Horticulture New Zealand congratulates Pukekohe grower Andrew Hutchinson, who was named Young Horticulturalist of the Year at last night’s awards dinner in Auckland.
Andrew, a 28-year-old technical support advisor at AS Wilcox & Sons, was the winner of the Young Grower of the Year in July, and represented Horticulture New Zealand in last night’s competition. Along with four other finalists, he demonstrated his skills in the grand final competition over the past two days at the Auckland Botanic Gardens.
Horticulture New Zealand Chief Executive, Mike Chapman, said Andrew had a bright future and exemplified the capability of young people in today’s rapidly growing horticultural industry.
"The aim of the competition is to foster excellence among young people in horticulture, and future-proof the horticultural industry. It is heartening to see so many young talented horticulturalists who will be our industry leaders of the future," Mr Chapman says.
"There was some amazing talent on display last night, but Andrew just rose above. His win is well deserved, and he serves as a fantastic example of what horticulture represents. I expect him to serve as inspiration for other young people both in and out of the industry, and let them see what horticultureis really like."
Andrew has his sights set on the future, but not before taking a well-earned break in Northland.
"It’s still sinking in that I’ve won, it’s really great. It’s definitely the next step on from Young Grower, and the preparation needed was even higher. The calibre of people in this competition was incredible, in this kind of competition you can’t make a half attempt; you have to give it your all," Andrew says.
"I’m going kayak fishing in Northland for the next few days. When I’m back I’ll see where the opportunities take me, but this is definitely a step in the right direction. There’s a lot of new technology coming, and new crop varieties. That’s where my interests lie."
Andrew’s employer, Brent Wilcox from AS Wilcox & Sons says competitions such as this give bright young talent the opportunity to stretch themselves and plan for their future.
"We are very proud of Andrew’s achievement. His past experience in packhouse management and now developing his technical growing knowledge means he has a broad skill base and will continue to be an asset to the industry in the future," Mr Wilcox says.
The finalists spent two days competing in a series of challenges to test the skills demanded by a modern career in horticulture, including innovation, research, and leadership, as well as interviews with judges and a day of practical challenges.
In taking home the ‘Young Horticulturist of the Year’ title, Andrew Hutchinson receives $7,500 of study travel and accommodation from T&G, $1,000 worth of ICL Specialty Fertiliser products, and a $100 NZ Horticultural magazine subscription.