An inspiring line-up of internationally recognised speakers


Melanie Auld

Global Marketing Manager, Zespri

In her role as Global Marketing Manager, Mel is responsible for ensuring Zespri’s future products are relevant for consumers, fit within a portfolio of differentiated products and will deliver significant value back to growers. Mel is also responsible for building an enduring Zespri Brand that is desirable, trusted and unique, and offers a consistent experience every time. Mel has one foot in the market and one foot firmly on the ground in the Bay of Plenty, to ensure that she connects with both consumer and grower needs, and has a good handle on what’s possible in the world of kiwifruit breeding. Mel has been with Zespri for 10 years and has experience and training in both communications and marketing.


Paul Bennett

Science Leader, Clean Technologies, Scion

Paul is responsible for Scion’s research and development efforts on Biofuels, Bioenergy, Environmental Technologies and Industrial Ecology.  Paul has a Chemistry background, with over 25 years technical and commercial expertise in transport fuels, biofuels and bioenergy.  He has experience in developing technology and implementation strategy for a wide range of companies and Government in this sector.   Key roles include;

  • 22 years with BP, mainly on transport fuels, finishing up leading their Asia Pacific Biofuels activities (Business development, technology piloting, etc)
  • Chief Technology officer for 2nd Generation bioethanol/biochemical company, TMO Renewables
  • Strategy Manager on Bioenergy at Energy Technologies Institute (50% funded by UK Gov’t)
  • Europe Regional Manager for US Algae biofuels company
  • Director of AD project developer, Eastern Europe.

Currently, his key focus is identifying the optimum route to large scale implementation of bioenergy and biofuels in New Zealand.   New Zealand faces challenges over its commitments toward climate change and over energy security.   Biofuels and bioenergy can help to address these challenges, but it needs alignment along the supply chain, from feedstock producers to the end users of products to be successful.   Identifying key feedstocks and extracting maximum value from these feedstocks is important to ensure a viable sector.

Horticulture Australia - Staff Portraiture

Richard Bennett

Technology Manager, PMA A-NZ

Richard Bennett is the Food Safety and Science Manager for the Fresh Produce Safety Centre originally established by the Produce Marketing Association Australia-New Zealand.  Richard is the Australian Director of the International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS) and chairs the IFPS Food Safety Committee.

Announcement of 2016 Nuffield Scholars in West Foyer, Executive Wing, Parliament, Wellington. Photo by

Jessica Bensemann

Development Manager, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Wellington-based Jessica Bensemann, 31, is the development manager for agriculture with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade. Jessica has a Bachelor of Commerce and Administration with Honours from Victoria University and Masters in AgriCommerce with First Class Honours from Massey University. She has worked as a business development adviser in Papua New Guinea with Volunteer Services Abroad and has also worked as both a trade policy analyst and an agricultural on-farm analyst for Meat and Wool New Zealand. Jessica has helped settle refugee families into life in New Zealand and has been heavily involved in Young Farmers, holding office at the Fitzherbert and Wellington clubs.


Dr Anna Campbell

Managing Director, AbacusBio

Anna has a strong scientific background from which she has transitioned into business leadership and governance.  She is now Managing Director of AbacusBio, an agri-technology company where she leads a team of over 30 specialised consultants and several graduate students.

Anna has significant international experience, having worked in Asia, Australia and New Zealand with companies and research organisations to implement technology programmes.  She is also a Director of Otago Innovation Limited, the commercial arm of the University of Otago and an agri-technology advisor to Powerhouse Ventures Ltd.


Teresa Ciprian

Independent Director

Teresa is an Independent Director, currently serving on five Boards - including Zespri - where she contributes strategic insight into innovation, international brand marketing and competitive strategy. Teresa’s earlier off-shore executive roles with French multinational Danone form a strong foundation for her Board contributions, as they all focused on creating profitable, value added growth for consumer brands in a wide range of highly competitive international markets.

Teresa’s other Boards are Phytomed Medicinal Herbs, Aspeq, Firstlight Foods and Food Standards Australia & New Zealand. She was previously a Director of AgResearch.


Angela Clifford

Angela’s superpower is that she grows all her own food, and makes her own wine. She can grow commercial quantities of field tomatoes, gut a homegrown chicken and hand milk a cow standing in a paddock.

Her home is a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) property called The Food Farm in North Canterbury, which is also the international HQ for her wine brand Tongue in Groove Wines.

She has always been a passionate advocate for these two staples of life, food and wine; and as such has found herself singing their praises loudly from various platforms. This includes the NZ Farmers Market Association, NZ Sommeliers and Wine Professionals Exec as well as a board member for New Zealand’s largest Winegrowers event, Pinot Noir NZ.

Her most recent guise is the CEO of a rapidly growing NZ food movement called ConversatioNZ. It’s a collective of some of the country’s best chefs, producers, media, event and tourism operators. It has a partnership with the NZ Restaurant Association, Cuisine Magazine and Lincoln University. This group wants to raise the profile of New Zealand food internationally by exploring our food culture and telling our stories.


Julie Collins

Director of Biosecurity and Animal and Welfare Policy, MPI

Julie Collins (MPI), Director of Biosecurity and Animal and Welfare Policy will be presenting an overall update on the Biosecurity 2025 Programme launched by Minister Guy last year.  Guiding our biosecurity system through 2025 and beyond, Julie will discuss the five strategic directions, the implementation process and what it means for the Horticulture Industry.

Julie has been Director of Biosecurity and Animal Welfare Policy since 2011.  In that time she has over seen the review of the Biosecurity and Animal Welfare legislation, introduced the Border Clearance Levy, developed a new Direction for the biosecurity system and been involved in many biosecurity responses. Before coming to biosecurity and animal welfare she led the Ministry’s climate change team. Julie has 30 years experience in land use policy in NZ and the UK.  She comes from a primary sector background, growing up on a dairy farm in the Waikato, is a forester by training and currently owns a vineyard in the Wairarapa.


Lex Dillon

Managing Director, Underglass Ltd

Started with the NZHH Group in 1996, Lex's background was materials handling and logistics. Key Group responsibilities are growing, logistics and human resources.

Pip Duncan

Pip has the role of Education and Marketing Manager for and is involved in all their promotion activity. She is a New Zealand registered dietitian with a wealth of experience in food promotions. Pip is the author of 14 books on food, food safety and nutrition, several of which have been used as texts in tertiary education in New Zealand and Australia. In collaboration with Massey University Pip supervisors and mentors students in the Dietetic programme engaged in projects for


Marc Elliott

Director, UMR Research

Marc is a director at UMR Research, and has been involved in research for over 15 years.  His primary focus is among farmers with a focus on strategy and communications development.  Marc also has considerable involvement in evaluation studies designed to measure the performance of pilots in the primary sector designed to improve returns behind the farm gate.

Marc was raised on a sheep and beef farm in the South Waikato that was converted to dairy in the 80s.  His wider family are heavily involved in producing food, both in dairy and horticulture (Kiwifruit).  As well as growing up on a farm, Marc’s early thinking was also strongly influenced by completing a Master’s Degree in Human Geography majoring in feminist geography.  This study helped to open his eyes to social justice and the importance of diversity.  Through many research studies, (Over the last five years or so) Marc has observed the critical role that diversity of thinking plays for helping New Zealand food-producing businesses thrive in the 21st century.


Roland Fumasi

Vice President, Rabobank

Roland Fumasi is a vice president, senior analyst & manager for Rabobank’s RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness group. Headquartered in Fresno, California, Roland is responsible for covering and analyzing the U.S. and North American fresh fruit and vegetable industries, general California agriculture, and leads the Fresno research team. He combines a background in agribusiness research with international market development and finance experience in the agriculture industry. Prior to joining Rabobank, Fumasi served as a senior executive in the equipment industry beginning in 2008. From 2005 to 2008, Fumasi served as a Research Associate for the Agricultural & Food Policy Center at Texas A&M University, where his research focused on specialty crops and alternative energy (bio-fuel) production. Roland completed his Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University in 2013. Prior to Texas A&M, Roland was an active researcher at the California Institute for the Study of Specialty Crops at the California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly), where he produced an award-winning thesis related to specialty crops. Roland received both his B.S. and M.S. in Agribusiness from Cal Poly.
From 1998 through 2003, Fumasi served as a Financial Advisor for Morgan Stanley in Visalia, California, where his business focus was comprehensive financial planning for agricultural families. As a Marketing Director for various firms during the 1990’s, Roland was responsible for building distribution networks for the animal health industry in three countries.


Steve Gilbert

Director Border Clearance Services, MPI

Steve has been the Director Border Clearance Services at Ministry for Primary Industries since 2013 and is responsible for the clearance of incoming passengers and cargo nationwide.  Steve is also a member of MPI’s Bio Security Board which provides leadership for all aspects of the bio security system which includes pre-border, border and post border activities. He has had fifteen years’ experience in a range of operational leadership roles within the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and in other areas including sports management.

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Dr Florian Graichen

Science Leader, of Biobased Polymers and Chemicals. Scion

Dr Florian Graichen is Science Leader for the area of Biobased Polymers and Chemicals at Scion (the New Zealand Forest Research Institute).  Scion is developing advanced biobased products through modification and engineering of biopolymers and chemicals. This includes agile, modular and mobile processing such as 3D printing and customized extrusion approaches. Key to success is the ability to match biobased materials with performance requirements of innovative products. Before joining Scion, Dr Graichen worked as commercial manager for the chemistry unit of VITO (Flemish independent research and technology organisation) and as senior scientist and commercial manager for various manufacturing units within CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation – Australia).

Te Tumu Paeroa - Board Member. Tiaki

Tiaki Hunia

Director, Design & Development of the Māori Land Service

Tiaki is currently the Director, Design & Development of the Māori Land Service and the inaugural chairman of the Māori Kiwifruit Growers Incorporation. His previous roles include the Deputy Māori Trustee of Te Tumu Paeroa, asset manager and director on trusts, companies and iwi authorities. Born and raised in Te Teko, Tiaki is of Ngāti Awa, Te Aupouri and Ngāti Pikiao descent, and is passionate about Māori development having worked across the health, iwi development, fishing, forestry, agribusiness and investment sectors.

He is currently the Chairman of Māori Investments Ltd and Tarawera Lands Company and Chairman of Putauaki Trust and Te Tumu Miere.

Tiaki is a member of the Institute of Directors.


Carmel Ireland

5+ A Day and Fruit in Schools programmes, United Fresh

Carmel has an undergraduate degree in Exercise Physiology and a post-graduate degree in Public Health. She gained experience working in health promotion and education through her roles at the Heart Foundation. Since joining United Fresh New Zealand Incorporated and the 5+ A Day Charitable Trust in 2006/7, Carmel has worked on the 5+ A Day and Fruit in Schools programmes and continues to actively promote healthy lifestyles on a national level.

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Nikki Johnson

CEO, New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated

Nikki Johnson has been CEO of New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) since April 2016. NZKGI is the representative organisation for New Zealand kiwifruit growers which works to advocate, protect and enhance their commercial and political interests. In addition to this position, Nikki has served as an associate member on the Agcarm board since 2012. Prior to her position at NZKGI, Nikki was Executive Manager of NZ Citrus Growers Incorporated and was co-Director and co-owner of the advisory company Market Access Solutionz for 14 years.  Nikki has also held several leadership positions in the community including Commodore and President of Evans Bay Yacht & Motor Boat Club.


Jack Keeys

Farmax Ltd

While working a full-time position at Farmax Ltd. Jack is at the very end of his studies at the University of Waikato, studying a conjoint Bachelor of Management Studies (hons) in Agribusiness and a Bachelor of Science in Biological science.

Jack has achieved over $50,000 of scholarships and is a previous HortNZ and Zespri scholar. A major role that Jack undertook during his studies was the programme co-ordinator of the Rabobank Agri-Leadership Programme, an initiative he co-created with Alanah Vinson to attract more top quality students into the primary industries.

Training, education and public speaking around New Zealand are passions of Jack’s as he hopes that more students can follow the exciting and successful study path he has been fortunate to have so far.


Clare Kelly

Divisional Manager, Trade Negotiations Division

Clare Kelly is the Manager of the Trade Negotiations Division in the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

From April 2013 to April 2017 she served as New Zealand’s Ambassador to Mexico, with concurrent accreditations to Belize, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama and Venezuela.

From May 2009 until her appointment as Ambassador, Clare served as Unit Manager, Trade in Goods, in the Trade Negotiations Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, with responsibility for New Zealand’s agriculture and goods negotiating teams in bilateral and regional free trade agreement negotiations and in the World Trade Organisation.  During this period she was also New Zealand’s lead Goods negotiator for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiation.

Clare was posted as Counsellor in the New Zealand Permanent Mission to the World Trade Organisation in Geneva from 2003 to 2007. Her previous experience in a Latin American embassy includes a posting as First Secretary and Consul-General in the New Zealand Embassy in Santiago, Chile.

From 2007 to 2009 Clare worked as a Trade Adviser in the Geneva office of the law firm White & Case LLP, covering a range of international trade law issues, in particular, trade in services, accessions to the WTO and WTO disputes.

Clare holds a Masters Degree in Political Studies from the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Hans Maurer

Dr Hans Maurer

Knowledge Officer, United Fresh New Zealand Incorporated, New Zealand Director of the International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS) and chairs the IFPS Chain Information Committee

Dr Hans Maurer acts as the Knowledge Officer for United Fresh New Zealand Incorporated.  Hans is the New Zealand Director of the International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS)  and chairs the IFPS Chain Information Committee.


Sarah McCormack

Executive General Manager, International, T&G

Sarah has held her role since August 2015. Prior to this she was general manager sales and marketing of our diversified products team for three years and a founder, shareholder and senior manager of Delica Global which was purchased by T&G Global in 2014.



Helen McCoy

Teacher, Bethlehem College

I teach Agricultural and Horticultural Science at Bethlehem College. I set up the department 12 years ago as I was concerned that a school in one of the main horticultural areas of the country did not teach the subject. I started with one year 10 class and currently run six classes from Years 10 through to 13. I also head the Biology department, another important source of young talent for the industry. Every year a number of our students enter the industry, some at university level.


Maureen O'Callaghan

Principal Scientist, Forage Science Group, AgResearch

Maureen is a Principal scientist in the Forage Science Group at AgResearch and a researcher at the Bio-Protection Research Centre at Lincoln University. She is a soil microbiologist by training and has a longstanding interest in plant-microbe interactions and the use of microbes to increase plant productivity and health. She currently leads a large collaborative programme between AgResearch, Plant & Food Research and Lincoln University which is aiming to develop new solutions for pests impacting on NZ’s primary sectors.


Vanessa O'Neill

Director, KPMG Enterprise

Vanessa is responsible for KPMG Enterprise‘s Food and Beverage Sector, is a lead advisory on KPMG Enterprise’s Be Retail Ready food and beverage capability program and is also an accredited facilitator of KPMG’s Enterprise DNA programme. She is a highly experienced Strategy Director having worked for large corporates in the UK, Australia and New Zealand in strategy, business development and marketing roles. She has led business strategy clients in Retail, FMCG, Consumer Goods, Industrial Goods Manufacturing, Tourism and Technology Sectors. Her focus is both international export clients and domestic.


Mike Petersen

Special Agricultural Trade Envoy (SATE)

Mr Mike Petersen is New Zealand’s Special Agricultural Trade Envoy (SATE) and has held this role since July 2013.

This unique role was established by New Zealand ministers in close consultation with New Zealand’s agriculture sector – to bring a farmer’s perspective to international trade in food and agriculture, and to build partnerships with farming organisations offshore.

Mr Petersen is not a government official. Drawing on his considerable farming and private sector experience, Petersen works to promote a greater understanding of New Zealand’s agricultural sector interests, including dairy, meat, wool, horticulture and wine, from the perspective of a practicing farmer.

Mr Petersen is a successful farmer and industry leader in the New Zealand agricultural community. Mr Petersen owns and operates a finishing farm in Hawke's Bay, which he has managed since New Zealand’s agricultural reforms in the late 1980s.

As a farmer and industry leader in New Zealand, Mr Petersen is well positioned to offer his perspective on the New Zealand primary sector. These perspectives include new innovations in sustainable farming, sector efficiency and productivity, as well as discussing some of the challenges in New Zealand’s evolution into a successful  trading nation despite being one of the most isolated countries in the world.


Sue Pickering

Senior Business Manager, Horticulture NZ

As Senior Business Manager for Horticulture NZ, Sue has been at the forefront of people development for horticulture: building horticulture’s leaders, championing a highly skilled workforce and leading national people capability initiatives such as Young Grower of the Year, the HortNZ Leadership and Scholarship Programmes and innovative career promotion.  Sue has a strong understanding of NZ’s training and education system and its link to the horticulture industry and its businesses.   She has chaired or been an active part of a wide range of people capability groups and served on the Board of the Horticulture Industry Training Organisation. Sue is currently Chair of the Primary ITO Vegetable Industry Partnership Group and a member of the Primary ITO Stakeholder Council.


Alan Pollard

Chief Executive, Pipfruit New Zealand

Alan was appointed Chief Executive of Pipfruit New Zealand in March 2012.

He is a Chartered Accountant, having graduated from Victoria University of Wellington with a Bachelor of Commerce and Administration degree majoring in accounting and economics. His career spans both central government and professional service organisations. He has managed some of New Zealand’s largest law firms, including being a part of the team that put together the first trans-Tasman law firm merger.

Alan has held a number of directorships including the Canterbury Development Corporation, and the Canterbury Economic Development Fund. He was President of the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce for 2009 and 2010, having served as a Director since 2005.

Alan and his wife, Miranda, moved from North Canterbury where they bred miniature cows on their Ohoka lifestyle block, and have now settled in Havelock North.


Jeanette Rea

Scarborough Fare

With a Food Science background working in the corporate world followed by a 10 year foray into retail floristry and then floriculture, in 2003 with my partner Pam Maurice, I turned my hand to the what has become ‘the biggest project thus far’. Developing a 5 hectare lifestyle block into a fully fledged production horticulture unit growing culinary herbs has been a mission of a lifetime.

Scarborough Fare is the story of a farmer and a florist and evidence of what can happen . . when you meet your Waterloo!


Dr Jacqueline Rowarth


Jacqueline holds the new position of Chief Scientist for the Environmental Protection Authority. Until the end of October she held the Foundation Chair in Agribusiness at the University of Waikato, a position she held from 2012, having spent the previous five years in the role of Director of Massey Agriculture and Foundation Chair of Pastoral Agriculture, at Massey University. She has also taught at University of Melbourne and Lincoln University, plus worked for DSIR Grasslands/Agresearch from 1988 to 1994.

She is a Past President of the New Zealand Grassland Association and the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science, a past trustee of AGMARDT, and a past Director of Crop and Food Research.

Jacqueline obtained a PhD in soil science from Massey University, having completed a B.Ag.Sci with honours in Environmental Agriculture.  She received the Zonta Award for excellence in science in 1994, was made Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to agricultural science in 2008, and in 2009 she was given the inaugural ‘Agricultural Personality of the Year Award’ by the Federated Farmers of New Zealand. In 2010 she was awarded the Landcorp Communicator of the Year Award by the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Communicators and Journalists. In 2013 she was listed in the top 50 most influential women in New Zealand in the Westpac/Fairfax Awards.


Mike Sim

Business Development Manager, Biobees

Mike is the Business Development Manager at Biobees, and has been involved with the company since 2011. Combining his MSc in ecology, his background in farming, insect rearing and integrated pest management, Mike provides technical support to both the production team and growers, advises on the benefits of bumblebees in outdoor production, and investigates and implements added-value technologies. Mike has played a key role in recently bringing bumblebee vectoring technology to market, and is working with the horticultural sector, science providers and microbial producers and suppliers to explore the potential significant benefits of this technology for pest management and improved pollination.


Linda Sissons

Chief Executive, Primary ITO

Linda has an extensive background in the vocational education sector. Her previous roles include Deputy Chief Executive of The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, and Chief Executive of Wellington Institute of Technology for 15 years. She is currently Chair of the Commonwealth of Learning and a Board member of Education NZ. Linda’s recent primary industry experience includes her role as Interim Chief Executive of Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre, and leading a project to develop the agriculture portfolio of Massey University. She also recently served as Acting Chief Executive of Agri Women’s Development Trust during the sabbatical of its founder and Executive Director, Lindy Nelson.


Rachel Taulelei

CEO, Kono NZ

Rachel Taulelei is CEO of Kono NZ, one of New Zealand’s top 100 food and beverage companies, whose activities range from wine, cider, horticulture, and seafood, to fruit bar manufacturing. Rachel founded the sustainable seafood company Yellow Brick Road, and as such she is passionate about New Zealand’s primary sector and developing values based business models. Rachel is a former NZTE US Trade Commissioner, in 2015 she received a New Zealand Order of Merit for services to food and hospitality, and in 2012 was the recipient of a Blake Leader Award from the Sir Peter Blake Trust, on whose board she now sits. Other directorships include Moana NZ, Wellington Regional Stadium Trust, New Zealand Wine Growers, Headwaters New Zealand, and the Young Enterprise Trust.


Greg Turrell

Capability Manager, T&G Global Ltd

I’ve worked in Learning & Development for the past 8 years in a variety of roles and with several organisations, ranging from Spark through to Sovereign Insurance.  I’ve been with T&G Global Ltd since 2014, taking on the role of Capability Manager, responsible for the learning needs of the organisations 3500 staff.  I work with both frontline team leaders through to senior executive, ensuring their teams have the right skills and knowledge to meet their strategic objectives.  My role is diverse and broad, and no two days are the same.  Highlights so far are the development of a literacy & numeracy programme, accreditation and facilitation of the Stephen Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, alignment of our leadership programmes with the NZQA framework, a graduate development plan and management of the T&G Scholarship programme. I am also involved in working with HortNZ and the PrimaryITO as part of an industry product group, tasked with promoting development and enhancing capability in the horticulture industry.


Jason Wargent

Associate Professor, Massey University

Jason Wargent is Associate Professor in the horticulture team within the Institute of Agriculture & Environment at Massey University. Trained in the UK, the majority of Jason’s research focuses on understanding how sustainable crop inputs such as light, can be exploited and manipulated for horticultural gain. Dr. Wargent is also Chief Science Officer of BioLumic, a Palmerston North start-up company which develops UV light treatments to increase crop yields. Jason is passionate about the role of science-commercialisation within the agri-innovation landscape.


Simon Watson

Managing Director NZ Hothouse Ltd

Started with the  NZHH Group in 1994. Key roles involve marketing, product development and compliance.


Lisa Winthrop

Director Market Access, New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries

The New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is responsible for New Zealand’s biosecurity, food safety and animal welfare systems.

As Director Market Access, Lisa is accountable for interactions with counter-part Competent Authorities regarding Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) arrangements and related technical conditions for trade in primary products and food (import and export), along with the official assurances required to support that trade. The Market Assurance directorate also acts as the focal point for reviews/audits of MPI regulatory systems and official assurance programmes by importing country Competent Authorities.

Lisa has been with the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries, and predecessor organisations, for over 15 years. She is currently Acting Director of Market Access 26 June – 12 September 2017 while Tim Knox is temporarily post to Beijing. Prior to this role Lisa was Manager Market Access South Asia, looking after New Zealand primary industries exports to South & Southeast Asia. Lisa was previously manager of the Forestry & Plant Sector, and has graduate & post-graduate degrees in Forestry Science.