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Wool News Ina
29 May 2020

Ina brings a practical approach to running the company’s wool stores

When Ina Nukutai first came to New Zealand in 1980 he was a schoolboy aiming to finish his education at Napier Boys High.

Born and raised in Rarotonga, Ina soon found that his ability on the rugby field, where he played at number eight, was a good way to make friends and fit in.

“I was selected for the First XV and we toured Wales in 1981/82, winning all five of our games. I found respect as a player, which helped me to establish myself in New Zealand, and motivated me to take rugby more seriously,” he says.

After finishing school he moved to Wellington, sticking with rugby at the same time as taking up a building apprenticeship. Following a return to Hawke’s Bay, while waiting for the right construction job to come up in 1987, he decided to fill in time by working as a casual in the wool store at what was then Wrightsons. Fast forward 33 years and Ina is still there, now as PGG Wrightson Wool National Logistics Manager, a job he has held since 2011.

“I found that I really enjoyed Wrightsons’ history, culture, and the people. That spirit has endured through several mergers down the years, and I’ve stayed ever since,” he says.

With responsibility for the company’s wool stores in Invercargill, Mosgiel and Christchurch, as well as home base in Napier, Ina oversees approximately 40 staff, and at any one time will have upwards of 200,000 bales of wool in his charge, co-ordinating its movement into, out of and between the stores.

“Over the last few weeks, with Covid going on, storage has been a big challenge. If the wool isn’t sold out of our stores while more wool is still coming in from shearing, we can quickly run into problems and need to find new options and extra storage space. We need overseas markets to re-open,” he says.

Ina has a hands-on style with work and prefers to actively make the most of his experience of the operation, rather than spending his days in front of a screen.

“I make sure I help the rest of the team whenever necessary, especially when numbers are short, whether that is doing data entry, covering for people on holiday, or loading out incoming wool,” he says.

His rugby career on the paddock, which included representing Wellington at colts and Hawke’s Bay at colts and senior levels, was cut short by injury. However, Ina has continued his involvement in the game, and is a stalwart of Taradale RFC, where he has played and coached the Maroons, winning three premierships, one as a player and two as coach. In addition, he has coached colts sides, served as club captain and president and is now a life member of the club.

Family also plays a big part in his life. Ina’s daughter Amy recently started working for PGG Wrightson in the Porirua retail store. Ina and wife Fiona spend time regularly back in Rarotonga, where they have built a holiday home, while his two nephews Karika and Roimata both live with Ina, having followed the same path as their uncle from Rarotonga to Napier to finish their education.

Although crossbred wool is going through tough times, Ina reckons it will come through.

“When you look at how Merino is going, we can take a lesson out of that. People need to understand that our wool is the best in the world. If we can access the end users, making sure they realise the quality of wool, and its natural characteristics, the future of our fibre is good,” he says.

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Some sales yards did open yesterday, with smaller volumes of people through than expected. Next week will be more indicative of how much stock will come out, said Moore.

PGG Wrightson had introduced rules in line with Alert Level 2 said Moore.

The big challenge was the restriction of the number of people at auctions and social/ physical distancing that must take place.

At this stage there was to be no more than 100 people at the auctions, (excluding employees), and people needed to maintain a minimum of one meter social distance.

PGG Wrightson's number one priority was to protect their people and to protect the clients, said Moore.

PGG Wrightson's online auction system Bidr was progressing during the lockdown, said Mackay.

There had been mixed auction results, said Moore, who noted that people were still familiarising with the new technology.

Mackay wondered if previous space issues at processing plants would continue to be an issue.

Moore said this was lightening up about and there had been a real focus on processing boner cows and bull beef because there was currently a good market for it.

Wool pipe-line slows significantly

29 May 2020

Rob Cochrane PGG Wrightson WoolWorking from home for a period of approximately eight weeks, allows awareness of how life can be changed by something completely beyond our control. A lot of New Zealanders can reflect on how their lives change in an instant, through earthquakes, extreme weather events, global financial crisis and shootings. Whilst all of us who have been impacted by any of these events, could relate somewhat to a sudden upheaval turning our world upside down, none of us in “god zone” could imagine how COVID-19, a disease festering in a faraway place, would create extreme havoc across the entire planet resulting in, not only significant loss of human life, but also the crippling of businesses due to immediate cash-flow withdrawal.

From a global wool perspective, the spread of disease quickly impacted Asia and Europe forcing partial closure of mills due to illness, but also to protect the healthy. As global demand ceased for unessential goods, such as many apparel items, carpets and furnishing textiles, more complete closure followed. Obviously, a lack of demand for finished woollen goods forced the wool pipeline to slow significantly and export shipping preference was for food stuffs and perishables. With hotels and shipping cruise liners accounting for major consumption growth of woollen carpets and interior textiles in the past, and New Zealand a huge contributor to those manufacturing industries, it should come as no surprise that the entire wool pipeline from farm to export would find itself between a rock and a hard place.

Wool auction sales ceased in New Zealand after 19th March and an agreement between wool brokers and exporters that a limited and orderly flow of wool to market should recommence as we re-enter wool auctions. The original wool auction sales roster drawn up for the 2020/21 season had allowed for more than 80,000 bales to be offered after 19th March and before 28th May, with a further 45,000 bales offered by 30th June, therefore a resumption of auctions was going to be a challenge with agreed maximum offerings of 7,000 bales for each of the first two auctions, Napier and Christchurch.

North Island wool brokers resumed auctions on 21st May in Napier where around 60% of the 7,000 bales catalogued were cleared to the export trade from the auctioneer’s rostrum. Prices for good to average crossbred types, including full length fleece and variable length second-shear, were quoted between approximately 15% and 25% cheaper compared to 19th March. Lamb’s wool and all oddment prices were very subdued, with poor colour and vegetable matter contaminated types suffering from extremely limited buyer interest. Exporters representing Chinese processors were the major buyers of most types sold on the day.

The wool industry generally has suffered a long period of weak pricing and, apart from some finer wool types which had experienced a few years of improvement until recently, did not need a pandemic to create further distress! However, if the years of hard work by Kiwi exporters and marketers around the world, expelling the virtues and benefits of New Zealand wool, are eventually realized. Along with various individuals and wool groups continuing to lobby government and local councils within New Zealand to specify wool products are used in educational institutions, government buildings and housing, we might begin to see some light at the end of, what is currently, a rather dark, gloomy tunnel. I hear that home knitting is making a come-back around the globe, however I’m not convinced that could be our savior!

That’s my view.

Rob Cochrane
Wool Procurement Manager
PGG Wrightson Wool

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Peter Moore joins Mark Leishman on CountryTV for this month's livestock roundup.

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