Kia ora koutou,
Christmas is upon us, the sun is shining, and there are some hot days ahead. Everything appears to be lined up for a good harvest, albeit I am aware that there are areas of blackspot appearing in some blocks – it was a difficult spring, with long wet periods occurring on a regular basis throughout our important spraying period. Attention is now necessary to prevent secondary infection from worsening problems. As we all know, blackspot can be a market access issue that prevents fruit from accessing certain key markets.
I must say I’ll be pleased to see the back of 2023 for obvious reasons. I won’t dwell on the events of 14th February – enough has been said already (not of course minimising for one minute the grief this caused many of our growers).
So, here’s a quick re-cap of 2023.
HBFA pushed through with some key events which brought a real sense of unity within the industry. Just days before the cyclone, we held our Industry Awards Night with many of our young and up-coming growers receiving scholarships and certificates for completing their study at EIT or ITO. In addition, Kurt Livingston was presented with HBFA’s Emerging Achiever Award with David Styles from Hawk Technology receiving the Foureau award for innovation. Please note that this year’s Industry Awards Night will be held on Thursday Feb 1st and everyone is welcome to attend and support this free event.
We decided to move our Young Fruit Grower competition to August to give us all time to breathe after the cyclone. It proved to be another outstanding event with Jan Buter from T&G taking the honours ahead of Danielle Sammons from Jonny Appleseed who was a very worthy runner up. The awards dinner also included Graham Hope formerly from Crasborne’s (now Kiwi Crunch) being awarded the Joe Bell trophy for services to the fruit growing industry.
Our annual fishing comp was help last month with a record turnout of anglers and huge support from our loyal sponsors who provided an impressive array of prizes. The fishing was also fantastic – a great way for growers to come together.
I’m very proud of how the HBFA executive committee and management came together to support the needs of our industry this past year. In the days following Cyclone Gabrielle we set up a Cyclone Relief fund that subsequently raised over $350K to support impacted growers. These funds have been used to support a range of initiatives including; wellbeing support, the provision of technical and financial advice and a range of grants to support with cyclone related costs. I’d like to thank all of those who contributed to this fund – the list of those involved is far too long to mention them all.
This year has also seen us build strong partnerships across our sector and with wider stakeholders like central and local authorities. HBFA played a key role in establishing the Hawke’s Bay Horticulture Advisory Group (HBHAG) which has advocated strongly around a number of issues. With the support of HBHAG, we were successful in receiving $600K of funding from MPI which has been used to resource additional extension services and fund business advisory services to a large cohort of impacted growers.
I would like to thank all our members and remind you that we are always here and available to be contacted for any reason – please reach out. A big shout out also to our many sponsors who contribute so much to us, we really couldn’t do what we do without you help and support – Thank You.
Thanks also to the team at New Zealand Apples & Pears for being so supportive of HBFA. Over the last few years, we’ve developed an excellent working relationship with them. We have our office at their headquarters on Eastbourne Street, and their staff are always extremely accommodating and professional.
I must also acknowledge and thank the wider HBFA team including our contractors and suppliers, for the hard work, commitment and support they provide the fruit growing industry in HB.
Finally, from me – have a good break (away of possible), enjoy Christmas time with family and friends and stay safe. As we come to the end of 2023 and start a new year, I want to encourage you with some words that have always helped me when I’ve been through tough times.
“Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things ahead. Our best days are yet to come”.