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.
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.
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.
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.