THE owners of a kiwifruit orchard at the centre of a dispute at Te Kaha had to act quickly this month to preserve the value of their crop.
With record production expected from the orchard this season, Huakiwi Copenhagen Lot 4 Orchard director Ray Sharp followed the disputes procedure in his lease agreement after being locked out of the orchard by the landowner Iwi Te Mahue Te Moana, who is also an ex-employee.
Workers were unable to enter the orchard for three weeks in January until receiving the go-ahead from the High Court.
Mr Sharp said in spite of having the court order served on him, Mr Te Moana refused to remove the lock so, on Tuesday last week, workers cut it to obtain entry.
“To preserve the value of the crop there was work that needed to be done immediately,” he said. “You can’t just leave an orchard unattended at this time of year and expect it to have a good crop.”
Mr Te Moana had locked out the orchard owners, with whom he has a 25-year lease, after accusing them of mismanaging the orchard with regard to the kiwifruit disease Psa.
He said he was concerned about the potential for it to spread from the orchard to neighbouring orchards, including a new development next door.
The allegations of mismanagement are rejected by Mr Sharp who has invested millions in developing orchards around the East Coast.
The land was bare and unproductive when Huakiwi Copenhagen Lot 4 Orchard leased it from the Te Moana family.
Mr Sharp said they were now 10 years into the lease, the orchard was well-managed and producing well with a share of the profits going back to the family as required under the terms of the agreement.
In Thursday’s Opotiki News, Huakiwi Copenhagen Lot 4 Orchard was referred to as the contracted orchard management company when it is, in fact, the orchard owner. The Opotiki News apologises for any distress this error has caused.