The past, present, and future achievements of Hawke's Bay's finest fruitgrowers were celebrated last night at the annual Hawke's Bay Fruitgrowers Industry Awards.
Hawke's Bay Fruitgrowers' Association president Lesley Wilson said the industry needed people, specifically the highly skilled and educated in the crowd of almost 250 at last night's celebration.
"The Ministry of Primary Industries estimate we will need another 7800 qualified people in the future ... the association and the [charitable] trust are here to support them."
The achievements of those who had dedicated their lives to the horticulture industry to those just starting out were recognised, with a cohort of awards and commemorations.
For his life-long dedication Dr Stuart Tustin was awarded the Joe Bell Trophy for service to the industry.
Massey University professor emeritus Dr Ian Warrington shared Dr Tustin's accolades, including his internationally-recognised research, and his redesign of growing methodology which had "created fruit of exceptional colour, and taste".
The Kiwifruit Gold and Green awards for the best Hawke's Bay grower went to the Erikson Family Trust, and Stephen and Annette Hibberd respectively.
Guest speaker Hastings deputy mayor Cynthia Bowers recognised the people who made up one of Hawke's Bay's key cornerstone industries.
"Hawke's Bay's greatest asset is our people.
"It's outstanding to see the people who made the exceptional commitment on behalf on the industry, and society in general."
She said although the Hastings brand was 'Great Things Grow Here', last night was also a testament that "great people grow here".
These great people included the 17 graduates of the fruit production apprenticeship programme and the post harvest apprenticeship programme, as well as the workplace trainers of graduate apprentices.
The three winners for top apprentice were Teresa Aranui and Jacqueline Hancox for Primary ITO and Mako McKee for EIT.
The fruitgrowers awards began in 1978, when the first scholarship was awarded, and last night's numerous recipients's broke the record for number of scholarships awarded since.
Sixty-one future horticulturalists received scholarships, far surpassing the previous record of 38.
Ms Wilson said there were so many more people coming into horticulture, with 260 students completing Level 1 this year.
The scholarship from the Hawke's Bay Fruitgrowers Association Charitable Trust is to encourage Hawke's Bay people to undertake further horticultural education or training relevant to pipfruit, summerfruit and kiwifruit.
It is hoped scholarship recipients will ultimately seek employment in the Bay and pass on the benefits of their learning to the Hawke's Bay community and its industries.