Max Lilley wins horticulture Bledisloe Cup for 2023

3 August 2023

Max Lilley, who was one of the visionaries behind the formation of Horticulture New Zealand, has won the horticulture Bledisloe Cup for 2023. 

Max Lilley with Barry O'Neil, HortNZ Board Chair and Bernadine Guilleux, HortNZ Board Director

 ‘I hatched HortNZ on a beach by having a yarn with the first chief executive, Peter Silcock,’ says Max. ‘“Let’s try and put this together,” we said. Today the industry is really precious with many successful growers. The Bledisloe Cup signifies everything that we’ve all achieved, and I am proud to accept it.’

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

When Max was VegFed President, the Commodities Levy Act was introduced. He led that organisation through a successful process and outcome. Max also worked to have close relationships with Federated Farmers. In the year before he retired, he spearheaded the development of a closer working relationship between VegFed and the Fruitgrowers’ Federation, which resulted in HortNZ.

Today, Max chairs the Growers’ Trading Company Trust, created when the company was sold to Farmlands. The proceeds of this sale were used to set up in a trust for the advancement of horticulture in Canterbury. He also continues to be an active member of the Canterbury Growers’ Association.

The horticulture Bledisloe Cup is awarded annually in recognition of individuals who have made an outstanding and meritorious contribution to the horticulture industry in New Zealand over decades.  

President’s Trophy

Colin Jenkins, who has dedicated his life to Ngai Tukairangi of Ngai Te Rangi, has won the President’s Trophy for 2023.

‘I’m honoured and would like to thank Ngai Tukairangi for the privilege of looking after their orchards for such a long time,’ says Colin. 

Colin Jenkins with Barry O'Neil, HortNZ Board Chair and Bernadine Guilleux, HortNZ Board Director

Colin started his career as a market gardener. He went on to become the general manager of the Ngai Tukairangi land trust, developing it from a fledging organisation to an industry leader over 38 years.

Colin’s career in horticulture has involved numerous challenges, including Hort16A’s demise, PSA’s recovery; and now, Cyclone Gabriel. He has also been highly involved with the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme, and the trust has its own RSE whānau from the Pacific Islands.

The President’s Trophy recognises a passion for working on behalf of the horticulture industry, as well as a commitment to developing as a business leader and successful grower.