People are the beating heart of New Zealand's horticulture sector

6 June 2024

He tangata, he tangata, he tangata

It is the people, it is the people, it is the people

On behalf of HortNZ, I want to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the 40,000 plus people that play such a crucial role in ensuring our industry’s growth, sustainability and success.

Without those people tending to crops in the fields, working in orchards or providing critical supply chain support, New Zealanders would miss out on a reliable and resilient supply of fresh vegetables and fruit that is so important to the health and wellbeing of our nation.

The Aotearoa Horticulture Action Plan is our sector’s five-point plan to double the farmgate value of horticultural production by 2035 and nurturing people is one of the plan’s key pillars.

We’re focused on attracting retaining and growing great people. This means establishing a coordinated capability framework for horticulture, enabling the right person, the right place, building a responsible and attractive industry and supporting diversity and development.

Our young people are the future of our sector and I’m delighted by the skills and ability we see among our young growers.

HortNZ runs the annual Young Grower of the Year national final, which this year will be held in Hawke’s Bay on 9 -10 October.

We support the six regional Young Grower of the Year competitions which are run independently of the national final. This year, regional competitions are taking place in Pukekohe, Central Otago, Hawke’s Bay, Nelson, Gisborne and Bay of Plenty.

Thank you to the organisers and to all competitors taking part in the regional competitions. Your enthusiasm for the events and your willingness to step up to the challenge plays an important part in raising public awareness of careers in our wonderful sector.

Previous Young Grower winners and finalists have spoken of how much they enjoyed taking part in all the stages, from the practical and theoretical challenges to the networking and confidence-building opportunities it provides.

We are fortunate to have so many passionate and talented young people pursuing careers in horticulture – it’s important to support the next generation of industry leaders.

The RSE scheme provides a vital workforce for our industry – it offers employment opportunities for Pacific workers, many of whom return year after year.

Over the past decade, the number of RSE workers coming to New Zealand annually has grown with the current cap being 19,500.

After 16 years, the programme is still serving our growers, the RSE workers and our Pacific partners very well in many aspects. But after such a long time of the RSE scheme policy review being left incomplete – the RSE scheme does need attention to ensure it remains current and continues to meet the challenging needs of government, growers and employees from the nine Pacific countries in the most effective ways.

The Government review of the RSE scheme, begun in 2019, identified a set of proposals aimed at streamlining processes, prioritising workers’ wellbeing, driving positive employment practices, ensuring more effective planning and securing the scheme’s long-term sustainability.

By championing the cause of our young growers, fostering a culture of education and awareness, and refining policies such as the RSE scheme, we sow the seed of resilience and prosperity for generations to come to flourish in our industry. Thus, driving our vision of healthy food for all for ever!