Priority One Instep Young Leaders Investigate Hort Pathways


This year’s Priority One Instep Young Leaders’ Forum was finally able to convene in person with a breakfast event co-hosted by Priority One and PlantTech, featuring guest presenters from PlantTech and Zespri. The kaupapa was to better understand the incredible range of opportunities available within the horticulture sector and to spread the word amongst their fellow students. 

Thanks to NZKGI and Zespri connections, the Young Leaders spent time in panel discussion with four young stars: Libby Twiss – External Relations Adviser at Zespri; Brooke Maddison – Innovation Specialist at Zespri; Ryan van Straalen – Financial Analyst at Zespri; and Hayden Keyte – Orchard Manager at Baygold. Several Young Leaders have since approached their respective schools to bring this inspiring group of talent to engage with the rest of their peers. The discussions lifted the lid on the variety of roles available in this key sector and the relative ease of movement between them. A number of the Young Leaders also reported feeling less anxious about their future pathway plans, acknowledging the transferability of skills and the non-linear journeys taken by the panel members to get to where they are today.

Dr Mark Begbie (CEO) and his highly skilled team from PlantTech then ran through the multitude of projects and applications they lead to leverage the power of artificial intelligence to better support the region’s horticulture sector. From advanced mapping to spectroscopic analysis, the tools being developed give growers more accurate and immediate access to key data and point the way toward more effective, sustainable management of resources for the sector. Mark observed, “it’s nice to have been able to share with the students a vision for how science and technology are contributing to solving what are absolutely global issues around sustainable food production.” The Young Leaders were impressed by the advances being made right here in their own backyards. 

Claire Ma from ACG Tauranga was delighted to participate, saying, “it was great catching up with new people that surprisingly shared a lot of common experiences with me, and we never ran out of topics to talk about!” This echoed the general sentiment and the Young Leaders now look forward to the next event hosted by our combined local council authorities on 12th May.    

For more information on how to engage with Zespri and the Kiwifruit industry broadly, Libby encourages you to contact her directly: 

This year’s Instep Young Leaders Forum are:

ACG Tauranga
Claire Ma
Ella McSweeney
Imaanay Anees 

Aquinas College
Thea Smith
Mia Thomas
Sophie Rogers 

Bethlehem College
Alivia Soltwedel
Daniel Aneke
Jemima Thomas 

Katikati College
Jadah MacKay
Mia Giacon
Lola Meeking-Coad 

Mt Maunganui College
Anna Brock
Eden Nicklin-Foster
Grace Akroyd 

Otūmoetai College
Evangelique Karena
Robert Unsworth
Samantha Bainbridge 

Pāpāmoa College
Ethan Fish
Phoebe Mclaren
Hannie Mastny 

Tauranga Boys’ College
Hamish Graham
Jake Corney
Darcy Bassett 

Tauranga Girls’ College
Bree McTavish-Huriwai
Lily Pearce
Judy Shin 

Te Puke High School
Brooke Barclay
Kyle Ebdon
Harjot (Harry) Singh 

Te Wharekura o Mauao
Lukah Rowling
Ngakaari Morehu
Eli Samuels