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 – Allister Richardson
Wairarapa | Truffle Grower
Allister and his wife have planted 300 Ilex oaks inoculated with Black truffle / Tuber melanosporum on their land in Martinborough, Wairarapa. His family split their time between Wellington city and the farm. The long term intention is to plant more trees to produce Burgundy/ aestivum and more melanosporum.
Allister has travelled to France, Spain, and Italy to learn more about truffle cultivation and visited several truffieres and research centres.
Allister lived overseas for 10 years including the UK and Australia and has also lived and worked in the Middle East. He is a geophysicist with a masters in Science and an MBA and has operated his own consultancy in the oil and gas industry for 10 years
email: Allister at exploreconsulting.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.
email: admin at nztruffles.org.nz
Treasurer and Interim STNZL Officer – 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. Fiona and husband, John, started planting trees on their land in the Wairarapa in 2013 with around 600 inoculated trees – the first Périgord black truffle arriving five years later. More trees have been added each year, with the current total being over 2300 trees inoculated with Tuber melanosporum and around 250 inoculated with Tuber aestivum.
Fiona grew up and went to university in the UK. Since moving to New Zealand, Fiona has held a range of roles in central and local government and currently works the public sector in Wellington.
email: fionajohnsonwgtn at gmail.com
Executive Convenor – Lindsay Esler
Auckland | Consultant
Lindsay has worked in a wide range of fields including as a translator, commercial and intellectual property lawyer, and food business owner/operator. Lindsay qualified as a lawyer and patent attorney in New Zealand. He spent 17 years working overseas, with the last 8 years as Managing Partner of a large international law firm in Hong Kong.
On returning to New Zealand in 2010, Lindsay and a business partner rebuilt, operated and onsold a chemical free bacon business. Now working part time with the NZ Truffle Association as a new challenge, with the benefit of having more truffle in his life.
email: lindsay at nztruffles.org.nz
Executive Member and Regional Officer – Karen Drummond
King Country | Truffle Dog Specialist
Karen has been involved with training dogs since for over 30 years gaining competencies from Massey University in dog behaviour related areas and continues to undertake professional development in the canine world. She gaining her NZ Certificate in Adult Education Level 5 in 2010. Through a friend’s need for a truffle dog she started training her first dog in in 2011 and established her business Truffle Dog Services in 2014. Since then, Karen has attended to a growing number of growers in the North Island for T. melanosporum, T. borchii and T. aestivum.
email: karen at truffledogservices.co.nz
Technical and Scientific Advisor – 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 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 has been 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
email: guerin.myco at gmail.com
Executive Member and Newsletter editor – Bernard Lee
Waikato | Truffle Grower
Bernard Lee worked 38 years as a dentist and as an international lecturer in orthodontics in the US, Asia and Europe. He fell in love with truffles many years ago and has established a small Tuber borchii truffière in Waikato after spending 2 years researching truffles. Waikato is a high rainfall area and the effects are compensated for by using giant planter boxes. The truffières management in terms of the soil and care of the trees is carefully based on current research protocols. Bernard and his wife Helen both have a love for cooking and travel and always try to combine these two pleasures.
email: bleenz2017 at gmail.com
For all Newsletter articles send them to news at nztruffles.org.nz.
Executive Member – 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 truffiere, 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.
Executive Member – Nick Amoretti
Nick Amoretti trained as a chef working in high end ski Chalets and Private Yachts in the Mediterranean, working with truffles but never really considering where they come from. After 15 years of “Kitchens”, Nick moved to New Zealand with his family and moved into Operations Management where he was involved in developing and building a supply chain and setting up a food manufacturing facility for a meal kit company. At the beginning of 2022, Nick and his family made the move down to Havelock North.
Nick works for First Light Farms which has provided the opportunity to work with farmers to help develop a healthy export industry for New Zealand truffle. Nick has always enjoyed cooking with the “finer” ingredients and to now be working with one of the most expensive and high-end culinary products is a dream come true.