Praying for the kiwifruit harvest

James Muir, Andy Wichens, Judy Abrahams and Scott Nicholson have all been praying for a fruitful kiwifruit season. Photo: John Borren.

Inspired by folk in a Waikato town, praying for the industry that provides much of their livelihood, has seen prayers for the kiwifruit season rise from the Western Bay of Plenty.

Te Puke is known as New Zealand’s kiwifruit capital – and now people there can also gather to pray for the wholesome fruit industry which gives so much to the community.

The Weekend Sun caught wind of a gathering on March 14 of about 40 people at The Orchard Church in Te Puke, praying for this year’s kiwifruit harvest.

Organiser of the 2024 Te Puke kiwifruit prayer, James Muir, says a few years back Tauranga Church leaders heard of churches in Te Awamutu praying to God for their dairy industry and the milk delivery trucks and drivers.

“This led to Te Puke churches hosting prayer gatherings at the start of the kiwifruit harvest – as 41 per cent of NZ’s kiwifruit orchards are in Te Puke, and the BOP has 79 per cent.

“Last year we gathered at Te Puke Baptist Church; the year before we met at the Harvest Church in Te Puke.”

James says it’s obvious the kiwifruit industry is heavily significant to the livelihoods of all Bay of Plenty residents.

“In the BOP we’re very aware over the years of the severe negative impact on our NZ kiwifruit growers of Psa and other diseases, extreme bad weather, poor pollination and international economic crises, as in October 1987 for example.”

The points of 2024’s prayer were agreed to and confirmed by long-term local growers in Te Puke and a key representative from the New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Association Incorporated.

“[As such] NZKGI made all 2800 kiwifruit growers in NZ aware throughout Aotearoa that Christian churches were praying and encouraged many to pray with us.”

WBOP Deputy Mayor John Scrimgeour and councillor, the late Richard Crawford, attended the March prayer meeting “with Richard thanking all and reminding us how important the kiwifruit industry was to Te Puke and WBOP’s economy”.

James says many others began praying with them in the region and nationwide – now his group will carry on their prayers until the end of harvest.

“Regular ongoing prayer to God is needed until June/July, until the full harvest is in, packaged and despatched to the different world export markets.”

James says people pray for the safety and welfare of the 2800 growers, their families and for the over 20,000 workers – including the RSE workers here in NZ working in the kiwifruit industry from the Pacific.

“We also pray for the care and quality of the fruit harvest, from the orchards to the packhouses and coolstores.

"For cooperation/interaction between industry players to ensure a smooth flow of product through the supply chain.

"For care and quality from NZ to the international markets.

“For Zespri and the Government for wisdom in monitoring national and international economic and currency matters.”

They also pray for the best possible weather conditions through the harvest.

“And we pray for a possible increase to a forecast of some 190 million trays in 2024,” says James.

He intends to host the prayer event in Te Puke in February next year – so more growers and contractors can be free to attend before harvest-time gets too busy.

“It’s also possible a celebration event might be arranged in Te Puke at the end of the present harvest season, come June or July.”

To know more, contact James on 021 400 874.

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