A passionate team

There comes a time when one has acquired knowledge and experience but they have a realisation that this knowledge must be used for the betterment of their community and that giving back is a driver for change.

A similar thought provoked the founding of Start Afresh in 2015 by David Tanner and Sally Gardiner. Both David and Sally had performed senior managerial positions at Zespri for several years but were drawn to creating an innovation business that could create value for the production and post-harvest sectors of the horticultural industry.

Start Afresh was established to address gaps in scientific understanding and practical application in the production and post-harvest horticultural sectors.

Start Afresh, the horticultural innovators, have three main activities – horticultural investment, applied research & insight, and training & education.

Our team

Start Afresh aims to create value in the production and postharvest sectors of the horticultural industry through application of innovation. Start Afresh is a small (yet rapidly growing!), high-output team of scientists and engineers who make things understandable.

David Tanner

David Tanner

Joint Managing Director

David has a proven track record, driving growth through incremental and breakthrough innovation in the agri-food 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. 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).

Prior to forming Start Afresh, David had eight 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.


Ph. 021 793 110

Sally Gardiner

Joint Managing Director

A supply chain should be a strategic asset of a company that delivers to the company strategy and values. Sally understands manufacturing and logistics processes from a value chain perspective.

Sally’s financial, operational and managerial experience has ensured a sound “business-sense” and strong organisational and administrative skills.  Complementing conceptual and analytical ability, Sally has strong communication and interpersonal skills.

Sally has over 20 years extensive experience in both commercial and supply chain functions. Her most recent role, prior to the formation of Start Afresh, was as General Manager Supply Chain at Zespri International Ltd.

Other roles at Zespri include Group Treasurer, Commercial Manager Zespri Global Supply, General Manager NZKMB.  Sally also worked at Seeka Kiwifruit Industries Ltd as GM Strategic Development, General Manager NZ Horticulture Export Authority and KPMG.

Sally is a qualified accountant and holds degrees from University of Canterbury (B Com Accounting, MBA with Distinction) and Victoria University of Wellington (B Arts in Economics and Computer Science).


Ph. 021 659 774


Shaun Slattery

General Manager

Shaun has over a decade working in a variety of roles across the horticulture sector specialising in fresh fruit export systems, strategic and market access advice, and government regulatory interaction.  The kiwifruit sector has also featured strongly throughout this time. Shaun spent five seasons at a kiwifruit post-harvest facility as inventory and fruit quality manager, gaining in-depth knowledge of fruit quality, inventory management, post-harvest processes and supply chain logistics. Shaun then spent just over four years at Zespri International, initially managing post-harvest quality systems and more recently as Zespri’s Market Access Manager.

Shaun is not new to Start Afresh having first joined the team in early 2018 assisting with field trials during the busy summer season. As Start Afresh has grown and with increasing permanent staff numbers, Shaun was attracted back as General Manager to help oversee the continuing growth of the business.



Stuart Abbott

Project Manager

Stuart set up and managed his own kiwifruit orchard while working for the NZ Fruitgrowers Federation in Nelson. He joined the New Zealand Kiwifruit Marketing Board in Nelson 1988 and transferred to Belgium (Port of Zeebrugge) as Operations Manager during 1990–93, overseeing reefer ship performance, fruit storage and dispatching orders throughout Europe.

In 1993 Stuart returned to New Zealand with Zespri & managed the implementation of KiwiGreen and Organic kiwifruit programmes. KiwiGreen is now the ‘standard’ production system for all NZ kiwifruit growers.

Stuart Chaired the Organic Products Exporters of New Zealand 1999 – 2001.

Stuart became Zespri’s Technology Transfer Manager in 2000 leading a team responsible for the delivery of science and best practice production advice to 2,500 growers.  He concurrently managed the ‘Taste Zespri’ programme, a unique method of predicting how fruit will taste by using dry matter measurements at various stages of the growth cycle.

Stuart joined AgriSea in 2003, manufacturing seaweed fertilisers and became a Director of the Avalon Training Institute (sheltered workshop for the disabled).

In 2005 Stuart joined the Jenkins Group and moved to Albury, NSW, Australia as General Manager and Executive Director of J-Tech Systems. He left J-Tech in 2014 to support Greefa Automation throughout Australia.

Early in 2019 Stuart returned to Tauranga (NZ) and became involved with Start Afresh assisting with research trials in kiwifruit.



Tracy Newmarch

Lead Research Scientist

Tracy has passion for plant science and has spent 18 years working in plant production and applied research. Understanding what the plant needs and how both internal and external factors influence plant growth and productivity are some of Tracy’s interests.

Her love of applied plant research grew from working in the forestry industry. She was responsible for optimizing plant production processes within the nursery and understanding how nursery processes influenced initial plant growth in the field. More recently, Tracy managed the propagation of various fruit crops for sale to both growers and the retail market. Here she broadened her knowledge of various horticulture crops including blueberries, avocados, citrus and feijoas to name a few.

Tracy holds Bachelor of Technology, Biotechnology (Durban Institute of Technology) and a Master of Science degree in Biology from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Tracy recently joined Start Afresh as Lead Research Scientist in the pre-harvest team. Whilst new to the kiwifruit industry, Tracy is excited by the challenge to use her plant knowledge to solve industry problems.



Caitlin Barton

Research Scientist

Caitlin is a Research Scientist who joined the Start Afresh team in 2022. Following a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Biodiversity from Waikato University in 2019, Caitlin worked for Plant and Food Research in both the Pathology and Entomology teams. In these roles, Caitlin worked predominantly with Kiwifruit and Avocado crops. It was here that she developed a passion for horticulture, and in particular kiwifruit.

Caitlin has also worked as a Laboratory Technician for Hill Laboratories and Ixom. She loves the outdoors and enjoys the variation that her role at Start Afresh allows. Caitlin is excited to contribute to innovative science in the pre-harvest team and aims to help growers overcome some of the big issues currently impacting the industry.



Shane Olsson

Research Scientist

After 20 years in Horticultural Research with Plant and Food Research, Shane brings a wide range of skills and experience from both pre-harvest and post-harvest to his new role as Research Scientist.

The focus of Shanes work has been mainly in post-harvest fruit physiology investigating orchard and coolstore temperatures, storage gas compositions, precooling, fruit storage, fruit respiration and fruit quality, including oil extraction of avocado and olives for developing maturity indices. Closely linked to this work were collaborative projects with Market Access which involved running trials and implementation of non-chemical treatments to control insects and reduce diseases.

More recently Shane has contributed to the development of new kiwifruit cultivars where his main responsibility was to manage the new cultivar orchard blocks and lead a small team in data collection and associated trails.

Shanes main aim for this role at Start Afresh is to help problem solve postharvest supply chain and fruit quality issues.



Sean McAlinden

Research Engineer

Sean attained his Bachelor of Engineering (Hons), majoring in Mechatronics, from Massey University in 2019. While working at Start Afresh, Sean has undertaken a series of Postharvest Studies, exploring areas such as the applicability and improvement of NIR technologies, alternative colour-formation processes for Gold3 fruit, and damage susceptibility of unconventionally harvested fruit.

Sean’s purpose at Start Afresh is to not only convert academic research findings into postharvest treatment applications, but to also develop the engineering solutions for delivering such treatments.



Simone Blackwood

Research Scientist

Simone is a Research Scientist at Start Afresh, joining the team in 2019 and currently leading and supervising projects that tackle some of the kiwifruit industry’s major challenges. This includes non-pathogenic fungal growth, sooty mould and superficial skin rub alongside research in the pre- and post-harvest space.

Simone has an Undergraduate degree in Science majoring in Ecology from Massey University (2019) and a Masters degree in Horticultural Science from Lincoln University (2022).

Throughout her studies, Simone visited South Korea on an Agribusiness tour which involved a collaboration with apple growers to improve their current production technologies. She has also presented her Thesis at the International Horticultural Congress in France. Growing up on a kiwifruit orchard in the Bay of Plenty, Simone understands the importance novel technologies and innovation have on growers and the industry’s future. Her role with Start Afresh is to bridge the gap between pre- and post-harvest science and enhance productivity in the horticultural sector.



Dean Horsup

Research Technician

Dean worked for 40 years for NZPost up until 2019 and was in a senior leadership role in the operational side of the business focusing on the processing and delivery of packets, parcels and letters. With a passion for safety and the wellbeing of people there were opportunities for Dean to influence the way the business works. Dean spent time helping to drive and build productivity and efficiency gains in the Postal agencies in Malaysia, South Africa and the Philippines between 1995 – 1999.

Dean has joined Start Afresh to assist in the engineering solutions side of the business.


Taavi Porter

Research Technician

Taavi joined Start Afresh on his birthday in March 2021 and spent the season in the laboratory. He recalls he worked 12 hours on this day because he was too shy to let Simone know; things have really changed since! Taavi graduated from Mount Maunganui College in 2019 with ambition to work in the fitness industry and studied while he worked to achieve a qualification in Personal training.  Outside of work, Taavi enjoys sports such as, Muay Thai, Wrestling, Bjj, and MMA

Taavi took on full time work after this study and jumped in to lead the Laboratory Proficiency project, which was high pressure but gave Taavi a great deal of satisfaction in achieving.

Taavi’s skills in logic and data analysis are well utilised at Start Afresh across the orchard and post-harvest projects. He is known as the “out of the box” thinker and is consulted for great ideas.  Taavi is particularly enjoying increasing his skill level in Excel and playing with new gadgets.



Tylah Wardrope

Assistant Laboratory Manager

Tylah has recently become a part of Start Afresh. Tylah has come onboard to assist the Laboratory Manager with calibrating equipment, conducting internal audits, analysing fruit for various parameters and managing sampling in a timely and accurate manner. Before joining Start Afresh, Tylah was a Laboratory Technician at Geotechnics labs mainly testing soil samples and performing calibrations. Tylah’s long term aim is to join the New Zealand Police force, but for now she is enjoying the varied work options available with Start Afresh.



Hope Edmeades

Laboratory Technician

Hope joined Start Afresh in the laboratory in March 2022 after gaining Level 1 and Level 2 NCEA from Te Kuiti High School.  She brings to Start Afresh her communication, leadership, listening and public speaking skills.  Hope was a St John cadet for 11 years and received the attendance award and leadership shield and is the lead First Aider for Start Afresh. Hope became a permanent member of Start Afresh in August 2022.

Hope tackles the challenges of the temperamental chromameter and is much appreciated because of her tenacity, commitment and cheery personality.

Hope’s looking forward to Smart Monitoring, working long hours and under pressure is when she really shines.

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Hannah Wardrope

Laboratory Technician

Hannah joined Start Afresh in October 2021 after completing Level 1 and Level 2 NCEA from Otumoetai College.  Her favourite subjects were history, sociology, and classical studies. Hannah worked part time in both the laboratory and the orchards during summer, pruning and thinning different varieties of kiwifruit.  She quickly obtained skills in both and became a permanent member of the team in August 2022.

Hannah really enjoys working in the orchard in summer, getting up early, and learning the things about the stages of fruit growth and maturity.  Hannah takes pride in her laboratory work and is passionate about assisting in the research process for numerous different projects. Hannah is legendary in her ability measuring brix.

Hannah’s looking forward to growing her knowledge and ability in the horticultural industry.