Former Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says labour shortages and an avalanche of government-sponsored regulations are crippling the sector.
Chapman received the award from Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor at a gala dinner at Mystery Creek, Hamilton, where the two-day HortNZ conference ends today.
Chapman’s career in the horticulture industry has spanned more than 20 years.
Swapping his legal-focused work for kiwifruit, he took up the role of Kiwifruit New Zealand chief executive in 2002 and then, in 2005, he became New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated chief executive. Ten years later he picked up the reigns as Horticulture New Zealand chief executive, a position he held until June this year.
But after stepping down, Chapman has continued to work on the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme. He was instrumental in the Government’s decision in early August to permit RSE workers from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu, to enter New Zealand without the need for managed isolation.
The Bledisloe Cup for horticulture was first presented in 1931 by the then Governor-General Lord Bledisloe, for a competition between orchardists for the best exhibit of New Zealand apples at the Imperial Fruit Show.
It is one of several cups Lord Bledisloe presented to New Zealand and is similar to rugby’s Bledisloe Cup, which was also donated in 1931.
HortNZ president Barry O’Neil says Chapman's advocacy for the horticultural industry has been untiring, forceful, and balanced.