For the last 12 months, former Coast & Country News editor Elaine Fisher has been on a journey to uncover the ‘behind the scenes’ stories of the innovative, hard-working growers who made the New Zealand kiwifruit industry the success it is.
Her findings are recorded in the book ‘Seeds of Success – the stories of New Zealand’s Kiwifruit Pioneers’ commissioned by New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc to mark its 25th anniversary this year.
To be launched at a celebration dinner in Tauranga on July 3, the book traces the industry’s story from the handful of seeds brought to New Zealand in 1904 by Wanganui school teacher Isabel Fraser to today’s $2.3 billion export industry, employing thousands of people and benefiting regional and national economies.
Elaine, who travelled New Zealand’s kiwifruit growing regions, interviewing orchardists, exporters and post-harvest operators, says researching and writing this book has been an absolute privilege and pleasure.
“I have uncovered wonderful and inspiring personal stories of so many people. Because it is such a young industry, its pioneers and leaders come from diverse career and cultural backgrounds, each bringing their unique skillsets and ideas to the industry in which they invested their money, time and passion.”
Among the stories are those of joint venture orchards on Maori land at Te Kaha and the orchards developed at Matapihi by the Ngai Tukairangi Trust, which reflect the significant contributions Maori agri-business ventures make to the kiwifruit industry.
There are, of course, stories of Te Puke’s founding growers, the MacLoughlin, Bayliss and Burt families; and of other industry leaders including Roly Earp, Pat Sale, Mike Muller and Hugh Moore and of growers from Kerikeri and Whangarei, to Opotiki, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay and Nelson.
The book also records how today’s major and sophisticated post-harvest companies have emerged to replace the small, simple packhouses once found on nearly every orchard.
The heady boom times of the 1970s and the exporters involved in launching New Zealand kiwifruit on the international stage also feature. The crisis years of the late-1980s to mid-1990s are told through the eyes of those who helped pull the industry back from the brink of disaster, including John Palmer, Paul Heywood and Hendrik Pieters.
‘Seeds of Success – the stories of New Zealand’s Kiwifruit Pioneers’ is to be launched on July 3 in Tauranga as part of NZKGI’s anniversary celebrations. Pre-orders of the book, which costs $30 including free shipping in New Zealand, can be made on the NZKGI website: www.nzkgi.org.nz
The Weekend Sun has one copy of 'Seeds of success - the stories of New Zealand's Kiwifruit Pioneers' fofr one lucky reader.