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Celebrating 100 Years of the New Zealand Kiwifruit

Media Release 17 December 2003

Celebrating 100 Years of the New Zealand Kiwifruit Industry in 2004

The New Zealand Kiwifruit industry will celebrate its centenary in 2004 commemorating the arrival of the first Chinese Gooseberry seeds brought here by Wanganui school teacher, Isabel Fraser.

That scattering of seeds has grown from a cottage industry into a global success story. Grower-owned ZESPRI International is now the single biggest marketer of kiwifruit in the world. Export sales are nudging the billion dollar mark from its unique product range of the classic ZESPRI™ GREEN Kiwifruit, tropical sweet ZESPRI™ GOLD Kiwifruit, named after the colour of its juicy flesh, and ZESPRI™ ORGANIC Kiwifruit.

New Zealand founded the world’s commercial kiwifruit industry first with Hayward green kiwifruit, sold as Chinese Gooseberries at Covent Garden markets in London. The name change to kiwifruit was made by Turners and Growers in 1959.

“We’ve come a long way since the early day in the 1950s and 60s. At the start of the new century we introduced the new ZESPRI™ GOLD Kiwifruit and protected this unique product for the next generation of New Zealand grower pioneers.

“We’re still marketing kiwifruit but now it is branded, comes in two colours, different sizes and tastes and earns huge premiums over all other competitor kiwifruit because of our ability to deliver constant quality through an integrated production and delivery system that is the envy of offshore growers,” said ZESPRI Chairman and grower, Craig Greenlees.

“Our centenary is an opportunity to celebrate the innovation, passion and formidable achievements of everyone who has contributed to making this industry the acknowledged world leader.”

The centenary celebrations have been planned to enable as many growers and industry partners as possible to participate and meet each other to share their experiences and stories.

“The industry has real family values and despite robust debate and plenty of diverse opinions, we share a passion for kiwifruit and work as a co-operative team to constantly lift our game. We are proud to have earned our reputation with customers in some 60 marketplaces of being the best producers and marketers in the world,” said Mr Greenlees.

The centenary programme includes a Picnic in the Park concert event to be held in Te Puke in March.
“Some 80 per cent of our growers live in the Bay of Plenty, and ZESPRI’s global headquarters are based here, so it is fitting that we honour a century of growth together,” Mr Greenlees said.

The programme also includes commemorations in Tauranga, Wanganui, where Isabel Fraser was headmistress of Wanganui Girls College, Nelson, Te Puke, South Auckland, KeriKeri, Opotoki and the other kiwifruit growing regions.

The highlight of the centenary will be the official opening of ZESPRI’s refurbished Mount Maunganui offices and a gala dinner with growers, post harvest, past and present leaders, politicians and key customers.

“This will be a wonderful occasion to acknowledge our past, celebrate our heroes and look forward with confidence to the future as a united, innovative and pioneering industry,” Mr Greenlees said.


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