Spectrum 541. Kiwifruit carousel

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Tono kōrero mai

Jack Perkins visits Te Puke at the height of the picking season. He looks at the town and the transformation which has seen a former sleepy hollow become the Kiwifruit capital of the world.

A tour guide "Marie" addresses tourists touring a Kiwifruit Industries orchard. some the original vines were planted in 1937. Jack Perkins discusses the history of the development from the Chinese gooseberry by pioneer Jim McLoughlin. His son Peter continues the story, with their first major export order coming in 1956 for 10,800 trays. However, a docker's strike meant the whole order had to be dumped, and they were billed for the dumping charges.

By the mid-1960s his father was the only grower still persisting with kiwifruit. Graham Rutherford came to them with a new marketing plan, which helped sales take off. In a packing shed, Peter describes the harvest season and the work involved.

Some unidentified women packers explain why they come to help with the harvest, living in a caravan and working long hours. they earn $6 an hour, so you can clear $200 a week and extra for doing contract picking in the weekends. They talk about how busy town is on Friday night.

Changes in the district as a result of the kiwifruit industry are described. Pickers describe the work, with one man saying the money is not good as he is charged secondary tax. He says many pickers are students who come for a holiday as well as earning a bit of money. British and German backpackers talks about why they are working as pickers.

The high number of millionaires in Te Puke during the height of the boom has scaled back as orchard values have dropped. Once a 10-acre orchard was worth over $1 million, whereas it is closer to half that now.

In their packing shed, Jane and Ken Love talk about their orchard, producing 15,000 trays a year, making them one of the smallest local producers. They describe a typical working day and say it is harder work than the farm they used to run. They talk about orchardists who have had to walk off their properties and the problems getting good workers.

A man recalls stories about the boom years, when orchardists went out and bought multiple new cars, new houses and new orchard machinery. He says some people changed their image and even the way they spoke, under the influence of 'new money', but that is now a thing of the past.

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Year 1986

Reference number 18420

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Credits RNZ Collection
Perkins, Jack (b.1940), Producer
McLoughlin, Peter, Speaker/Kaikōrero

Duration 00:27:47

Date 1986

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Whakamahia ai mātou ngā pihikete ki te rapu māramatanga ki te āhua o tō whakamahi i tēnei paetukutuku, ki te whakapai hoki i tō whai wāhi mai. Ki te rapu kōrero anō pānuitia te kaupapahere tūmataiti.

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