The inaugural kiwifruit industry award, the Hayward Medal, was presented to a kiwifruit breeder whose work has added about $3 billion to the industry and the New Zealand economy.
Russell Lowe from Plant and Food Research in Te Puke was presented with the award at Zespri's kiwifruit industry conference on Thursday night.
The new award was named after horticulturist and kiwifruit breeder, Hayward Wright, whose innovation and contribution established the industry.
The kiwifruit Industry Advisory Council (IAC) established the Hayward Medal and chairman Bruce Cameron presented Mr Lowe with the award saying his work had defined the kiwifruit industry.
Mr Lowe developed and helped commercialise gold kiwifruit variety Hort16A, resulting in an economic benefit of more than $3 billion to the industry.
"Hort16A was the first cultivar to provide a real alternative to the green variety and helped cement the world leadership of the New Zealand kiwifruit industry,'' Mr Cameron said.
"Russell's 41 year career at Plant and Food Research's Te Puke Research Centre saw him establish the orchard and kiwifruit breeding programme and it is this work, and the body of knowledge he helped create, which now holds our best chance for a breeding solution to Psa.''
He has also helped to develop other gold varieties, including Gold3 and Gold9, and the red kiwifruit.
"The scale of his contribution is enormous but he keeps a low profile and he's the epitome of selflessness,'' Mr Cameron said.