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Magic Memories to Commemorate Kiwifruit Centenary

Magic and Memories to Commemorate Kiwifruit Centenary

A huge logistics operation is under way in Mount Maunganui as an army of chefs, kitchen hands, waiters, bus drivers, technicians and builders prepare for the New Zealand Kiwifruit Industry’s Centennial Gala on Friday night (May 14).

The gala is to be attended by 800 special guests including Prime Minister Helen Clark and an official representative of China, the original source of the kiwifruit seeds brought back to New Zealand by headmistress Isabel Fraser in 1904, as well as pioneer growers, industry leaders and a 90-strong press corps from Asia.

It is one of the biggest events ever hosted in the Bay of Plenty where 80 per cent of the 75 million tray kiwifruit crop is produced and then exported by ZESPRI to some 60 countries to earn almost a billion dollars a year in sales.

“The gala celebrates a century of extraordinary achievement and we are looking forward to sharing memories and the magic of what one of our pioneers, Roly Earp, calls ‘a fabulous adventure of a lifetime’,” said ZESPRI Group Chairman, Craig Greenlees “We will have a room filled with the founding fathers of the industry, growers, post harvest partners, past industry leaders, chairmen and chief executives of the various marketing bodies and boards that have run the business and politicians as well as representatives of the current generation who have been passed the baton to build the next era of success.”

The gala, which will celebrate the life and times of the kiwifruit industry, will follow the official opening of ZESPRI’s refurbished global headquarters in Mount Maunganui by the Prime Minister on Friday afternoon.

ZESPRI, the world’s biggest marketer of kiwifruit and category leader, has its global corporate, administration and operations base in Mount Maunganui, accessible to its grower shareholders and export port. A network of marketing offices around the world deals directly with retail and trade customers.

A highlight of the opening will be the unveiling and blessing of a Maori carving, ‘Te Ohonga’ or ‘The Awakening’ depicting Rongo ma Tane, the god of cultivated foods and god of peace, which will stand in the foyer of the Mount Maunganui Road office.

Tauranga-based master carver, James Tapiata, assisted by Warren McGrath and Simon Madgewick, spent more than 200 hours creating the work from a 100 year old microcapra tree.

In the run up to the official opening and centennial gala, 90 press and television journalists from Mexico, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China have been in the Bay of Plenty.

The educational visit, aimed at generating media coverage in the markets to support the sales programmes, has introduced the journalists to the New Zealand lifestyle and the ZESPRI™ brand experience. The schedule has taken journalists from orchards and packhouses to an adventure tourism experience in Rotorua, cooking demonstrations from local chefs who have created special dishes which naturally include kiwifruit and nutrition seminars to learn about the health and lifestyle benefits of this icon kiwi product.

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