Winegrowing studies are making a comeback at EIT under the leadership of Hawke’s Bay viticulture expert Tim Creagh, who plans to make Gisborne his new home.
Tim has taught thousands of winegrowers from around New Zealand, having been a viticulture lecturer at EIT’s Hawke’s Bay campus for nearly 20 years, as well as managing the EIT vineyard there.
With a degree in viticulture and a certificate in winemaking, he worked in the industry in Australia before returning to New Zealand and establishing vineyards for numerous companies around Hawke’s Bay.
He lectured in viticulture for the degree programme at EIT, as well as teaching the subject two months of the year in China, now one of the largest importers of wine in the world.
As well he served as show director for the Bragato awards and a director for the A&P Association Wine Awards in Hawke’s Bay.
He is excited about the new Gisborne-based winegrowing programme, which he says will provide students with Level 3 certificates in both cellar operations and viticulture. This will set them up well for a wide variety of jobs in both the vineyard and the cellar.
The programme is putting a strong emphasis on sustainability, including organics and biodynamics, to meet a growing new need for this in the industry. This is a point of difference from other similar courses offered in New Zealand.
Students will also be equipped to deal with modern techniques, both in winegrowing and processing.
“Because of the size of the operations in Gisborne, people are often required to do both,” he said.
“Technology will also be part of it because the industry wants people who are work-ready.”
The programme will be running full-time but there will be part time opportunities for those already working in the industry who wanted to upskill.
“We are putting a lot of effort into structuring the timetable so that people can fit their studies in with their jobs,” he said.
There will be intakes in July and February, so that industry training components can be timed to coincide with production cycles and the vintage.
Health and safety, handling chemicals , equipment and machinery would also be covered to ensure graduates would be work ready, compliant and employable.
“The job opportunities are not limited to Gisborne – the whole country is looking for these skills.”
The programme has been endorsed by the Gisborne Winegrowers Association.
“There are many work opportunities here,” said Mr Creagh.
“New Zealand wine exports continue to increase with expanding markets including United States, China and Canada.”
Making the move to Gisborne was an easy decision for Tim, who has been coming here for his holidays for the past 20 years and already has many links in the local industry.
He has been bringing groups of degree students here for years and at one stage, was coming to Gisborne every week.
“Gisborne has been a big part of my life and I am looking forward to the lifestyle here.”