Your Executive

The NZ Truffle Association Executive is made up of a wide range of people with different experiences and background. As volunteers we juggle executive work, day jobs & family life while promoting truffles in NZ.

President – George Wilkinson

Tasman District | Truffle Grower | 0292313743

George has been involved in the truffle industry for 10 years and has traveled fairly extensively checking out what others in the world are doing with growing, selling and eating of truffles.

e:  george@building-solutions.co.nz

Secretary – Fiona Johnson

Wairarapa | Truffle Grower

Fiona came across the idea of truffle growing reading an Air NZ magazine about 10 years ago and, after some investigation and eating of truffle, became hooked. Six years ago, she and husband, John planted some trees with the first (and only!) perigord black truffle arriving five years later.

e: admin@nztruffles.org.nz

Treasurer & STNZL Officer – Steve Hart

Tasman District | Truffle Grower


With his wife Jenny, Steve bought land in Riwaka at the top of the South Island. Their idea was to try developing a truffiere but cultivation showed many large rocks, requiring screening of a significant part of the truffiere and a very large pile of rocks. After several years of applying lime, about 90 T.melanosporum  infected trees were ultimately planted in spring of 2010.

During his time in Central Otago, while working on construction of the Clyde Dam, Steve was a director of a company that developed stone fruit orchards and operated a large pack-house that provided a packing service for both local and export markets. During this period Steve was also a representative on the local irrigation scheme which provided water to irrigate the flats around Cromwell for the local horticulture industry.

The skills developed in these roles and in civil construction are what Steve brings to his interest in the development of both their own truffiere and the NZ truffle industry as he moves onto a new stage in his working life.

e:  stevehart@xtra.co.nz

Research & Development Officer – Dr Alexis Guerin-Laguette

Canterbury | Truffle guru

Alexis is a mycorrhiza scientist (MSc. and Ph.D.) who specialized on edible mycorrhizal fungi (EMF). Alexis worked in France, Japan and Canada before joining Plant and Food Research (ex-CFR, Invermay, Dunedin) in 2004. Alexis is now based at Lincoln, Canterbury, where he leads mycorrhiza research at PFR for edible fungi production and plant bio-protection.

His main interest is knowledge, cultivation and conservation of all EMF species (over 500 worldwide!). His passion for this field stems from his early works on red milk cap mushrooms (Lactarius deliciosus and related species) at INRA-Montpellier France and on the Japanese delicacy matsutake (Tricholoma matsutake) at the University of Tokyo. In New Zealand, Alexis extended his activities to more EMF species, including truffles, alongside Dr Ian Hall and Prof Yun Wang. Alexis’ research interests include the development of field cultivation techniques, i.e. from seedling inoculation right through to edible fungi harvest and commercialization, for saffron milk cap and gourmet truffles (Tuber melanosporum, T. borchii, T. aestivum, T. brumale etc.). Alexis hopes to help growing the young New Zealand EMF industry by sharing his knowledge and expertise with all players, i.e. growers, nurserymen, investors, and the food sector. Alexis maintains and monitor the PFR-Lincoln plantation trials (saffron milk caps, bianchetto, and porcini). Alexis has authored over 20 research papers in international peer-reviewed journals.

Alexis is the Secretary of the International Workshop on Edible Mycorrhizal Mushrooms (IWEMM) whose next edition will take place in Cahors, France, in 2016 (http://www.iwemm8-cahors.com/). Alexis has started a collaboration on truffle and mushroom cultivation with the Kunming Institute of Botany (Yunnan, China) funded in 2015 by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Alexis will visit KIB again in 2016 to pursue the cooperation which is part of a wider collaboration between PFR and KIB.

Since 2012, Alexis extended his activities to arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), the most widespread type of mycorrhizal fungi on earth. He is working alongside PFR pathologists to assess the potential of AMF to protect commercial potato cultivars from soil borne diseases.

Science officer – Annette Munday

Bay of Plenty | Truffle Grower

Regional Coordinator and Conference Officer – Karen Drummond

Waikato | Truffle dog handler

291013 photo=Bruce Mercer Feature on Truffle dogs -- Interview with Karen Drummond and her Truffle dog, Ollie. -- Hamilton

Karen has been involved with dogs and training for 20+ years. She facilitates and organises world leading lecturers on scent work, canine behaviour, and dog training techniques to come to New Zealand to speak and teach, so others can benefit from the experts as well.

Karen began offering Truffle Dog Services in 2011. Karen has found a new passion and love in truffle hunting. She enjoys undertaking truffle surveying for owners in New Zealand as well as teaching them to hunt with their dogs, whilst sharing in their excitement as each and every truffle is pulled out of the ground.

Karen is a reward based trainer with a holistic approach to training focusing on operant conditioning and building a dog’s confidence to create a scenario with a successful outcome.

e: karen@truffledogservices.co.nz

Conference Officer  – Sharyn Petersen

Bay of Plenty | Truffle Grower

I am Sharyn Petersen, My husband Dean and I live on a 70 ha property in Kutarere, Opotiki .We have been dairy farmers for 25 years,, now having sharemilkers on our farms, has enabled us to be become Involved in the avocado industry, Kiwifruit, Apples, mussels, and truffles, as there are 270, 15 year old trees planted by the previous owner, on our property. I run the administration side of our business and I enjoy all things plants, and trees, pruning etc and find the truffle industry really interesting and exciting to be part of.

It wasn’t until I became a member of the Truffle Association that I learnt so much, regarding fertiliser recommendations for truffles, soil needs, pruning requirements etc.

For 2018, we had a month shorter season than previous years, but overall a very successful one, lifting 17 kg this season.

I am fascinated to see the scientific results from the spore traps, trial being done , as I had a go at this last season, on a very unscientific trial of my own, which I had good results.

I am excited to be on the executive committee, and look forward to the next conference.

Newsletter editor – Maureen Binns

Bay of Plenty | Truffle Grower