Our People

Lead Team

STUART WESTON
Managing Director

Stuart joined the kiwifruit industry in the early 1990’s and has gained extensive experience in industry matters. Stuart is a former CEO of Apata Limited, Affco Limited and Bromley Park Hatcheries, and returned to the industry in late 2012 determined to see off the challenge posed by Psa and build a strong, robust business. Expect to see Stuart crawling over packhouse equipment and pacing coolstores at both sites in the coming seasons.

EUGENE CROSBY
CFO and Company Secretary

Eugene joined the industry in late 2009 as Apata Limited’s CFO. A qualified accountant, Eugene worked in large multinationals in NZ, UK and Australia for 15 years before settling in Tauranga. Eugene understands the impact of Psa having purchased an orchard in Tauranga with Hort16A six months before the first confirmation of Psa in 2010. Eugene like the rest of the management team is determined to see the business thriving in a post Psa environment.

SHAUN VICKERS
GM Business Development, Client Services and Orchards

Originally hailing from the “mighty Waikato” where he began his career in horticulture, Shaun’s diverse experience in horticulture has gained him knowledge and skills in the fields of growing, teaching & training, grower relationship management, post-harvest operation management, and nutritional management in the pip fruit, kiwifruit, and avocado industries. His last role saw him managing the horticulture & arable business unit nationally for Ballance Agri Nutrients.

HANS VAN LEEUWEN
GM Operations

An engineer by trade, Hans has held a number of senior leadership roles in the Royal New Zealand Air Force that centred around people, introducing new capability and driving business performance. His career culminated as Chief of Staff at RNZAF Base Ohakea where he was 2IC to the Base Commander and responsible for infrastructure and operations. One might think this is a world removed from Apata however, from Hans’ perspective, both organisations operate in a dynamic, high pressure environment and rely heavily on its people, both in terms of leadership and teamwork, to get the job done.

KATE TRUFITT
Compliance and Avocado Business Manager

Kate has held roles in the horticulture sector for a number of years and has experience marketing citrus, pip fruit, feijoas and avocados. Kate has also held a number of roles in operations and logistics before turning her skills to human resources, compliance and health & safety. Kate joined Apata Group in August 2015 and leads the avocado team, as well as the compliance and health & safety business functions. Kate loves to work for a company that is passionate about what it does, its brand, and has a genuine value-based story.

JASON GIBBS
Commercial Manager

Jason has over 14 years’ kiwifruit industry experience in a number of post-harvest entities. A former CFO, Jason brings financial acumen to commercial decision making. Jason previously worked in the financial, retail and property management industries in the UK, and throughout New Zealand, before moving to Tauranga. Jason joined Apata in May 2016.

JEAN-PAUL (JP) LASSALE
General Manager Technology

JP moved to Tauranga from Singapore with his family in 2014. Initially an Engineering Geologist by profession, working predominantly in tunnelling in Southern Africa, JP moved into IT in 1999, where he spent 15 years in a multi-national business working in Europe, Australia and Asia, the last eight years as APAC IT Director. After a brief stint in Healthcare, JP joined Apata and the kiwifruit industry in 2015, and he brings enterprise IT leadership to the team.

SHERYL THOCOLICH
Human Resources Manager

Sheryl joined the kiwifruit industry full-time in early 2005, however grew up working in the industry during her school holidays; picking and packing kiwifruit every season while at high school. She has seen the growth of the industry from childhood to present and has said the constant change and having to adapt to different challenges always keeps it interesting. Sheryl has a good understanding from an employee’s perspective, having started from entry-level positions, and brings that understanding into her Senior Management role.

Directors

MARK MAYSTON

Chairman

Mark is the General Manager of Bruntwood Farms, a large-scale family kiwifruit and avocado growing operation in Tauranga, who are also one of Apata’s largest shareholders and suppliers.  Mark has also overseen a number of orchard developments for Bruntwood Farms.  Mark worked for Zespri prior to returning to the family business and currently sits on numerous industry bodies including as Chairman of New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated, and the Kiwifruit Industry Advisory Council.

STUART WESTON

Managing Director

Stuart joined the kiwifruit industry in the early 1990s and has gained extensive experience in industry matters.  Stuart was CEO of Apata Limited from 2003-2006 and presided over a period when Apata was renowned as an industry leader in innovation and performance.  Stuart has held senior roles in the meat and poultry industries, as CEO of both Affco Limited and Bromley Park Hatcheries.  Stuart returned to the kiwifruit industry in 2012 and was elected to the Board of Apata and appointed Managing Director, determined to see off the challenge posed by Psa and build a strong, robust business.  Stuart oversaw the merger between Apata Limited and Aerocool Limited in 2013 which became Apata Group Limited.

SEAN CARNACHAN

Sean has been the Managing Director of Western Orchards Ltd based in Katikati for more than 30 years. Western Orchards Ltd is an orchard management and post-harvest packing & coolstorage operation which, along with Apata, supplies fruit to Zespri through Apata Suppliers Limited.  Sean also has orchard development experience with Western Orchards. He lives with his wife and two sons on a 15 hectare orchard in Katikati where he grows SunGold, Hayward Green and RubyRed varieties of kiwifruit.  He has an extensive knowledge across all aspects of the kiwifruit industry and is currently on the NZKGI Forum.  Sean has been involved in the Zespri new varieties programme and has travelled on Zespri grower trips around the world, which has given him an understanding of the marketing strategies and implications of the Zespri supply chain.

Alan Birley

Alan has been involved in the kiwifruit orchard and post-harvest industry for over four decades, having established and operated his own post-harvest business on what is the current Apata site in Paengaroa.  Alan’s post-harvest business merged with Aerocool in 2001 and further again with Apata in 2013.  Alan is regarded as a pioneer of controlled atmosphere kiwifruit coolstorage and is a large-scale grower and shareholder of Apata, through family trusts.

Matt Flowerday

Matt and his family are long standing kiwifruit growers and significant suppliers and shareholders of Apata.  Matt runs a successful farm mapping company, called GPS-it and is a member of Enterprise Angels.  He also represents Apata’s kiwifruit growers on our Grower Entity.

Craig Stephen

Craig was appointed to the Apata Board on the 10 February 2022 as an independent commercial director. Craig has held a variety of senior positions in the banking, investment and corporate sector, with significant experience in mergers and acquisitions; and driving growth and expansion while operating in highly regulated markets. Craig is the former Chief Investment Officer for Tainui Group Holdings, and Head of Treasury & Strategy for NZSX listed top 50 company PGC and Heartland Group. Craig is member of the Institute of Directors; a former board member of the Institute of Finance Professionals of New Zealand; and currently holds the status of Certified Finance and Investment Professional. Craig is currently an Advisory Board member for Nā Tuhoe iwi; a Director and shareholder of Not A Rubbish Company Ltd, New Zealand’s largest demolition waste recycling business; and an Advisory Board member and shareholder of Coachmate Limited, a technology start up focussed on ensuring participation, continuity and enhanced enjoyment from sport.