Our People

Lead Team

Damian Young

Chief Executive Officer

Damian has over 18 years experience in the kiwifruit industry, including ten years previously for Apata in the Grower Services and Operations side of the business. After spending some time in other roles, including working for Zespri based in Europe, he returned to Apata as CEO in January 2023. Damian’s focus in leading Apata is to drive performance in all that we do, growing relationships, sharing knowledge and creating value across our Industry.

Peter McIntosh

Chief Financial Officer

Peter has over 10 years’ experience in senior financial roles within the post-harvest industry.  He worked in Europe and Africa in various financial roles before settling in Tauranga with his family in 2012.  He enjoys following and playing a variety of sports, and enjoys the team culture.

Peter joined Apata in February 2020 and moved into the CFO role in October 2022.

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.

Sheryl Thocolich

Organisational Capability Manager

Ko Whakatohea, Tuhoe, me Whānau-a-Apanui ōku iwi.

Ko Pukenui-o-raho te maunga
Ko Waiotahe te awa
Ko Maromahue te marae
Ko Upokorehe te hapū

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.

Coralie Cross

Human Resources Manager

Born and bred in the Waikato, Coralie comes to Apata with over 20 years’ experience working in the HR field. Her career has seen her work across several sectors ranging from FMGC, Roading and Infrastructure and the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museum) sectors here in New Zealand and in the UK.

Coralie has a real passion for people and creating an environment where they can succeed.

Shaun Vickers

General Manager 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.

Thomas Watts

General Manager Operations

Thomas was originally a mechanical engineer, predominantly in consulting and project management roles, before his passion for people and continuous improvement pushed Thomas towards leadership positions. He now has 15 years’ experience in leading people across a breadth of operations including food manufacturing, engineering and distribution. With a background in primary industries, via 10 years in the dairy sector, Thomas understands the importance of co-operatives and relationships with suppliers and the wider community.

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.


Mark Mayston


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.

Craig Stephen

Craig was appointed to the Apata Group 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 and a director and shareholder of Makana Energy Ltd, a renewable energies business.

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.

Alastair Hulbert

Alastair is a seasoned veteran of the fresh produce industry, with significant roles including Chief Global Supply Officer at Zespri International, Chief Operating Officer for Total Produce Plc in North America, and CEO of T&G Global.

He maintains a hands-on approach to the industry as an owner and board chair of Boyd’s Asparagus in the Waikato.