New HortNZ boss to prioritise labour concerns and ‘the NZ story’

Rural Exchange 15/12/2018

The new president and chairman of Horticulture New Zealand is buckling down to try and tackle the industry’s biggest challenges.

Barry O'Neil was elected by HortNZ board, replacing Julian Raine who has stood down to pursue other business interests.

Mr O’Neil said labour “is right up there” on his agenda to ensure the sector has enough resources to maximise its potential.

Mr O'Neil has been a grower since 1984, owning kiwifruit and avocado orchards in Whakamarama, and since 2003 has been growing kiwifruit in Katikati.

Another priority will be to continue to share New Zealand’s horticulture story with international consumers for further growth.

“We’ve got wonderful soils, we’ve got fantastic water, we’ve got a great climate. And the world has really woken up to the New Zealand story,” Mr O’Neil said.

Mr O’Neill has held a number of government roles, including New Zealand Trade counsellor to the European Union and chief veterinary officer for the Ministry of Agriculture.

He was the chief executive of Kiwifruit Vine Health for six years, driving the industry recovery from Psa, 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 has been an independent director on the Horticulture New Zealand board since April 2015, but with his appointment as chair, he will now stand as a grower elected director at the 2019 director elections.

Listen to the full interview with Barry O'Neil.

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