Hiraina Tangiora

Horti-Business / Zespri International Ltd

School: Villa Maria College, Christchurch (Y9-10) and Nelson College for Girls, Nelson (Y11-13)

Training Institute: Bachelor of Commerce (Supply Chain Management and International Business), Lincoln University

Current Employment: Zespri International Ltd

I’ve always been passionate about the New Zealand primary sector, from studying at Lincoln University, to pursuing a career in horticulture at Zespri, and more recently beginning a Master of Business Studies with a focus on Zespri and the kiwifruit industry.

After following a close friend of mine to the Lincoln University stand at the Nelson College for Girls career expo I was intrigued by the “gate-to-plate” supply chain major and found myself quickly enrolling to study there not long after. Throughout my three years there I was given some incredible opportunities, in various leadership and cultural roles, and all of which continue to shape my way of thinking today. Lincoln University opened my eyes to just some of the opportunities which exist within the primary sector in New Zealand and I always knew I wanted to land a career in a primary sector exporter, as I could use my qualification for something, I was personally interested in.

Though I had a general idea of the industry I wanted to end up in, like many university students, I wasn’t sure exactly where I wanted to work upon graduating. My mind was eventually made up however after a bus ride with a lecturer who recommended I apply for the Zespri graduate programme, stating it was a great industry and company to be involved with. Fast-forward to now and I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked in the kiwifruit industry for four years. Over that time, I’ve always been amazed by the number of opportunities which exist, particularly within the kiwifruit industry but also in the wider horticultural sector, to those who seek them.

After completing my Bachelor of Commerce (Supply Chain Management and International Business) I joined Zespri’s supply chain team through their graduate programme. My time in supply chain gave me a greater understanding of the whole kiwifruit supply chain from time spent at Plant and Food Research, on orchard, in postharvest facilities, at ports in both New Zealand and Belgium, and in European supermarket. I then switched functions to grower and alliances and that’s where I landed my current role of external relations coordinator. I thoroughly enjoy the diversity the role involves, both in terms of the work and the people I get to meet, as no two days are the same and there’s always a new challenge or project to tackle.

I am a member of the Future Leaders Committee, a group which organises personal development and networking activities for those in the kiwifruit and related industries, and I am passionate about getting even more young people into the industry. My passion stems from the diversity of careers I know are available and the life-changing experiences I’ve personally been afforded. These and other opportunities solidified my passion for the sector and the people in it, and further affirmed my desire to stay and contribute to the exciting growth in any way I could. I’m also a member of the Bay of Plenty Young Fruit Grower Upskilling Committee and ExportNZ Bay of Plenty Executive Committee which both allow me to meet and work with a range of people from around the Bay of Plenty too.

I personally love working in the kiwifruit industry because it’s filled with smart, creative and relentlessly passionate people who are all working together for the genuine betterment of the industry and New Zealand.

I am a lover of New Zealand food products (especially kiwifruit!) because of the consistently high quality and good reputation the whole nation has worked so hard to attain and maintain. It’s safe to say we’ve punched well above our weight on the global stage for some time now, but consumer trends are changing faster than ever, and we’ll need to keep up to survive. We cannot continue to grow at all costs, and therein lies a range of challenges and opportunities for the sector and especially our young people to find innovative and world-class solutions for.

There’s a huge amount of opportunity which exists to anyone who seeks it, so I genuinely encourage anyone looking for a challenging yet extremely rewarding career to consider one in kiwifruit and horticulture!