Skip to main content

Governance and

Purpose of the governance group

The Programme Governance Group (PGG) is responsible for ensuring that the programme is managed in accordance with the annual work programme and forecast budget, and to provide ongoing guidance and oversight to ensure the implementation of the programme is consistent with achievement of programme outcomes.

PGG members

Dr David Tanner, Independent Chair

Dr David Tanner is the Independent Chair of A lighter touch. David is also Managing Director of Start Afresh Ltd. Start Afresh is an Horticultural Innovation partnership formed in September 2014, offering a portfolio of services, from managed orchard investments, to science-led research, and to applied horticulture training and education.

Prior to this, David had 8 years leadership experience with leading global horticultural brand company, Zespri International, with the past six years in an executive leadership team position, as General Manager – Science & Innovation. Prior to that, he had five years with a global top-six R&D authority in Australia (CSIRO), where he managed and undertook research for the Australasian Food Industry.

David currently Chairs the Spring Sheep Dairy Horizon 3 PGP Programme Steering Group, and is Chair of Kiwifruit Vine Health (the Kiwifruit Industry’s Biosecurity Agency), and a member of the Purpose Capital Impact Fund Investment Committee.

David has a proven track record, driving growth through incremental and breakthrough innovation in the agrifood sector. He is a highly driven, dedicated thought-leader with global leadership and management experience in utilising complex science concepts for genuine business improvement and profitability. He has proven technical leadership and experience in crisis management with a track record of successful delivery. David has a collaborative and consultative leadership style that delivers on time.

David’s formal education includes an Undergraduate degree in Horticultural Technology from Massey University and a PhD degree in Food Engineering (also from Massey).

Amy Allison, Director, Agriculture and Investment Services, MPI

A career public servant, Amy Allison is currently the Director, Strategy at Ministry of Primary Industries. A career that began in community development under Parekura Horomia, she brings a community perspective to central government, a strong belief in collaboration and a commitment to service.

Most recently holding senior roles in the Treasury and the State Services Commission specialising in governance, public sector financial management and strategy, she has also led work on open government and is a diversity and inclusion champion.

Amy is a Public Service Leadership Centre Fellow and she holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and a Bachelor of Science from Otago as well as an MBA from Victoria. As well as brief stints in several Ivy League Colleges for Exec Ed, Amy has been studying the martial art of Muay Thai in Thailand for the last four years.

Dr Alison Stewart, CEO, Foundation for Arable Research

Professor Alison Stewart is the CEO of the Foundation for Arable Research.  She is an applied plant scientist with a 37 year career focused on sustainable disease management.  Her research expertise includes: integrated plant disease management, control of soil-borne diseases, biocontrol of plant diseases, microbial ecology, and fungal molecular genetics.  In particular, Alison is internationally recognised for her work on the control of plant pathogenic fungi using antagonistic micro-organisms, with special emphasis on the naturally occurring beneficial soil-borne fungus Trichoderma.  She has successfully developed and commercialised a number of biopesticide technologies for the horticulture, arable and nursery sectors in New Zealand and the USA. Professor Stewart is a Fellow of the NZ Institute for Agricultural and Horticultural Science and the Australasian Plant Pathology Society, and was elected a Companion of the NZ Order of Merit in 2009 in recognition of her services to plant biology.

Rebecca Fisher, Horticulture NZ (Observer)

Rebecca Fisher represents Horticulture New Zealand as the contract holder for A Lighter Touch. Rebecca is General Manager Projects for Horticulture New Zealand, where she is involved in managing a range of projects funded by Government to deliver results for growers, one of which is A Lighter Touch. Prior to this, Rebecca managed the Crop Protection Portfolio for a consultancy company for 11 years, working with many product groups to register crop protection products and providing industry guidance through the regulatory process. Rebecca completed a Bachelor of Science majoring in Horticulture at Massey University in New Zealand.

ISAG Governance

The Industry Stakeholder Advisory Group (ISAG) ensures that high-level industry priorities are effectively communicated from the programme participants to the Programme Governance Group (PGG).  The ISAG is made up of all industry participants in the A Lighter Touch programme.

Dr Stuart Davis, Vegetables NZ - ISAG Chair

Dr Stuart Davis is a former Director of Vegetables NZ and former Chair of the Vegetable Research & Innovation Board.  He has had a long involvement in vegetable industry research programmes particularly relating to integrated pest and disease management.  Stuart is currently Sustainability Manager for LeaderBrand Produce and is based in Bombay.  Prior to moving to South Auckland, he spent 14 years in operations and technical roles on the leadership team at LeaderBrand Produce in Gisborne.  He started his career with 16 years at various locations in the Wattie’s group ultimately as Crop Procurement Manager responsible for crop procurement and research across Australia and NZ.

A Lighter Touch Team

Livia Esterhazy – Programme Director

Coming from both a corporate and not for profit background, Livia joined ALT after 5½ years as CEO for WWF New Zealand.

Livia was inspired to take on this innovative collaborative programme as she wanted to apply the knowledge she’d gained to create significant positive impact to industry and the environment. She is hugely passionate the health of people and planet through food and this was a perfect fit.

Prior to WWF, Livia was Managing Director of Clemenger BBDO where she successfully led the modernisation of the Wellington-based business. Livia has also worked with Assignment Group and Saatchi & Saatchi.

Livia sees her role at A Lighter Touch as an exciting opportunity to raise the profile of the programme and create a real shift for how we grow our food here in Aotearoa from agrochemical to agroecological. She is excited to personally make a contribution to A Lighter Touches vision for New Zealand to be the most desirable source of food production in the world.

Sarah Sorensen – Programme Manager

Sarah brings the perfect mix of practice and theory to ALT. As well as Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science and a Master’s of Science in Forensic Science, plus many years applying that knowledge, Sarah has previously owned an avocado orchard.

Before joining A Lighter Touch, Sarah was with NZ Avocado where she spent five years as Project Manager and Sustainability Manager. She enjoys working with passionate growers and industry stakeholders willing to impart their knowledge for the betterment of the horticulture industry.

Jeff Smith – Agroecological Technical Lead

Jeff has a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Horticulture Management from Lincoln University, and has worked in diverse roles including finance, orchard management, technical extension for crop protection supply companies, and since 2007 with Bayer CropScience as their Regional Sales Manager for Lower North Island/Upper South Island.  In this role Jeff has had extensive experience in technology transfer, field trials, project management, and has an excellent understanding of crop protection.  Jeff believes there is a strong desire, not only within the grower community, but from all participants in the food production industry, to meet both domestic and global market demands of food safety, provenance and sustainability. He says agroecology addresses these demands from all angles.

Paul Munro – Transition Technical Lead

As the former owner of Peracto New Zealand, Paul has expertise in residue trials, efficacy studies, crop tolerance testing, and data assessment. Paul has over 30 years’ experience in providing independent, confidential contract research and development services to crop protection companies, growers and horticultural sector organisations.  More recently Paul has been working through his consultancy company, as well as advising grower organisations such as Onions New Zealand and the Vegetables Research and Innovation Board.

Gina Jewell – Senior Communications Manager

Gina is a communications professional with over 20 years’ experience across a wide range of sectors. As a farmer’s daughter, Gina knows the vital role agriculture plays economically for New Zealand, and our global reputation for producing high quality, healthy food. She is excited to be part of a programme that’s supporting growers to meet the increasing customer demand for quality food produced in an environmentally sustainable and responsible way.