Safeguarding the Kiwi Stencil

Wool quality assurance programmes are a chance to safeguard the Kiwi stencil against fraudulent use.

Administering the NZ Wool Classer and Grader Registration system, and protecting the integrity of that system, is a core role of the NZ Wool Classers Association (NZWCA).

This year we have engaged with the administrators of the two main wool quality assurance programmes – ZQ for NZ Merino Company and the wool addition to the NZ Farm Assurance Programme – and suggested consideration be given to including a wool grower clause which could cover off ensuring wool classer and grader stencil validity into their programme audit/compliance systems.

The following wording we suggest would safeguard NZWCA stencil registration number use on wool bales and in wool specifications:

APPLICABLE ONLY to farmers having their wool clip classed or graded:

YES / NO – I confirm I have ascertained that the classer/grader stencil registration number applied to my wool bales and used in associated bale specifications is valid and current for the year in which the wool was shorn and baled. (Registration validity can be confirmed using the search facility here

We highlight that use of a NZWCA stencil that is not current and valid, or is not registered to the person who has classed/graded the wool, is fraudulent. To date no response has been received from either ZQ or NZFAP indicating a decision has been made on this suggestion, however we intend to continue to engage.

Some background

Our Association is a small organisation which has a governing Board whose members possess a wide range of experience and representation, but it sits firmly independent of any particular commercial interest in the wool industry. We believe the introduction of wool into the NZ Farm Assurance Programme, and the existence of the ZQ programme, presents an opportunity to enhance the integrity of the NZ Classer Registration system and, by ensuring classer registration validity is part of process, the NZFAP and ZQ platforms could be further strengthened.

With Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) being associated with both NZFAP and NZ Merino Company’s ZQ programme, we have submitted that ensuring NZWCA classer registration validity before a stencil goes on a bale sits well with RWS and NZ programme values and expectations around such things as Content Claim Standard, Chain of Custody, Credibility, Purchase Assurance, Traceability and Origin. To have wool branded and documented with classer registration numbers that are not valid being sold and used within these programmes we have respectfully suggested contravenes what the programmes stand for.

In most cases wool cannot be sold through the Australian Wool Exchange AWEX without a valid classer number associated with it. A similar approach applied in NZ when NZ classer registration was administered by the NZ Wool Board, with the Board holding statutory powers which could be used for, amongst other things, ensuring compliance with quality standards and in only allowing for classing to be undertaken by classers registered by the now-disestablished NZ Wool Board. Those powers could not be transferred to NZWCA, so while NZWCA can and does strongly advocate for only valid NZ stencil numbers being used, ultimately this comes down to individual honesty, and the willingness or otherwise at all points in the chain of custody in which NZ wool travels through, to value our Kiwi stencil validity.

Originally published in the NZWCA Newsletter December 2023

Posted January 30, 2024 by David.