Kiwifruit industry leader Ian Greaves received Horticulture New Zealand's inaugural President's Award last week for his significant contribution to the industry.
The award was presented by HortNZ president Julian Raine and Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy at its national conference in Rotorua.
HortNZ president Julian Raine said the new award was intended to recognise outstanding and inspiring leadership within the horticulture industry.
Mr Greaves had spent his life in the Bay of Plenty where he had experienced the ups and downs of the horticulture industry, he said.
"In 2010, Psa disease began wiping out New Zealand kiwifruit crop and Ian realised that growers needed support.
"He developed a unique framework to give rural people the opportunity to communicate about their feelings and situations."
He provided life-saving pastoral support to growers during this time, Mr Raine said.
Mr Greaves was the Psa national recovery co-ordinator and helped arrange industry-wide counselling, grower discussion groups and other support avenues.
"He has made a positive difference to our industry by developing a system that deals with the seriousness of life during rural crisis."
Mr Greaves said: "I've been involved in the kiwifruit industry all my working life.
"My biggest achievement in the industry is to play my part to the very best of my ability. Everyone is important and has a part to play, I have been doing mine."
"The kiwifruit industry has a bright future as long as new people, like I was once, are allowed in to make their mark and bring their innovations, hopes, dreams, energy and skills."
Other awards presented were the Bledisloe Cup, to Hawke's Bay consultant John Wilton, and industry service awards to berryfruit scientist Geoff Langford and former HortNZ chief executive Peter Silcock.
John Wilton was recognised for his long-serving commitment to the pipfruit industry.