This year’s worthy recipient was Robyn Hee who unwittingly took the award all the way to the conference only to take it back home again, albeit with a greater sense of connection to it on the homeward journey.

Robyn’s nomination came from the Wairarapa Branch and was endorsed by Jackie Thirkettle, Annie Barnes (Sth Island VP), Bob Phillips (Past President), Jon Colyer (West Coast Chair), Steve Udy and Tate Ulsker (past and present Nelson Branch Chairs, respectively).

Robyn has been very active in NZTCA starting with the Nelson Branch as Secretary and Research Officer. In 2021 she was appointed to the National Research Committee and became leader of the honeyberry research project. She has continued to be very active at branch level and with other aspects of crop research, including promoting Harricado and persimmon trials, plus organising branch workshops.

The honeyberry work includes coordinating the South Island mini- trials (seedling material) and climate trials covering over 30 clonal selections at some 25 sites nationwide, as well as being intimately involved with assessing selections at Thirkettles Nursery. The climate trials are subject to individual trial agreements and collation of substantial amounts of data. Robyn is calm, methodological, organised, has strong sense of values, and relates well to the NZTCA community. She is a great communicator, has high energy and enthusiasm, and brings experience from the mineral prospecting businesses as a geologist and data analyst. She is well supported by husband Gordon and Nelson Branch members.

Robyn’s response:

I feel deeply honoured and incredibly flattered to be awarded this very high recognition, and especially in light of those who have backed the nomination: who themselves, are a group of outstanding people whose knowledge, wisdom and insight have given me strong shoulders on which to lean and learn. My gratitude to you and all the tree croppers everywhere who have made me feel “treely” at home in New Zealand and whose like- minded conversation and company I thoroughly enjoy. Thank you! May your honeyberries be sweet and your Harricados large!