Our sector has a strong history of developing young people who love working with plants and building their skills and knowledge. We are working with our members, industry partners, tertiary providers and the Government to reignite the training programmes and qualifications that have been so important to our sector.  

 Lincoln Memorandum of Understanding

In July 2022, NZPPI was delighted to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Lincoln University to establish a national Centre of Excellence for plant production. This Centre, based at Lincoln, will provide extension, research and capacity-building programmes for our industry, from breeding and germplasm through to the production and marketing of plants and plant products. The overall aim is to drive productivity and resilience in our industry through:

  • accelerating the adoption of innovations
  • technical and extension services for NZPPI members and our partners.
  • establishing new models for horticulture education, in the regions and in the workplace.  

Alongside this partnership with Lincoln, sits an innovation network model for plant production. The framework will give our members access to expertise from Lincoln and through its international networks. This is a step change for our industry.  It will put plant producers in the driving seat, making science and education relevant and accessible, as well as cheaper and faster.  Through our relationship with Lincoln, NZPPI can bring together the resources and know-how needed to establish the Centre of Excellence plus regional and local centres where extension and education activities can be delivered.  


The Young Plant Producer competition (formerly called Young Achiever) recognises the best young people in our sector and enables them to take the next step in their personal and career development.

The two-day event pushes entrants to learn valuable new skills, gives them exceptional networking opportunities with industry leaders, and a boost to their careers. Each year our Young Plant Producer joins the winners of other horticulture industry competitions in the Young Horticulturalist of the Year.

Check out the Young Plant Producer website for more information and how and when to enter.



In July 2022, we announced the establishment of the Carol Fraser Industry Training Award (Fraser Award) in memory of Carol Fraser who founded Growing Spectrum with her husband Peter. Carol, who played an extremely active role in industry training and the professional development of plant producers. This award, supported by the Fraser family, will continue Carol’s educational legacy through its support of those outstanding individuals who have a passion for plants, for training and education, and for our industry. The inaugural award was presented at the Conference 2022 awards dinner by Carol’s son Michael to Rural Design nursery manager, Dani McBride, our 2021 Young Achiever.

Careers & Education

With about 4000 people employed in our sector and many unfilled jobs, there are plenty of opportunities for people to join our industry and pursue an exciting and rewarding career. 

We work with other primary organisations to identify the best structure for a Primary Workforce Development Council to represent our sector.

This work includes:

  • Developing our industry qualifications to ensure that they are relevant
  • Promoting free apprenticeships
  • Establishing a way for people to find jobs in our sector

Workplace Training

The $1.6 Billion Trades and Apprenticeships Training Package announced by the Government will provide free training in our sector for a two year period, starting 1 June 2020.

This is a prime opportunity for anyone working in your business to take the step upskilling. There are many new training opportunities for workers that are starting out, or already in management positions.  

To find out more, visit the  Plant Careers Website

Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme

Equipping today’s leaders for tomorrow’s challenges.

The Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme has been specifically designed for the food and fibre sector.

The programme develops food and fibre sector leaders with the skills, confidence, awareness, and networks to think and act strategically.

It is for farmers, foresters, fishers, growers, and agri-professionals who have a desire to contribute to their rural community, food and fibre production, processing, or profession.

To apply, or for more information, visit the website now

For any queries contact Lisa Rogers +64 21 139 6881 or email


Zealandia Horticulture embracing Secondary School Employer Partnership (SSEP)

20 Sep 2022

NZPPI member Zealandia Horticulture has been working with students and teachers in Canterbury to promote the exciting career options available in plant production.

Zealandia Horticulture is part of the Secondary School Employer Partnership (SSEP), is an MPI/SmartNZ collaboration initiative enabling better connections between education and food and fibre sectors.  Working with year 9 and 10 students, employers’ representatives such as Zealandia Horticulture provide opportunities for students to see their science curriculum learning applied to real world contexts.

As part of Zealandia Horticulture’s involvement, managers Karen and Paul Wylaars first visited Papanui High School classrooms to show students how to experiment with and care for lettuce seedlings. Those students then did a follow-up nursery site visit and were given a tour of operations and shown the latest technology and innovation, including robotics.

Papanui teacher Rebecca Aitken said the Zealandia Horticulture site visits “blew their wee minds. I heard so many students say ‘I want to work here’. They are always particularly interested in the machinery and vehicles but the visit also showed them the scope of the nursery production and where their vegetables actually come from.

“It’s great to see the variety of jobs from seeding, to growing, production and order filling, to logistics and truck driving. The visit also demonstrated the rewards of working hard: workers can start at the bottom and work their way through to senior levels.”

Karen Wylaars said Zealandia Horticulture struggled to find new staff who have a real passion for plants and for science and this prompted their involvement in SSEP.

“It enables us to reach out to young people in our community and introduce them to the industry that’s literally just down the road. We need growers who are keen to learn in house about the science behind what makes a plant grow but also have what we call in the industry a “green finger”.   This is an opportunity for us to talk about science but equally to demonstrate the logistics of growing plants – the machinery, the forklifts, the trucks and e-vehicles.  Since joining SSEP we’ve seen a jump in applications from Papanui High School leavers wanting an evening shift, which is very promising.”

SSEP Canterbury Facilitator Amber Law says despite COVID-19 disruptions and restrictions, Zealandia Horticulture was one of the first employers to commit to the SSEP.

“Zealandia Horticulture has opened their doors and offered an insight into an aspect of horticulture that many would not have the opportunity to experience. This relationship and experience has been invaluable for both teachers and their students.”




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