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Food and Fibre Partnership Group (FFPG) Biographies

The group consists of chairs and chief executives from across the sector, Māori agribusiness leaders, and government agency chief executives.

M Petersen

Mike Petersen

Farmer and Independent Director

Mike is an experienced New Zealand director with extensive governance experience in the agribusiness sector. Until recently, he was New Zealand’s Special Agricultural Trade Envoy for six years, where he advocated for New Zealand’s agriculture trade and market access interests and identified opportunities for New Zealand to commercialise its agricultural expertise offshore. 

These days, Mike is busy as Chairman of Nui Markets, an agri-food digital marketplace, independent chair of Pastoral Genomics, an independent director of ANZCO Foods and several privately owned companies. He was previously chair of Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

R Smith

Ray Smith

Director-General, Ministry for Primary Industries

Ray is Director-General of MPI, appointed to the role in November 2018.

Prior to MPI, Ray served as Chief Executive of the Department of Corrections from 2010 to 2018 and was the Deputy Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development's Child, Youth and Family, an agency superseded by Oranga Tamariki.

C Tremain

Carolyn Tremain

Chief Executive, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Carolyn joined MBIE from the NZ Customs Service, where she was the Chief Executive and Comptroller. She has over 20 years’ experience leading large, complex service delivery organisations, and substantial change management programmes.

James Palmer

James Palmer

Chief Executive, Ministry for the Environment

James Palmer is the Secretary for the Environment and Chief Executive at The Ministry for the Environment (MfE).

Prior to commencing the role in early 2023, James was Chief Executive of the Hawke's Bay Regional Council for almost six years.

James has previously held multiple Central Government leadership positions, as Deputy Secretary, Sector Strategy at MfE, and Director Strategy roles at both the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

P Chrisp

Peter Chrisp

Chief Executive, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise

Peter is currently the Chief Executive of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, New Zealand’s international business development agency. Prior to this, Peter spent 20 years in the engineering, manufacturing, and pulp and paper industries.

Previous roles have included human resources, operations, logistics and supply chain, and General Manager of the Tasman paper mills in Kawerau. Peter has international experience as Senior Vice President Norske Skog Global, based in Norway.

T Houpapa

Traci Houpapa

MNZM JP, Chairman Tainui, Federation of Maori Authorities

Traci chairs the Federation of Maori Authorities. She is an award-winning company director and recognised business leader, and serves on several boards, including The Treasury, NZTE, Predator Free 2050, Primary ITO and the National Advisory Council on the Employment of Women. She is the former Chair of Landcorp (trading as Pamu). Traci has an MBA from Massey University, is a Justice of the Peace, and a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Eliz Heeg

Dr Elizabeth Heeg

Chief Executive, Forest Owners Association

Dr Elizabeth Heeg is the Chief Executive of the New Zealand Forest Owners Association and Forest Growers Levy Trust.

She has a strong background in forest systems and the regulatory and policy frameworks supporting them, including climate, biodiversity and water policy. Elizabeth has worked for MPI, DoC and the QEII Trust. She is passionate about forestry’s role in the bioeconomy and the potential for forests to provide social, environmental and economic benefits.

A priority is to build partnerships across the forestry supply chain, to process more wood onshore, use more wood for building and get the highest value from our forests, and to work with researchers on bioenergy development. For Elizabeth, forests are vital in combating the climate crisis and to achieve a low emission future.

Kate Acland

Kate Acland

Chair, Beef + Lamb NZ Board and NZ Meat Board

Kate was appointed to the boards of Beef and Lamb NZ and the NZ Meat Board in 2021 and was elected to the Chair position of both boards in 2023.

Kate also serves as a director on the Wool Research Institute of NZ.

Kate and her husband David farm sheep, beef, deer and dairy on the 3900ha Mt Somers Station where they also have a standalone 400-hive honey operation set in 450 hectares of native vegetation and beech forest.

Prior to joining her husband in his family farming operation, Ms Acland developed her own vineyard and winery in Marlborough, Sugar Loaf Wines.

Collectively they employ around 30 staff across the mix of their businesses which include the farm, winery, local store and café and a wool blanket business.

Kate has a bachelor’s degree in Viticulture and Oenology and a Masters degree in Applied Science, majoring in Farm Management Consultancy from Lincoln University.

B Oneil

Barry O’Neil

Chairman, Horticulture New Zealand

Barry has been a grower since 1984, when he purchased a kiwifruit and avocado orchard in Tauranga. Since 2003, he has been growing kiwifruit near Katikati, also in the Bay of Plenty. Barry is a veterinarian by profession. He has had a long career involving biosecurity, including being New Zealand’s Chief Veterinary Officer from 1994 to 2009, President of the World Organisation for Animal Health from 2006 to 2009, leading the then Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s Biosecurity NZ for 10 years and, more recently, as Chief Executive of Kiwifruit Vine Health.

Barry is currently the Chair of Horticulture New Zealand, Chair of TomatoesNZ, director of SCION, and Chair of the Kauri Dieback review panel.

J Vanderpoel

Jim van der Poel

Chairman DairyNZ

DairyNZ chairman Jim van der Poel was elected onto the Fonterra board in 2002 and stepped down in 2014. Jim also served on the board of New Zealand Co-operative Dairies Ltd.

In 2000, Jim was appointed to the foundation board of DairyNZ’s predecessor organisation, Dexcel, and was elected as Dexcel’s Chairman in 2003. Jim was a farmer-elected director on DairyNZ’s first board in 2007 and stepped down in 2009. He was re-elected to the DairyNZ board in 2013.

Previously, Jim was an inaugural director on the Fonterra Shareholders Fund and has won a number of industry awards including the AC Cameron Award, 2002 Nuffield Scholarship, Sharemilker of the Year and Dairy Exporter Primary Performer Award.

Jeremy Helson landscape

Dr Jeremy Helson

Chief Executive, Seafood New Zealand

Dr Jeremy Helson joined Seafood New Zealand following six years as chief executive of Fisheries Inshore New Zealand where he represented the interests of the inshore finfish sector. Prior to working in the seafood industry, Dr Helson spent 10 years in fisheries management at the Ministry for Primary Industries. Earlier in his career, he was a post-doctoral fellow at Tokyo University of Fisheries and spent time as a consultant marine biologist and lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington. Dr Helson also holds a Bachelor of Laws and is an enrolled barrister and solicitor of the High Court.

P Gregan

Philip Gregan

Chief Executive Officer, New Zealand Winegrowers

Philip is the Chief Executive Officer of New Zealand Winegrowers, the national industry organisation that represents, researches and promotes the interests of New Zealand grape growers and wine makers. Philip has been with New Zealand Winegrowers and its predecessor, the Wine Institute of New Zealand, since starting as a Research officer in 1983. He has held the role of Chief Executive Officer since 1990. Philip has a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts (Hons) majoring in Geography, from the University of Auckland.