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Upper NI Dominates Race for NZ's Top Horticulturist 2017

Upper North Island dominates race for New Zealand’s top horticulturist 2017

This year’s search for New Zealand’s best young horticulturalist has a distinctly Upper North Island flavour with four out of the five contestants for New Zealand’s top young horticulturist 2017 coming from Gisborne, Auckland, Te Puke and Waiheke Island (and one from Christchurch).

Elle Anderson Chair of RNZIH Education Trust says that not so long ago few people would have thought of the Auckland region as a centre for primary production.

“That is changing fast, as horticulture gains traction as a major player in New Zealand’s economy. There’s a lot of good wine and vegetables coming out of Auckland and surrounds.”

The finalists in the Royal NZ Institute of Horticulture Education Trust’s ‘Young Horticulturist of the Year 2017 Competition’ are:

• Erin Atkinson, Apata Group, Te Puke, winner of the Young Grower of the Year and representing Horticulture New Zealand.

• Pippa Lucas, Auckland Botanic Gardens, Young Amenity Horticulturist of the Year winner, representing Amenity Horticulture supported by the New Zealand Recreation Association.

• Shanna Hickling, Riversun Nursery, Gisborne, NZPPI Young Achiever of the Year winner, representing the Nursery and Garden Industry of New Zealand.

• Lauren Morgan, Auckland Young Florist of the Year winner, representing Floristry NZ Inc. and NZ Flower Growers Inc. (While qualifying for the finals, Lauren has had to withdraw for health reasons).

• Jordan Frizzell, Outer Space Landscapes, Christchurch, winner of Young Landscaper of the Year, representing Landscaping New Zealand.

• Tim Adams, Obsidian Vineyards, Waiheke, Young Viticulturist of the Year winner, representing New Zealand Winegrowers.

About the finalists

Erin Atkinson (30)

Erin – who has a Bachelor of Science in Horticultural Science from Massey University – is the technical advisor for ApataGrow, a kiwifruit and avocado pack house and Coolstore in the Bay of Plenty

Originally from Pukekohe, Erin started her career growing tomatoes in glasshouses.

Shanna Hickling (30)

Shanna – who has a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Genetics at Massey University – is the deputy Laboratory Manager at Riversun Nursery’s laboratory Linnaeus, and was raised on a sheep and beef farm in Gisborne.

“We are developing our soil testing abilities and have a growing list of available tests that cater to both residents and horticultural companies. It is so exciting knowing we are on the forefront of science and technology; not just in New Zealand, but globally,” Shanna said.

Pippa Lucas (26)

Pippa is studying for a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture and has already achieved a National Certificate in Amenity Horticulture Level 4, International Horticultural Internship at Longwood Gardens USA and three years' practical and theoretical training in amenity horticulture at Dunedin Botanic Gardens.

Pippa is currently Collection Curator of the Perennials at the Auckland Botanic Gardens in Manurewa and is originally from Dunedin.

Jordan Frizzell (30)

Christchurch based owner of OuterSpace Landscapes, Jordan has won a total of seven awards over three years at the Ellerslie International Flower Show including two Golds, two People’s Choice Awards and the Supreme Construction and Supreme Horticulture awards.

He is married to Larissa and the couple have two young children.

“Outside of work I am passionate about education and am involved in two separate non-profit organisation/trusts in relation to education and fundraising for education,” Jordan said.

Tim Adams (30)

With a background in human sciences, Tim's start in wine came in the form of a summer job that quickly turned into further study and a career change into viticulture. Since then he has worked in New Zealand and Australia and currently runs the vineyard for Obsidian wines on Waiheke Island.

He is interested in both the practical and technical aspects of viticulture and is passionate about producing great grapes for great wines on Waiheke Island.

About the competition

Finalists (30 years and under) compete for a prize pool of over $40,000 that includes a $7,500 travel and accommodation package for the winner and a $5,500 Massey University study scholarship for the runner up, as well as an AGMARDT Market Innovation Project first prize of $5,000.

The Young Horticulturist of the Year competition is made possible through the generous support of Young Horticulturist of the Year 2017 competition partners AGMARDT, T&G and Fruitfed Supplies.

Supporters of the competition are Bayer CropScience, Horticentre Trust, Primary ITO, Countdown, NZ Gardener Magazine and Trillian Trust. Plus, Affiliated Supporters, Friends, Volunteers and industry specialist who give their time.

To check out the full list of supporters or for more information about how to enter for 2018, visit for more information


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