Young Horticulturist Caine Thompson’s Speech for the Awards Dinner, 2010

Good evening all, it’s certainly great to be back at this tremendous event. I have to admit it is nice being on the other side this time, watching this event unfold with this very talented group of individuals is very entertaining.

2009 was the greatest year of my life, I married my beautiful wife and then this competition just topped off a fantastic year.

The past twelve months has been a very exciting adventure which I want to share with you briefly.

What this competition gave me was a sense of belief in my self, where I’ve been, who I am and where I’m going. I didn’t really have this before this competition.

I took horticulture all through school from form four to form seven even though it was advised against me from a number of people. But I loved every second, every minute of that class – to the point where I came first in the class at TBC in 7th form horticulture – I Was the only one in the class!

Last year further proved to me that I made the right choice in choosing at a young age to be in the horticultural industry.

The exposure that this competition gave me was unbelievable. A quiet boy from Hawkes Bay all of sudden doing radio interviews, TV interviews and magazine, paper articles/ columns.

I was amazed that people would even notice or know of me in the street. Example choosing an outfit from a costume hire place. The lady said that’ll be $10 thanks Caine. How did you?...Did I tell you my name? No just been reading about you. This still happens. So the profiling that this competition gives you is quite amazing.

For my career – the biggest thing that I got out of this competition was belief that I could and can achieve what ever the mind is put to. At Mission estate as company viticulturist I’m now a lot more involved in terms of strategy with our CEO and sales and marketing as well, which our CEO Peter Holley is involving me in more and more.

I’m actively involved in a number of NZ winegrowers initiated programs – virus elimination project and the focus organic vineyard project which I’m assisting with leading these programs.  Where I’m finding myself more and more involved and obsessed with research and development.

My company Spatial Solutions which is a precision Agriculture, Horticulture and Viticulture business providing precision services and technologies to industry has experienced 40% increase in turnover year on year. A large part of that success is through the exposure I have received from this competition.

I have also been part of a life changing leadership program through LeadershipNZ. To be part of a group of 30 individuals chosen to be part of this program as some of the best in their particular field has been very special to be part of. I never could have imagined a year ago being able to spend monthly retreats with the Fruitfed supplies general manger, general manager for winstone aggregates, 2IC from Kiwibank, general managers of not for profit organizations and iwi leaders. To put 30 people from these types of backgrounds into one room is pretty full on to say the least, but the conversations that are held are very thought provoking and challenging.

We have been exposed to some of the greatest NZ leaders such as Sam Knowles, John Allen, Lockwood Smith, Sir Tipene O Regan, Sir Paul Reeves to name a few.

I have learnt from each and every one of the vast arrays of speakers we have had and all of the like minded individuals on this program. We have covered leadership in society, people, governance, rural, media, community and innovation with some of the greatest minds in NZ. Having conversations around issues and opportunities that this country needs to have, in order to drive this country forward.

Listening and learning from the types of people involved in this program forces you to go out of your comfort zone which in turn makes you grow and makes you believe. To quote Tim Miles, PGG Wrightson – putting your self into those – owe shit moments…is when you know your developing and growing.

Then eight weeks ago I got to experience what has been a life long dream that I didn’t think I would be able to do for quite some time. I got to visit the home of wine – France.
My wife and I spent five weeks travelling the wine regions of France. In our little Renault that we racked up 6,000km. When you spend that much time driving with your new wife you find out a number of things about your self. The first one being that road signs aren’t meant to be blurry. Hence these goggles I have on tonight.

We visited some the world most iconic wine regions and producers Champagne, Sancerre, Burgundy, Northern and Southern Rhone, Bordeaux, Vouvary and the Loire Valley (Pictures). I can’t explain how amazing this was. I remember sitting in the plane in Auckland airport with my new wife in one hand and two round the world tickets in the other, thinking I’m the luckiest man in the world. France highlighted to me the importance of people, culture, terrior and how these elements can interact to produce ultra premium wine. There are so many techniques, concepts, ideas that France highlighted to me that we can be adopted into a very young NZ wine industry. So watch this space…

Finally I would like to say thank you for all involve in organizing this competition and especially to those companies that have sponsored this event. NZ Horticulture ITO, Fruitfed Supplies, AGMARDT, Massey University. Please support these organization where ever you can like they have supported this event. I would also like to say thank you to my employer Mission Estate Winery and to Peter Holley our CEO for the continual support and guidance he and Mission have given me.
I will be forever grateful for this competition and all that have help sponsored and organized this event. How do you say thank you for the people and organizations – who have given me the gift of belief.

Kia ora, Merci and Thank you.

Caine Thompson
2009 NZ Young Horticulturalist of the Year

Simon Gourley
Young Horticulturist 2019

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