ConnectMe - March 2017

22 March 2017

The full version of ConnectMe can be read by clicking on the Download PDF button to the right.


We need a Minister for Manufacturing….but, more importantly, we need a government that understands manufacturing and the contribution it makes to our economy.

New Zealand has a wide range of Ministers in Parliament, including those looking after specific sectors of the economy, such as the Minister for Primary Industries, Tourism and even Racing.  However, there is no Minister for Manufacturing.  

Worse, there isn’t a single entity in all of New Zealand’s state sector that carries ‘manufacturing’ in its name! This wouldn’t so bad, if it not reflect the lack of understanding of and interest in the manufacturing sector we find in this Government, as well as previous ones. As a consequence, when manufacturers identify obstacles to growth in their sector that fall under the Government’s remit, such as the skills shortages, lack of proper R&D support or outdated taxation practices, they struggle to find somebody in Wellington who feels it’s her or his job to listen.

We all want the New Zealand economy to become more productive, sustainable and increasingly produce and export high-value goods and services, bringing well-paid employment for our people. A vital component of achieving these aims is further building on the capability of our high-value manufacturing and exporting sector.  Manufacturing already contributes around 10% of our GDP, over 20% of exports and provides jobs for one in ten people that are employed.  Manufacturing also provides demand for other related service industries, and plays a huge role in innovation, making up over 40% of business R&D spending.

The lack of appreciation of the contribution manufacturing makes to our economy, and the vital role it has to play in making our country more prosperous, largely reflects our economic history as a producer and exporter of primary industry commodities. Ministers may talk about exciting prospects for high-tech exports, but the focus day-to-day still is very much around our primary industries and tourism. And in the public eye, minor fluctuations in dairy commodity prices still make headlines every fortnight, while significant developments in the higher-value parts of our struggle to get reported.

Appointing a Minister for Manufacturing inside cabinet will require – and at the same time signal – an important change in attitude towards manufacturing within government.

At the same time, we do not advocate necessarily that a new ministry for manufacturing is required. There should be sufficient resources available in government to support a new Minister for Manufacturing. What would be required is a small but dedicated strategic leadership team, most likely sitting within MBIE, to co-ordinate existing activities related to manufacturing in that ministry and others (Education; Foreign Affairs and Trade; Small Business) and government agencies like Callaghan Innovation, NZTE, TEC and the IRD.

New Zealand’s manufacturing sector today is facing exciting opportunities to build on its successes in delivering highly specialised and sophisticated products and services to customers all over the world. At the same the introduction of new manufacturing technologies such as additive manufacturing, (3D printing), digitally connected manufacturing (Industry 4.0 / Industrial Internet of Things) and Virtual or Augmented Reality challenges our manufacturers to make the investments necessary to remain globally competitive.

Governments in traditional manufacturing strongholds like Japan and Germany have long supported their industries in meeting these challenges, and China is catching up extremely fast. Even countries like Australia, the UK or the US, where the agreed wisdom had been that ‘the future is all about services’ have realised that their manufacturing sector needs support in facing these challenges and are acting accordingly. It will be a lot more difficult for our manufacturers to stay in the race if our Government were to continue to fail to come to the party.

By Dr Dieter Adam, CE of the NZMEA

Events Coming Up:

Leaders’ Network - Monday 20 March, Christchurch
Members are invited to attend our March Leaders' Network for 2017. This month’s event is an opportunity to meet and network with your manufacturing peers over refreshments with Andrew Little, Leader of the Labour Party, as our guest speaker. 
We encourage members to attend our Leaders' Network sessions. Discussing problems and successes within industry is a great way to learn from the experience of others.  These sessions are held at no charge and provide an opportunity to network and share ideas over refreshments with your peers.

Date:  Monday 20 March.
5:00pm (for a 5:15pm start) to 6:30pm.
RSVP: By Wednesday 15 March 2017.
Venue: NZMEA, Level 1, 236 Hereford St.
Cost: No charge, but registrations are essential.
Parking: On street.

Process Timing Workshop— 26 April and 27 April —Christchurch
This workshop will teach how to measure the time taken for the elements of the process quickly and efficiently, adjust this time using the trained rating and apply allowances for factors that are not usually captured in the timing cycle.  Participants will get practice from viewing video clips and participating in exercises at the host's production facility.

Time: 8:30am-4:00pm on 26 April and 8:30am-12:00pm on 27 April.
RSVP: By Wednesday 19 April 2017.
Venue: TE Connectivity, 14 Mary Muller Drive, Hillsborough, Christchurch.
Cost:  Members $1150 +GST, Non-members $1395 +GST, Registrations are essential.
Parking: On street.
Register: Online at or email