Our 2017 AGM saw a wonderful turnout of interested foodies in the Waikato and a lively discussion after with our Food for Thought Panel.
A welcome to Malcolm Jensen our incoming Chairperson along with Katherine Mitchell and Lisa Quarrie, new members on our committee.
A big thank you needs to be extended to the hard working members leaving the committee, both Rae Towers and Belinda Cox who have been dedicated and passionate members of the team.
2017 Chairperson’s Report by Vicki Ravlich-Horan
Jane Goodall said “what you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
Waikato Food Inc has a simple goal, to build a strong food and hospitality industry in the Waikato that is proud of what, where and who we are. How we achieve this is perhaps not so simple except it will never happen unless we share this vision and back it up with our actions.
Each year when I write this report I am conflicted; on one hand as an organisation we have a growing membership and have had some great successes. On the other hand the list of what we want to achieve keeps growing but our resources aren’t. Not known for my patience this is quite frustrating!
Before I talk about what lies ahead let’s recap on what the team has accomplished in the last year.
May saw us take a group of producers to the Food Writers May Day Market. Over 70 of our NZ’s top food writers also went away with goodie bags with more than just a taste of the Waikato.
June and July saw the return of our unique Matariki Dish Challenge for its second year. As the challenge grows so too does the publicity and economic impact.
October rolled around fast and our first Ferment Fest was a huge hit among cheese makers, brewers and the public quickly sparking talk of an expanded event in 2017.
2016 also saw us hold several interesting and informative field trips where we connected chefs with producers, hold professional development workshops like the hugely popular sensory workshop. We also released the new look Dining Guide a comprehensive Dining Guide which has been picked embraced by those in the tourism sector and has huge potential to grow.
We launched a separate membership, Waikato Foodies, in 2016 which has proved an easy sell to avid local foodies. This group also offers us an interested audience to promote WFI members to and a great excuse to hold different and interesting events which highlight Waikato eateries and producers.
So to the challenges.
The majority of the work done to make anything happen for WFI: from keeping the website up to date to organising fieldtrips, from creating opportunities and publicity for members to managing our major events like Matariki Dish Challenge and Ferment Fest is all done by a small group of volunteers.
Our committee is made up of passionate people who believe in the vision of WFI. They are busy people who have important full time positions or own their own businesses. Which is why one of our biggest challenges is also one of the most frustrating, the cult of the busy.
Are you really too busy to answer that email? Are you honestly busier than the people who volunteer their time to put together these opportunities for your benefit that you can’t spare five minutes to say yes or no? If you are I can suggest some great workshops to help with time management, I believe we even ran one last year, but were you too busy to read that email?
As we repeat events, like Matariki, Ferment Fest and the Fieldtrips we can create efficient systems to minimise costs and the time to put these together. But the time to create these events is a drop in the bucket compared to the time it takes for us to get a response from those who benefit from being involved.
Newsletters are sent, facebook posts are made, personal emails go out and still we get nothing! In essence all our time and energy is consumed just asking people to join in. Not only is this a huge waste of our precious resources, it is demoralising and has us question what we are doing.
If you believe in what we are trying to do; to grow and promote the Waikato food and hospitality industry by building a connected and proud community, I ask one simple thing of you – support us! This doesn’t mean you need to join the committee, or volunteer your time but it does mean we need you to respect what others are doing for you and have the common courtesy of responding. Even a no is more helpful than no response at all.
With more time freed up our committee can grow WFI making it a more effective and powerful tool offering more benefits and opportunities to you our members.
After three years as Chairperson, tonight I am stepping down. While I believe strongly in what WFI is trying to achieve I also feel it is important for us to create a sustainable organisation and this includes a succession plan. As head of the group from its inception I do not want WFI to become synonymous with me. I also feel there are more qualified and skilled people out there who can take WFI to our next crucial stage.
So looking forward our goals for the next year is to refine our strategic plan and structure, secure funding to hire a permanent paid manager and event organiser.
Our Matariki Dish Challenge is back for its third year, this year with a restaurant and café section. We are kicking this off with an amazing Pop Up from renowned Maori Chef Moniqu Fiso.
An expanded Ferment Fest will be back in October. The second Dining Guide will be released in November and we are working on hosting a group of Food Writers for a wonderful weekend in the Waikato.
Henry Ford said – coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success.