Derrol White has been entering shows for 70 years - he started with calves and now roses.

His Whangarei home is surrounded by about 600 vibrant rose plants. He has 30 roses in vases and another 80 miniatures ready for the Northland District Rose Show this weekend.

Mr White, who is senior vice-president of the New Zealand Rose Society, has been entering rose shows nationally since 1988. He and wife Helen have even exhibited in Canada and the United States.

He said this year marks 70 years of "showing something".

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"We're ex-dairy farmers, ex-Jersey breeders. We showed cows all over the country. We always had roses in our gardens and then we just wanted to show something again.

"Once you start showing you can't stop. It started at calf club day when I was a 5-year-old," he said.

Mr White said roses are pretty forgiving, but to get the best out of them you need to make sure they are well fed, well watered and sprayed.

In the summer he waters the roses every other day for 12 hours. He turns the irrigation on at 5am and shifts it every hour until 5pm.

"As I always say to people if you don't put the time in, you don't get the goods out of it. If you want to win a gold medal in the swimming you don't start training the day before."

Mr and Mrs White have won 80 titles nationally and gold, silver and bronze medals in the US.

Mr White names all his roses but doesn't register them because of the price. He selects whatever name "takes his fancy" and is sometimes inspired by songs.

"If I could only have one rose it would be Invincible - it's won more champions than any others."

He has also started to breed his own red roses and has won several breeders medals.

Mr White said for the roses to be show-worthy they must have good form, be fresh and have no blemishes.

"Every individual rose I check - this time of year hundreds of times a day."

The rose show starts at noon today and 10am tomorrow at Forum North.