Pear cider named New Zealand's best cider
A bottle-fermented pear cider has crushed the competition to be named the best cider in the country.
Perfect Pear 2018 produced by The Cider Factorie in Tauranga was crowned Champion Cider at a pared-back version of the New Zealand Fruit Wine & Cider Awards in Hawke's Bay last week.
The event had been planned to coincide with The NZ Cider Festival, due to be held in
Hastings last weekend but which has been postponed to February next year.
However, the awards continued, with a small crowd gathered and many cider-makers joining by Zoom.
Judges said Perfect Pear, crafted in the methode traditionelle style, was well-crafted and
"We just kept coming back to it," said head judge Merophy Hyslop. "It had a really nice
texture, lovely bubbles, good complexity and length. It's not easy to create pear cider – you need some real skill to be able to make a cider like that."
It is the first time a pear cider – or perry, as it is also known – has scooped the top honour
since the inception of the awards in 1984.
Hyslop said across the board the ciders and fruit wine had impressed.
"It was nice to see people implementing different techniques and stepping outside of their
comfort zone and more thought going to the different flavour categories, too."
Jody Scott, chairman of the Fruit Wine & Cider Makers Association, said while it was a shame the event had been scaled back, there was still much reason to celebrate.
"The cider market in New Zealand has really flourished in the past few years and we received a record number of entries this year.
"We also saw a good number of producers entering for the first time, which was great and reinforces that as an industry we are strengthening and growing."
This year, there were 138 entries, a significant 29 per cent increase from 107 last year.
In total, there were 12 trophies awarded, 18 gold medals, 47 silver medals and 54 bronze
medals. The awards this year also included a seltzer category for the first time.
QJumpers named Most Innovative Recruitment Software Provider
QJumpers has won Most Innovative Recruitment Software Provider – USA in the 2021 New World Report Software and Technology Awards.
QJumpers is a cloud-based sourcing and applicant tracking system founded in New Zealand and operates in the Bay of Plenty.
Co-founder Simon Oldham said with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, adaptations needed to be made in the way the world recruited and remote hiring technology became essential.
"QJumpers was already designed for remote hiring and collaboration but to stay ahead of the competition, QJumpers made significant changes to improve the services offered to clients.
"Being able to recruit for skilled candidates from anywhere and ensure that they are a good match for their business is more critical than ever – but now it also needs to be done remotely."
Oldham said AI, automation, and collaborative tools were essential to enable that to happen so during the global pandemic it released its new product – AI Talent Sourcing.
"Competition for top talent is hotter than ever so having technology available to source those roles that can't be filled by traditional means or finding people who are not already in your existing database is now key."
The company also developed a new (patent pending) technology to collect confidential candidate information to make it easier to onboard new employees remotely.
"And we enhanced our employment agreement/offer letter electronic signing module."
Excellence Awards honour top energy and telecommunications trainees
Bay of Plenty telecommunications trainees have been selected as finalists in this year's Connexis Industry Excellence Awards.
The Bay nominees include Juliet Fordyce from Unison Contracting in Rotorua, Cameron Childerhouse from iSkills in Mount Maunganui, and Sanil Prasad from Downer in Whakatāne.
Connexis director Kaarin Gaukrodger said, with skills shortages a crucial issue facing the electricity supply and telecommunications industries, celebrating and showcasing the careers and achievements of trainees was more important than ever.
"These are the people who keep our country connected. Often when weather conditions find the rest of us inside, they are out in the elements keeping our power on.
"While we have been unable to hold this year's event in person, we wanted these talented individuals, who are getting skilled up for all of New Zealand, to still be recognised."
Gaukrodger said the awards also recognised the individuals who invested their time and energy in training and supporting the success of 16 to 25-year-olds on their journey towards a career in infrastructure through the Investing in Youth Training and Development award.
"Encouraging the next generation into the industry and supporting them to skill up is crucial to the sustainability of the workforce."
There is also the Trainee of the Year awards for transmission, generation, distribution, telecommunications and advanced. An Overall Trainee of the Year will be selected from the five category winners.
The awards are judged by a panel of industry experts who consider aspects of each nominee's background including attitudes toward training, commitment to career progression, whether they are team players and how they approach challenges.
Comments from judges indicate the calibre of this year's nominees has been as high as ever, with an enthusiasm to pursue professional development despite the challenges caused by Covid.
Winners will be announced in a new-look online format on December 6. It will be hosted by broadcaster Jason Pine and will include guest speakers from Connexis and the industry.
Finalists' names and details of the event will be posted to the Connexis Facebook page and website at: https://www.connexis.org.nz/annual-connection/#excellenceawards
Rotorua Property Investors' Association's new president
Sally Copeland is the Rotorua Property Investors' Association's new president.
Copeland will take over the role from Debbie Van Den Broek who has stood down as president after many years.
Originally from the United Kingdom, Copeland came to New Zealand in 2001 and joined the Waikato Property Investors Association in 2008.
At her first meeting, Copeland was "surprised and delighted" at how open and willing members were to share their success stories and errors made so that others could learn from their experiences.
Since then, Copeland has enjoyed the experience of growing a property portfolio through new purchases, renovations and new builds to reduce to one investment after a life event.
In 2016, Copeland joined New Zealand Home Loans (NZHL) as a consultant and it was not long before she knew she wanted to progress to business ownership.
In 2018, Copeland owned one franchise and then doubled the business through the acquisition of a second franchise in Rotorua.
Her business has grown significantly and now has a team of six who are all passionate about helping their clients achieve their financial goals.
Copeland has been vice president of the association, learning the ropes from Debbie Van Den Broek.
She is looking forward to working with the committee to attract new members to the association, building on the collaboration with other regions and increasing the knowledge base of our membership through the education programme, speakers and the sharing of information.
Sowing the seeds for a regenerative horticultural partnership
Aotearoa's horticultural businesses T&G Global and Zespri are teaming up with science organisation Plant & Food Research and other industry partners on a new project.
The project aims to research, develop, define and promote sustainable and regenerative horticulture practices within the kiwifruit, apple and berry industries.
It will be partially funded through the Ministry for Primary Industries' (MPI) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Fund.
Phase one will involve an exploration of regenerative practices and market analysis, with the goal to move to a longer-term programme of research including scientific and market validation, along with the implementation of science- and grower-backed practices in regenerative horticulture.
T&G Global's chief executive officer, Gareth Edgecombe, said the project was cutting edge and hugely exciting for the industry.
"Sustainable food production is at the heart of Aotearoa's horticultural sector. For generations, we've grown premium, healthy fresh produce for consumers around the world, evolving our practices as our knowledge grows and consumer needs change."
Edgecombe said horticulture was heavily nuanced and relied on continual research and innovation into growing practices, pest and disease management, and on orchard management practices.
"With our nation's interconnected relationship with our land, natural resources, people and produce, it's vital we understand what regenerative horticulture means for Aotearoa, and for our brands and fresh produce in the global market."
Zespri's Executive Officer for Sustainability Rachel Depree said Zespri had a strong commitment to sustainable practice.
"As an industry, we already have a focus in soil health, water quality and carbon management – all of which contribute to a food system that supports the environment while producing high-quality, healthy kiwifruit for consumers around the world.
"It's important we understand how these practices link to this emerging concept of regenerative horticulture and what value there is in this for our consumers and our growers."
The first year of the project was underway and focused on conducting scientific research on what is known about regenerative practices.
In parallel, market analysis will be undertaken to understand consumer perceptions and drivers. This will include working with Iwi and growers to collaborate and build a widely agreed definition of regenerative horticulture for the industry.
Opportunities will be identified, as well as the development of a robust measurement and validation process, which will then take the project to the next phase.
Dr Brent Clothier from Plant & Food Research said regenerative agriculture means different things to different people and it was important to put any global principles into an Aotearoa New Zealand context.
"If our sector wants to remain competitive in the global marketplace, it's important that we use scientific analysis to quantify the impact of our horticultural practices on the land and soil health in the long term, and align our practices and our reporting with what the consumer expects from our premium produce."
Pāpāmoa College student awarded $12,000 scholarship for law studies
Pāpāmoa College student Isabella Wilson is determined not to let her disability of impaired vision hinder her pursuit of one day becoming a high court judge.
The Year 12 student has been awarded a $12,000 scholarship from facilities management services company OCS New Zealand and First Foundation to financially support her through her tertiary studies.
Isabella said the financial assistance provided through the scholarship was an amazing gift.
"My big blended family comes with its own barriers – every dollar my parents make has gone on being able to give myself and my siblings every opportunity. However, university education has always been something out of our reach.
"I know I can make a difference to my community and other families like mine. Being the first in my family to attend university will, I hope, pave a path for and inspire others in similar situations."
As well as being dedicated to her academic studies, Isabella has previously competed internationally in wrestling, representing Aotearoa in the NZ Wrestling Development Squad.
While she had to take a break from the sport due to her vision impairment, she has recently been cleared medically to start training again, despite knowing she will not have full vision.
Since 2014, OCS New Zealand has provided scholarships to high school students of low-income OCS families through the First Foundation sponsorship programme.
The three- to four-year scholarships include $12,000 to go towards tuition fees, work experience and access to a mentor within their field of study. The scholarship package arms scholars with the skills and knowledge they need for a successful career and study experience.
OCS ANZ managing director Gareth Marriott said the relationship with the First Foundation programme allows OCS to help create better outcomes for the families of all their team members.
"These scholarships are just one way we make sure that our students of today are set to achieve great things in this constantly changing world we live in."
Marriott said, as a result of her injury, Isabella had already shown amazing perseverance through adversity.
"These challenges, at such a young age, will put her in good stead to complete her studies and one day reach her goal of being a high court judge. I'm already looking forward to following her journey."
Isabella said the scholarship will help her access the extra adapted resources required due to her vision loss.
She also believes the work experience through the scholarship will widen her knowledge. Her mentor will provide a support system to transition into tertiary study and help to increase her independence.
Isabella intends to study a Bachelor of Law at the University of Waikato.
Young Innovator Awards 2021 winners announced
Tauranga schools have been named winners in the Young Innovator Awards 2021.
Now in its 11th year, the Yia! awards gives upcoming young innovators, entrepreneurs and game-changers the opportunity to present their creative solutions to real-world problems based on their own experiences or passions.
This year was the biggest yet, with more than 300 individual and team entries, of which 56 finalists were selected to progress to the finals. The winners were announced last month.
Head judge Jono Jones, who is chief product and innovation officer at Bluelab, said it was exciting to see so many students and schools engaging in problem-solving with an innovation and design mindset.
"We've seen a significant increase in students and teams entering this year which demonstrates the level of engagement. There was a very high calibre of thinking, which we were lucky enough to judge.
"The judges recognised how mature some of the problem spaces were that the students were tackling. The amount of work they've dedicated to researching, developing prototypes, testing and refining their innovations is huge.
"Every finalist was a worthy winner – the judges had some really tough decisions to make on the day! We're excited about the next generation of talent coming through."
Winners of each category were: Isla Martin and Nina Young (Intermediate award), Amelia Shorter, Cleo Putty, Erin Walpole and Haylee Hextall (Junior award), and Michael Ren (Senior award).
Guest judge Sarah Stevenson, who is a portfolio manager at Bay of Plenty District Health Board, was impressed with how many innovative rangatahi there are from local schools and believes the future looks bright.
Stevenson's advice for students considering entering the awards next year was to "work through the steps, don't be tempted to jump to the solution too early".
"Hold your initial solution or prototype loosely but be open to throwing it out or changing it when it's not quite fitting with what you're trying to achieve."
New to the category awards this year was the Social Impact Award, sponsored by Tauranga City Council. The award acknowledged entries that embodied social impact in a meaningful way to make a difference in the community.
The inaugural winners were Estee Taylor, Victoria Geck and Genevieve Kennerley from Otūmoetai College.
Yia! was founded by Priority One's Instep programme, aimed at providing opportunities for budding business and social innovators to connect with some of Aotearoa's best in the sector.
Priority One innovation manager Shane Stuart believed the level of creativity and innovation coming through in the next generation puts our region in good stead for the future.
"The standard of entries was exceptionally high this year."
The Yia! programme is supported by local secondary schools, business partners – Woods Agency, Bluelab, and Cucumber – and sponsors Bayfair, Beca Tauranga, Page Macrae Engineering, Robotics Plus, Tauranga City Council and the University of Waikato.