Fruit Production

Are you looking for a career that offers:

•    Good pay and work conditions.
•    A mix of outdoors, machinery and people skills.
•    Genuine career paths as part of the team exporting the taste of Nelson.
•    Work days that change with the season with plenty of variety.  

If this sounds like you, read on...

The Role of Orchard Cadets

As employees on orchards you will be involved in the production of quality fruit for export and local markets.  Expect an interesting work life which is market driven and ever changing.

Modern orcharding produces very good returns and has a multitude of technical facets each season.  To export the taste of “Nelson” our pipfruit industry uses Integrated Fruit Production, a pest and disease management system that triggers the use of modern 'soft' chemicals. In reality a combination of traditional and organic practice.

Some Nelson orchards are consolidated into 'direct exporting' groups giving them control of their product through to Northern Hemisphere supermarkets. Good systems, the infrastructure we see in packhouses and coolstores, and employment conditions.

Orchard work itself is pleasant. The Nelson climate that produces apples, pears, and kiwifruit is world renowned. Physical work is on flat or rolling properties near to Richmond and Motueka (on the borders of the famous Abel Tasman National Park).

Work includes planting, tree training and pruning, orchard hygiene, manipulating crop loading, pest and disease management, crop husbandry, irrigation maintenance, harvesting, harvest machinery and supervision. Meeting compliance requirements for overseas markets and packhouse operations.

Many of yesterday’s cadets are today's managers enjoying stimulating roles in orchards, processing facilities and people management.


Recognising the problems of recruiting and retaining hardworking, capable and flexible orchard staff, a cluster of Waimea Growers committed to our Fruit Production Training Modules in 2002.

This is a focused approach to the National Certificate in Horticulture Level 4. Growers selected existing staff or employed new staff enrolling them into the first module, which works like the 1980-90's cadetship system. With the success of this grower driven, locally based course, NZHITO has agreed to let Agriculture New Zealand replicate this type of training in Nelson and Marlborough. There are currently 30 cadets enrolled in their 2nd or 3rd year of the new qualification.

The following are comments made by Waimea Growers:
"There has been opportunity to build peer relationships within orcharding."   "Uses experts in their fields as guest tutors and existing workforce assessors."
"Growers are able to have input into and review course material and set the timetable."   "The result is a very focused group of trainees, able to compare notes and work practices in the field."
"The course has workable systems for 'in business' practical delivery of modules."   "Agriculture New Zealand training staff co-ordinate, facilitate and control the course thereby maintaining training momentum and freeing up orchard staff and owners."


Industry Ownership

The following gives an idea of our structure:

An Advisory Group comprising of owners/managers within the Waimea Cluster has met quarterly or when the need arises to discuss timetabling, focus the content and to recruit excellent guest speakers.

Agriculture New Zealand's Course Managers have been able to deliver much of year one and year two courses, often-assisting guest speakers by arranging resources and setting up assessments.

Industry people are an integral part of the success. Local knowledge and relevance are kept high when Growers share their experience during field trips. This has proven far more efficient than one to one training.

Growers make available machinery and equipment when needed, likewise service and equipment suppliers have also recognised their need to share in training for everyone's future benefit.

Growers recognise cadets are family people. Cadets prefer to do training within work hours and are capable of completing assignments in a timely manner in their own time.

Training sessions have been at orchards, packhouses, and class venues. We aim for 12 training days per year, plus on-job visits.



Twelve training days focus on core subjects. The hours of 8.30 am-4.30 pm enable trainees to do any last minute work organisation and travel to the venues. So 'work training is done in work time galvanising full attendances’. Busy periods are avoided where possible.

On job support and assessment is a team approach using NZHITO Regional Manager, Agriculture New Zealand trainers, workplace assessors and employers ensuring robust standardised levels of performance. There are some solid blocks like the week duration packhouse session. Trainees and employees are informed of the programme/trainee progress via letters and email well in advance for smooth planning.

Basic cost is $10* + GST per credit taught and/or assessed with the annual programme being about 70-75 credits. Most employers pay this plus wages on?the training days. *Price may change.

Trainees are expected to be active learners at each session and complete?assignments in their own time thereby balancing the costs fairly.


What Are The Benefits of Being a Cadet?

•    Learn while you earn.
•    Gain nationally recognised qualifications
•    Learn practical 'hands-on' skills in your workplace
•    Increase your career prospects and job satisfaction.
•    Have support through your Cadetship by your Employer, NZHITO Regional Manager
     and your Agriculture New Zealand tutor.
•    Your work hours are friendly and the orchards are close to town.


Who Can Become a Cadet?

Anyone with the following qualities:

•    A positive attitude to work and learning.
•    Good communication skills.
•    An interest in the horticulture industry.
•    The ability to use your initiative, be motivated, punctual and selfdisciplined.
•    Have a current drivers license (or working towards one).


"The Qualification" - What Is It?

National Certificate in Horticulture (Fruit Production) Level 4? Advanced 210 credits

This is a nationally and internationally recognised qualification in the Fruit Industry. This will take 3 years to complete as an industry trainee or modern apprentice which is encompassed in the term “cadet”. Designed by the Fruit Industry to meet their criteria and to suit our individual needs.

Three Year Cadetship

The qualification covers unit standards in:


• Harvesting Techniques
• Pruning Equipment
• Hydraladders
• Pruning Techniques
• Health and Safety
• Nutrition and Hydration
• Tractor Driving, Mowing
  and Mulching
• Growsafe
• Irrigation Installation and
• Weed ID
• First Aid
• Soils
• Botany (Introduction)


• Weather Monitoring/
  Data Collection
• Rootstock ID and Planting
  Using Modern Spray
• Integrated Pest and
  Disease Management
• Agrichemical/Storage
• Knowledge of Weeds and
  their Control
• Packhouse Operations
  and Systems
• Marketing and
  Communication Skills


• Quality Control Systems
• Enterprise Report and Diary
• Chemical Thinning Techniques
• Managing Fruit Crops
• Irrigation (Advanced)
  Water Budgeting
• Pollination of Fruit Crops
• Supervision of Harvest
• Planning Fruit Crop Projects
• Crop Assessment and
  Testing Crop Maturity
• Overview of Industry Quality
  Assurance Procedures


For more information including how to register call 0800 4 SKILLS (0800 475 455) or email

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