Our People

The NZDFI relies on three closely integrated teams to achieve its objectives, along with the landowners who are hosting our eucalypt trials.

The Management Team

The Management Team manages and administers the NZ Dryland Forests Initiative.

 Project Manager
Paul Millen

Project Chairman
Shaf van Ballekom, Proseed

Deputy Chairman/Finance Manager
Gerald Hope, Marlborough Research Centre

Science Team Adviser
Professor Bruce Manley, University of Canterbury School of Forestry

Science Team Leader
Dr Clemens Altaner, University of Canterbury School of Forestry

Executive Administrator
Mandy Mitchell, Marlborough Research Centre

Secretary/Data Manager
Kevan Buck, Marlborough Research Centre

The NZDFI’s home base is the Marlborough Research Centre in Blenheim.

The Science Team


The Science Team ensures rigorous science is applied to our tree breeding work and to the novel techniques being developed for testing wood quality.

Science Team Leader/Wood Scientist
Dr Clemens Altaner, University of Canterbury School of Forestry

Productivity and Growth Modelling
Dr Euan Mason, University of Canterbury School of Forestry

Site x Species Interactions
Dr Justin Morgenroth, University of Canterbury School of Forestry 

Insect Pests
Dr Tara Murray, University of Canterbury School of Forestry 

Tree geneticist
Dr Luis Apiolaza, University of Canterbury School of Forestry

Tree Breeder and Field Specialist
Dr Ruth McConnochie, consultant

Propagation Specialist
Paul Schroeder, Proseed

GIS and Geodatabase Specialist
Roger May, consultant 

 The Science Team is supported by Shaf van Ballekom, Paul Millen and Kevan Buck (all Management Team members).

The Regional Working Group

The Regional Working Group is responsible for developing and implementing the NZDFI Regional Strategy, including regional extension, education and training.

Regional Working Group Chair
Clive Paton, Ata Rangi Wines

Corporate Growers Representative
Sean McBride, Juken NZ Ltd

Gisborne District Council
Robert Daunton

Greater Wellington Regional Council
David Boone 

Hawkes Bay Regional Council 
Ben Douglas and Madeline Hall 

Marlborough District Council 
Matt Oliver 

NZFFA Branch representative 
Ed Saathof, Hawkes Bay 

Communications 
Harriet Palmer 

The NZDFI Regional Working Group is supported by Shaf van Ballekom, Paul Millen, Euan Mason, Ruth McConnochie and Gerald Hope (all members of either the NZDFI Management or Science teams.)

The Landowners

The landowners hosting our network of trials are the cornerstone upon which the success of NZDFI vision depends. Their properties are spread across our target eastern dryland area. These landowners and other trial managers are guardians to the trees that are the foundation of NZ’s new hardwood industry.