Financially troubled agriculture institute put into liquidation

News that the Taratahi Institute of Agriculture is to be placed into liquidation is being described as a sad day for New Zealand agriculture. 

An interim liquidator has been appointed following financial troubles at the Wairarapa-based institute since 2014. 

Minister of Agriculture Damien O'Connor said the he was incredibly saddened.

"I am disappointed that Taratahi, a proud agricultural training organisation, has reached a point where its operation is unsustainable," he said.

"We will continue working with industry on a plan to deliver a new approach to agrisector training that meets the needs of the industry now and into the future," said Mr O'Connor.

Minister of Education Chris Hipkins says the timing is tough for students and staff. 

"TEC (Tertiary Education Commission) will work alongside Taratahi, NZQA and StudyLink to ensure students are supported in alternative options, and staff will also be supported through the process," he said.

Financial problems surfaced at the private training organistion in 2014 when it was revealed it was not providing the teaching it was funded to deliver and between 2009 and 2014. 

As a result, Taratahi was left with debts of $7.5m due to under delivery. 

"We are taking steps to secure the home farm and we are talking to providers to fill the gap in provision for students," said Mr Hipkins.

"But what's clear is that the current model of vocational training for primary industry is broken."

Meanwhile New Zealand First Spokesperson for Agriculture Mark Patterson said it is bad news for the rural community.

"This is a massive blow to the agriculture sector and hard news for students and staff at Taratahi right before Christmas," he said.

"This highlights the work that needs to be done to ensure we have the right agriculture training model to meet industry needs," said Mr  Patterson.

"A sad day for NZ agriculture," said Nathan Guy
"A sad day for NZ agriculture," said Nathan Guy

National is placing the blame on the Government for the institute's demise.

"We believe Taratahi approached Ministers for cash flow of $4 million to keep it afloat, but this Government has failed to support it," said National's Agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy.

Taratahi needed just a fraction of the $2.8 billion fees-free bribe or the $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund and yet Ministers couldn't find the money to keep Taratahi training students while it worked through its issues," he said.

He said it is a sad day for New Zealand agriculture. 

"The performance of the primary sector is critical to our economy, and that depends on having well-qualified, motivated and high-quality workers."