Horticulture New Zealand Life Membership Awards for 2019

05 Aug 2019

Three life Horticulture New Zealand life memberships were awarded at the Horticulture Conference 2019 dinner at Mystery Creek on 1 August. 

Life memberships were awarded to John Garelja, Julian Raine and Rick Curtis. 

John Garelja has been growing strawberries for 44 seasons, retiring from growing at the end of last season.  Starting at 16, he took over what was then a small family operation after his father died.  With his mother and brother, John took the farm from one hectare to 24 and 2.4 million plants at its peak. 

John has worked at the forefront of trialling and introducing new varieties.  He was part of the team that negotiated a royalty agreement with the University of California that saved growers hundreds of thousands of dollars.  He also oversaw the breakup of the New Zealand Berryfruit Growers Federation into separate commodity organisations and enabled New Zealand Strawberry Growers Incorporated to take full ownership of New Zealand Berryfruit Propagators Limited. 

John has always worked for the common good of the strawberry industry and has played a key role in lifting the whole industry. 

Julian Raine stepped down as Horticulture New Zealand President at the end of last year after five and a half years at the helm. 

Julian is an integral part of our industry and it is thanks to people like him that our industry enjoys the good returns that it does today.  He has a broad background and has played several key roles, most particularly in the pipfruit sector.  Julian has been an arch supporter of the RSE scheme, which has been recognised by the World Bank as one of the best schemes of its kind. 

Julian has put a lot of effort into ensuring that the voice of horticulture is heard, and officials and politicians of all persuasions understand and respect our industry’s point of view.  He is a member of the Primary Sector Council, which is providing independent advice to the Government on issues confronting the primary sector. 

Rick Curtis – who was not at the dinner to receive his award in person – has made a tremendous contribution to the citrus industry.  Rick stepped down as Chair of the New Zealand Citrus Growers Incorporated (NZCGI) in 2018 after 13 years in the role.  This was actually his second term as Chair, having been Chair from the organisation’s inception in 1986. 

Rick did an outstanding job in leading the NZCGI through both excellent and very difficult seasons, thanks to his passion and governance experience at a political level.  Rick was a strong advocate for the formation of Horticulture New Zealand in 2005.  He is still a director of the New Zealand Fruitgrowers’ Federation. 

Rick’s frank approach to commercial decisions – for example, the purchase, refurbishment and retention of the Huddart Parker Building – and dedication to fruit growing and growers has been of significant service and value to the industry.