Rights: The University of Waikato Published 25 June 2009 Download

Dr Nick Roskruge worked in the horticulture industry for many years before doing university study. His current work aims to improve the horticulture industry and provide new opportunities for New Zealanders working on the land.


Dr Nick Roskruge (Massey University)

I came here as an adult student, so I’d had a good number of years in the industry working on crops mostly. My initial training was at the Apple and Pear Board as a pruner, and we were trained in those days to prune different sort of varieties and that sort of thing. And then I went to work as a kiwifruit specialist, you know pruning and all those sorts of jobs on kiwifruit orchards, but I went back to my origins, which was working on the paddocks. My family were shearers, and we did all that seasonal work, and working on the crops was what we grew up doing.

So from that, my boss that I worked for – this is in sort of the early to mid 90s – suggested that there was a need to train because technology was taking over our jobs, so I got sent here to do a Diploma in Horticulture. I did a Bachelor of Horticultural Technology and then Massey [University] asked me to come back and look after the Māori component of their science college, so it’s grown from there. I had an honours degree, which was based up with Tūhoe for a couple of years looking at land management for cropping, that sort of thing looking at Ruātoki and Waimana, and I got first class honours, which gave me an entry into a PhD programme.

It’s probably important now because it’s about succession, because I'm no longer 21. And it’s about realising that at some point in time you have to contribute to the next generation, and I'm involved in all sorts of things to do with Māori land. And you realise that there is a lack of expertise sort of to access. There is also a lack of suitably qualified people to come through and become the decision-makers. So at this point, probably for me it’s about trying to contribute to that sort of gap, but also trying to make the system work better for our young ones, not just Māori, but for agriculture and horticulture – for getting people back onto the land where we know that, managed well, there is a huge opportunity out there. If not managed well, then it becomes a major issue for the rest of the community.

Man tending kiwifruit at Summerland Gardens, photograph taken by Ross Giblin, 1981. Reference number: EP/1981/2872/12a-F, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
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