A COUPLE of weeks ago I attended the opening of Wanganui Collegiate School's recently-earthquake strengthened and refurbished Sir Harold Gillies Science Block.
The formalities were officially carried out by Honourable Nathan Guy in conjunction with Sir Harold's grandson.
My colleague Whanganui MP Chester Borrows was also there.
In conjunction with the opening of the new science facilities, it is fitting that the school also officially launched their pioneering Global Food Value Chain Programme on the same day.
Wanganui Collegiate's Global Food Value Chain Programme is a bold step into the future of education for their students.
It also reflects the Government's target to increase the value of New Zealand's food sector exports from $25 billion to $60 billion; and the need to cater for an additional 50,000 jobs in the primary sector by 2025.
The school has developed a comprehensive programme with Massey University and Food HQ that will provide Collegiate students with academic and achievement pathways to rewarding careers in New Zealand's progressive global food industry.
Every part of this value chain needs star performers equipped with cutting edge knowledge and experience.
The school has responded to this challenge by developing, promoting and delivering an integrated programme for students designed to inspire high achievement in curricula, and provide experiences along a clear pathway to exciting careers in the global food value chain (GFVC).
New Zealand is heavily engaged in GFVCs and our economy is highly dependent on the success of this engagement now and into the future.
GFVCs are complex, knowledge-intensive, and interdependent, requiring people with high-level skills and multiple disciplines in their education.
Our value chains includes seafood, kiwifruit, apples, red meat, honey, health extracts, dairy ingredients and products, arable food, horticulture and finished supermarket products.
The value of products and services increases the closer you get to the final consumer.
A key component of every value chain is the need for highly-skilled and knowledgeable people to manage each part of a business's value chain from paddock or ocean to plate.
The GFVC Programme is a pioneering and exciting initiative.
It will allow our future scientists, farmers, entrepreneurs, economists, marketers and bankers an opportunity to form direct links to markets and to learn skills based on real life experiences and opportunities. At the same time it will open doors to the educational might and resources that Massey University and the Food HQ have to offer.
It certainly makes sense to me why another school in our region is consciously and deliberately thinking outside the box - in this instance, by making a very real effort to capitalise on the capacity for future economic e growth in the global food value chain.
Wanganui Collegiate is seizing the opportunity provided by their location in the middle of New Zealand's most productive agricultural region, their excellent teaching staff, their student base and their geographic proximity to some world leading educational and food innovation facilities.
Congratulations on the launch of this exciting initiative, which I am certain will reconnect and reinvigorate both the educational environment and the curriculum for many students and teachers alike.