Fruit growing elite vie for regional title

15 Jun 2015

A group of New Zealand’s top young fruit growers will go head-to-head next week in the annual Bay of Plenty Young Fruit Grower competition.

This year, eight competitors will battle it out in a series of practical and theoretical challenges during the one-day regional competition on Wednesday 24 June at Mills Reef Winery in Tauranga.

The winner will then compete against regional champions from Nelson, Hawke’s Bay and Central Otago and the winner of the national Young Vegetable Grower competition for the prestigious Young Grower of the Year 2015 title at the national competition run by Horticulture New Zealand in Christchurch on 12-13 August.

“We are delighted to see such a large group of young fruit growers looking to fight for the crown this year. Their commitment to the local horticulture industry is fantastic and we look forward to seeing what they do on the day,” said Neil Trebilco, President of New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated.

“Even though they are young, our competitors have a combined wealth of knowledge and experience to bring to the event. Whether it’s kiwifruit or avocado, our young growers have each got such a wide range of skills you can guarantee it’ll be a great competition.”

Seven of the eight competitors come from the Bay of Plenty region, with the eighth young grower making the trip down from Whangarei:

  • Aaron Hokopaura (24) – Grower Services Representative and Technical Support at Aongatete Coolstores Limited, Katikati
  • Chris Clement (28) – Line Manager at Apata Group Limited, Te Puke
  • Craig Ward (26) – Technical Advisor at Apata Group Limited, Katikati
  • Reuben Wallis (30) – Orchard Gang Supervisor at Onyx Horticulture Ltd, Whangarei
  • Courtenay McBride (21) – Baygold Staff Supervisor at Baygold Ltd, Te Puke
  • Greg Brown (25) – Production Manager at Seeka Kiwifruit Industries, Te Puke
  • Simon Bowker (28) - Orchard Manager at EHC Orchard Management, Te Puke
  • Samantha Mansell (27) – Assistant Quality Manager at Seeka Kiwifruit Industries, Te Puke


The competition puts contestants through a range of key tests, with challenges ranging from biosecurity to fungicide treatment, designed around the fundamental skills needed to run a successful fruit-growing business.

The Bay of Plenty Young Fruit Grower 2015 competition will be held on Wednesday 24 June from 9am on the Mills Reef Winery grounds. Spectators are welcome to attend. The winner will be announced in the evening at a sold out awards dinner in the winery restaurant.