Louise Peters

Orchard Manager
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