A Northland-based orchardist, Patrick Malley, has won the Young Grower of the Year title, after a final day of practical and theoretical competition in Christchurch on Thursday.
Patrick, 30, who was actually representing Bay of Plenty in the contest, co-owns the Onyx Capital kiwifruit and avocado orchard with his parents in Maungatapere, Northland and is the contracting operations manager, running 26 staff for that and other orchards.
He said he hoped the award would help to attract more young people into the horticulture sector.
"Yes, they're coming in but we need more of them and we need more passionate people," he said. "There is a wealth of opportunity and potential coming in the horticulture industry, especially as it grows and it's going to need people to drive that, so it an exciting time for people to get involved."
He said there were at least 7000 new jobs coming up for people in the horticultural industry and 14,000 jobs in total that required qualifications as well, "so there's a huge amount of poential for people to come into the industry from any level".