Tell us about your background.
I am qualified in Diagnostic Imaging and Emergency Medical procedures but when I arrived in New Zealand it was time for a change
For over 16 years now I have worked in the horticultural industry
I started working part time on a kiwifruit and citrus orchard in Kerikeri and part time in the local packhouse
So I soon learnt both perspectives
When I started we were growing good old Hort16A but it wasn’t long before I had to upskill on grafting to convert over to the current Sungold variety
We grow 3 types of mandarins, giving us a nice spread of early and later harvesting crops, and a later season Navel orange
These citrus crops we grow, harvest, pack and market ourselves
What do you do now?
Orchard Manager – 7 ha Kiwifruit and 3 ha citrus
How did you get that role? What was the pathway to that?
I felt like a change of career and simply fell into it through friends
It was a lifestyle choice
What’s the best thing about your role?
Practical hands on management!
I love being out in the orchard, there’s a sense of achievement as you see things coming to life in Spring or the fruit sizing or changing color.
I enjoy my industry involvement too and have been extremely lucky with the opportunities I have been given in this area
And I enjoy being an advocate for the Growers in my region and also for the Growers in my Entity
Do you travel much for the role ?
I travel a little more now for grower advocacy for my industry involvement yes.
If you have children how do/did you balance your job and family? What are/were the biggest issues? How did you deal with them?
I have 3 children, the youngest is 10 and the oldest is 18
They have all grown up on the orchard from about 3 weeks of age
It is a great environment for kids to grow up, ride their bikes
Now they are a little bigger they come to work and help me pick!
Was being a woman a hindrance or a help in getting this role?
In my case it made no difference but I have found I have had to prove myself more so in some areas.
Do you have any qualifications?
BSc(Hons) Science, Level 5 Hort
Did you require any specific education or training for this role?
I had the benefit of being trained from day 1 by people with over 50 years experience
I’m still learning
Do you have any advice/tips for other women wanting a role like yours?
It is a physically demanding role
If you want it work hard and prove you can do it
Are you on any Boards? If so which ones
I have been a Trustee or Director on Post Harvest Council for over 10 years and am currently part of the Seeka Grower Council
And I am part of the committee for the Kerikeri Fruit Growers Society
Anything else you’d like to add?
Working in horticulture is hugely rewarding and can make for a great lifestyle
It is physically hard work but is a great career path full of opportunity