The 2017 competition’s six contestants were:
• ERIN ATKINSON (29) A TECHNICAL ADVISOR FOR APATA GROUP LTD, TE PUKE
Placed third in last year’s competition. She has a Batchelor of Science majoring in horticulture. Erin is passionate about promoting horticulture as a solid career option, and has attended career expos alongside NZKGI and Hort NZ. Erin has spent most of her working life in horticulture and looks forward to working with growers for many years to come.
• DANNI VAN DER HEIJDEN (23) AN AVOCADO SERVICES REP FOR TREVELYAN’S PACK & COOL, TAURANGA
Danni has a Bachelor of Science majoring in Biology and Chemistry. Prior to her current role, Danni managed the new cultivar programme for New Zealand Avocado and was instrumental in its revival and progress over two years. Danni has also presented at field days and industry events, communicating the results of research projects to industry members.
• NIKESH GURUNG (27) A SUPERVISOR/ASSISTANT MANAGER FOR BAY GOLD LTD, TE PUKE
Based in Paengaroa, Nikesh is currently working towards a National Certificate in Advanced Horticulture Level 4, following successful completion of Level 3. He previously worked with his father in managing a horticultural contracting company. Nikesh takes pride in being able to relate to people of all ages and different cultures. This is his second year competing and he wanted to gain more confidence, knowledge and skills in the horticultural industry.
• HOHEPA TATANA (29) A SENIOR ASSISTANT ORCHARD MANAGER FOR ONYX HORTICULTURE LTD, WHANGAREI
Hohepa lives in Whangarei and travelled from Northland to participate. He’s completed Orchard Skills in kiwifruit and Advanced Skills in kiwifruit Level 4 through Bay of Plenty Polytechnic. While his current role is mainly focused on kiwifruit, he has previous experience working with avocados, raspberries and figs. Even though Hohepa is fairly new to the industry, he’s looking forward to being part of its development in the Northland region.
• AARON WRIGHT (26) A REGIONAL MANAGER FOR EASTPACK, TE PUKE
Aaron grew up on a kiwifruit orchard and discovered the enjoyment of an outdoor life at a young age. He earned a degree in Horticulture from Massey University. Since graduating, he has spent four years managing a large portfolio of orchards. He is particularly interested in the science and management of kiwifruit.
• HAMISH MCKAIN (26) A KIWIFRUIT PRODUCTION AND AVOCADO HARVEST MANAGER FOR DMS, TE PUNA
Hamish has a Batchelor of Management Studies majoring in Marketing and HR. Having grown up surrounded by the horticulture industry, Hamish is passionate about the industry and is continually learning new skills. He’s recently purchased his first avocado orchard – a successful materialisation of a personal long-term goal.