Karla is a Wakatū Owner, and is Pipfruit Manager in the Kono Horticulture team.
Kono is the associated food and beverage business of Wakatū Incorporation. Wakatū has approximately 4,000 shareholders who descend from the original Māori landowners of the Nelson, Tasman and Golden Bay regions – Te Tau Ihu.
Karla has over a decade of experience in the horticulture industry and has been part of the Kono Horticulture team for six years. For the last two years, she has had the role of Pipfruit Manager, based in our orchards in Motueka. As Pipfruit Manager she runs the day-to-day activities at our apple and pear orchards.
“I love working at Kono. It’s firmly a Māori business and I enjoy how we weave the cultural aspects and our values into our work lives. I like how we recognise important events such as the start or completion of harvest with a dawn blessing at our rongo. In terms of kaitiakitanga, I get a buzz out of thinking about the sustainability of the land. Growing the apple and pear crops is my every day mahi, but I like thinking about how to make things better - that’s why I’m studying,” Karla says.
Karla has all but completed her Diploma of Horticulture via Lincoln University. “Balancing working full-time with studying has been a challenge at times, particularly around the timing of the academic year with the horticultural year – my exams falling at the same time as harvest wasn’t ideal – but I survived!”
“Manaakitanga is another value that really resonates with me. I just love working with people. This role isn’t just taking care of crops. Caring for people is an important aspect as well.”
“I’m passionate about sustainability, and encouraging more women and young girls to consider a career in horticulture. I’ve helped set up Grow NZ Women, a women's horticulture network group to encourage more women to enter the industry and to take their horticulture careers further.”
Outside of work, Karla is passionate about sport, and plays netball and touch rugby. She has is also been busy building a new home with her partner and Dad on a piece of land in Puketūtū, one of the Wakatū subdivisions in Motueka.
Karla’s advice to anyone thinking of working at Wakatū Incorporation?
“If you think about something that you are really good at, and something that you enjoy, you’ll find a career opportunity in one of Wakatū Incorporation’s businesses – whether it’s being outdoors working on the land, being creative in our sales and marketing team, or working with numbers in our business support team, there are heaps of opportunities to find something that matches your skills and passions.”
Karla’s ‘get right to it’ attitude to work and life is reflected in her response to the question of whether she has a favourite whakataukī or saying. “I like the saying ‘walk the walk’ – let your actions do the talking!”
- Want to join Karla and the Horticulture team? At Kono we ensure the development of a place where talented people want to live and work; a community that talented people love to be a part of. We are one of the largest employers in the Nelson and Marlborough region with a variety of jobs in viticulture, horticulture, aquaculture and food production including sales and marketing and research and innovation.
Get in touch or browse our current vacancies.