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NZ merino wool sellers attract new ethical producers in Australia to stem shortfall



New Zealand is known for its jaw-dropping scenery, first-class food and wine, and sheep – lots of them.

It stands at less than a third of what it was four decades ago, about 20 million sheep, as the industry competes with other land uses like dairy and beef farming.

That is an issue for a number of businesses, including marketing and innovation firm New Zealand Merino Company.

It has built a reputation for sourcing ethically produced merino wool for the rapidly expanding outdoor apparel market.

It now sells wool to more than 130 brands, covering everything from luxury fashion to footwear.

But demand for merino wool is outstripping supply in New Zealand, despite wool only making up 1 percent of the the world’s textile fibres.

New Zealand Merino Company’s Australian regional manager Steve Wainewright said that for the past five years, the company had been sourcing additional wool for its customers from Australia.

It now has about 130 Australian woolgrowers on the books, providing the business with 15 percent of its needs.

The company has 75 percent of the market share of apparel wool grown in New Zealand.

“In the past two or so years, New Zealand Merino has really stepped up and that’s aligned with the growing demand from brand partners for wool in this space,” Wainewright said.

“We’ve got orders from 10 micron to 40 micron wool, anywhere from that luxury fashion space to interior textiles and carpet.”

Sending Australian wool to NZ

Tasmanian woolgrowers Chris and Claire Headlam started supplying New Zealand Merino three years ago.

The couple who farm at Woodbury, halfway between Launceston and Hobart, were eyeing the market for some time.

They run just over 8000 merino sheep on their 1800-hectare property, Ratharney.

“This country lends itself to growing good, healthy sheep,” Headlam said.

“It’s just a good fit with some native run country and improved paddocks, as well as irrigation.

“It gives us a few options to run those stock.”

New Zealand merino sheep in rural livestock farm.

Some farmers have had to change their practices to meet New Zealand standards. File pic Photo: 123RF

To qualify for a three-year contract with New Zealand Merino, the Headlams ceased mulesing, a one-off procedure to remove folds of skins around a lamb’s rear and tail.

They also have to meet a globally recognised set of standards that cover fleece quality, animal welfare, environmental sustainability, and social responsibility.

“The Kiwis ceased mulesing quite early in the piece because they could see the markets [they] could gain access to,” Headlam said.

“It was quite clever on their behalf.”

The pair recently spent some time in New Zealand as part of a study tour of its wool and textile industry, including its biggest outdoor merino brand, Icebreaker.

“I’ve always been a fan of wearing their Icebreaker apparel for nearly 20 years,” Headlam said.

“It’s cool to see that finally we’ve got some connection with a consumer through that channel, with New Zealand Merino and AWN.”

Claire Headlam said it was encouraging to see the entire supply chain on the same page.

“Icebreaker have been manufacturing quite sustainably for quite some time now,” she said.

“But their real goal is to remove plastic from their garments.

“It fits with some of our values as well, because we’re really trying to reduce the amount of plastic we use.”

This story was first published by the ABC.



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Toxic culture major factor in employees deciding on ‘rage-applying’ for new jobs



Two out of three professional job applicants admit to applying for numerous roles out of frustration with their current employer, in what the industry calls rage-applying.

The term rage-applying occurs when workers react to a bad day at work by firing out multiple applications for a new job.

A survey of more than 2000 professional job applicants by recruitment specialist Robert Walters indicates more than half of them wanted to leave a toxic work culture, with 20 percent citing a lack of work life balance while 13 percent were concerned about an unmanageable workload.

Just 3 percent said a disagreement with management led to them rage-applying in the past six months.

The survey also found there was a 112 percent surge in job applications following Wellington public sector cuts.

Robert Walters ANZ chief executive Shay Peters said the increase raised queries as to whether individuals were applying for positions out of frustration and apprehension, rather than genuine interest in the advertised roles.

“It’s rather intriguing to observe that this surge in job applications is not primarily motivated by factors such as salary or career advancement. Rather, it seems to stem from the work environment and policies, which lie entirely within the employer’s control.

“Identifying toxic workplace cultures isn’t always a simple task, yet it can profoundly affect the mental wellbeing, morale, and creativity of employees.”

He said the company’s research found an inspiring company culture was the number one thing that attracted professionals to a job advert – ahead of flexible work and enhanced benefits packages.

“As we embrace the arrival of more Gen Z individuals into the workforce, it’s crucial for employers to recognise that the priorities of employees are evolving.

“While salaries may have once reigned supreme as the primary driving force, Gen Z is considerably more concerned about the office culture and working policies.”


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Movement of pilot’s seat a focus of probe into LATAM Boeing flight, report says



The movement of a flight deck seat is a key focus of the probe into a sudden mid-air dive by a LATAM Airlines Boeing 787 plane that left more than 50 people injured, aviation industry publication the Air Current reported on Wednesday.

The plane, which was heading from Sydney to Auckland on Monday, dropped abruptly before stabilising, causing those on board to be thrown about the cabin.

Based on the available information it was understood the seat movement was “pilot induced, not intentionally,” the report said, citing a senior airline safety official.

“The seat movement caused the nose down” angle of the aircraft, the publication said, citing another anonymous source who added the possibility of an electrical short was also under review.

Boeing is expected to release a message to 787 operators regarding the incident, the Air Current reported, in a sign a fleet-wide issue could be involved though it said the specific topic was not known to the publication.

Boeing declined to comment on the report, instead referring Reuters to the investigating agencies.

Chile’s aviation regulator, which is leading the probe given it involves a Chilean airline flying in international airspace, said the investigation “just got underway” and its investigators had arrived in New Zealand.

LATAM said it “continues to work in coordination with the authorities to support the investigation” and said it was not appropriate to comment on speculation that has circulated.

LATAM is based in Chile and the flight, which had 263 passengers and nine crew members, was due to continue on to Santiago after stopping in Auckland.

The cause of the flight’s apparent sudden change in trajectory has not yet been explained. Safety experts say most airplane accidents are caused by a cocktail of factors that need to be thoroughly investigated.

New Zealand’s Transport Accident Investigation Commission said on Tuesday it was seizing the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder of the flight, which would provide information about the conversations between the pilots and the plane’s movement.

– This story was first published by Reuters

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Household costs forecast to rise $70 a week on average next year – ASB report



Household costs are expected to rise $70 a week on average next year as high interest rates and prices keep the pressure on budgets, an ASB Bank report estimates.

The increase was a reflection of slowing inflation compared to the $115 higher costs expected for this year, and about half the increase at the height of the pandemic.

Senior economist Mark Smith said the increase would be a stretch for many households, but there had been a surprising resilience among consumers.

“The inflation outlook remains inherently uncertain, but we expect the pace of cost increases to progressively slow, both in absolute terms and relative to household incomes.”

Inflation slowed to 5.6 percent in the three months ended September from a peak of 7.4 percent the year before, and the Reserve Bank has forecast it to fall back within its 1-3 percent target band by the end of next year.

Smith said those who had taken out mortgages in recent years and were now faced with renewing at higher rates would feel the squeeze on their finances the most, which would be added to by rising costs of services such as rates and insurance.

“Cost movements will be uneven, with slowing increases for consumer goods, but for still chunky rises in debt servicing and other consumer services.”

Savings and buffers

Smith said households had fared better than expected because of savings and buffers built up in the pandemic.

“Kiwi households have built up a circa $30b nest egg of savings since the Covid-19 pandemic. The amount of saving is being eroded as growth in household expenditures has outpaced income growth. Still, households in aggregate are still saving.”

However, an easing labour market would add further pressure to some households.

Smith said the concern for the Reserve Bank would be if consumers believed they were past the worst of the hard times, and felt confident enough to pick up their spending.

Ongoing consumer restraint and increased consumer resistance to paying higher prices are key pre-requisites to cooling domestically generated inflation.

Hence the tough talk by the RBNZ and the warning that the OCR [official cash rate] may have to go up if inflation fails to sufficiently cool.”


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