Our People

The NZDFI relies on two 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 NZ

Deputy Chairman/Finance Manager
Gerald Hope, Marlborough Research Centre Trust

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

Science Team Leader
Associate Professor Clemens Altaner, University of Canterbury School of Forestry

Executive Administrator
Susan Foster, Marlborough Research Centre Trust

Secretary/Data Manager
Kevan Buck, Marlborough Research Centre Trust





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
Associate Professor Clemens Altaner, University of Canterbury School of Forestry

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

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

Eucalypt Health
Dr Steve Pawson, University of Canterbury School of Forestry 

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

Tree Breeder and Field Specialist
Ruth McConnochie, consultant

Propagation Specialist
Paul Schroeder, Proseed NZ

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 Landowners

The landowners hosting our network of over 40 trials are the cornerstone upon which the success of NZDFI vision depends. Their properties are spread across our target north-eastern dryland area and beyond. These landowners and other trial managers are guardians to the trees that are the foundation of NZ’s new hardwood industry.