Grower Liarna White urging others to vote

5 June 2024

Liarna White is passionate about the horticulture industry in New Zealand – and has been all her life.

“I always wanted to get into this industry to be part of producing healthy, fresh food in a sustainable way,” says Liarna.

Graduating with a degree in Applied Science majoring in Horticulture from Massey University in 2008, Liarna has worked in orchard management, postharvest, and project management within the kiwifruit industry.

Over the last ten years, Liarna and her husband John with their three children have built up a successful family business, growing avocado and kiwifruit with orchards in the Bay of Plenty and Poverty Bay.

Along with her scientific and technical understanding, Liarna brings a future-focused approach to managing the business and to the wider local and national grower community.

“Our industry is diverse and has amazing strengths that comes from the experience skills and knowledge that the grower community holds.

“But we are all facing ongoing challenges such as the big one of climate change and barriers around certainty of access to quality land and water into the future, as well as labour and compliance challenges.”

Liarna and John are scrupulous about water and land management with initiatives such as using precision irrigation to ensure there is little or no water wasted, avoiding weed spraying and mulching and composting to build up soil.

“We are always looking at new ways of doing things to improve sustainability. But as growers and producers we don’t have time to tackle the bigger issues. That’s why it is so important that we have HortNZ as a unified voice for the sector, working with us to break down barriers, help government and local government officials understand the impact of their policies and coming up with solutions.

“For instance, with a lot of regional council policies around land and water use, HortNZ has had a major impact helping safeguard productive land so it can be used in the future. Likewise with the Recognised Seasonal Employers scheme, which has been brilliant for supporting the needs of both food producers in New Zealand and seasonal employees.”

HortNZ also supported Liarna establishing Women in Horticulture Tairāwhiti to create a supportive local community.

“I’m passionate about people feeling connected and supported, ensuring their voices are heard and benefiting from learning and sharing.

“Ultimately, HortNZ does so much to support the sustainability of the industry with programmes like A Lighter Touch bringing valuable research to growers around the regions, training and education initiatives. There is also the Young Grower Awards, which showcase the amazing talent and career opportunities in the industry and networking events.

“I’m a strong believer in HortNZ’s mission. We need HortNZ to be out there advocating for and supporting our needs. I urge growers to get out there and vote - the future of the horticulture industry depends on it.”