New Zealand: Grower exports 90% of the Cymbidium Orchids they grow

Martin Nieuwenhuijsen is grower manager at one of Ruby Orchids Ltd properties. Dick Oostdam, the owner of Ruby Nurseries, has several growing sites situated in Drury and Ramarama in South Auckland, New Zealand. Martin oversees a site in Drury which covers over 1.2 hectares growing entirely cymbidium orchids, predominately grown for export. Martin’s involvement with Ruby Orchids Ltd dates back to 1990.

Martin was born in Holland in a small town called Nederhorst den Berg. He was the youngest of 10 children. His mother and father still live in Holland and are both in their nineties. Martin comes from an upbringing in horticulture, his parents were one of the first growers in Holland to grow cymbidium orchids commercially during the 1960’s.  It’s of no surprise that six of his siblings have all been involved in the flower growing industry. Martin's father became a vegetable grower after the second world war, when there was a huge need for food, before switching to the ever-popular flower growing industry in the 1950’s.

Being brought up in a family of growers Martin decided to join the horticulture industry. After finishing high school he enrolled in and completed a three-year certificate in Horticulture at Aalsmeer College.  Two of Martin's older brothers, who had become flower growers, decided to immigrate to New Zealand in the late 1980’s. His brother Arnold invited him to come to New Zealand to work at his recently purchased greenhouse property in Ramarama at the age of 18.  Martin did not intend to stay for more than one year but three years later he was still here. He then decided he should go back to Holland, but after only a few months decided that he wanted to permanently return to New Zealand.

On his return to New Zealand in 1990, Martin was offered a part time job working for Dick Oostdam, which began his long working relationship with Ruby Orchids Ltd. In 1995 Martin leased greenhouses in the Drury area and grew lilies in the summer while still working in the winter for Dick. He did this for several years before deciding to work full-time with his other sibling Paul growing Alstroemeria flowers between 1998 - 2000. At this time Arnold, who was still the growing manager of Florama (that he had just sold to a Taiwanese consortium) asked Martin to come back to work with him.  Martin took this opportunity to work with his brother who wanted to in Martins words, “Instil all of his growing knowledge on me” teaching him the technical aspects of growing cymbidium orchids.

In 2004 the opportunity to work for Ruby Orchids Ltd presented itself which Martin accepted. At that time Dick had not purchased the second Drury property but having the certainty of an excellent grower like Martin gave him the confidence to expand his business. Martin was then relocated to the new site where he has been happily employed at for the past 14 years.

Read more at Grower2Grower (Stefan Vogrincic)

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