Commercial cultivation of kiwifruit in New Zealand is concentrated in a relatively small area of the North Island. Cultivation is economically significant and growing quickly. However, current understanding of vulnerability for this, and other primary sector activities in New Zealand, makes almost exclusive use of linear outcome-oriented frameworks. Drawing on in-depth, semi-structured interviews with kiwifruit growers and orchard managers, workshops and analysis of secondary data, a “bottom-up” contextual assessment of vulnerability was developed and empirically applied. The findings suggest that climate and markets are the main sources of exposure for growers, with sensitivity moderated by location. Growers employ mostly short-term, reactive adaptive strategies to manage climate exposure and sensitivity, but have less capacity to respond to market-related stressors. Warmer and drier conditions are likely to have adverse effects for kiwifruit production and compound existing vulnerabilities. An ageing population and other processes of rural change may also constrain future adaptation. In order to realise opportunities and minimise losses, longer-term strategic responses are required. The paper demonstrates the need to move beyond outcome-oriented and model-based vulnerability assessments in New Zealand, to consider the broad range of the factors that contribute to vulnerability in the nation’s agricultural sectors. It provides a basis for further consideration of multiple exogenous impacts in the industry and confirms the critical importance of qualitatively vulnerability assessments to determine spatially specific outcomes.
Kiwifruit New Zealand Vulnerability Exposure Sensitivity Adaptive strategies Climate change Resilience Multiple stressors