John Seymour, colleague and friend
John Seymour, colleague and friend to so many in the New Zealand horticulture industry, died on Tuesday 3 March 2020.
The tribute that follows is based on the address that Mike Chapman, Horticulture New Zealand chief executive, gave at John’s funeral on Monday 9 March 2020.
John made a significant contribution to horticulture, covering virtually every aspect of the industry, during the 11 years that he worked in the horticulture sector, serving on many boards on behalf of growers and working with many people.
John started as senior business manager with the Fresh Vegetable Product Group in November 2009. He went on to join Process Vegetables New Zealand as senior business manager in April 2011.
John moved to a four-day week as general manager with Vegetables New Zealand and Processed Vegetables New Zealand in May 2016, and then a two-day week with Processed-vegetables New Zealand in April 2019. John also had two periods where he was senior business manager for Vegetables.co.nz.
John was a true gentleman in every sense of the word. His calming disposition, his collegial nature, his obvious caring for every person and his thoughtful approach to everything he undertook were his hallmarks.
John was the lead for fresh vegetables, process vegetables, vegetable research and vegetable promotion. In addition, he contributed to all growers’ activities through portfolios such as transportation. John was active in office matters, in particular working on rent reviews and dealings with the landlord.
In many respects, John was the rock and the foundation stone in the office, mentoring, supporting and offering sage advice. John gave his time and knowledge freely. He cared for people and how they were all working.
John was genuinely interested in people’s lives, inside and outside of work. He had a very calm manner that took the steam out of many situations, getting colleagues back to rational action and thought. through all of this, John became a good friend to all those with whom he worked.
When it came to work, John was an incredibly capable person. He had a renowned depth of institutional and corporate knowledge. with ease, he ran product groups and organisations and was our first point of contact for a number of government policy issues.
What would in many cases require a team of staff, John did effortlessly by himself. He would often talk about how something was not working as well as it should, and how he had a plan to take troubling issues forward to a successful conclusion. john was a very good planner, but most importantly, he implemented those plans and delivered them in a timely manner.
At a board level, John was an excellent operator. He knew how to work effectively with boards, and get the best results from members. John knew how to balance the busy lives of grower directors with their board duties. He understood what was required to make organisations effective, and delivered on that consistently over several years.
To quote from one of John’s many positive performance reviews:
“John is very professional, well mannered, thoughtful and organised. He provides excellent service. John represents vegetables well in any situation he attends on our behalf. It is a pleasure to work with him and he is held in high regard.”
John was a man of integrity, passionate about horticulture, a thinker and one who delivered. He was knowledgeable and was willing to share that knowledge and expertise.
John was a true gentleman, a great mentor and friend. He is and will be sorely missed.