It’s a wrap – Horticulture Conference Week hailed a success

9 August 2023

Our industry’s inaugural Horticulture Conference Week (31 July to 4 August) was a rich smorgasbord of content, relevant to the entire industry in the context of the wider, food and fibre sector and its dynamic nature. 

While themes were familiar – the environment, workforce, regulation, rising costs, competition and uncertainty – there were many fresh and thought-provoking perspectives.

While no one was denying the challenges, the tone of the week was forward looking and positive. Engagement was often at its highest when politicians – present, aspiring and past – shared their perspectives and ideas with the audience.

Given the challenges, it was no accident that several speakers touched on mental health, and how critical it is to look after yourself and the people around you. The importance of people was emphasised repeatedly, with one major grower saying they ‘started off growing plants but now [they] grow people’.

Speakers also often talked about storytelling, with one saying that ‘story telling is not an antidote for real progress in areas that matter to consumers’ – minimising environmental impact and ensuring everyone involved in growing is treated well. 

People and their contribution to the industry were celebrated, especially at the RSE and Horticulture Conference awards dinner, which was a sold-out gala affair.

Once again, I would like to thank our speakers, sponsors, exhibitors and other participants, especially the growers who invested their time and money by attending and supporting the industry. Acknowledgements of the contribution that HortNZ makes to the industry were humbling and appreciated. Thanks too to all the HortNZ and product group staff that made conference week the success that it was! 

It’s difficult to get everything right at a weeklong conference but participants being spoiled for choice, because there were so many good speakers, can only be a good thing. 

The message was our industry’s future is bright if we take a joined-up approach, informed by strategy, connection and two-way communication. This does take energy, which has been in short supply off the back of Covid and all the adverse weather events. However, the feeling at conference week was that there are better times are ahead. Once again, your resilience as an industry is shining through and the HortNZ team looks forward to supporting you in this next chapter.