A lot of happy faces were seen Thursday evening at the Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrowers’ Association (H.B.F.A.) annual awards ceremony at the Havelock North Function Centre. Looking back on a very successful year in 2018, H.B.F.A paid tribute to the thriving local fruit grower, innovative young entrepreneurs and EIT Horticulture graduates.
In front of hundreds of friends, family and fellow students a group of 13 EIT Horticulture students were presented by faculty members with their National Certificate in Horticulture Level 4 and Advanced Level 4. The contribution of their trainers, who spent a lot of time mentoring their trainees, was also acknowledged, as all the graduates are already in full-time employment by fruitgrowers in Hawke’s Bay.
H.B.F.A. president Ben James later announced numerous scholarship recipients. From the twenty New Zealand Horticulture scholarships worth $500, six went to EIT students. The event culminated with EIT student Stacie Scott winning the award for Excellence in Horticulture, while Jack McCrory was honoured for being the Top Organic Apprentice.
For Horticulture tutor, Gordon Reid ceremonial occasions of this kind are always a great pleasure. Seeing his students succeed is why he loves his job. “It’s that moment when I see the light bulbs come on,” said Gordon. “A lot of our students are kinaesthetic learners. They learn by doing. That’s why some of them struggle with the theoretical side that the programme covers, such as soil management, botany or human resource management. But we help them overcome their difficulties.” Gordon enjoys the sense of humour, genuineness and the honesty of his students.
One of the outstanding graduates is Sunethra Mahawatta. Having moved to New Zealand just three years ago from Sri Lanka, the qualified primary school teacher enjoyed studying at EIT. “It was an awesome experience and the tutors were so inspiring.” Sunethra is working in one of the orchards run by Mr Apple and is already planning on bringing her studies to the next level.