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New Zealand Agriculture Industry Loses a “Champion

New Zealand Agriculture Industry Loses a “Champion”

The flags at ZESPRI International Limited are flying at half mast today following the death of long-standing ZESPRI Group Limited Director, Alistair Betts, who sadly passed away last night.

Mr Betts, 59, a Director since 1997, was a Director of ZESPRI Group Limited; ZESPRI International Limited; ZESPRI’s premium ingredients business, Aragorn Limited; and Chairman of ZESPRI Innovation Company Limited.

A deer and sheep farmer from Pleasant Point in South Canterbury, Mr Betts was also Chairman of Prime Port Timaru Limited; Chairman of the National Centre for Advanced Bio-protection; and a Director of Landcorp Farming Limited.

ZESPRI Group Limited Chairman, Craig Greenlees paid tribute to Mr Betts’ enthusiasm, innovation and strength of character.

“Alastair was like a beacon leading the way with his enthusiasm and new ideas and initiatives. His immense international sales and marketing experience was invaluable to us,” said Mr Greenlees.

“Alistair always put in that extra effort and he was always so well prepared. His passing will be a big loss to not only ZESPRI but to New Zealand business. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”

Close friend and Port of Tauranga Chairman John Parker, said New Zealand’s agricultural industry has lost a “champion”.

“Alistair did as much as any of his generation for agriculture in all its forms. He was a competent, enthusiastic and tireless individual, and the general business community has lost a wonderful person.”

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A strong family man, mad-keen runner and mountain biker, Alistair was in his element managing his farm and spending time with his grandchildren.

“He never smoked a cigarette in his life and was one of the fittest people I know,” said Mr Parker.

Mr Betts was widely travelled, including taking in part in several International Kiwifruit Organisation (IKO) Conferences throughout the world. “He had travelled to just about every country from Angola to Zambia, and there are not many letters missing in between.”

IKO Secretary and ZESPRI ZFP Technical Manager, Bob Martin described Mr Betts as “someone who was always cheerful; a great leader, with a unique sense of humour”.

“He was the life and soul of the party. At each IKO Conference Alistair attended he composed the New Zealand contingent’s song and led the singing. My memory of him leading the song at this year’s IKO Conference in Mt Maunganui is a lasting one.

“He was always a strong personality and you knew when he was in the room. To have led the recent ZESPRI Marketing and Innovation Conference in late November, knowing he was unwell, shows the strength and charisma of the man,” said Mr Martin.

The Directors and staff of ZESPRI extend their sincerest condolences to Alistair’s wife Beverley and family.

Mr Betts’ funeral service will be held in Timaru on Thursday 23 December 2004.

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