Coast & Country News’ former editor Elaine Fisher has been recognised for producing excellence in agricultural journalism on New Zealand’s horticulture industry for a fourth time, at the 2018 New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists & Communicators Awards.
Elaine was presented the prestigious Horticulture New Zealand Journalism Award for 2018 at the Guild’s 60th anniversary celebrations and awards night last month – after winning it back in 2011 while working at the Bay of Plenty Times, and collecting the accolade two years-in-a-row, in 2014 and 2015, for articles in Coast & Country News when she held the editor’s role.
Elaine left Coast & Country News early this year to write a book about the pioneers of the kiwifruit industry. But before she left entered the guild awards one last time for the publication, with two stories. One covered Erin Atkinson of Tauranga becoming the first woman to win the New Zealand Young Grower of the Year award, in September 2017.
The second was profiling Opotiki organic kiwifruit growers Mark and Catriona White, who were entrants the 2018 Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards. They subsequently won the awards’ BOP regional title and the supreme national title, and went on to become the 2018 National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing.
Elaine, who is currently president of the NZ Guild of Agricultural Journalists & Communicators, says it’s a real honour to win this national award because there are some excellent journalists writing about horticulture.
“Entering the awards is one way of benchmarking myself to be sure I’m doing a good job both for readers and the industry.”
Elaine says the horticultural industry is diverse in the variety of foods it produces and how it’s grown, from indoors, to orchards, to market gardens, to covered cropping. “I find this diversity and the research and development, and innovations surrounding it, very interesting.”
“The people are inspiring – they range from orchardists or growers running their own businesses – such as organic kiwifruit growers Mark and Catriona White, to enthusiastic young people like Erin Atkinson, to post-harvest company leaders to industry leaders including local fruitgrower association members, to product group board members, CEOs and staff.
“The common theme is a pride in and commitment to their industries.”
Elaine says there are so many good stories within the primary industries and such great people involved that it’s not hard to write good stories. “But all the stories are not positive – there are issues to be addressed including animal welfare, environment impacts, labour shortages and working conditions, and the ever-threat of biosecurity incursions.”
Lastly, Elaine says she’s grateful to HortNZ for continuing to sponsor the award established by NZ Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators, to encourage and recognise excellence in agricultural journalism, focused on New Zealand’s horticulture industry.
All Guild awards’ winners are listed at: www.nzgajc.org.nz/awards/2018-guild-agricultural-journalism-awards