Royal New Zealand Navy Captain Shaun Fogarty is getting accustomed to being a "Mr" again after taking on a new horticulture role in Alexandra.
In February Fogarty was based in Canberra, serving as Defence Adviser for Australia and India.
He resigned from that position, his final in an impressive military career, a year early to take up the role of chief executive officer at Seasonal Solutions Co-operative (SSC), which provides seasonal and permanent workers in the horticulture and viticulture industries.
Fogarty, in his early 50s, was drawn to the job both for its nature and its Central Otago location.
He and his wife, Felicity, have for 10 years owned the historic stone cottage that was once Belfast Store under James Hazlett, the second mayor of Dunstan.
"My wife and I have always been passionate about coming here long-term beyond the military," he said.
The co-operative nature of SSC, which has 65 shareholders, mainly in Otago with a small number in Canterbury and Marlborough, was another attraction.
"I love the idea of a co-operative and the collective will of a group of growers that are really delivering to the prosperity of New Zealand."
"It's not about making a large profit, it's about making sure our shareholders have the right people with the right skills."
Fogarty was well qualified to helm the co-operative, with his academic qualifications including a Master of Logistics and Supply Chain Management from Massey University and a Master of Management from the University of Canberra.
He also had a wealth of experience in the Pacific, deployed to Timor Leste to monitor the 1999 independence referendum, and returning there as an operational planner during the 2006 crisis.
He said he was attracted by the RSE scheme, under which SSC employs 1140 workers across 12 months.
"I've seen the benefit it brings to societies," he said.
Not only is SSC the employer for these workers, but they look after their pastoral care.
Lately, that has included dealing with the effects of the Covid-19 Omicron variant on workers.
"We're getting a steady drumbeat of workers getting Omicron and having to isolate in bubbles," he said.
This was made easier because teams lived and worked in bubbles, and testing was immediate if anyone showed any symptoms that could be Covid.
However, isolation was another labour issue, alongside the lack of backpackers on working holiday visas who would normally be available to pick.
There was great support from locals in the region, Fogarty said, but there were real shortages still.
"It's a great season in terms of growth, but with labour shortages, some fruit won't get picked."
Listen to Jamie Mackay interview Shaun Fogarty on The Country below:
Meanwhile, Fogarty told The Country's Jamie Mackay that the season had been difficult not only for growers but RSE workers as well.
"A lot of our Pacific Island work staff have had challenges themselves. Some of them have been here way too long and they haven't been able to get home.
There was now "light at the end of the tunnel" for these workers with borders opening up, in Vanuatu, in particular, and quarantine-free travel in July, Fogarty said.
"Weather-wise and produce-wise [the season has gone] particularly well ... but it's fair to say pressure on staffing has continued to be a real challenge."
Fogarty said SSC was "aiming to get back to normal" before next season, despite winter and summer staff being "a bit out of sync".
So it's going to take a good 12 to 18 months before we can really get those people back into the right time zones - but we'll get there."
- Otago Daily Times with additional reporting from The Country