Confusion surrounds dairy farming leader John Monaghan's tilt at becoming an independent director of the Alliance meat co-operative following suggestions he has withdrawn from the selection process.
Alliance chair Murray Taggart said Mr Monaghan had decided not to continue with the selection process - a comment which has Mr Monaghan's supporters bewildered.
The Alliance board rejected Mr Monaghan's bid to become a director, saying he had too small a shareholding in the company. However, a non-binding resolution to have the board approve him as an independent director was passed by farmer shareholders at the annual meeting.
His supporters say Mr Monaghan, who is a Fonterra director, has vital skills and a belief in co-operative principles and shareholder wishes, and it would be a disaster for someone like him not to be included in a very necessary reform process.
Mr Taggart said Mr Monaghan last week told the recruitment consultant conducting the initial process of selecting an independent director that he was withdrawing from the exercise.
But one of the farmers backing his appointment, Mark Patterson, said he had spoken to Mr Monaghan, who told him he remained committed to being involved and was heartened by the support he had received. Mr Patterson said was bemused by Mr Taggart's comments.
Mr Monaghan did not not return Radio New Zealand's calls.