Long-time kiwifruit grower and industry leader Barry O’Neil becomes Horticulture New Zealand’s president and chair this month, replacing Julian Raine who has stood down to pursue business interests.
Horticulture NZ’s board elected Barry for the role last month, also selecting Bernadine Guilleux to be vice-president.
Julian says Barry has an impressive background and is well placed to lead the extraordinary growth in horticulture “that is not without the challenges of access to land, water and people to enable that growth”.
“He’ll be well supported by Bernadine. Barry’s knowledge about biosecurity globally will also be an asset to growers.”
Julian, who has been president and chairman for six years and has made a significant contribution to horticulture for NZ, says the leadership role has been “fantastic, interesting, challenging and rewarding”.
“And I know it will be the same for Barry. I want to thank the industry and all our stakeholders for the support they have shown me,” says Julian.
Barry has been a grower since 1984, when he did all the work on his kiwifruit and avocado orchard in Whakamarama.
Since 2003, he’s been growing kiwifruit in Katikati, also in the Bay of Plenty. Between orchards he held a number of government roles including NZ Trade Counsellor to the European Union and chief veterinary officer for the Ministry of Agriculture.
He lobbied for, and in 2005 led, the first entity wanting to achieve an integrated approach to biosecurity for Aotearoa New Zealand, Biosecurity NZ.
He was chief executive of Kiwifruit Vine Health for six years, driving the industry recovery from Psa-v, and has held a number of board positions including being deputy chair of Scion, chair of Tomatoes NZ, and chair of the kauri dieback review panel.
He’s been an independent director on the Horticulture NZ board since April 2015, but with his appointment as chair he’ll now stand as a grower-elected director at the 2019 director elections.
Barry says these are exciting times for horticulture “as the world catches on to our vision of ‘healthy food for all forever’”.
“While I have a strong background in governance, government and as a grower, I’m excited about working with growers to find a better future – for both us and our grandchildren.”
Bernadine, a grower representative on the Horticulture NZ board, has a strong marketing background in NZ and Europe, and will use these skills to help tell NZ’s unique horticulture story to the wider public. She’s a member of the Balle family and grew up in the vegetable growing area of Pukekohe.
According to Horticulture NZ’s rules a person appointed to fill a vacancy can only be appointed until the next elections, so both will have to secure their roles via appointment at the AGM this July.