Edwin Pitts


Edwin is Chairman of the Research Centre Board.  A former Awatere Valley high country farmer, then commercial olive grower he has also worked for the Centre as a technician, involved with many practical aspects of viticulture as well as field collection, preparation of materials and lab analysis.

After a lifetime of self-employment, business management, agri-politics and governance positions in science and education, Edwin is enjoying less hands on responsibilities with a broader interest in the exciting possibilities presenting in Marlborough's future.


Brian Jordan

Lincoln University Representative

Dr Brian Jordan is Professor of Plant Biotechnology at Lincoln University, New Zealand. He received his PhD from Newcastle University, UK and was a scientist at Horticulture Research International, UK, for 14 years.

Since coming to New Zealand in 1994, Professor Jordan has worked in senior management for Crop & Food Research, Massey University and Lincoln University before reverting to an academic role at Lincoln University in 2008. In 2003, Professor Jordan was appointed onto the Board of the Marlborough Wine Research Centre. Professor Jordan’s research is focused on viticulture, especially effects of canopy manipulation on grape biochemistry and molecular biology.

In February 2011 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Örebro University, Sweden in recognition of his professional excellence in plant biology. Professor Jordan was also recently invited to be a visiting Professor at Bordeaux University and the Institute des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin, Bordeaux. He spent 5 months in Bordeaux in 2011 giving lectures and carrying out research. In 2012, Professor Jordan was a plenary speaker at the 8th International Symposium on Cool Climate Wines, in Tasmania.

Warwick Lissaman

Agriculture Representative

Warwick is from one of Marlborough’s early farming families; the fourth generation of his family to farm in the Awatere Valley.

After completing a Bachelor of Agriculture and a Bachelor of Commerce with a post graduate diploma in Rural Valuation at Lincoln University, Warwick followed his grandfather and his father onto the family property.

After an active role within New Zealand Young Farmers, Warwick has gone on to take positions of responsibility within the rural sector.  In 2008 Warwick chaired the local organising committee for the New Zealand Grassland Association Annual Conference held in Blenheim.  Warwick went on to serve eight years on the NZGA executive committee including two years as Vice President and two years as President and has served terms with NZ Meat & Wool and NZ Beef & Lamb Marlborough Monitor Farm executive committees.  He also has served as an elected Trustee to the Awatere Community Trust; and is currently Chairman of the Chilean Needle Grass Action Group and a member of the NZ Beef & Lamb Pastures for Profit, Marlborough group.

Warwick’s efforts to help secure funding for dryland pastoral research and a direct involvement in a dryland legumes technology transfer research project precede his appointment in 2011 to the MRC Board.

Amongst his priorities is the wish to see the pastoral sector make greater use of the research capacity of the Research Centre.  He believes that science and research is the key to unlocking future opportunities and that it is in the mutual interest of each of the productive sectors of Marlborough to work closely together to fulfil the potential of the district.

“To go forward to new, levels of productivity and/or production systems, site specific solutions are required and an understanding of the natural capital is needed first and foremost.  This Site Specific Technology Transfer is very problematic for science as a provider due to resource cost.  The direction MRC takes must reflect this need.

A worrying trend is the rise of advertorials in the press, so many choices and so many pseudo-science statements, often farmer testimonials are used instead of peer reviewed scientific evidence.”

Andrew Naylor

Pernod Ricard Representative

Andrew is the Senior Viticulturist for Pernod Ricard Winemakers, responsible for coordinating the productivity and quality of the crop and the technology used on the company and contract grower vineyards.

He liaises with our company operational and planning managers, viticulturists and Grower Liaison Team, to ensure that parcels of fruit are meeting their quality and crop level targets. He spends time in the vineyards looking at the vines and their fruit, as well as time in the office reviewing and planning. There is a lot of information to keep up with and many people who need the information shared with them.

Andrew graduated from Lincoln College with a Diploma in Horticulture and a Diploma in Field Technology. He spent 13 years with MAF / HortResearch before moving to Pernod Ricard (Montana Wines as it was then) in 1995. In the late 90’s he got all keen and began a Masters in Applied Science through Lincoln which he completed in 2002.

Pernod Ricard has supported the Marlborough Research Centre and the Wine Research Centre especially from its beginning. I’m pleased to be continuing the company’s representation following on from the good work of Andy Frost and look forward to valuable interaction with the wider business community of Marlborough.


Mark Peters

Marlborough District Council Representative

Marlborough District Councillor, Mark Peters, is a member of the Council’s Assets & Services Committee and its Audit & Risk Sub-Committee, joining the MRC Board in 2016.

Blenheim-born, Mark has lived most of his life in the district. After graduating from Canterbury University, he was admitted to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in 1977 – now the Australia and NZ Institute of Chartered Accountants. In 2016 he was awarded a Fellowship of that body.

His career has been in public accounting practice and he has served on a number of boards, listed and unlisted, including an eight-year term on the board of New Zealand Rugby and six years with the Highlanders board. He is director/treasurer of the charity, NZ Rugby Foundation, and has served a five-year term as Secretary-General of the World Council of Service Clubs.

As well as being a first-term Marlborough District Councillor, Mark continues to hold a number of company directorships and he brings extensive experience in financial governance to the MRC Board.

Roger Robson-Williams

Plant & Food Research Representative

Dr Roger Williams joins the Board of MRC as a representative of Plant & Food Research, where he has been the General Manager of Science – Sustainable Production since early 2014.

Roger studied applied biological sciences at graduate and postgraduate level in the UK, gaining a PhD from the University of Sheffield. He worked as a plant pathologist in a range of crops in the UK at Horticulture Research International and Rothamsted Research, before taking up senior science management positions at the UK’s Home-Grown Cereals Authority and latterly the Royal Horticultural Society.

Roger moved to New Zealand in 2012 to join the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) as Director of Research Development. While at FAR, he developed a keen interest in sustainability issues and particularly in the impacts of central and regional government freshwater policy on primary production.

Throughout his career, Roger has focused on the application of plant sciences to practical problems facing the plant-based primary sectors. He is the chairman of the governance committee of the Precision Agriculture Association of New Zealand.


James Jones

Company Director

After completing an Agriculture Science Degree with honours at Lincoln University James returned home to Blenheim to work on the family farm. This was a period of rapid land use change across the Marlborough region. In 2001 the Jones family started to develop vineyards on their properties at Rapaura and Seddon.

Today he manages 130 hectares of family vineyards spread across three locations within the Wairau and Awatere Valleys. In 2008, James developed the Starborough wine brand and more recently acquired the ‘River Farm’ brand. The wines are sold domestically and exported.

James was a board member of the Marlborough Winegrowers Association from 2006 to 2014. He is married to Amanda and has two children Hannah (9) and Sam (6).