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McClay put kaibosh on Landcorp name change

NZN 31/03/2017 Tina Morrison

Government-owned farmer Landcorp was rebuffed by State-Owned Enterprises Minister Todd McClay from changing its name to align its business with its new 'Pamu' brand.

It came amid claims it was "a waste of time and money", according to documents released under the Official Information Act.

The company was initially called Land Corporation when it was created as an SOE from the Department of Lands and Survey in 1987, and the name was later changed to Landcorp Farming in 2001.

In September 2014 the company wrote to Mr McClay and then Finance Minister Bill English asking to change its name to 'Pamu Farms of New Zealand', to better reflect its new strategy of moving away from producing large volumes of mass agricultural commodities and toward developing more specialised high-value contracts.

"The (Landcorp) name implies land ownership and corporate farming, neither element of which is popular nor is consistent with the image Landcorp is seeking to develop," chair Traci Houpapa said in a September 2014 letter to ministers requesting approval for the name change.

"It is a decidedly '1980s' name from a particular period of New Zealand corporate history. We believe that the name is out of place in a modern commercial environment and detracts from the company."

Ms Houpapa said Landcorp had assessed more than 700 options before settling on 'Pamu', which means "to farm" in Maori, and it believed the new name was simple, clear, and reflected the company's position as the largest farmer in New Zealand.

Despite its misgivings, Treasury didn't formally oppose the move, saying it had "no explicit view on the proposed new name of the company", and recommending Mr McClay approve the change.

However, Mr McClay shot down the plan, disagreeing with the Treasury's recommendation, with a handwritten note on a proposed cabinet committee paper: "I think this a waste of time and money!! and efforts could better be spent focusing on core business."

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