Monday, February 26, 2024

Industry stalwart wins horticulture service award

Horticulture industry stalwart, Mick (Michael) Ahern, has won the Horticulture New Zealand Industry Service Award for 2022.

“Mick has contributed to the development of New Zealand’s horticulture industry for more than 40 years,” says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

“Mick is known for his common sense and ability – after everyone else has exhausted themselves with talking – to sum up the situation and provide wise counsel, while pointing to the best if not only way forward.”

As a university student in the 70s, Mr Ahern wrote a case study on the kiwifruit industry’s development, which led to roles in the then fledgling, kiwifruit export industry.

“He then went onto further develop his career in the export onion industry, which in turn lead to a position exporting a wide range of horticulture products,” said Mr O’Neil.

“Next, Mick turned his attention to consulting, with an emphasis on export businesses and industry good organisations. That is certainly where he has focused in the past ten years, with undisputed success in the onions and strawberry areas, leaving behind fit for purpose organisations with a focus on the future.”

Most recently, Mr Ahern has been the driving force behind getting market access for strawberries in Vietnam, Mr O’Neil said.

“With the challenge of Covid, Mick has used his contacts and charm to secure the funding, data and document to support this request,” he said.

Mr O’Neil said today’s horticulture industry leaders have “one hell of a job” to do.

“That is why they need the industry’s support to deal with the volume and complexity of challenge and change that the industry faces.”

Mr Ahern says he supports industry service awards as they highlight how young people can have a career in horticulture.

“The horticulture industry seems very grower oriented but there are many, many worthwhile careers in other, important areas of the industry,” he said.

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