NZAGA election nominees 2023

Alan Thorn (South representative)

Biography and skills matrix of nominee

I consider that I am a dynamic, innovative and effective contributor with a unique set of interpersonal and management skills who has the necessary experience and motivation to deliver effective governance for growers within the industry structure.

I am a Masters graduate in both Forestry Sciences and Business Management. Being passionate about the natural, rural, business and economic environments within New Zealand and in supporting enterprise of New Zealander’s.

From a farming background with Agribusiness experience for over 35 years, I offer the following;

  • Competent professional leadership to CEO level.
  • Extensive networks across agri-business sectors specifically avocados and kiwifruit
  • Experience in crafting and delivery of industry strategy
  • Competence in leading engagement within business and technical communities, to secure partnerships and deliver results.
  • An engaging and effective communicator, with a proven ability to operate within complex stakeholder contexts.
  • A strong association with the land and environmental, physical, economic and social impacts that arise from rural business decisions and operational practices within primary industries.
  • Technically proficient, a practical as well as theoretical operator.
  • Skilled in project implementation, management, risk mitigation, audit and monitoring.
  • Strong analytical and fiscal skill
  • Experience in leading change management to improve business
  • Trained in the development and delivery of adult education to NZCA Level 7.

Orchard details

Number of planted hectares


Number of trees


How long have you been an avocado grower?

3 years

What is your involvement in the Avocado Industry?

Grower & Former CEO

Tell us about your role on the orchard as a grower

My entry into the industry as a Grower was precipitated by the challenge to develop a high productive orchard whilst at the same time significantly reducing on-orchard costs, enabling all operations to be ground based aiding beier crop protection (wind damage & pests), reduced harvest costs equalling beier returns.

This lead me to investigate the FOPS system currently being developed by Hort Research in the pip-fruit sector utilising high density, espalier systems which have enable a tripling of production. I am into my third year of the orchards development with shelter, irrigation, espalier structures and trees established and carrying a small crop of ~1,000kg at year two, despite significant flower removal from extending leaders.

As a sole hands on operator (along with my wife Maria) there have obviously been a plethora of learning experiences along this process. A small group of growers who are trying similar concepts and variations have come together and are keenly sharing their knowledge which has made the journey so far a rewarding experience.

Your occupation outside growing avocados

Part Time Apiarist

Skill/qualification Current Grower, Former CEO NZAGA
Legal skills or qualifications MBA Business Law & Ethics
Financial skills or qualifications MBA Finance I & II MBA Accounting I & II
Scientific skills or qualifications BSc Earth Sciences Waikato 1978

MSc Forestry Resources Georgia 1993

21 years as a Research Scien6st Soils & Tree Nutrition, Remote Sensing,Data Visualisation

Other relevant skills or qualifications – please specify Apiarist

Trained in the development and delivery of adult education to NZCA Level 7.

Business/commercial experience CEO NZAGA 2006-10

Grower Services Manager Aongatete 2011-12

Horticulture Manager, Technical Support 100ha Leased Orchard Porrolio

Forest Research

Business Developement, Client Services Manager, Sales & Marketing, Multi- National Team Leader

Current and previous governance experience Board of Trustees Waikete Valley School 1997-2001

HEA Governance Training for Product Groups Massey University 2010 MBA Massey 2005 Business Law & Ethics, Strategic Management

Other stakeholder involvement – grower packer marketer Grower PPIN 26140

Please share with members how you believe you can add value to growers as an NZAGA Executive and director of NZAIL.

I am passionate about seeing the Avocado Industry in New Zealand succeed and my recent entry as a grower confirms that I believe that there is a sustainable and viable business niche for New Zealand growers in both the local and international avocado markets.

I have a strong interest in the horticulture sector based on my science background and more recently from the development of my new espalier avocado orchard enterprise. I understand many of the challenges the industry faces now and in the future, I’m enthusiastic to see the continual improvement of grower returns.

My previous experience with the NZAGA and AIC in the mid 2000’s provides me with a full appreciation of the operations of the industry and its setting within the regulatory authorities thru my participation with HEA Horticulture NZ, MPI and the Food Safety Authority.

I am keenly interested the strategy and governance aspect of the NZAGA, bringing to the table a skill set of governance, fiscal and management experience, gained in both the scientific and the horticulture sectors which are highly applicable to the avocado industry.

I look forward to representing Growers viewpoints within the NZAIL governance team and to meeting, understand and assisting solving the multitude of challenges faced by our industry as together we achieve success, not only at an orchard level but along the complete value chain.

Alistair Young (South representative)

I have been growing Avocados since the mid 70’s in both the Bay Of Plenty, Taranaki and now the Far North

I became involved in export marketing as a service rep in 1987 and started my own packing and exporting business in 1989 in Pyes Pa to enable my fruit and my friends fruit to be exported under our own control as we saw the industry was not going anywhere at the time.

In 1994 this business developed into what is now known as Team Avocado which in turn has been a 50%

partner in AVOCO for the last 10 years. I currently own 9 ha of Avocado orchard in Tahawai KatiKati and am a shareholder in 27 ha of canopy in Awanui Far North.

I manage my own orchard and perform my responsibilities with Team Avocado, SPL and Avoco concurrently.

Orchard details

Number of planted hectares

9 hectares

Number of trees


How long have you been an avocado grower?

38 years

What is your involvement in the Avocado Industry?

Grower, Exporter, Life member.

Tell us about your role on the orchard as a grower.

I manage my own orchard at Kauri point. Perform what tasks I can do myself with the other time constraints. Spray my own trees.

Your occupation outside growing avocados.

Director of Avoco, Avanza, Southernproduce, Millpara Avocados

Skill/qualification Your answer- please provide detail
Legal skills or qualifications
Financial skills or qualifications Company Director
Scientific skills or


Other relevant skills or qualifications – please


Certificate in horticultural fruit production. Self-taught company director and marketer to a wide range of customers.

NZ Avocado award, Life member AGA

Business/commercial experience Packer 1987 to 93. Export and Domestic marketing of Avocados 1990 to the present…
Current and previous governance experience Over 20 years of board experience with the Avocado Industry. Can’t remember exact number.

Director Avoco, Avanza, Southernproduce, Millpara Avocados

Other stakeholder involvement – grower

packer marketer

Shareholder Millpara 52771 and Marketer Avoco

Please share with members how you believe you can add value to growers as an NZAGA Executive and director of NZAIL.

So why am I offering my services to the industry again?

I am very concerned about where our industry sits right now.

Firstly, we must strive to gain better value for our stakeholders throughout the entire supply chain. This means better fruit quality, better production results and a cooperative coordinated industry, which chases down the same objective. Corporate orchards or family owned, we need the same thing.

New Zealand has many challenges with competitors abroad and globally we are not alone in our struggles with reduced returns in the face of increased production. Our competitors however don’t lie here in New Zealand, they lie offshore growing in South America and Australia. To meet that challenge, we must improve our production and streamline our growing and marketing endeavors to provide a quality piece of fruit into New Zealand’s marketplaces and that includes our own. My passion is growing as well as seeing our fruit sold well in a condition we can be proud of.

I am known for candidly telling it as it is, and I make no apology for that. The truth matters if you are to make the right call with your family orchard or your business plans.

I spray the orchard myself and I get to see every tree and what it’s doing but combining that experience with my other roles sees me capable of acting and making decisions with balance taking into account the harsh realities of growing here in New Zealand for the international market.

Yes, I’m a grower, yes, I’ve been a packer and yes I’m an export company director. I believe that gives me the tools to improve our industry, my industry. My family and my fellow growers have a great deal at stake here.

Andrew Darling (South representative)

Andrew Darling, 60yrs

Married to Jo for 37 years

Four sons

Managing Director, Darling Group Holdings Ltd

I live in Katikati with my wife Jo.

Jo is active in managing our home orchard and farm with two sons Jacob and Nathan having senior roles in our wider business. Jacob is CEO of Darling Group Australia PTY and Nathan as General Manager of Darling Horticultural Services ltd.

I have been involved in horticulture for 40 years in management, business and orchard ownership and governance.

We own and operate a vertically integrated horticultural business based in Katikati and Brisbane.

Our business growers, packs, imports/exports and markets a range of produce internationally.

I am first and foremost a grower and have interests in growing by way of outright ownership or by way of partnership in avocados, kiwifruit, blueberries and citrus, regionally in the East Coast, Bay of Plenty, Mid North and Far north.

My involvement in avocados growing spans 20 years and includes active oversight involvement with my son Nathan in developing, managing our orchards, and providing contract services to those that contract to our business.

Our interests in avocado orchards includes eight properties representing 170 canopy ha.

I have previously been involved with Industry politics as an NZ Avocado Growers’ Association At Large Rep. for two terms and an Avocado Industry Council Rep for two terms cumulatively spanning nine years from 2005 to 2013.

I am heavily invested across the supply chain in the avocado industry and I am extremely passionate about the success of the industry.

The most fundamental aspect of a successful industry is having profitable, financially viable growers.

“Grower returns” must have long term sustainability.

The last two years have been the most challenging years in the avocado industry I have experienced out of the previous 20 years.

The combination of environmental events, the covid pandemic, poor quality fruit and over supplied markets, has created an environment where growing avocados in New Zealand at the current industry average production is not viable long term.

All growers will be examining their business models, their cost structures, their production capability and their service providers of packing and exporting.

Change and improvement to how we go about our business is now being forced upon us and the industry at large by way of financial stress.

The opportunity to re-evaluate the industry organisation’s future role and purpose couldn’t be better where the tenure of our current CEO comes to an end and at the same time we have an election of potentially five new Executive to the industry Board.

Specific emphasis on reviewing the purpose and strategic objectives is critical and industry leaders must have immediate focus and commitment to the following issues:

  1. Industry structure review to provide effective, efficient governance and management.
  2. Sound industry governance with clear strategic direction.
  3. Continued strategic business planning involving “ALL” Stakeholders.
  4. Continued industry commitment to export systems, technical transfer and science programmes targeted at fruit quality.
  5. Market access.
  6. New market development.
  7. Stakeholder relationships.
  8. Cost management

We have a window of opportunity to make sure the industry organisation is fit for purpose for the future, adding value and supporting growers in their endeavours to be successful and profitable.

The business of growing avocados still has an exciting future where strong industry leadership creates change and improvement supporting growers in their focus to improve production whilst reducing cost.

Strong leadership and governance through times of challenge and change is required.

I have significant experience in leadership, management and governance and believe I can make a difference in support of these objectives.

I ask you for your supportive vote.

Orchard details

Number of planted hectares

as per bio. Have ownership involvement in a number of orchards totaling 170 Ha

Home orchard is 5.4 Ha

How long have you been an avocado grower?

20 Years

What is your involvement in the Avocado Industry? 

20 Years. Was elected as a AGA “At Large” Grower rep for two terms and an exporter Rep on the Avocado Industry Council for two terms.

Chairman of AVEC for 2years

Tell us about your role on the orchard as a grower

I am the managing Director of our family business which grows Avocados. As such I have direct oversight of all management operations. On our home orchard my hands on is limited to supporting my wife mowing and weed spraying in the week ends.

Your occupation outside growing avocados

My role in our horticultural business is full time. This includes directorships on 9 Orchard business’s a retail business and a Tourism business.

Skill/qualification Your answer – please provide detail
Legal skills or qualifications No
Financial skills or qualifications I have run my business and managed all CFO functions until recently. I have also been a CEO of a post harvest Kiwifruit company for 10 Years
Scientific skills or qualifications No
Other relevant skills or qualifications – please specify
Business/commercial experience 30 + years in horticultural management, ownership and Governance.
Current and previous governance experience Industry Politics. NZKGI Katikati Rep. AVEC Chairman. AGA At Large Rep two terms. Exporter Rep AIC two terms. Currently on 9 Horticultural Boards and  2 unrelated. Experience in Governance for the last 20 Years
Other stakeholder involvement – grower packer marketer Managing Director of Just Avocados, Darling Group Marketing Ltd and Zea Fruit Ltd which are subsidiaries of Darling Group Holdings Ltd

Anna St George (North representative)

My name is Anna St George and my partner, and I have established a 15-hectare avocado orchard in Tapora. We have one-part mature trees and 11 hectares, which we have developed with mid-level density planting, supporting technology and a focus on biodiversity, which I am interested in. We have achieved industry awards for consistent yields and reached 26,000+ tonnes per hectare until we have begun stag horning and look to our new plantings to begin production, and we have also been impacted in 2022 by weather. It is a journey. We work solely on our property alongside supplementing it with additional income.

Despite our dedication, financial rewards have not matched our efforts in a product we love. I would like to see our industry thrive and this has motivated me to seek a directorship role to support growth, and drive change and improvement in this new landscape.

If I was to describe what I can bring – strategic thinking, grounded in interpretation of data and trends with understanding of consumer demand, alongside ways to structure partnerships or commercialisation elements. I have both built a business over 13-years in media advertising and been in roles spanning from start up to large commercial players and worked across too many categories – all of which I can bring insights from.

My governance experience spans 10+ years, as a director of the Gut Cancer Foundation. As a charity it requires strong operational compliance and regulated scientific approaches.

While in advertising I was on an industry board for over 3+ years. I have pursued courses such as the Agri Women’s Development Trust six-month, Next Level program [primary industry] and have an involvement in the startup and technology. These have all furthered by expertise to understand structure, focus and commercialisation, growth, and investment.

I am now focused on driving impact in companies to gain growth alongside sustainability. If appointed as Director, I will prioritise well-formulated strategic plans that take on the voice of our members and address our present circumstances. I am fully vested in the

industry and believe we’re at a critical juncture to ensure our future.

Thank you for considering my application. I am eager to contribute my skills and experiences to the success of this organization and the avocado industry.

Orchard details

Number of planted hectares – 11 hectares

Number of trees – 3500

How long have you been an avocado grower? – 6+ years

What is your involvement in the Avocado Industry? Grower
Tell us about your role on the orchard as a grower – My partner and I are the sole orchardists on our property. While Auckland based, we managed development and day to day, bringing in contractors or our children and friends during picking or planting.

We have a mix of maintenance and development – with 1.5 hectares of existing trees, while developing a further 9.5 hectares over 2 years.

I tend to look after tree health and fertiliser and soil biology plus mowing and general maintenance. Garry is typically development and pest programme/ machinery and pruning. We have actively listened and learned from a select group of mentors, reading extensively, being curious and questioning status quo.

The World Avocado Congress was a great place to round out many parts of knowledge. But it is a continual evolution.

Your occupation outside growing avocados

Prior to our purchasing the orchard, I co-founded a media advertising agency, which we grew over 13 years to over $14 million in billings and a staff of 16. This had some significant clients such as Red Bull, Bremworth carpets, PUMA and Southern Health Travel as a few. We also formed a strategic partnership with one of the top 6 media conglomerates in Europe called Havas.

While we purchased the orchard in 2017, I have continued with contracts and consultancy in marketing, innovation, and commercialisation. A few of these roles have included;

  • Acting CEO and Business Director for a ‘marketing for good’ marketing company, running an outsourced full-stack digital and marketing team – This was particularly useful to broaden by understanding in ESG, impact / purpose driven companies and propositions, as well as linking to sustainability.
  • Global Brand Partnerships Director of Les Mills – this was working across content and the app to find global aggregator partners in smart tv / streaming services and broadband. It required working closely with technology plus legal and financial teams to implement commercialisation opportunities.
  • – omni media purchase and recommendations. This includes programmatic and goal tracking, data analytics, research review and marketing technology stack integration. Contemporary global omni media.
  • Marketing consult – – a cloud-based investment platform for proportionally owned assets with both primary and secondary markets, including capital raising. It has a specific focus on the agri-sector and has given me good insight into private investment structures, liquidity options in addition to building growth in the investment category.
  • Head of Marketing and Sales – Light box August 2015 – January 2016 – Lightbox (part of Spark Innovation. Now sold to Sky – NEON). The role involved strategic planning and campaign execution, leading a staff of four and reporting directly to the CEO as well as being part of the executive team, with some board reporting exposure. Capability gained in both engagement and customer retention.

Skill/ qualification Your answer – please provide detail
Legal skills or qualifications no
Financial skills or qualifications no
Scientific skills or


Other relevant skills or qualifications – please specify Governance attributes:

· reviewing insights, data, trends, behaviour, and category knowledge to define the strategic focus

·commercialisation to uniquely position companies and structure for growth

·  review and negotiate global partnerships that deliver to growth and open innovative opportunities, plus at the same time review due diligence, and contractual arrangements

· marketing, brand and digital media

· technology capability

·innovation and early-stage business

·Understanding of ESG and Sustainable Development Goals

·Wide category experience to draw on

Functional skills:

·global partnership development, stakeholder management, cro functional teams globally

·  brand and campaign development. Appreciation for marketing across – earned, owned, paid and shared channels

· data analytics/ customer relationship management [CRM] / research / customer experience [UX]

·digital experience – App/ API partnership/ integration/ design/ data/ tracking

·Forecasting and growth strategies

Business/ commercial experience Lassoo Media, PR and digital Ltd – Media advertising agency – Co­ founder
Part of Ice Angels investment community – investing and supporting the growth of innovation and start up’s in New Zealand
Via consultancy privy to many different business models and categories, all looking to drive growth and identify positioning for growth stronger engagement.
Experience across fitness apps, TV apps, primary industry, health, and wellbeing, financial, insurance, airlines, retail, FMCG and manufacturing as a few.

Current and previous governance experience
Other stakeholder involvement – grower

packer marketer

Please share with members how you believe you can add value to growers as an NZAGA Executive and director of NZAIL.

Blair Morris (North representative)

In my business capacity, we have been growing avocados for 8 years and have been packing and marketing avocados for 4 years.

My role is the General Manager of Southern Paprika Ltd, responsible for the operation and financial outcomes of Harbour Edge Avocados in Tapora and Alexander Cropping Ltd ‘s avocado orchard in Mangawhai. In addition, I manage the overall responsibility for SPL’s Glass House operation, growing 6.5m kgs of capsicums which includes the sales and avocado packing activity for the Avocado orchards we are associated with. (1.3m trays this season).

These responsibilities have also led to my role as chairman for New Zealand Avocado Collective (NZAC). The shareholder orchards are forecasted to produce circa 2m trays by 2026, are made up of 3 large avocado orchards, including Harbour Edge Avocados (155ha, 44,000 trees). The New Zealand Avocado Collective is a vertically integrated grower and marketer bringing together three of New Zealand’s biggest avocado growers. Collectively growing on 1000 ha of land, using high level orchard infrastructure, leading orchard management practices and techniques, together creating multiple business efficiencies

I am a husband and father of three young men and live on Auckland’s North Shore whilst also spending much of our time in Mangawhai, where we will eventually live when our last son leaves home.

My career is wide and varied and I believe I have the required drive; skill sets and various industry experience to add value to the NZAGA organisation as follows:

  • Detailed export involvement in the NZ horticulture industry, primarily in Apples, Avocado, Kiwano, Capsicums and Kiwi Fruit including innovative projects and new market
  • Extensive experience within other NZ primary industries including meat, seafood and forestry industries covering processing and distribution.
  • International experience (including being based in Australia and Singapore) in key markets of Australia, Japan, Canada, NZ and North America, as well as wider Europe and Asia.
  • Global supply chain management and international shipping experience including market access
  • Implementation of data management systems and process redesign through innovation and
  • Operational management with key metric performance management approach to productivity and efficiency.
  • Previous member of the Institute of Directors with Directorship and Chairmanship
  • Industrial property development with Iwi business via Tainui Group

Orchard details

Number of planted hectares 155 ha

Number of trees 44,000

How long have you been an avocado grower? 8 years

What is your involvement in the Avocado Industry? Grower, Packer, Marketer

Tell us about your role on the orchard as a grower See above and below

Your occupation outside growing avocados See above and below

Skill/qualification Your answer – please provide detail
Legal skills or


Bush lawyer (no formal qualifications but extensive legal commercial contract


Financial skills or


BCom equivalent (tertiary qualification of 12 papers majoring in economics

and accounting)

Scientific skills or


Other relevant skills or qualifications – please specify An enterprising business leader with significant international experience, a comprehensive commercial skillset and a consistent track record of driving growth, diversification, expansion, and customer experience improvement for both local and global brands.

Multi-Country Leadership – Up to 14 countries, 320 staff Commercial Growth Focus – 20+ years, trade and enterprise sector Representation & Governance – Multiple Chair and Director Roles

Business/commercial experience GENERAL MANAGER – SOUTHERN PAPRIKA LTD

Harbour Edge Avocados, Alexander Cropping Ltd, Southern Paprika Ltd / July 2019 – present.

Southern Paprika Ltd is NZ’s largest single site glass house grower. Comprising of 27 hectares of glass houses, growing predominantly capsicums for Woolworths and Foodstuffs. The business employees 195 staff and is a major contributor to the local community. 75% of the produce grown is for the NZ market with 25% destined for Japan and Australia. SPL had a 50% ownership in Harbour Edge Avocados, which is our 400 ha (155ha developed with 45,000 trees), developing orchard. Business required a change in skill set to implement the business structure ahead of the next growth phase. Developed and currently chairs the “New Zealand Avocado Collective” (Avocado Marketing business), a strategic collaboration of the leading three avocado orchards in the north, vertically integrated through growing, packing and marketing.

GENERAL MANAGER – RUAKURA DEVELOPMENT (commercial property development)

Tainui Group Holdings (TGH) / Nov 2016 – July 2019

Recruited to lead the infrastructure development of 480-hectares of Waikato-Tainui land at Ruakura (Hamilton East) and realise TGH’s vision for an inland port logistics hub between New Zealand’s busiest sea ports (Auckland and Tauranga).


Kotahi Logistics LP / Mar 2012 – Nov 2016

Led the development and delivery of long-term strategic growth, diversification and expansion opportunities for Kotahi, a freight management company established by New Zealand’s largest exporters (Fonterra and Silver Fern Farms) with innovative technology changing traditional freight management models.


Hapag-Lloyd Asia Pte (Singapore) / Jun 2009 – Mar 2012

Based in Singapore, responsible for Hapag-Lloyd’s Asia Pacific region encompassing 14 countries (320 staff). Managed Hapag-Lloyd’s largest region and export budget (2.1m TEUs, USD$4.41bn).


Hapag-Lloyd NZ / Jan 2005 – Jun 2009

Led the merger of Hapag-Lloyd NZ (New Zealand’s third largest shipping operator) with the local office of CP Ships UK as part of a global acquisition by Hapag-Lloyd. Appointed as Hapag-Lloyd NZ’s Company Director and representative on European, USA, Pacific and Asia Shipping Line Conference Associations.


CP Ships UK (Sydney) / Dec 2003 – Jan 2005

Based in Sydney, drove regional pricing and growth strategies for Australia/New Zealand trade in the US, Pacific and East Asian markets. Representative for CP Ships on USA, Pacific and Asia Shipping Line Conference Associations.


CP Ships UK / Dec 2000 – Dec 2003


Australia New Zealand Direct Line / Oct 1998 – Dec 2000

Current and previous governance experience Chairman and Director of New Zealand Avocado Collective – current Director of Transgas Ltd – current

Director Ruakura Inland Port – previous

Chairman NZ USA Container Lines Association – previous Chairman European Container Lines Association – previous Chairman Australian Trade Advisory – previous

Previous member of the NZ Institute of Directors

Other stakeholder involvement – grower

packer marketer

Harbour Edger Avocados – Growing operation

Southern Paprika Avocado Packhouse – 1.3m trays forecast this season

NZ Avocado Collective marketing

Please share with members how you believe you can add value to growers as an NZAGA Executive and director of NZAIL.

One of NZAC’s objectives is to collaborate on efficiencies, productivity, relevant and important industry matters with a view to taking a proactive and industry advocacy role as and when required within the relevant Avocado authorities. I believe there is an obligation to making myself available and dedicate time and energy to assist with related industry matters whilst also representing all avocado growers, regardless of size.

In this context, it is my view that the challenges which lie ahead for our industry will only be achieved through industry innovation, collaboration amongst key stakeholders and like-minded growers taking more industry leadership. With New Zealand currently producing circa 2% of the global supply, but the ninth largest international avocado exporter, it is evident that our lack of scale does present some challenges. Our competition in our markets is not each other, but the countries competing against us for market access and returns for what we believe is fast becoming a commodity. We need to work with each other to ensure orchard commercial viability for the long term.

Camille Betham (South representative)

Camille Betham is a highly skilled and accomplished Chartered Accountant / Financial Controller with a proven track record of excellence in financial management and financial reporting. Camille is New Zealand born and as a mature age student attended University of Waikato completing a Bachelor of Management Studies, major accounting, with honours. Having worked in various chartered accounting firms most of her career and as a financial controller, she has recently set up her own chartered accounting practice in Waihi Beach. She has a passion to empower others and builds relationship easily with her empathic nature. She has high ethical standards to ensure transparency. Her husband and herself purchased an avocado orchard two years ago and has a new knowledge of the avocado industry in New Zealand.


Orchard details

Number of planted hectares: 8

Number of trees: 600

How long have you been an avocado grower: 2 years

What is your involvement in the Avocado Industry: Grower and preparing financial statements for various clients

Tell us about your role on the orchard as a grower: Assist my husband with various tasks – eg fertiliser, ground pick, injecting

Your occupation outside growing avocados: Director of B.O.S.S. NZ Limited, trading as Camille Betham & Associates – Chartered Accounting Practice at 6/57 Wilson Road, Waihi Beach

Skill/qualification Your answer – please provide detail
Legal skills or qualifications None
Financial skills or qualifications Bachelor of Management with first class honours/ Chartered Accountant/ Financial Controller – budgets, cashflow forecasting, report, compliance
Scientific skills or qualifications None
Other relevant skills or qualifications – please specify Practice Manager for a staff of 8. Creating systems to ensure efficiency.

Researching – to ensure compliance standards are met.

Business/commercial experience Financial Controller in the retirement industry.
Current and previous governance experience Committee member (Treasurer) of the Katikati Memorial Hall, ensuring the hall complies with various regulations and identifies risks
Other stakeholder involvement – grower

packer marketer

Please share with members how you believe you can add value to growers as an NZAGA Executive and director of NZAIL.

I believe I can add value to growers as a NZ Avocado Growers Association Executive and Director of New Zealand Avocado Industry Limited by initially providing my insights as a new grower into the avocado industry (not understanding the various levies I was paying and why, the forms I needed to complete by when and why, and not knowing who was who in the industry), coupled with being a trusted adviser, having financial expertise and a systems based approach, assist the organisation to keep things simple, cost effective and streamline systems to ensure the necessary tasks are performed and ultimately ensure the avocado industry in NZ thrives into the future, without growers there will not be one. Growers need to have transparency to where their money is going and is it being used wisely. Currently, I do not really know what NZAIL have achieved, but I would love to be part of the team to ensure there is accountability for the fees being provided to them and that it structures itself in a position that is cost effective to the grower and the avocado industry.

Carol Palmer (South representative)

In 2020 my husband Alistair and I purchased our avocado orchard on Wharawhara Road in Katikati.

Combining our separate strengths, Alistair brings previous experience from the agriculture/horticulture industries and I bring extensive commercial experience, we have invested considerable resources and effort in understanding what best practice avocado orchard management looks like and have been implementing that on our orchard to transform it to consistently produce quality fruit as well as to be economically sustainable.

I am a senior business leader with my recent experience across professional services firms. As a leader my focus is on coaching and enabling people to deliver business performance. I offer commercial acumen, a practical and pragmatic approach, the ability to cut through complexity, a focus on delivering excellent customer service and looking for ways to improve business performance. Culture and values are important to me: as a leader I strive to create a culture where people are trusted, valued, challenged and empowered.

Orchard details

Number of planted hectares: 2.4ha

Number of trees: 320

How long have you been an avocado grower: 2 ½ years

What is your involvement in the Avocado Industry: I am a Grower Director on Trevelyan Avocado Growers Board Limited

Tell us about your role on the orchard as a grower: Together Alistair and I manage the orchard strategically and we are both actively involved in the day-to-day management of the orchard.

Your occupation outside growing avocados: I am currently a Consultant with BOO Auckland working remotely from Katikati managing specific projects.

Skill/qualification Your answer – please provide detail
Legal skills or


Financial skills or qualifications Chartered Accountant
Scientific skills or qualifications None
Other relevant skills or qualifications – please


ICC Accredited Coach

BBS BBS, major in Accounting and Finance, Massey University DipBS, major in Accounting, Massey University

Business/commercial experience Senior leadership roles, most recently with BOO Auckland, The Serious Fraud Office and Grant Thornton Wellington.
Current and previous governance experience Grower Director Trevelyan Avocado Growers Limited.

Other stakeholder involvement – grower packer marketer Relationships with other avocado orchardists building an understanding of how they are managing their orchards, the specific challenges they are facing

and what they expect from the industry.

Please share with members how you believe you can add value to growers as an NZAGA Executive and director of NZAIL.

As a relatively new grower I bring a new to industry perspective supported by deep commercial experience, a mindset of continuous improvement and a focus on performance to improve results. Since becoming an avocado orchardist, I have attended many packhouse and NZ Avocado run field days across the region. Earlier this year we hosted a New Zealand Avocado field day on our orchard which was another opportunity to meet orchardists from around the region and to share experiences. I attend technical sessions to assist me understand the complexity of avocado growing and marketing. My board role as a Grower Director on TAGL provides me with insight into the complexity of the export and local avocado markets. I enjoy engaging with other growers to understand their challenges and successes to learn as much as I can about the industry.

Having reported to and worked with Boards during my career, I have a solid understanding of the differentiation between governance and management.

In my role with the Serious Fraud Office I built strong working relationships with key decision makers and influencers in the government sector. I can also draw on experience early in my career working for the then New Zealand Apple and Pear Marketing Board.

The avocado industry is facing significant challenges and I offer the ability to advocate for grower interests alongside my extensive commercial experience ·in navigating complexity and ambiguity.

Daniel Birnie (South representative)

I work at Trevelyans Pack and Cool Ltd in Te Puke, as Head of Avocados.  My role has involvement or oversight in a number of areas, including AvoGreen, managed orchards (we manage 40 hectares of avocados), harvest, and marketing.

My partner Lou and I have two children, Frida and Gus, both at Papamoa College.  When I can, I try and convince my children to work on the orchard, though most of the time they are hanging out with friends or playing sports.

Outside of work and the orchard I have previously been involved with Papamoa Football Club and Papamoa Surf Lifesaving club.  When not watching my son play football, I tend to tire myself out with fishing, mountain biking, surfing or running.


Orchard details

Number of planted hectares: 1.3

Number of trees: 250 approx

How long have you been an avocado grower: Five years

What is your involvement in the Avocado Industry: I am the Head of Avocados for Trevelyans Pack and Cool Ltd.  I have been on the NZ Avocado board for five years.  I have been a director of an avocado marketing company (BayFarms).

Tell us about your role on the orchard as a grower: My family and I planted our orchard and are responsible for the day to day running of it.

Your occupation outside growing avocados : Head of Avocados at Trevelyans Pack and Cool Ltd

Skill/qualification Your answer – please provide detail
Legal skills or qualifications None
Financial skills or qualifications Member of Audit and risk committee for NZ Avocado for two years
Scientific skills or qualifications None
Other relevant skills or qualifications – please specify Bachelor of Social Science

Graduate Diploma in Management

Kellogg Rural Leadership course

Business/commercial experience Head of Avocados at Trevelyans Pack and Cool
Current and previous governance experience Director – NZ Avocado

Director – BayFarms

Director – Whitehouse Orchards Ltd

Member of Papamoa Football Club Committee

Other stakeholder involvement – grower packer marketer

Please share with members how you believe you can add value to growers as an NZAGA Executive and director of NZAIL.

I have been involved with the avocado industry for 15+ years, in a variety of roles.  When I first was involved the industry was facing some tough times, local market returns were in the single digits and export not much better.  Since then we have experienced some good times, with Australia returning excellent value to our growers over the last decade, and small steps being taken in Asian markets.

Around five years ago my family and I purchased some land in Otamarakau and developed a small avocado orchard.  We sourced trees from a nursery I had been involved in setting up, and we have spent many hours planting and maintaining our orchard.

As our orchard has come into production, it has coincided with more challenging times for our industry, with costs of production increasing, and returns not sustainable for many growers.

We face challenges in the future with maintaining, and opening up markets.  Of critical importance is the maintenance of our access to our largest market, Australia.  My experience in post harvest and on orchard operations will serve growers well in understanding how we best put in practices to maintain our access.

I am Head of Avocados for Trevelyans Pack and Cool in Te Puke, and have been on the board of NZ Avocado for five years.  I have been a director of BayFarms, a company that markets fruit in NZ.  I have a Bachelor of Social Science, a Post Grad in Management studies, and have completed both the Hort NZ and Kellogg rural leadership courses.

However its the day to day running a business that involves contact with growers, contractors and marketers that is the biggest asset I can bring to the board.  I am an active listener to concerns and bring them in a constructive manner to what is a complex organisation (NZ Avocado).

While NZ Avocado is not a large organisation turnover wise, its responsibility is to all growers and stakeholders.  It has a range of funding streams, various legislation to follow, and will have a largely new board, and new CEO.

My understanding of our industry, my contacts, and experience will assist in this transition, and I hope you will support me in standing for the board.



Jonathan Cutting (South representative)

2013 to present-Avocado Technical Manager at Trevelyans Pack and Cool

2011-2013 – Avocado Manager at Seeka

2006-2010 – Orchard owner and General Manager- Western Australian Fruit Growers Australia

1995-2006 – Technical Manager and CEO – NZ AGA / AIC

1994-1995 – Senior Research Fellow – Massey University

1991-1993 – Senior Lecturer/ Associate Prof – University of Natal

1989-1991- Senior Research Fellow – University of Stellenbosch

1987-1989 – German Post Doc- University of Hohenheim and University of Osnabruck

1984-1986 –  National Service (South Africa)

1991-1994 – PhD studies University of Natal

Orchard details

How long have you been an avocado grower: Since 1998

What is your involvement in the Avocado Industry: Former AGA and AIC employee (Technical Manager and CEO), avocado grower (1998 to present) and currently Avocado Technical Manager for a postharvest facility

Tell us about your role on the orchard as a grower: Own (with my partner Joy) a 2.6 ha high density avocado orchard as part of a larger regenerative mixed farm on the West Coast which we manage without contractors.

Your occupation outside growing avocados: Former University academic (Horticulture) and currently Technical Manager

Skill/qualification Your answer – please provide detail
Legal skills or quaIifications Former CEO and General manager in NZ (AZAGA /AIC 1998-2006) and Australia (Western Australia Fruit Growers Association 2008-2010)
Financial skills or


Former CEO and currently company owner and director
Scientific skills or PhD in agriculture with 40 years avocado experience in the science and have
qualifications attended and have attended 8 of the last 10 world avocado conference.
Undertook a two year German funded Post Doc in Germany. Have visited and
have experience in nearly every avocado growing country including USA,
Israel, Mexico, Spain, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Zimbabwe, Australia and
New      Zealand.               Have      more     than       100         publication                citations               in
Other relevant skills or qualifications – please


Research experience (university supervision of M Sc and PhD students in both South Africa and NZ. Former Technical Manager with NZAGA. Former

Zespri Research Committee chair. Member of the Avocados Australia R and D Committee 1997-2005)
Business/commercial experience Former CEO (twice both in NZ and Australia) and currently company owner and director
Current and previous

governance experience

Former CEO (twice both in NZ and Australia) and currently company owner

and director- Familiar in working with boards

Other stakeholder involvement – grower

packer marketer

Have engaged in contractual work with exporters, packers, avocado nurseries

and fertiliser companies. Been a consultant to PAMU

Please share with members how you believe you can add value to growers as an NZAGA Executive and director of NZAIL.

The NZ avocado industry is in trouble and the financial viability of the industry is in doubt. I believe that the industry needs a new overall strategy and structure if it is to be successful in the future. I would like to offer my experience and deep understanding of the industry in realising a successful future.

Richard Van Der Jagt (South representative)

I have been living and working in the Bay of Plenty for the past 25 years where my partner Alison and I have enjoyed raising our 4 children in this beautiful environment on our 3.2 ha avocado orchard.

My experience includes 30 years of commercial and community governance and leadership. I have been CEO of member organisations including youth and sports development, and board member of various organisations including Export Bay of Plenty and most recently Youth Search and Rescue (YSAR). I have also mentored a diverse range of businesses including start-ups, NGO’s and commercial operations through the New Zealand Business Mentors Association and Social Link.

My horticultural career has spanned over 40 years initially starting as a horticultural cadet in Central Otago after which I spent time studying horticulture and zoology at Lincoln and Canterbury universities. I spent many years working as the Marlborough Regional Field Officer for the Ministry of Agriculture (MAF) prior to purchasing my first avocado orchard in the Bay of Plenty in 2002.

Orchard details

Number of planted hectares: 3.2ha

Number of trees: 260

How long have you been an avocado grower: 19 years (but involved in horticulture for over 40 years)

What is your involvement in the Avocado Industry : Grower / Owner

Tell us about your role on the orchard as a grower : I’m responsible for the day to day management of the orchard.

Your occupation outside growing avocados: Manager  Targeted Investments – ACC

Skill/qualification Your answer – please provide detail
Legal skills or qualifications ·         Contracts Approval / negotiation

·         Taught Small Business Management at Toi Ohomai

Financial skills or qualifications ·         Master of Business Management (MBA) -Waikato University

·         Post Graduate Diploma of Business Management – Waikato University

·         Post Graduate Certificate in Business Research Methodology- Waikato University

·         Business Development Manager – Bay of Plenty Polytechnic now Toi Ohomai Te Pukenga

·         Responsible for leading Finance subcommittee for Youth Search and Rescue (YSAR)

·         Skills: mergers and acquisitions, contract negotiation, finance, business case development, strategic development and market development.

Scientific skills or qualifications ·         Certificate in Horticultural Production Level 4

·         Diploma Horticulture – Lincoln University

·         Bachelor of Science – Canterbury University

Other relevant skills or qualifications – please specify ·         Diploma of Teaching

·         Taught Small Business Management – Toi Ohomai

·         Taught Strategic Management 300 level – University of Waikato

·         Marlborough Regional Officer – MAF Horticultural Div

·         Chief Executive Officer – Physical Education New Zealand

Business/commercial experience ·         New Zealand Business Mentors Association – mentored.

·         Avocado Orchardist 18 years
Held executive positions in government, commercial and NGO organisations.

·         Commercial experience includes mergers and acquisitions, financial management, business case development, market development – (inc India, China, Columbia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia), HR, H&S, business strategy and partnerships and understanding the machinery of government.

Current and previous governance experience ·         Youth Search and Rescue (YSAR 2020- Current)

·         AJ Health Medical Practice (2019 – Current)

·         Export Bay of Plenty

Other stakeholder involvement – grower packer marketer ·         Avocado grower for 19 years currently with a 3.2 ha orchard in the BoP.

Please share with members how you believe you can add value to growers as an NZAGA Executive and director of NZAIL.

My career has spanned the education, sports and the horticultural sectors. I bring a broad range of business and governance skills including HR, finance, health and safety, mergers and acquisitions and business strategy coupled with a long history in horticulture, with close to 20 years directly in involved in the avocado sector.

I see this period in our industry as a time of both opportunity and challenge particularly from a market and climate perspective. I am proud to be an avocado grower and it would be a privilege to be elected to the board and to be able to contribute to NZAGA governance in the future.