Maatutaera Tipoki Akonga

2020 Finalists

Maatutaera Tipoki Akonga

Ngai Tahu, Ngati Porou, Ngati Kahungungu

Maatutaera Tipoki Akonga is 26 years of age, he has a partner and two children and is a senior leading hand at Llewellyn Horticulture based in Hastings area. He has worked for Llewellyn for just on three years and before that had worked for other companies, including Turners and Growers. When he left school at 16 he did some seasonal work, then became an apprentice mechanic until that job folded and he got an opportunity to work in an orchard packhouse. He then did a course in orcharding and has remained in the horticultural sector ever since.

His current qualifications include Level 3 and Level 4 Fruit Production and he plans to do Level 5 at some stage.

Llewellyn Horticulture has about 80 hectares of land on which is grown mainly apples with some stone fruit such as plums, peaches and also some pears. All told there are about eight orchards which are based around the Hastings district.

The company is small and Maatu says with two other full-time staff he gets to do a range of tasks.

"We are more or less responsible for keeping the orchard and the business running on a day to day basis. We take care of the pruning, spraying and mowing the orchard but we employ a range of local and RSE workers to harvest the crops throughout the picking season," he says.

Maatu says the recent Covid-19 lockdown was challenging making sure that the fruit was picked at the right time and delivered to the packhouse.

He describes himself as an outdoors person and loves hunting and fishing. Maatu says the outdoor life appeals to him and he loves his job. He says his ultimate goal is to either lease or manage his own orchard.