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In the North American summer of 2012, a small group of leaders from New Zealand’s food and fibre sector companies started an experiment. Led by John Brakenridge of New Zealand Merino, they gathered at Stanford University in the United States; keen to work together and learn from renowned intellectuals to discover what the future of New Zealand and their sector could look like. They knew that conversation about unlocking the full potential of their industry was already happening below the surface, and that major global change was upon them; they believed it was time to raise the conversation from the depths and lead a new way of thinking and acting.


The experiment at Stanford was about connection; to each other, to new ways of acting and to global thinkers. It was about filling an immense need for gathering peer support, building trust and finding alignment. From this bootcamp, Te Hono was born (although it would not receive its name until a year later), with the vision of empowering food and fibre sector leaders to capture greater value for the benefit of Aotearoa New Zealand, operating in a way that acknowledges the precious nature of the resources the country has to make that happen, so that it will be a place where future generations will want to live, work and thrive. 

Te Hono finds its place (and its name) in New Zealand's primary sector


The following year, a new connection was made. The Māori economy is a major contributor to the primary sector and bringing Māori leaders into the fold brought their voices to the table and weaved the values of New Zealand’s indigenous people into the way Te Hono thinks and acts. At that bootcamp, the partnership was gifted its name; Hono Tangata, Hono Whenua, Hono ki te ao.

The summer of 2014 rolled around and once again they gathered at Stanford. The group had grown beyond the initial cluster of business and iwi leaders. Harnessing the power of diversity, those from academia and government joined the group. Buoyed by the momentum of the first two gatherings, it was time to be courageous and ask what’s next? What was next was an acceleration of action and transforming together via shared aspiration, purpose and cause.


The pace from 2014 continued and 2015’s group got straight down to business, delivering an unprecedented and voluntary number of 33 individual and collective actions.


Te Hono continues to support New Zealand's food and fibre sector


Today Te Hono has aligned the senior leaders of over 80 per cent of the largest and most innovative companies from the New Zealand food and fibre sector around a common goal. The success of the Te Hono partnership is measured in the more than 350 actions achieved in the years since the first experiment.


They continue to gather across New Zealand each year; bringing new leaders into the fold, deepening a partnership created for connection, geared for transformation and focused on unleashing the value of their sector; for the good of New Zealand and the world.

The story of Te Hono

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