New Zealand kiwifruit pioneer Mike Muller passes away

Kiwifruit pioneer Mike Muller has passed away at the age of 72. He was a respected leader in the kiwifruit industry who will be remembered for his uncanny ability to connect with growers and promote opportunities that would help shape the industry we know today.

About 500 friends, family and kiwifruit growers from as far afield as Motueka farewelled Mr Muller last Saturday and paid tribute to him. 

Horticultural consultant Peter Mulligan said Mike made a significant contribution to the development of the industry in many spheres.

''We worked together as a two-man team on a number of projects, contracted to Zespri, over the past 20 years. These projects have included Taste Japan, Taste Zespri, Introduction of Hort16A, Improving Hayward Productivity and the New Variety Programme.''

''Our role was primarily technical transfer, providing kiwifruit growers with information that they could use to improve orchard productivity and fruit quality thereby increasing their financial returns, or in Mike's language "increase the left-over money".

His clear-thinking approach and close observation of the vines made a great contribution to the projects, he said.

''He liked nothing better than to "nut out a problem". Industry problems like Psa presented challenges to find solutions. Mike in typical fashion would, as the discussion unfolded, plot the best way forward based on a series of logical, well thought out arguments. These solutions benefited his clients and the industry generally.''

Zespri chief executive Lain Jager also paid credit to Mike and said he had networks around the country and was at the forefront of many developments in an industry career that spanned 36 years.

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