Both Horticulture NZ and NZAPI have held their annual general meetings and hosted well attended conferences this month. Both conferences provided a welcome opportunity to connect with fellow growers and industry stakeholders, I feel fortunate that we are able to have these gatherings when our neighbours in Australia continue to endure regular Covid lock down events.
Lance Burdett’s address at the HortNZ conference was well received, providing some great (and often amusing) insights into human behaviour and practical tips for managing mental well-being in challenging times. Lance is well qualified to speak about mental health having been the chief suicide negotiator for the NZ Police. It is critical that our community strives to make discussions about mental health ‘normal’ and not something to be ignored. NZAPI should be commended for organising the recent grower meetings featuring Sir John Kirwan; feedback from the Hawke’s Bay event has been very positive.
The NZAPI conference highlighted the importance of people to the sector, especially the relationship between tangata whenua, fruit growing and producing food from the land. Maori represent a large percentage of the horticulture workforce and it is exciting to see local iwi groups forging new fruit growing ventures that promise to provide new career pathways where they are needed most. The importance of collaboration across the sector was another strong theme of the NZAPI conference. This is not a new idea, but I believe it is more important than ever if we want to overcome the constraints we face including labour supply, global logistics and increasing compliance hurdles.
Ngā mihi nui