As Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern opened the 2018 New Zealand Avocado International Industry Conference in Tauranga on August 29 in front of industry delegates – from growers through to exporters – she revealed her horticultural ‘roots’.
The Prime Minister talked about her grandparents having an avocado orchard when she was a child, and her appreciation of the hard work involved in bringing them to our tables.
“I like to think I had an always had an appreciation of avocados. As a child I grew up around orchards. “My grandparents bought their first orchard in Morrinsville. They went from being dairy farmers to running that orchard in the 1980s, complete with graded cherry pickers and a coolstore.
“As enterprising folk they decided apple and tamarillo trees weren’t enough, so they planted nashi pears. I still remember how hard it was to protect the extremely fragile and experimental fruit from birds.
“In part because my parents eventually bought this orchard from my grandparents while I was in primary school. And helping to protect these trees on daily basis was one of my jobs.”
The Prime Minister said her grandparents went from nashi's to kiwifruit. “And always ones to be ahead of the game – they eventually went onto an avocado orchard, on the hills of Welcome Bay.
“I loved that orchard, the size of the mature trees and the shade they created on a warm day. I loved walking through it with my grandmother and picking avocados from the ground for our lunch.
“But I also knew that it was hard work, for them and for those who continue on in that field – taking what is for me a nostalgic product to the world.”