Contributing to the theme Growing For A Better Life, Wellington-Horowhenua branch of NZTCA have attracted a diverse and thought-provoking line-up of speakers for our 2023 Annual Tree Crops Conference.  

Dr Adam Friend, Scientist at Plant and Food Research, in his Friday presentation will share with us the work of Plant and food Research developing high performance production systems for pip fruit and the selection of rootstocks.

First up on Saturday morning we have Professor Jim Jones from Massey University discussing biochar and soil carbon and the vital role it plays not only in soil fertility and hydration but also its potential role as a means of mitigating the impacts of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

We are excited to have a presentation from Hemaima Wiremu, Rongoā practitioner from Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, who will share with us the concepts and practices of rongoā in traditional Māori life. She will also speak about a handful of examples of useful plants and trees that grow plentifully in the Wellington-Kapiti region and explain their properties and how to use them. Hemaima will also touch on issues around the interface of rongoa and modern western medicine.

Dr Andrew Tait from NIWA, will complete the Saturday morning session talking about methods of bringing together climate, soil and topographic data and utilising it for the assessment of the suitability of land for specific crops, including tree crops.

Sunday commences with a presentation from Andrew (Andy) Wiltshire. Andy, Director of Pinoli Pinenuts, will detail his fascinating story of long term vision and persistence in establishing a substantial operation involving the culture of stone pines in Marlborough for the commercial scale production and marketing of pine nuts. Following Andy, Nicholas (Nick) Ward, Manager Plant Health Surveillance at MPI, will inform us about the important role of agricultural biosecurity to meeting not only our future national food requirements but also to the ongoing viability of our economically significant horticultural export trade. 

Winding up the invited speakers presentations, we have “Oaks for all Reasons” in which researcher Eric Cairns will demonstrate the value we can get from Oaks planted as a food crop or as a preferred furniture construction material.  He will talk about the work that he and others in an “Oak interest group” are doing to promote the cultivation of Oaks in New Zealand. 

Finally enjoy dinner while listening to our guest speaker Erick Brenstrum, Severe Weather Forecaster at Metservice. A regular on Radio New Zealand’s Nights programme talking with Bryan Crump, Erick will regale us with weather related stories.