Patrick Malley from Northland was crowned Young Grower of the Year 2014 last night at the Rydges Latimer in Christchurch.
Patrick works for Onyx Capital kiwifruit and avocado orchard in Maungatapere, Northland. He secured his place at the national competition after being named the Bay of Plenty Young Fruit Grower 2014 in June.
The final phase of the competition saw four regional champions go head-to-head in a series of practical and theoretical challenges that tested their essential industry knowledge and skills.
Julian Raine, President of Horticulture New Zealand, said the competition was a testament to the outstanding level of talent in the country.
“Year-on-year we are always blown away by the high standards of our finalists, and this year was no different. Patrick was clearly able to demonstrate the strong skills and experience needed to succeed in this industry. He has been clearly committed to this competition from the start and his hard work has paid off.”
The challenges ranged from a budgeting exercise on orchard profitability and to an irrigation test and assembly of a squash crate.
Competitors also had to participate in a leadership panel discussing the role of associate directors of grower boards to the industry and present a three minute speech on “What makes the best grower?” to dinner guests.
Patrick, 30, said winning the national Young Grower of the Year 2014 title was a real privilege and he was proud to have competed against other such talented competitors.
“I’m absolutely delighted to have won the competition. I am proud to take this award back to Northland and Bay of Plenty, but I really hope my success will encourage other young people from across New Zealand to get into this awesome industry,” said Patrick. “The competition has been such a great experience and I have learnt so many new skills which I will be using every day in my job.”
As the Young Grower of the Year 2014, Patrick won $2,000 cash and will go on to compete at the 2014 Young Horticulturalist of the Year competition in November.
Patrick was also named the Young Fruit Grower of the Year 2014, and wished to recognise and thank the supporters behind the competition.
“A lot of generous support makes Young Grower of the Year possible. It shows the value it adds for horticulture and why getting behind youth is essential to our industry’s success,” said Patrick.
Patrick also won the Best Speech Award and the Outstanding Leadership Award, while all finalists received $1000 towards personal development.
The three other competitors were:
- Nelson Young Fruit Grower 2014 - Steve Thomas, Kiwifruit New Variety Manager and Coolstore Manager for Thomas Bros (Riwaka)
- Young Vegetable Grower 2014 - Brett Parker, Assistant Crop Manager for Hinemoa Quality Producers (Pukekawa)
- Hawke’s Bay Young Fruit Grower 2014 - Graeme Hodges, Orchard Manager at Rutherglen Orchard (Havelock North)
The 2014 competition is the sixth run by Horticulture New Zealand and is supported by platinum sponsor NZ Horticentre Trust.
“We’re proud to support young leaders of the horticulture industry in competitions like Young Grower of the Year. It’s a great way for them to showcase their talent and aspirations as the future of horticulture in New Zealand,” said Tony Ivicevich, Trustee of the NZ Horticentre Trust.