Alliance Conference at Ōamaru Opera House

Published on 02 August 2022


For the second time in as many years, the Alliance Livestock Conference was held at the Ōamaru Opera House last week. This is the second rural conference held at the Opera House in as many months with the SIDE event held in June.

Ōamaru Opera House Events Coordinator Matthew Wicks welcomed the event. “‘It is a real pleasure being able to host people in such a grand building. The feedback we receive is so overwhelmingly positive – people love it here. We have a small but skilled team here and we are passionate about providing a place people look forward to coming to. The Alliance and SIDE conferences were both on the ‘Footlights Stage’ and it is about as different as a venue as you can get! Sitting on a stage that has housed thousands of performers over its 115 years, the ropes, and lights high above you, the blackened Oamaru stone walls…if they could talk, they would have some amazing stories to tell!’

The two-day conference saw around 70 delegates from across New Zealand arrive in Ōamaru which provided an economic boost to Ōamaru with events booked at the Loan & Merc and delegates booked to stay in local accommodation.

Renée Walker, Alliance Farmers Produce Group Communications Manager said. “Oamaru is the perfect location for our annual Livestock conference as it is central for many of our team based across the Southern and Central parts of the South Island. This is the second year running we have held the conference here and the team love coming to town and catching up with each other, shareholders, customers, and staff in the area.”

Staff met with Chief Executive, David Surveyor and other members of the Executive Team and reflected on the successes of the last year and discussed opportunities for the future. Renée Walker said. “Alliance was started by a group of Southland farmers in 1948. While the co-operative has grown and changed significantly over the 74 years since, we remain 100% farmer owned.”

James Laughlin, a High-Performance Leadership Coach, and seven-time world champion delivered a session on Impact and Influence and rural mental health advocate Matt Chisholm spoke to the group about his own experiences and what they can do to support both themselves and the farmers they support. Matt Chisholm, who is from the area, also filmed a documentary while here.

With several delegates originally from the Waitaki region, Renée Walker looked forward to the return to Ōamaru. “For many of us, we are ‘coming home’ to Oamaru so it makes it extra special. This year, we also have Matt Chisholm, who grew up here, joining us to speak about his own mental health journey and what we can do to support ourselves and our shareholders to stay ‘mentally fit’ as we know how important this is for our rural communities.”