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

Huub copy

Huub Kerckhoffs

Research Leader

Huub is an experienced crop physiologist with a PhD from Wageningen University and worked at several universities/institutes in the Netherlands, UK, USA, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. In NZ, he has managed major government-funded programmes alongside many commercial projects within in vegetable and fruit production systems at Plant & Food Research. At Massey University he was the horticultural stakeholder management leader and relaunched in 2019 a new Bachelor of Horticultural Science (BHortSci) degree and was responsible for a large curriculum of research-led teaching in undergraduate and postgraduate domains. He has also been a senior horticultural policy advisor at MPI. He has recently joined Start Afresh as a Research Leader, responsible for the on-orchard/fruit quality research programs, and is also involved in delivering various industry training programmes.



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.



Pranoy Pal

Senior Research Scientist

Pranoy is an experienced scientist with expertise in diverse scientific areas such as agricultural entomology and insect toxicology, soil nutrient losses, greenhouse gas emissions and fumigant science. In his most recent roles (at Landcare Research; Plant and Food Research), he has led a range of $200-400k projects that included scientific decision-making, liaising with the client and the funding body and timely delivery of the outputs.

After finishing his Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Science, Pranoy gained a Master’s degree from India in Agricultural Chemistry that investigated pesticide residues in processed food commodities and its toxicology counterparts. He also has a PhD in Soil Science specialising in biogeochemical cycling of nitrogen and carbon in agri-pastoral systems from Lincoln University, New Zealand. Pranoy’s intent at Start Afresh is to ‘connect the dots’ of the on-orchard practices using his scientific background while addressing the issues in the pre- and post-harvest kiwifruit industry.


Agam copy

Agam Nangul

Senior Research Scientist

Agam specialises in Postharvest Physiology and Food Safety. In the last 10 years at Plant and Food Research, Agam has managed multiple government and industry funded projects to carry out industry-focused postharvest and food safety work, from conceptualising study design to report delivery.

Agam has managed postharvest storage studies, intervention technologies, laboratory studies, identifying storage potential, disinfestation work to sterilise or kill insects, as well as market access projects. Agam has lead projects on kiwifruit, apples, avocadoes, capsicums, tomatoes.

Agam has a sound experience in aligning and interpreting industrial environments to the food safety scenarios as well. Agam has also led food safety aspects of postharvest, focussing on the persistence of foodborne pathogens on the international and domestic supply chain, and has a keen interest in raising the food safety culture in the packhouses and across the horticulture industry.



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.


Photo 1

Richard Gomes

Research Agronomist

Richard is a Research Agronomist at Start Afresh. Richard joined in November 2021 and is responsible for planning and conducting experiments, carrying out fieldwork, preparing research proposals and analysing experimental data.

Richard attained his Bachelor of Agronomy Engineering at the University of Bandeirantes/ Brazil. Richard specialised in the control of pests and diseases of seeds and plants while working in Brazil. From 2013 to 2018 he was responsible for developing Soybean and Maize Seeds, and pesticides in the grain belt area.

In New Zealand, Richard worked as an Agronomy technician for Enza Zaden, and more recently, Superb Herb, performing tasks such as technical assistance, recording and analysing data, and providing recommendations to improve production yields.

Richard has a sound experience in interpreting data relating to plant health and making decisions to manage these issues.



Simone Blackwood

Research Technician

Simone is a Research Technician at Start Afresh conducting and assisting in various trials with the most recent and key role in pinpointing the attributes that govern storage breakdown disorder in Hayward kiwifruit. Following a Bachelor of Science in Ecology from Massey University in 2019, Simone did a joint internship with Zespri and Start Afresh investigating non-pathogenic fungal growth on kiwifruit. Simone is also pursuing her Masters degree in Horticultural Science from Lincoln University with a focus on plant protection and pathology. Growing up on a kiwifruit orchard in the Bay of Plenty, Simone recognises the impact noxious pests and diseases have on the industry. Her aim is to expand and contribute her expertise across the horticultural industry.



Lara Menefy

Laboratory Manager

Lara has been with Start Afresh since 2017 assisting in the setup of various pre- and post-harvest research trials focussed on kiwifruit. She proficient is using the Inspect software and is responsible for the analysis of all the research fruit in an accurate and timely manner, training and scheduling additional staff and making sure all equipment is working correctly. Lara is efficient is using the penetrometer for fruit firmness, assessing fruit with chilling injury and using other non-destructive equipment such as the refractometer, Sunforest, Felix, Bluebox, Aweta and the Firmness Gun. Lara also makes sure that all data entry is accurately done and remains upto-date for further analyses.



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.