Moves are well underway to establish a new Kiwifruit Breeding Centre (KBC) - a joint venture between Plant and Food Research (PFR) and Zespri - designed to speed up the process of developing new and improved kiwifruit varieties.
Zespri general manager grower & external relations Dave Courtney explains that the company is looking to support and encourage tomorrow's leaders into the horticulture sector.
"Kiwifruit is a global business; our industry earned $1.6 billion in sales revenue last year and we're set to grow strongly over coming years," says Courtney.
"We need to make sure we're bringing in the best young people to help our industry excel in the future. The kiwifruit sector offers great career options for young people to grow, innovate and lead in the future and these Zespri scholarships are one of the ways we're attracting tomorrow's top talent.
"The scholarship is not just about financial support – the recipients get to see the industry from the inside," he says.
The funding contributes up to $5,000 a year for three years of university tuition fees and the Zespri scholars are supported and mentored through their studies, as well as having the chance to network with industry leaders. Recipients will also help promote the horticulture sector through open days and career events.
Aimed at secondary students about to start their tertiary studies, the scholarships complement the graduate recruitment scheme, which offers recent graduates a 12-month contract working across the different parts of Zespri's business.
Eligibility and criteria for scholarship applicants
• NCEA Level 3 endorsed with merit or higher
• A New Zealand Citizen or New Zealand Permanent Resident
• Registered in full-time tertiary study at a New Zealand University by 31 March in the year of the award
• Must maintain an academic grade average of B+ or higher throughout the course of the scholarship
"We're looking for excellent students who can show us their leadership potential, as well as how they plan to contribute to our industry," says Courtney.
The scholarships are worth $15,000 over three years. Two positions are available each year and applications for the 2016 scholarships close on Friday 9 October.
For more information, go to www.zespri.com