The Tipu Project is an industry-owned, government-backed initiative to develop a skilled and sustainable horticulture labour force in Tairawhiti.

Tipu is the Maori word for grow. Our mission as a regional industry is to grow people and grow horticulture. The Tipu Project is an industry-owned and regionally represented initiative governed by a partnership of growers along with the Ministry of Social Development.

Tipu aims to develop a skilled and sustainable labour force, to maximise local opportunities in the Tairawhiti horticulture industry. Key supporters and funding entities include Eastland Community Trust, MSD, Horticulture New Zealand, Apple and Pear and Primary ITO.

Our Team

Meet the team

Tim Egan
Advisory Board Member

Tim Egan is a local grower and also the chairman of the Gisborne Labour Governance group, along with the Tipu Advisory Board. Tim’s involved with Tipu to support the sustainability of the regions’ growing horticulture industry, and its people.

Natalya Sandbrook
Advisory Board Member

Natalya’s passionate about Tairawhiti horticulture and its growth. She is part of Tipu because she believes if we can identify, quantify and plan for labour requirements going forward, we will be able to maximise the opportunities for the industry and our community.

Wayne Hall
Advisory Board Member

Wayne is involved in Tipu as he believes horticulture in the region has huge potential for growth. His belief is that there is a need to showcase Tairawhiti’s own growing community so that horticulture is seen to be a preferred career option over other industries. His goal is to see growers strive to be successful in their respective businesses, through the use of highly valued staff at all levels of the production cycle.

Karen Bartlett
Advisory Board Member

Karen is the Ministry of Social Development representative on the Tipu Advisory Group.

She believes Horticulture provides great opportunities for local people to train and work. The Tipu Project will aid toward creating pathways to good jobs and careers accessible for the entire region.

Tania Kearns
Advisory Board Member

Tania represents Riversun on the Tipu Advisory board as part of Riversun’s ongoing commitment to support and contribute to the growth of Tairawhiti. She is involved in the Tipu project to provide a marketing and organisational skill set, along with helping smaller growers work through business challenges.

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Gordon McPhail
Advisory Board Member

Gordon is is a part of the TIPU advisory board to drive, educate and lift the profile of the Tairawhiti horticulture industry and opportunities within it.  He believes that there is endless potential for growth and such a wide array of careers in the horticulture industry.


Steve Phelps

Steve’s role with Tipu over the next few months is to engage with as many growers, contractors and post harvest facilities as possible to gain an understanding of the complexities the industry faces. Steve can be contacted via email on or phone 027 204 2190.

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