trained the Board to prepare them for potential crisis and equip them to promote IrrigationNZ and the irrigation schemes to which they belonged.
Relationships with government have been established and a series of quarterly meetings with key political leaders continue.
We have worked with INZ to promote their season long focus on SMART irrigation, beginning with launching the concept in 2015. We have helped organise ‘Irrigation Breakfast’ events in key regions. We’ve facilitated speaking engagements at a number of industry events including the National Infrastructure Symposium, Building Symposium and Institute of Director events.
Silvereye has produced content on IrrigationNZ’s behalf, including key messages, media releases, their annual report, and case studies.