Tuesday 4 June, 2019 | Angie Skerrett

Click to video link: Philippa Wright talks about her Queen’s Birthday award, and the future of the wool industry. Credits: Video: Newshub 

A long time contributor and promoter of New Zealand wool has been recognised for her work with a Queen’s Birthday Honour.

Philippa Wright was awarded a New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the wool industry and sustainability.

She has actively promoted and campaigned for the use of wool as a sustainable resource for more than 40 years, making significant contributions to New Zealand’s wool industry.

Wright is CEO of Wright Wool, an independent wool broker based in Waipukurau, and is an active member of many organisations that promote wool as a valuable resource.

Wright, who started out as a shed hand in the McKenzie Country around 40 years ago, said she was grateful and honoured to be recognised.

She said she has seen a huge amount of change in the industry.

“Wool is now prepared and presented in a much more efficient and beneficial way to growers, however I have also seen huge variations in the ability to make a good living out of wool, which is always a concern,” she said.

She said that was the driver to get involved in the Campaign for Wool New Zealand, a global initiative that highlights wool as an eco-friendly and durable fibre.

“I was quite desperate for something positive we could do to help,” said Wright.

Wright has served as the chair of the initiative and is an executive member of Campaign for Wool’s global chapter and a trustee of the New Zealand chapter of the Campaign, New Zealand Trust.

She believes education and awareness are key to a healthy future for the industry.

“In New Zealand, because we haven’t got a board or a form of levy, we are working on a very tight budget, so we have concentrated very much on education of eleven and twelve year olds, with the Wool In Schools programme.”

“It’s about trying to young people to understand the possibility of wool.”

She said the demand for strong wool had dropped, and that was a big challenge for the industry.

“Eighty percent of our wool 15-20 years ago went to carpet for New Zealand and Australia, and now that is less than 15 percent.”

“That is an enormous part of our wool clip that has nowhere to go.”

She said the industry needed to find something to use the wool for which could excite consumers.

Despite the challenges, she remained passionate about wool.

“I really believe the wool has a future, and just think we have to look to the future and the next generation and bring them on board.”

Wright said she was excited that the wool industry was gain some positive exposure because of her Queen’s Birthday honour.

“It’s not often that we are in the limelight for something that type of thing, but it just feels so gratifying that you are appreciated.”