Organics Aotearoa New Zealand has appointed Ken Shirley as its executive director. Shirley will be based in Wellington where he will implement a strategy to grow domestic and export sales of organic products to a billion dollars by 2013.

Shirley will co-ordinate a diverse sector with representatives ranging from large international exporters of kiwifruit, apples and dairy to lifestyle farmers, certification bodies, educators, researchers and product innovators in the fabric, fibre, cosmetics and beverage segments.

"We have a reputation as a world leader in innovation and sustainable environmental management and our biggest challenge is to lift production to meet increasing global demand for organic products that have internationally recognised certification and consumer appeal," said Shirley.

"The organic sector is dynamic and welcomes a very broad spectrum of participant. We have the focus, discipline and commitment to achieve the growth strategy through a coordinated, co-operative and innovative approach."

Shirley left politics at the last election in 2005 having first entered the House in 1984, succeeding the Rt. Hon. Bill Rowling as the Labour Member for Tasman. During his political career Shirley was a Minister of Fisheries and Associate Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Health, chaired parliamentary committees, ministerial working groups and represented New Zealand at various international forums from the Earth Summit to the ISO Working Group on Sustainable Forestry Management.

Shirley said the organisation, which received a much appreciated NZ$1.5m in Government funding for the next three years, had to be self sufficient by the end of that period.