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The HBFA Story

Our story began in 1899.

Fruit trees were first planted in Sturm’s Gully on Bluff Hill during the 1840’s.

It was the actions of pioneer settlers that transformed the Heretaunga Plains from an unused wasteland, into a rich, productive plain. Unavailability of land and the lack of roads severely restricted development in the early settlement years. It took nearly half a century from the first time fruit trees were planted until serious attempts at establishing a fruitgrowing industry were made.

Food plants up until the late 1870’s were mainly grown for home use or small-scale trading. 1892 saw the first shipment of apples to London – two consignments of 15,000 cases and although the fruit arrived in reasonable condition, no further attempts to export were made for many years.

By the late-1890’s commercial growing began in earnest and an increasing number of orchards were opening for business and needed somewhere to buy their sprays, an outlet for their fruit and coolstorage. Horse-drawn ploughs were replaced by spades and the mass production of fruit trees in the region had begun. At a meeting convened on the 7th June 1899, a Mr H. E. Wright pointed out the advantages to fruitgrowers in the region of forming themselves into an Association with a fixed subscription of 5 shillings per year.

By 1903, 2000 acres were planted in orchards.

The following 100 years saw many changes in fruitgrowing. The outbreak of fruit fly in 1906 and fireblight in 1920. The establishment of the Export Control Board in the 1920’s and the 1931 Hawkes Bay earthquake which significantly affected the fruitgrowing infrastructure. But perhaps the most significant change was the deregulation of the apple industry in 1993.

Today, over 7,200 hectares in Hawke’s Bay is planted in pipfruit, kiwifruit and summerfruit. It is the Associations’ role to be a collective voice for its members; to protect, foster and promote the fruit industry and to establish a closer bond of unity and co-operation amongst growers.

Become a Member


HBFA is a not-for-profit organisation, that is working on behalf of its members to ensure that the region's horticulture industry remains a dynamic, progressive and accessible sector for years to come.

Support our work by becoming a member of the Association. Whether you are a grower, industry affiliated business, student or school member, your HBFA membership brings you closer to horticulture activities in the region. Join today!

Become a Member