Just to back track a little, I was invited to co-MC (with Lynda Hallinan of NZ Gardener magazine) and talk at the annual New Zealand Horticulture Industry Training Association Young Horticulturalist of the Year Competition dinner in Auckland on 7 November 2008.
It's a great initiative and the eight finalists were outstanding. Although each of them had an entirely different personality, approach and attitude, they all were a credit to the horticultural industry in New Zealand. The eight represented various sectors of the industry - such as viticulture, vegetable or landscape - and some had to work their way up through regional competitions. The worther winner this year was Jason Greene of Ramarama, but I was impressed by them all - particularly their three-minute presentations on the awards night.
They had all endured two days of testing, including at the end the amusing hortisports challenge of concrete making, fruit platter display, first aid etc. under time pressure. The finalists and MCs were very well looked after by the sponsors of the event, and the winner received $22,000 worth of prizes - an impressive show of support.