Kas and Carl Fairey
When it is a family business everyone helps out. Nobody will do it like family
– Kas Fairey
Family is not just an important component of Waimea Orchard, it is everything.
Four generations of the Fairey family have worked the land in the Hawkes Bay region starting with a dairy farm in the late 1800s. A small orchard was then added in 1914 which would later grow to become Waimea Orchard –now owned and operated by father and son team, Kas and Carl Fairey.
“I used to help out when I was a child on the orchard and would make boxes to pack the fruit into. I got paid a penny for each box and would make as many as 2,000 boxes in a week,” remembers Kas.
“Our dad was the first person in the area to get a water irrigator. Shifting the irrigator was our job while my dad played golf- sometimes we had to shift it in the dark with torches, which we found quite exciting as kids.”
Kas formally joined the family business in 1964 and saw the first export kiwifruit crop sent out of the Hawkes Bay through Turners & Growers in the late 1970s.
Building an empire and keeping the business in the family has always been important to Kas. His son Carl also helped out when he was young; packing potatoes, weeding pumpkins and pruning grapes to earn pocket money.
Carl’s memories of growing up on the farm include the ‘fruit and veg’ wars with his siblings. All the children would gather the reject plums and potatoes and spend the afternoons throwing them at each other – returning home with their clothes stained in different colours and the occasional bruise.
“It’s great for kids to be able to grow up in an environment like that, it gives them the chance to have fun and just be kids. All the children in our family are being raised on the land with a love of produce,” says Carl.
Carl officially started working in the orchard when he was 16 after deciding that produce was his passion and planted his first block of apples.
While Carl and his father Kas operate the farm, the rest of the Fairey family all help with the orchards success.
Carl’s mother Sharon mows the orchards, his wife Lyree does the accounts, his aunt Anne does moth monitoring, quality control and counting and measuring fruit and his sister in law does the payroll for the staff. Other family members are also involved in the orchard – making it a very close family.
It’s family that is at the very heart of Waimea Orchard and after a century of hard work, passion and the expertise of four generations, Waimea Orchard will continue to play a significant role in the New Zealand pipfruit industry.