Co-founder and longstanding CEO of the the New Zealand Merino Company John Brakenridge has been recognised in the New Year Honours as a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his exceptional contributions to the nation’s food and fibre sectors.
Brakenridge’s CNZM rewards his visionary leadership, enduring legacy and outstanding contributions that have not only reshaped the Merino industry but also significantly contributed to the economic growth and global recognition of NZ’s food and fibre sectors, according to the citation.
With more than 30 years of experience in international marketing, he has been instrumental in championing NZ’s primary sector products within global markets.
Through the collaboration with forward-thinking wool growers, New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) disrupted traditional industry thinking and business models, launching the premiumisation of a previously commodity-driven product and bringing more than $500 million in additional value to growers and brand partners.
Under Brakenridge’s stewardship, the differentiation of NZM’s fibre has been underpinned by a collaborative systems approach, environmental credentials, animal welfare integrity, and pioneering regenerative agriculture in the wool industry, the citation says.
Beyond NZM, Brakenridge founded Te Hono in 2012, uniting leaders from NZ’s food and fibre companies, iwi, and government agencies and establishing a collaborative partnership with Stanford University.
Representing over 80% of NZ’s primary sector, Te Hono envisions a shift from commodity-based trading to a value-capture model, positioning NZ as a global exemplar economically, socially, and environmentally with high consumer value products.
“It is an honour to be named Companion of the NZOM,” Brakenridge said.
“This is a pivotal point in my life where I step back, step up, and step in to ensure I continue to do everything I can to drive positive impact for people and planet.
“If we are going to double our exports by value, whilst improving environmental and social outcomes, then the sophistication of how we unlock this value must be enhanced through really smart branding and experiences.
“Time to get busy both in NZ and globally working in targeted markets with bold and ambitious legacy businesses.”
In 2023, he launched the Brakenridge Impact Group, which he described as striving to support world-leading organisations as they pursue their own disruptive aspirations.
“I am highly energised by a group of remarkable businesses who have reached out to me, seeking to partner in bold, sophisticated, and transformative plans.
“My work is going to be highly selective with a small number of partners, from startups to billion-dollar multinationals, all with the common characteristic of impactful ambition.”