Horticulture industry stalwart, Mick (Michael) Ahern, has won the Horticulture New Zealand Industry Service Award for 2022. ‘Mick has contributed to the development of New Zealand’s horticulture industry for more than 40 years,’ says HortNZ President Barry O’Neil.
‘Mick is known for his common sense and ability – after everyone else has exhausted themselves with talking – to sum up the situation and provide wise counsel while pointing to the best if not the only way forward.’
Mick started out in the 70s as a university student writing a case study on the kiwifruit industry’s development. That lead to roles in the then fledgling kiwifruit export industry. ‘He then went on to further develop his career in the export onion industry, which in turn led to a position exporting a wide range of horticulture products,’ says Barry.
HortNZ President Barry O’Neil (left) presents Mick (Michael) Ahern (right) with the Horticulture New Zealand Industry Service Award for 2022.
‘Next, Mick turned his attention to consulting, with an emphasis on export businesses and good industry organizations. That is certainly where he has focused in the past ten years, with undisputed success in the onions and strawberry areas, leaving behind fit-for-purpose organizations with a focus on the future.’
Strawberries for export
Barry says most recently, Mick has been the driving force behind getting market access for strawberries in Vietnam. ‘With the challenge of Covid, Mick has used his contacts and charm to secure the funding, data, and document to support this request.’
Mick says today’s horticulture industry leaders ‘have one hell of a job.’
‘That is why they need the industry’s support to deal with the volume and complexity of challenge and change that the industry faces.’
Mick says he supports industry service awards as they highlight how young people can have a career in horticulture, ‘even if growing is not their thing. The horticulture industry seems very grower oriented, but there are many, many worthwhile careers in other, important areas of the industry.’
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