Digitisation of wool in schools and the launch of a digital partner portal are set to widen opportunities to connect with New Zealand wool.
The Campaign for Wool New Zealand (CFWNZ), tasked with advancing strong wool education, promotion and advocacy, has unveiled a brand-new online portal and updates to the Wool in Schools programme.
CFWNZ general manager advocacy Tom O’Sullivan said the digital partner portal, housed on the CFWNZ website, allows wool manufacturers, businesses, brands and supporters access to verified consumer and market research.
It also includes a library of professional photography, business templates, a growing directory of wool industry contacts and a range of other resources.
As a not-for-profit organisation CFWNZ will use the annual subscription fee charged to users of the portal to develop and expand its initiatives and programmes.
O’Sullivan said this, in turn, supports NZ’s strong wool industry and NZ wool growers as signalled in its three-year strategy published late last year.
“Wool is the most amazing natural super fibre and in recent years we’ve seen the consumer begin to really recognise this.
“As the climate becomes more and more of a concern, we’re noticing the pendulum swinging strongly back towards wool and away from plastics and other synthetics.
“While that’s great, there hasn’t previously been a way for New Zealanders, other than growers themselves, to support the enormous effort that goes into re-educating consumers and changing behaviour.”
Until now, the organisation was funded almost entirely by a levy on wool growers for every kilogram collected through brokers that support CFWNZ.
“It no longer made sense for wool producers alone to be shouldering the cost of promotional initiatives and educational programmes especially when so often the words we hear are from those manufacturing these incredible woollen products for local and international markets.”
The CFWNZ board has set a $1000 annual subscription fee for anyone wishing to apply to become a Campaign for Wool brand partner.
Alongside access to a suite of resources, brand partners can use the official CFWNZ brand mark in their own marketing and communications, aligning themselves with a worldwide movement for change.
For those not ready or able to fund the registered charity to this level, the website can also collect donations of any value.
“It’s so exciting to know that any funding we collect from retailers, manufacturers, contractors, processing facilities, yarn makers, scourers and interested individuals goes directly towards the goal of increasing wool use across the world and in driving effective wool education.”
One such programme is the celebrated Wool in Schools initiative. Co-funding from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund has enabled the two shipping containers that travel to primary schools around the country to be substantially renovated and the educational resources that travel with the containers to be fully digitised.
“Our two containers, one each for the North and South Islands, were in dire need of an upgrade. Without the support of MPI and some of our existing wool partners, this would have been a real stretch,” O’Sullivan said.
“It’s been amazing to access over $70,000 in government funding to enable this important work to occur.”
Among the changes to the container interiors are woollen carpeting donated by Bremworth, felted panelling gifted by T&R Interior Systems, woollen insulation from Terra Lana, seating with upholstery from Nick Radford Rugs and a wall made entirely of tennis balls, which traditionally use strong wool in their outer layer.
“Lots of what you see in the containers is really tactile and we’ve designed everything with kids in mind.”
There are pull-out drawers that show wool through all its stages of processing, from raw wool off the sheep’s back to processed wool.
“We demonstrate a range of woollen products from jumpers to fire-retardant drapes and there are screens so students can access the digital files we’ve created in place of paper resources.”
Hastings-based educators Digital Circus were tasked with making learning materials more accessible to container visitors.
CFWNZ plans to make these resources available to schools across NZ, irrespective of whether they book a Wool in Schools container for a visit.
“So far, we’ve reached 30,000 students across the country, but we could impact so many more kids with our fully digitised resources and share our messages even wider.”
CFWNZ is looking to bring more positive change to the wool space this year with the next focus on the benefits of wool in housing and architecture.
“We only unveiled our three-year strategy six months ago, so it’s heartening to see such incredible progress in a short space of time.
“Wool is durable, sustainable and it’s exciting. What’s clear to us is that more and more New Zealanders want to connect with the wonder that is wool,” O’Sullivan said.
To learn more go to: https://www.nzwool.co.nz/