Regional Supreme Winner: Helen Scott (orchard manager) of Whiritoa Orchards – Kiwifruit
The whānau behind this Whakatāne property has transformed a struggling kiwifruit orchard into a top performer while also caring for and improving the land.
Whiritoa Gold and Whiritoa Organic orchards grow both conventional and organic gold kiwifruit across a total of 9 hectares. Led by orchard manager Helen Scott, the team is striving to leave the land in a better state than it was found, for the enjoyment of future generations – whether or not they’re growing kiwifruit.
Since purchasing the land in 2017 and 2019, Māori Investments Limited has extensively developed the orchards. Whiritoa Gold was bought as a struggling, flood-damaged orchard and has since been transformed into a healthy, well-performing business.
A key priority was establishing good drainage and restoring soil health across the orchards and it has paid off. Most recently, they’ve lifted production so they’re harvesting an additional 10,000 trays of kiwifruit per hectare – up to a maximum of 21,000 trays.
Whiritoa is focused on carrying a sustainable, good-quality crop that cares for both land and plants. The team is trialing a mixture of cover crops and using fertigation to ensure the plants get the right nutrients.
Whiritoa entered the Ballance Farm Environment Awards to demonstrate the career opportunities they have created for their whānau. Hiring local is a priority, in particular creating employment opportunities for shareholders and their descendants. All employees are trained, upskilled and empowered so their work becomes a career rather than just a job. In addition, fresh vegetables are grown for the whānau to help improve their personal health.
The company’s overarching mission is to maximise the land’s potential, while acting as a guardian of its taonga – and this strategy guides all parts of the business. They see Whiritoa as a great opportunity to improve both whānau and land into the future.
As well as receiving this year’s Regional Supreme Award, Helen also received:
Bayleys People in Primary Sector Award
Norwood Agri-Business Management Award
ZESPRI® Kiwifruit Orchard Award
Enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards