News and events

Appointments to the FoodBowl board bring new skills and experience

This article was published on 19 August 2015

Callaghan Innovation and Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) have announced new appointments to the board for the FoodBowl that brings in new skills while providing governance continuity.

New Zealand Food Innovation Auckland Ltd, trading as The FoodBowl – Te Ipu Kai, provides high-tech facilities and expertise for both start-up and established food and beverage services looking to develop new products or test new processing technologies. Located near Auckland Airport, it is two-thirds owned by Callaghan Innovation and one-third by ATEED.

The new board members are:

  • Jason Witehira – Victoria Park New World owner who joins the board as deputy chair
  • Karen Fistonich – Villa Maria Estate Board Chair
  • Michael Barker – a food industry veteran (all for three-year terms)
  • Richard Perry – Callaghan Innovation CFO as the business innovation agency’s representative (two-year term), replacing Callaghan Innovation CEO Dr Mary Quin.

The six-strong board is rounded out by Roger Gower (The FoodBowl Board Chair and ATEED representative), and Tony Nowell, who will both remain for one further year. The outgoing members of the board are Richard Archer and Ross McCullum.

Dr Mary Quin says: “After a thorough process to identify and recruit candidates, we are pleased to announce a diverse new governance team featuring a fresh injection of outstanding food and beverage innovators with real-world understanding of what businesses need to succeed at developing, scaling up and manufacturing food and beverage innovations.”

The FoodBowl is becoming a crucial contributor to the region’s reputation as a global innovator in food and beverage. It worked with more than 120 companies in the 2014/15 year, and its revenue grew 30 per cent last year, to $630,000.

Almost as importantly, the facility served as a connection point for Auckland with the global industry, hosting delegations from China, Korea and Australia.

ATEED CEO Brett O’Riley says: “We thank the outgoing board members for their astute leadership and are excited about this next phase of The FoodBowl’s development. The facility is a major council investment which drives export readiness in a multi-billion-dollar industry for Auckland, and is the southern end of a thriving innovation corridor across the region.”


Roger Gower (Chair)
Roger was appointed to the Chair of the FoodBowl by ATEED.  Roger’s experience covers a range of heavy aviation roles, with a big focus on customer service and marketing roles, logistics and transportation, infra-structure development, restructuring and re-launching companies and organisations, FMCG and early stage technology companies. This experience has given Roger a broad perspective on how business works and how to make businesses work better, given their operating environment and the internal and external conditions experienced and expected.

Mr Anthony (Tony) Nowell CNZM
Tony is a professional company Director, Chair of Scion Research and Founding Director of Valadenz Limited, a trade and export development company. Previously he was the CEO of Zespri International, and positions he held before then included Managing Director of Griffin’s Food Limited and Regional Vice President of Sara Lee Asia. Mr Nowell brings extensive experience in corporate management, governance and international trade and development to the Board. He is currently Chair of Wellington Drive Technologies Limited and a board member of New Zealand Food Innovation Auckland Limited, Food Standards Australia New Zealand and the Export Advisory Board of Business New Zealand. Mr Nowell recently retired as Deputy Chair of Leadership New Zealand and represents New Zealand on the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC). He has previously chaired the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council, the New Zealand Food and Beverage Taskforce and the New Zealand Packaging Accord Governing Board.

Richard Perry
Richard is the CFO of Callaghan Innovation and joined them from Landcorp Farming Limited where he was the CFO. During his time at Landcorp he transformed the finance and IT functions, built strong teams, and played a key role in helping establish some of Landcorp’s major partnerships. He previously held various accounting and finance roles at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, including Financial Controller. Richard is a member of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants' Regional Advisory Group, the External Reporting Advisory Panel and a technical advisor to the International Monetary Fund.

Jason Witehira
The first supermarket owner of Maori descent in the upper North Island, Jason now owns one of the largest supermarkets in New Zealand by revenues (>$100m), Victoria Park New World in Auckland.  This is the third supermarket he has owned having started at the very bottom, packing potatoes as a 16 year old school leaver.  He is now a leader in the field, and Chairman of the New World North Island Committee, which encompasses 100 stores and represents multi-billion dollar revenues.  His knowledge of the FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) industry is extremely comprehensive, as is his understanding of what it takes to innovate, and what innovation sells.  He is an existing supporter of the FoodBowl and a member of the food and beverage cluster, Nuku kit e Puku, coordinated by the Callaghan Innovation Maori Economy Team.

Karen Fistonich
Karen Fistonich has been the Chairperson of the Villa Maria Estate Board since 2006.  She is also a director of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and director, trustee or member of a number of community focussed organisations.  She spent the first half of her career in international banking, and since returning to NZ has had a hands-on role in the family business encompassing most aspects from the development of new wineries and its retail activity.  Villa Maria has been a client of the FoodBowl and commercialised an innovation it developed there.

Michael Barker
Michael joined the family business in 1980, when it was still relatively small, as a wine maker.  The company is now one of New Zealand’s leading manufacturers of jams, chutneys, syrups and condiments. Michael has undertaken roles throughout Barkers as it has grown, including Production Manager, General Manager, Managing Director and Executive Director.  He is a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology. He has an extensive and consistent career history over a 30 year period supporting wider industry and economic development, for example serving on the boards of the Export Institute and Chamber of Commerce.