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New Zealand Merino & Maori Encounters in Christchurch

May 20
Anna Fairbairn, IBIP Group Leader

By: Jenna Davis, Haley Maples, Brandon Whewell & Justin Zinkl,

Last night we had the privilege to stay at the “Jucy Snooze” Hostel.  We were all a bit apprehensive about the rooming conditions after we heard from Professor Vogen that we would be staying in “pods”.  There are eight pods to a room and each person has their own locker along with a private bed that is quite spacious.  This morning we started our day off with some breakfast at a café down the sidewalk from the hostel.  Shortly after breakfast we were on our way to meet with New Zealand Merino, Price Waterhouse Coopers, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, and the Lincoln Hub.

We drove down the streets of Christchurch, until we went to the building that housed New Zealand Merino, the major wool cooperative in New Zealand. Their window displayed a graphic of a Merino sheep, and they had a sign welcoming The University of Illinois at their entrance. We were invited into their conference room, which had a fluffy Merino rug on the floor. Dave Maslen, then showed us an informative did you know video about wool. He spoke with us for over an hour about their company, and answered all of our questions for our project.

After our first meeting, we hopped back on the bus, and Maxine took us to the mall in Christchurch for lunch. We ate at the food court, which had a variety of familiar options, such as McDonalds and KFC, and new options as well. When we finished with lunch, we had some free time to shop around. All of us made an appearance in the Icebreaker store, a company that sells Merino products. They were very high quality, but pricy, and some of us made some good investments. We also explored the other stores as well.

After lunch we made our way over to New Zealand Trade Enterprise where we had the opportunity to hear from Richard Paulson, Simon Hearsey, and Dougal Ferguson.  Richard Paulson was associated with Price Waterhouse Coopers where he went more in depth with issues about food integrity and food trust.  Simon Hearsey was able to give us more insight on what NZTE does.  They focus on helping New Zealand companies expand and grow their businesses internationally.  Dougal Ferguson talked about the Lincoln Hub and how it relates to innovation and technology in New Zealand.

After the three meetings we went to the Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch. We got to experience many different species native to New Zealand, including Kiwis. After visiting the animals, we spent some time in the gift shop, and then went out for our Maori cultural experience. They performed native dances that we even got to participate in! After that, we proceeded to have a Maori dinner, with our new friends from Virginia Tech. Finally, we made it back to the Jucy Snooze to turn in for the night.