Horticulture Industry Awards

Each year, HortNZ makes several awards in recognition of outstanding contributions to commercial fruit and vegetable growing in New Zealand.

Below is a summary of awards made in 2023. 

Bledisloe Cup

The horticulture Bledisloe Cup is awarded annually in recognition of an outstanding contribution to commercial growing in New Zealand over decades.

2023 winner - Max Lilley

Bernadine Guilleux, HortNZ Board Director (left), Max Lilley and Barry O'Neil, HortNZ Board Chair (right)

Max first served at a national level in 1979, when he represented the Process Vegetables sector. He went on to hold several governance roles through the 80s and 90's with the Canterbury Growers' Society and Vegetable and Potato Growers' Federation.

Max was VegFed President when the Commodities Levy Act was introduced and led the organisation through a successful process.

Today Max chairs the Growers' Trading Company Trust. When the company was sold to Farmlands, the proceeds were used to set up in a trust for the advancement of horticulture in Canterbury. Max also continues to be an active member of the Canterbury Growers' Association.

Click here to read more.

Environmental Award

The Environmental Award is awarded in recognition of a person or organisation that has developed and implemented a sustainable environmental project, with identifiable benefits.

2023 winners - Rebecca and Mike Casey of Forest Lodge Orchard and Jesse and Matthew Malcolm of Southern Produce.

Rebecca and Mike have worked hard over the past four years to achieve climate excellence in food production. They run a six-hectare, high density cherry orchard in Central Otago, that operates without burning any fossil fuels. Everything from irrigation, frost fighting, vehicles and tools are powered through New Zealand's renewable grid and through the power they generate and store using extensive solar and battery array.

Jesse and Matthew have been part of a catchment project driving change across different farming types in Southland. They have worked with the catchment group over several years to reduce the environmental impact of their operation through the use of information, in particular, about soil types.

President's Trophy

The President's Trophy is awarded in recognition of passion for working on behalf of the horticulture industry, as well as a commitment to developing as a business leader and successful grower.

2023 winner - Colin Jenkins

Colin has dedicated his life to the horticulture industry. He started his career as a market gardener. He went on to build an industry leader from a small, fledging trust, successfully navigating several challenges - like PSA and adverse weather events - over almost four decades. He is respected by his iwi as well as by his RSE whanau in the Pacific.

Click here to read more.

Bernadine Guilleux, HortNZ Board Director (left), Colin Jenkins and Barry O'Neil, HortNZ Board Chair (right)

Industry Service Awards

Industry Service Awards are presented to individuals who have gone beyond the call of duty by providing significant service to the New Zealand horticulture industry over many years.

2023 Industry Service Award recipients:

Grant McKay

Grant has encouraged many young people to take up a career in horticulture. He revived the Otago Young Grower of the Year regional final and has turned it into a high calibre event that attracts contestants and sponsors alike. Even though he has now stepped back, Grant is still mentoring young people in the industry.

Grant McKay (left) with Barry O'Neil, HortNZ Board Chair (centre) and Hon Damien O'Connor, Minister of Agriculture (right)

John Jackson

John has been in the horticulture industry for nearly 50 years. He has been instrumental in improving seed quality and combating pests and diseases. John has concentrated his efforts in the process vegetables and potato industries, and today, still plays a governance role within the potato industry.

Hon Damien O'Connor, Minister of Agriculture (left) with John Jackson and Barry O'Neil, HortNZ Board Chair (right)

Dr Jim Walker

Dr Jim Walker has had a 45-year career participating in and leading scientific innovation in New Zealand. Although primarily associated with the apple sector, Jim has made significant contributions to the avocado, summerfruit, citrus and onion industries. Jim has used his scientific expertise to develop innovative tools and techniques around pest and disease management, enabling New Zealand to maintain its status as a competitive exporter.

Hon Damien O'Connor, Minister of Agriculture (left) with Dr Jim Walker and Barry O'Neil, HortNZ Board Chair (right)

Life Membership Awards

Life Membership Awards recognise growers with long and dedicated service as office holders of HortNZ, an affiliated product group or grower association.

2023 Life Membership Award recipients:

Murray Stephens

Murray is based in Canterbury and has held a succession of governance positions in the vegetable, potato, process vegetable, grain and blackcurrant industries. Murray has a long association with the blackcurrant sector, as a founding member and chair of Blackcurrant NZ Cooperative Marketing. Today, Murray is an active member of the Canterbury Growers’ Association. 

Andre de Bruin

Andre has been involved in vegetable industry governance for more than 25 years, at both regional and national levels. Andre’s work over this time has had a massive impact on the kumara and wider vegetable industry. Andre has a strong philosophy of making sure the next generation of growers and industry leaders are successful through mentorship.

Barry O'Neil, HortNZ Chair (left) with Andre de Bruin

Mike Arnold

Mike continues to be a strong advocate for the training and development of people in the vegetable sector. Mike is a past Director of HortNZ and Chair of the Canterbury Growers’ Association. Mike is currently on the Brassica Crop Advisory Group for Vegetables New Zealand.

Barry O'Neil, HortNZ Chair (left) with Mike Arnold