Mike Chapman Bledisloe Cup winner Hort NZ

Mike Chapman, who until recently was the chief executive of Horticulture New Zealand, has won the Bledisloe Cup for significant services to horticulture for more than 20 years.

The Bledisloe Cup for horticulture was first presented in 1931 by then Governor-General Lord Bledisloe, for a competition between orchardists for the best exhibit of New Zealand apples at the Imperial Fruit Show.

It is one of several cups Lord Bledisloe presented to New Zealand and is similar to rugby’s Bledisloe Cup, which was also donated in 1931.

HortNZ president, Barry O’Neil, said Champan’s advocacy for the horticultural industry has been untiring, forceful, and balanced.

“Mike always acts with the aim of achieving the best outcomes for growers and orchardists, and indeed, the New Zealand economy and health of its people through access to nutritious, locally grown food,” remarked O’Neil.

“Mike has firmly stood for growers on key issues such as protecting elite soils, ensuring growers maintain their social license to grow and, hand in hand with that, ensuring growers remain economically viable in a fast-changing environment.”

Champan’s career in the horticulture industry has spanned more than 20 years. He has, according to HortNZ, been a leader, advocate, and lobbyist, but perhaps most of all, an “enthusiast for the industry.”

Swapping his legal-focused work for kiwifruit, Chapman took up the role of Kiwifruit New Zealand chief executive in 2002. In 2005 he became New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers chief executive.

Ten years later in 2015, Chapman picked up the reigns as Horticulture New Zealand chief executive, a position he held until June this year.

Since stepping down, Chapman has continued to work on the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme. He was instrumental in the New Zealand government’s decision in early August to permit RSE workers from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu, to enter New Zealand without the need for managed isolation.

Nadine Tunley was announced as Champan's successor in May 2021.

Keep an eye out for the summer issue of Produce Plus set to be published in November, which will include a one-on-one interview with Tunley.