Exclusive: MPI's priorities questioned after $1 million rebrand

Author
Jason Walls,
Publish Date
Thu, 15 Jul 2021, 5:00AM

Exclusive: MPI's priorities questioned after $1 million rebrand

Author
Jason Walls,
Publish Date
Thu, 15 Jul 2021, 5:00AM

The Ministry for Primary Industries is being called out for having a warped sense of priority after it spent close to $1 million on a recent internal rebrand.

Critics say it should be spending more money on helping Covid-hit fruit growers, who are crying out for help.

Newstalk ZB can reveal the Ministry spent $959,700 on redoing its website, buying new stationery and designing new logos in 2018 and 2019.

It was part of a move to better distinguish the Food Safety, Fisheries, Biosecurity and Te Uru Rākau agencies which sit inside MPI.

Act is not happy with the spending and said there's a clear priority problem within that ministry, when it comes to how it spends money.

The party's Primary Industries Spokesman Mark Cameron said rebrand cost almost three times as much as a recent $350,000 support package to struggling fruit growers.

"We've got fruit rotting on the ground; we've got difficulties getting staff into New Zealand because of Covid; we've got real mental illness problems across the provinces... and here [they] are spending a million dollars on rebranding," he told ZB.

"How can stationery, templates, logos and vehicle signage for departments that already exist within MPI be more of a priority than fruit growers who are struggling because she won't let a labour force in to help them?"

But Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor has pushed back on the implication the Ministry has left the industry high and dry.

"The Government has put a big focus on support our horticulture sector to succeed."

He cited a number of Government initiatives, such as a co-investment fund, which supports many different projects aimed at helping growers.

But Cameron said that's not enough when Covid has had such a significant impact on the sector.

In late 2017, the Government announced the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) would be split into the four divisions.

They are all still under the MPI umbrella but spitting them up into separate entities gives "great clarity and unity of purpose for these areas", O'Connor said at the time.

That, according to written Parliamentary questions, cost MPI close to $1 million over two years. 

The money paid for website content, design reconfiguration and the securing of domain names for each entity.

New stationery, office signs and logos were also part of the spending.

O'Connor said the $1 million spend was related to "strategic priorities based on the information on hand".

"This spending, from two years ago, was part of the Government's commitment to focus MPI's work through business units underpinning the key areas of our $48 billion food and fibre sector."