Nigel Avery has stepped up as Sileni Estates' CEO as its founder, Sir Graeme Avery, concentrates on a transformational project for the region.

Nigel Avery has been involved in the family business since its start in 1997, becoming general manager of the New Zealand and Asia branches in 2008 before the 2013 move to Minneapolis with his wife and three children.

Sir Graeme said his son returned with a valuable mix of leadership, strategic skills and financial experience.

"These characteristics and Nigel's experience within the business make him the perfect candidate to lead the next phase of our growth strategy. I'm confident the business will continue to flourish under his leadership."


While a trained accountant, Nigel also has a sporting background. He represented New Zealand in track and field, bobsleigh and weightlifting, competing as part of the Olympic weightlifting team at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and winning two gold and a silver medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

He said he was excited to build on the success of the Sileni team under Sir Graeme.

"Under his leadership the company has grown from a production of 4000 cases in 1998 to more than 750,000 cases today, exporting to more than 80 markets around the world."

Nigel's brother Simon also has a managerial role in Sileni, one of the largest family-owned wine producers in New Zealand with vineyards in Hawke's Bay and Marlborough.

With day-to-day management now delegated, Sir Graeme will continue in the strategic role as Sileni's president, allowing more time for his AUT Millennium Hawke's Bay project.

Inspired by the AUT Millennium Institute of Sport and Health in Auckland, which Sir Graeme founded, it will seek to lift community health, spirit and leadership through best-practice programmes and world-class facilities.

Hawke's Bay District Health Board chairman Kevin Atkinson said it would enable the delivery of "some quite exciting health and wellness programmes".

Based at the Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park, Mr Atkinson said many perceived it would focus on high-performance athletes "but that will be only 10 per cent of it".

The Auckland institute has 300 elite athletes but 600,000 annual user-visits.