OUR 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 New Zealand.

Chair (co-opted) – George Wilkinson

Tasman District | Truffle Grower | 029 231 3743

George has been involved with the Truffle Industry since 2003 after buying 50Ha of land in Tasman District and planting 2200 inoculated seedlings in 2009. He divides his time between Wellington and his truffiere. George is hands on with his partner Pip in all aspects of the management of their Truffle orchard which first produced in 2016.

George spent the first years of his working life on a large mixed use farm 40 km north of Taupo while studying Agriculture. He then spent the next approximately 50 years in the Construction industry after studying and qualifying in Professional Quantity Surveying. In later years George moved into development and investment in Industrial Property.

Active on the NZ Truffle Association Executive for many years, George is keen to ensure we, as an Association, improve the nursery standards for the benefit of new growers, and encourage growers to move towards working together on marketing and sales for the Export of Truffles.

e:  george@building-solutions.co.nz

Secretary – Ann Roberts

Waikato | Truffle Grower

Ann grew up on a dairy farm in the North King Country, studied languages at Waikato University and became a teacher.  She taught and held school management roles and completed a Masters of Education and a post-graduate diploma in school management. Before retirement Ann took up a position as a review officer with the Education Review Office(ERO) where she also completed a post-graduate diploma in evaluation and undertook various leadership responsibilities.

With her late husband Ann purchased land from her family in Kio Kio (about 8 kilometers north-east of Otorohanga). They had developed an interest in growing truffles and so planted 500 oak and hazelnut trees in late 2012.

With the assistance of capable helpers and continued application of fertilizer (mainly lime), Ann’s truffiere is progressing well. Ann is also interested in the ongoing training of her young dog as a truffle hunter as soon as production begins. Ann is grateful for input from NZTA’s conferences, newsletters, networks and website, and volunteered to contribute to the association as Secretary. Ann is also interested in continuing to develop NZTA’s regional and national networks.

e: admin@nztruffles.org.nz

Treasurer & STNZL Officer – Steve Hart

Tasman District | Truffle Grower

Steve joined the Executive in 2012 and took the role of Treasurer at the end of 2016 when it was decided the Association could no longer afford the services of a paid Administrator. After retiring from 40+ years in the construction industry as a Civil Engineer in 2014, he and wife Jenny moved to their property in the Tasman District, where they had earlier established a truffiere and mixed fruit and nut orchard.

Steve is looking to assist the association become a collaborative, cooperative entity driven by the needs of its Regional Groups.

e: hartsteve07@gmail.com

Research & Development Officer – Dr Alexis Guerin-Laguette

Canterbury | Truffle guru

Dr. Alexis Guerin-Laguette earned a PhD in Lactarius sect. Deliciosi cultivation/ecology from the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) and Université de Montpellier II France. He has since worked in Japan, Canada, and China and has led a program of research on the cultivation of edible mycorrhizal fungi (EMF) at the New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Ltd for 17 years. In November 2020, Alexis established an EMF consultancy, Mycotree (https://www.mycotree.co.nz/). He is a regular visiting scientist at the Kunming Institute of Botany/Chinese Academy of Sciences since 2015 and in 2017 he was recognised as High Level Foreign Talent by the Yunnan Administration of Foreign Affairs. He has published over 25 peer-reviewed research papers and book chapters. He is an expert in the cultivation and biology of edible mycorrhizal fungi, i. e. forest mushrooms and truffles.

Alexis has been Technical Representative of the New Zealand Truffle Association since 2016, and Secretary of the Scientific Committee of the International Workshop on Edible Mycorrhizal Mushrooms (see https://iwemm10-nagano.com/) since 2011.

e: guerin.myco@gmail.com

Executive member – Allister Richardson

Wairarapa | Truffle Grower

We have recently planted 300 Ilex oaks inoculated with Black / tuber melanosporum on our land in Martinborough, Wairarapa. Our family splits our time between Wellington city and the farm. Our intention is to plant more trees to produce Burgundy/ aestivum and more melanosporum.
We have travelled to France, Spain and Italy to learn more about truffle cultivation and were fortunate to visit several truffieres and research centres.

My wife and I have lived overseas for 10 years including the UK and Australia and I have also lived and worked in the Middle East.  I am a geophysicist with a masters in Science and an MBA. I have had my own consultancy in the oil and gas industry for 10 years.

I firmly believe that we need to work together to build the local and international brand of NZ Truffles and I am dedicated to supporting this work through building a coop or other options. This and the need to build the value add of membership so we have a strong and viable association.

e: Allister@exploreconsulting.co.nz

Newsletter editor and North Island regional coordinator – Maureen Binns

Bay of Plenty | Truffle Grower

Maureen is a trained teacher, librarian and office manager who has reinvented herself as a truffle grower in the beautiful Bay of Plenty village of Paengaroa. Maureen and her husband Colin have a lifestyle farm where they manage a QEII covenant forest and farm sheep, chickens and ducks. With only 212 trees to manage in the truffière, Maureen says they are coping well with all the tasks that need to be done.

As a passionate foodie, Maureen has been relishing the opportunity to try out lots of new recipes with truffles. Maureen wants to see the NZ Truffle Association grow in membership and wants the Association to be able to provide support for all our members at whatever stage they are in the lifespan of their truffières.

e: colbyandmomo@yahoo.com.au

Executive member – Fiona Johnson

Wairarapa | Truffle Grower

Fiona came across the idea of truffle growing reading an Air NZ magazine and, after some investigation and eating of truffle, became hooked. In 2013, she and husband, John planted some trees with the first perigord black truffle arriving five years later.

e: fionajohnsonwgtn@gmail.com