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Kaiaponi Farms: Grow, Pick, Pack

Kaiaponi Farms has a long history of cropping, dating back to 1907. Originally purchased by Cedric Witters, the land has been used for growing many varieties of fruit and vegetables over time, including avocados, pears, tomatoes, squash, apricots, beans and grapes. Instilling the same family values since the beginning, Kaiaponi has expanded to become a leading grower of apples, feijoas and kiwifruit, with an involvement in citrus fruits for their suppliers.

Kaiaponi is a privately owned, grassroots business that is adapting to the times, supplying consistent quality fruit to both the domestic and export markets. The Witters family are still a key shareholder of Kaiaponi, and they pride themselves on having a family ethos throughout the growth of the business, alongside the evolution of innovation, community support and sustainable growth.

Scott Wilson is the general manager of Kaiaponi and has been with them for the last 23 years, through substantial milestones, making sure their managers, workers and clients are supported, and working with them to ensure the best results for everyone. The grower-led business was formed in 1985, and today they have 90 hectares dedicated to apples, 38 hectares of gold kiwifruit, and around eight hectares of feijoas, as well as providing management services and lease arrangements for citrus.

The business has been investing in their post-harvest facilities on site, which features a modern packhouse, two pack lines and multiple cool stores. It was originally built to service their own crops and get them ready for market. However, in recent years, they have also been providing packing services for other companies, including a range for growers of apples and citrus fruit. As the fruit volumes have grown, they have continued to build additional cool stores, with the most recent being completed for the 2023 season

The last 18 months have been tough for growing apples in the Taira?whiti Gisborne region. The rainfall has been challenging for fruit growers, as it increases the risk of pest and diseases, along with operational challenges. However, Kaiaponi considers itself lucky in the grand scheme of things.