Learning to grow

Aaron Nicholson
  • National Certificate in Horticulture (Level 3) (Closed to New Enrolments)
  • Logistics, The Warehouse

Deciding to pursue his long-standing passion for horticulture has had a rosy outcome for Aaron Nicholson. The 45-year old has come out at the top of his Open Polytechnic class in the National Certificate in Horticulture Level 3, and has recently been awarded a scholarship from the National Fuchsia Society of New Zealand to continue his studies. 

Aaron’s passion for horticulture was first sparked while working as a park attendant in North Kensington during his OE in London. Upon returning home to New Zealand, he began a long and successful career in retail. Recently however, Aaron felt the need to explore his passion further and take on the challenge of completing a horticulture qualification.

Part-time study

Like many busy adults, Aaron needed to keep earning an income while he pursued his studies. As a solution, Aaron decided to study part-time via Open Polytechnic’s unique Supported Learning Sessions (SLS) which is a face-to-face workshop program. “Like many people my age, we reach this time in life and find we have mortgages and other debt, and responsibilities that mean we can’t just drop everything and go into full-time study. Online and part-time learning removes that obstacle,” says Aaron. “You are able to continue to do things you enjoy while also being able to put in the time necessary for your assignments.”

What Aaron appreciated most about Open Polytechnic was that he was able to attend monthly get-togethers with fellow students and tutors, which helped to provide him with support and a sense of community. “It allowed us to go over any upcoming assignment or module and ask any questions we had.” In addition, Aaron found that any additional support he required was always made available to him.  “The study material was top notch and the student support was always there when I needed it from my tutors.”

Scholarship recipient

To reward his academic success and passion for the field, Aaron has recently been awarded a scholarship from the National Fuchsia Society of New Zealand towards the costs of studying the National Certificate in Level 4 Horticulture. “It definitely came as a surprise but it is good to see the Fuchsia Society wanting to get involved.”

“Unfortunately, many of these societies are in the danger of disappearing and with them, the knowledge that has been built up over many years. Anyone can pick up a book or go on the internet, but horticulture really is one of those fields that really is more about hands-on learning and the passing of knowledge from one to another. What I love most about the field is that although there have been advances in the way horticulture is undertaken, there are also many skills and bits of knowledge that are still as relevant today as they were many generations ago,” says Aaron.

Sights set on future

When reflecting back on his study journey, Aaron says that he is most proud of the personal growth he has achieved in knowing that he is capable of continuing his studies and completing a qualification.  “It is easy to think in the negative and to make excuses as to why you can’t do things or why you won’t undertake such things. But with the discipline that comes from studying and finishing assignments on time, growth is bound to happen in other areas of your life,” says Aaron. “Until recently, I felt that I had little to share in regards to the work I have done since leaving school. Through completing this qualification however, I have come to realise that we each have a role to play, and knowledge to pass on.”

Aaron currently works at The Warehouse where he is responsible for all incoming and outgoing goods. When looking to the future however, Aaron would like to own a self-sustainable block of land and utilise his newly acquired skills to produce organic food and native trees for both personal use and for sale.

First though, Aaron plans on continuing to broaden his knowledge with the National Certificate in Horticulture Level 4. “I look forward to continuing on to Level 4 because if one wishes to work in the horticulture industry, you have to learn more and like a plant, continue to grow.”




You have to learn more, and like a plant, continue to grow.