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Irrigation Company Establishment Board Announced


Hon Nathan Guy
Minister for Primary Industries

22 February 2013 Media Statement

Irrigation Company Establishment Board Announced

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has announced that experienced director Alison Paterson will oversee the establishment of a new Crown company to invest in irrigation.

The new company, which is to be established by 1 July, will act as a bridging investor for regional water infrastructure development, with $80 million to be set aside in Budget 2013.

“I’m pleased to have people of high quality and balance to work on what is a critical area of New Zealand’s growth,” says Mr Guy.

“Well-designed storage and irrigation infrastructure has the potential to deliver a major boost to our primary industries and support new jobs, which will have a flow-on effect for all New Zealanders. If current proposals are advanced there could be another 420,000 hectares of irrigated land available over time.

“It will also be better for the environment, as these schemes will lead to more efficient water use, and can provide for the replenishment of aquifers and the restoration of stream and river flows.

“Setting up a commercially driven Crown company and partnering with private investors is a unique approach to the challenge of getting regional-level infrastructure built.

“These people offer a balance of commercial and governance expertise, and a practical understanding of large infrastructure projects that will ensure the company gets off on the right footing.

“A number of proposals for regional-level water storage and irrigation schemes are nearing the stage where they will be ready to be presented to investors. The Government’s role is that of an enabler, acting as a bridging and minority investor.”

The Establishment board’s term will be 1 March to 30 June 2013

Background on the new members is below.



Alison Paterson (Chair) has had a long career in corporate governance in large organisations. She received recognition as Deloitte/Management Chairman of the Year in 2010. She has board experience in a range of sectors including infrastructure and agriculture, and has often chaired start-up organisations like FarmIQ, and Electricity and Gas Commission. Alison was a farm accountant early in her career.

Debra (Debbie) Birch is a Deputy Maori Trustee at the Maori Trustee Office in Wellington. She has 30 years of financial sector experience including managing investment portfolios. She is a current director on Kordia and Crown Asset Management Ltd, charged with managing the assets of South Canterbury Finance and five other finance companies in receivership.

Michael Webb is a commercial barrister and a member of the Financial Markets Authority. He has strong legal and financial sector background and experience, and Board leadership experience including chairing the Establishment Board for a Crown company (Learning Media Ltd). He chaired the Ministerial Taskforce on the Regulation of Financial Intermediaries in 2004-05.

Donald (Don) Huse is a professional director and former chief executive of Auckland and Wellington International Airports. He is also a former Chief Financial Officer of Sydney Airport Corporation. Don is a qualified accountant.

Lindsay Crossen is a civil engineer and a former Chief Executive of Fulton Hogan Contracting. He has extensive experience with managing and contracting large infrastructure projects. In addition, he has project management and a corporate governance background.

Christopher (Chris) Kelly has been the Chief Executive of Landcorp Farming Limited since 2001. He has held a number of significant agribusiness board positions over the past decade, including as a member of Massey University Council and director of FarmIQ (a joint Crown/industry initiative to reform the red meat sector).

Graeme Sutton is a farmer, former Chair of Irrigation New Zealand, and a former director of Waimakariri Irrigation Ltd. He has dairy farming interests in the South Island. Graeme has held director positions in a number of agribusiness companies.

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