Hunt to find New Zealand’s top horticulturist receives major boost

2 May 2018

Hunt to find New Zealand’s top horticulturist receives major boost

New Zealand’s Young Horticulturist Competition has received a major boost for the 2018 competition with four national organisations throwing their sponsorship weight behind the competition to boost interest in a sector that is on the rise, but still not attracting enough young people.

Young Hort competition chair Elle Anderson said that the competition’s four main partners – T&G Global, Countdown, AGMARDT and Fruited Supplies – had considerably increased their sponsorship contributions to the competition, taking their combined sponsorship total to more than $127,000 dollars annually.

“We now offer a prize pool in excess of $55,000 which I believe signals a growing commitment from the corporate sector to raising interest in horticulture as a career and attracting the best talent possible to what is a ‘rising star’ industry for New Zealand.

“Overall the sector needs young people to seriously consider a career in horticulture. We need them to see that it is incredibly diverse, offering career choices in everything from marketing and business to trades, science, chemistry and robotics.”

Speaking on the eve of the 2018 launch, Anderson said that a career in horticulture is one that any New Zealander can be proud to be a part of.

“Horticulture provides the food we need to live but is also one that is more productive per hectare, and one that is more environmentally friendly than most other primary sectors."

Commenting on T&G's significant increase in sponsorship for the competition, Executive General Manager, New Zealand, Andrew Keaney said that horticulture needs to keep top of mind among those looking for a fulfilling career. Supporting the Young Horticulturalist of the Year is a good example of T&G’s commitment to doing just that.

"Healthy produce plays a big part in the daily lives of Kiwis; providing them with essential nutrients. The mantra is 'five plus a day' but that’s just the minimum. Thankfully we are seeing more people choosing a balanced, healthy lifestyle which is adding to demand for fresh produce year-round. That demand creates more jobs and enables communities to flourish. I’m hugely proud of the role T&G plays as New Zealand’s largest produce company, delivering freshness every day and helping grow our economy.

"New Zealand horticulture is an exciting industry to be a part of. We compete on the world stage at efficiently producing safe, tasty, high-quality products that are in high demand on the global market. Our fertile soils and our growers are among the best in the world and we have a genuine point of difference with our products."

Countdown's Merchandise Manager, Produce, Stephen Sexton said Countdown joins the competition's top four partners because the company continues to foster its direct grower relationships throughout the country.

"A vibrant and growing horticulture sector is great for New Zealand and Countdown is proud of our work to support this through our direct grower relationships and by supporting great initiatives like these awards. 

"When you are as passionate about fresh produce as we are, making sure the next generation of leaders are recognised is critical to the future success of the sector. 

"Through our long-standing involvement in the Young Grower Programme, we have seen numerous innovative and focused new leaders coming through and these awards pay tribute to the high degree of skill and focus needed to take New Zealand horticulture in to the future.”

AGMARDT General Manager Malcolm Nitschke said AGMARDT was a significant supporter of Young Hort because it is a competition that reflects the diversity of the industry and is the only place where, for example, a landscaping finalist gets to compete with a viticulturist on a level playing field.

"We want to demonstrate to the wider public that there is opportunity for employment and career growth. The kiwifruit industry needs more people and the apple industry is growing rapidly. In addition, we have some smart people developing very smart technology, including in the area of high tech robotics – this is a high-tech industry with places for all sorts of people and qualifications."

National Manager, Fruitfed Supplies (a part of PGG Wrightson Ltd), Max Spence, says the company increased their sponsorship to Young Hort because organisers wanted to add some additional dynamics to the competition.

“Recruiting and retaining young leaders in the sector is as important today as it has been throughout the period this competition has been running.”

About the competition

Starting this May, the best young men and women from New Zealand’s horticulture industry will go head-to-head in six sector competitions throughout the regions just to qualify to compete in the Education Trust’s Young Horticulturist of the Year 2018 Competition. The competition is held to help identify the future leaders of horticulture.

The finalists will be drawn from the winners of six horticultural sector competitions:

  • Horticulture NZ (fruit and vegetable sectors)
  • New Zealand Plant Producers Incorporated
  • NZ Winegrowers
  • Amenity Horticulture
  • NZ Flower Growers Inc.
  • Landscaping NZ

Finalists (30 years and under) compete for a prize pool of over $55,000 including:

  • A $7,500 travel and accommodation package for the winner;
  • A $5,500 Massey University study scholarship for the runner-up;
  • The AGMARDT Market Innovation Project first prize of $5,000;
  • The T&G Global Practical Activities Award valued at $3,500 for career development.

The Young Horticulturist of the Year competition is made possible through the generous support of competition partners AGMARDT, T&G, Fruitfed Supplies and Countdown.

Supporters of the competition are Bayer CropScience, Horticentre Trust, Riversun Nursery, ICL Speciality Fertilisers, Primary ITO, Trillian Trust and The New Zealand Institute of Agricultural & Horticultural Science (NZIAHS) plus affiliated supporters, friends, volunteers and industry specialists who give their time.

To check out the full list of supporters.

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Simon Gourley
Young Horticulturist 2019

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Competition Partners

Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition offers a fantastic range of prizes and awards. Check these out.


If you wish to make a one off gift to the competition or set up a regular donation/ gift by automatic payment, the RNZIH Education Trust (Charities Registration # CC20817) bank account details are as follows:

  • Kiwibank Wellington
  • 38 9005 0683075 00

Please use your surname as the reference.
Many thanks for your kind donation.
RNZIH Education Trust
PO Box 17-381, Greenlane
Auckland 1546.