The Farmlander - Shannon's Interview

Recently, Shannon was profiled as a Rural Leader in the Farmlander, you can read the interview from the article below:


Shannon Harnett, owner and Managing Director of Rural Accountants in in Whakatane was awarded the Nuffield Scholarship for 2020. Despite facing Covid related challenges, Harnett says the experience was hugely beneficial and resulted in her being a better team member, leader and coach.

Tell me about Rural Accountants and your work within the sector.

I'm an owner and Managing Director of Rural Accountants in Whakatane. We provide accounting and strategic services for clients predominately but not exclusively in the rural sector. I'm a Chartered Accountant and a Chartered Member of the Institute of Directors and hold a post graduate diploma in agri-commerce. I'm involved in multiple kiwifruit, Rockit apple, sheep and beef and dairy farming syndicates at Board level.


What was a key highlight of the programme or a key takeaway?

My Nuffield experience has been disrupted by Covid travel restrictions. On the bright side, it has enabled me and my 2020 cohort to travel around New Zealand looking at primary sector businesses and other large New Zealand organisations. I have gained a far better understanding of the New Zealand primary sector than I otherwise would have had, had the international travel been available in 2020. However, I have not entirely missed out on overseas Nuffield travel and I'm very excited to be heading to Argentina, France, Poland and Ireland later this year.


What in particular are you passionate about in the sector your work?

Nuffield also focuses heavily on personal development. I think my workmates would agree that I am a better team member, leader and coach for doing the programme. I am certainly now more strategic in my thinking.


How did the programme help you grow this passion?

My Nuffield report, titled Getting Plant Varieties Right, focused on the commercial benefits of plant variety rights and other considerations that need to be met to make for a successful "NZ Inc" now and in to the future. I became very interested in plant varieties when I got the opportunity to be part of Rockit Apple. I was the Group Financial Controller and 21C for the company until I moved to Whakatane in 2017.


How has it benefitted your career?

By doing the Nuffield programme and writing my report on PVRs I gained a wider understanding of the benefits that the PVR system brings to the horticulture industry; also, an appreciation that the rules of the game are changing, driven by legislative and market forces bringing more focus to social and environmental factors.


Why would you recommend others apply to the programme?

I have really learnt a lot during the Nuffield programme, and I would encourage anyone who is thinking about applying to just do it. My advice to future Nuffield scholars is get a good system for capturing notes and make time to reflect on them. There is a lot of information that comes at you and most of it is gold.”


What Our Customers Think

Great local Accountants. They provide an excellent service with great explanations for the layman. They provide accounting services for non rural clients too.

Quinn Wilson, Restaurant Owner, The Wagon
What Our Customers Think

Rural Accountants is a real asset to our business.

The team at Rural Accountants pretty much manage all our administrative tasks for the group including payroll and tax planning, ensuring we don’t pay any more than necessary. They are at the forefront of technology and have helped us get up and running with Xero and Figured which is much more efficient than the way we used to work.

Sam Jones, Managing Director, Sybton Farm Ltd Partnership
What Our Customers Think

Christine is very knowledgeable, great to deal with and knows our business well. She is also a sheep & beef farmer so knows the industry really well and understands our needs.

Rural Accountants keeps us on track through strategic and forward planning meetings throughout the year. Christine knows our business inside out so she can deal with our questions instantly.

Mathew & Gemma Barham, Hawke’s Bay Farmer of the Year 2012
What Our Customers Think

What Our Customers Think

I used to work out my GST and process it manually which would take me at least a full day every two months. The team set up reconcilliation rules and other quick tools, and showed me how to do all my reconcilliations and process my GST returns through Xero which now takes me no time at all!

Mike O'Neill, Financial Services Northland Ltd
What Our Customers Think

As a farmer, Christine understands our business and how farmers and growers operate.

We use Rural Accountants to provide a full accounting service to an orcharding partnership which operates a number of orchards with a wide spread of varieties and management systems. Rural Accountants are always timely and accurate, and their annual financial accounts are extremely easy to understand and very grower-friendly.

Paul Jones, Orchardist