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Giant 94kg pumpkin wins Whangārei contest

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Nelly Cullen says she was in disbelief after she was crowned the winner, along with her daughters Korra and Hazel.

A Whangārei mum’s whopper 94kg home-grown pumpkin took out the top title at a local growing contest over the weekend.

Tītoki-based Nelly Cullen was declared the winner on Sunday at the Mangakahi Rd and Valley Giant Pumpkin Competition.

Cullen was taken aback when she heard her name called out from the stage at Parakao Hall.

“My jaw absolutely dropped on the floor. I couldn’t believe how big my pumpkin had grown.”

Her joy increased after her eldest daughter Hazel, 3, and youngest daughter Korra, 1, won second and third place respectively for their 62kg and 60kg pumpkins.

The mum of two confessed her winning pumpkin was in fact her spare one.

Cullen said she, along with her kids, had started to grow their pumpkins in their vegetable garden last October.

However, two months before the contest, she discovered her main pumpkin for the competition had begun to rot.

“Then a possum came along and started pulling the inside out of it at night. So, we threw it over the fence for our cows to eat.

“I had fortunately grown another one as a back-up. And I don’t know what I would have done without it.”

Although this was Cullen’s first attempt at growing giant pumpkins, she believed her win could be attributed to experience she gained through being an avid gardener for more than 15 years.

They were already getting a pumpkin patch ready for the next year’s competition.

Competition organiser Susan Pryor said the contest was all about bringing the community together and having fun.

More than 70 people attended the pumpkin contest.
More than 70 people attended the pumpkin contest.

The event saw more than 70 people attend. More than 20 contestants from the community participated in a range of categories, including the prettiest, ugliest, best baked, decorated and carved pumpkins.

“Some attendees even commented that this was reminiscent of their childhood and evoked lovely memories of good family fun and community,” Pryor said.

She loved growing and having pumpkins, which motivated her to organise an event where parents and kids could have a fun time together.

She said all the proceeds from the 60 entries would go to the SPCA.

The winning pumpkins will be on display at 1792 Mangakahia Rd.

Avneesh Vincent is the crime and emergency services reporter at the Northern Advocate. He was previously at the Gisborne Herald as the arts and environment reporter and is passionate about covering stories that can make a difference. He joined NZME in July 2023.

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