The past, present and future achievements of Hawke's Bay's finest Fruitgrowers have been celebrated at the annual Hawke's Bay Fruitgrowers Industry Awards.

Hawke's Bay Fruitgrowers Association president Ben James said the association was "really proud to be supporting our youth in the industry and their training development needs".

"It is always key to celebrate success and also to get the story out there that there is a lot of young kiwis training for successful careers in horticulture," James said.

He recognised that the industry needed people, specifically the highly skilled and educated in the crowd of almost 250 at Thursday night's celebration.


"We are seeing an increase in people wanting to come into the industry, but it is still not enough for us, we are still struggling to find permanent, full-time workers in Hawke's Bay."

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.

The Fourneau Award for innovation was awarded to now-graduated Woodford House Bayuble Design Team.

Last year, students Sarah Wixon, Maggie Peacock, Zoe Rookes and Rylie Bensemann created a fully biodegradable fruit sticker that will reduce waste and encourage consumers to wash their fruit.

"We describe it as the power of a wild idea enhanced by action and big ambition because we are so passionate about business and it is crazy to think that four young high school girls can come up with an idea and then actually see it get as far as it has," Wixon said.

She said it was "inspiring" to be recognised with the award. "It is such an honour to have received an award from the Fruitgrowers Association and have recognition in front of such an important audience of other inspiring horticultural people."

Despite all of them heading off to university this year, she said there were "new, exciting opportunities on the horizon" to further the business.

Although their product is still in the research and development stage, they have taken steps around patenting, she said.


For his life-long dedication Kerry Flanders, owner of Kerry Flanders Tractor Services was awarded the Joe Bell Trophy for service to the industry.

James said Flanders had been a "pioneer" in the region, converting tractors to ensure they could fit through the narrower orchard rows.

Forty-five future horticulturalists received scholarships and there will be 24 graduates of the Industry's the "Industry Apprenticeship" three year, Level 4 training Programme.

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.

The fruitgrowers awards began in 1978, when the first scholarship was awarded.