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Crown Research Institutes appointments announced

Hon Steven Joyce

Minister of Science & Innovation
30 June 2014 Media Statement
Crown Research Institutes appointments announced
Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today announced a number of appointments to the boards of New Zealand’s Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) and Research & Education Advanced Network New Zealand Ltd (REANNZ).

Sam Robinson has been reappointed as Chair of AgResearch and will continue to lead the company’s significant restructure programme. Southland-based farmer and experienced agri-business director Jeff Grant and senior accountant and chief financial officer Michelle Alexander also join the AgResearch Board.

Auckland-based chief executive John O’Hara joins the ESR board, Andrew von Dadelszen is to be a director at Plant & Food Research, while Auckland-based accountant Nick Main and Dr Gillian Lewis of the University of Auckland join NIWA. Two other directors with chief financial officer experience are to be appointed, Sarah Haydon at GNS Science and Colleen Neville at Scion.

Jane Taylor, a CRI director, will join the Board Landcare Research as Deputy Chair and Tauranga-based businessman Steve Saunders also joins the Board.

Mr Joyce also announced that Marion Cowden will be promoted to Deputy Chair of ESR and Jim Donovan is to be the new Deputy Chair of REANNZ.

Professor Steve Weaver will continue the strong research presence on the REANNZ Board.
Biographies of New Director Appointees:

Jeff Grant is an experienced farmer and company director with a strong public sector focus. Mr Grant farms sheep, beef and deer properties in Southland and has held a range of director roles in agribusiness, research and education.

Michelle Alexander is an experienced chartered accountant who has been employed since 2008 by Antares Restaurant Group Ltd (master franchisee of the Burger King Chain in New Zealand) where she currently holds the role of Chief Financial Officer (CFO). She had previously been CFO of Express Couriers Ltd for two years and from 1993 to 2005 was employed by McDonald’s Restaurants NZ Ltd, finishing as CFO.

John O’Hara is a company director and entrepreneur. He has founded four technology companies, commercialising IT and intellectual property, and is also an angel investor in a range of start-ups. Mr O’Hara’s current directorships include Tait Communications Ltd, Naked Bus Ltd, Tekron International Ltd and Spidertracks Ltd.

Andrew von Dadelszen is a Tauranga-based businessman with a diverse background spanning farming, finance and local government. He was a Bay of Plenty Regional Councillor for six years and is a qualified hearings commissioner under the Resource Management Act. Currently he is a board member of the Environmental Protection Authority.

Nick Main is a former audit partner of Deloitte in Auckland, also serving that firm as Chief Executive from 2000–05 and later as Chair of the board from 2005-09. In 2009 Mr Main took up an international role for Deloitte as Global Managing Partner Sustainability and Climate Change Services based in London, a position he held until 2012. He is currently Chair of the Middlemore Foundation and serves on the Finance Audit and Risk Committee for Counties Manukau DHB.

Dr Gillian Lewis is Professor of Microbiology and Head of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland. She is a former President of the New Zealand Microbiological Society. Professor Lewis has a PhD in Microbiology from the University of Otago and her academic and research experience will be very relevant to NIWA’s science programmes.

Sarah Haydon is a company director with strong commercial, financial and audit committee experience, who was previously Chief Financial Officer for OfficeMax NZ Ltd. She also brings knowledge of sectors relevant to GNS, having spent 13 years in the oil industry in the UK. Sarah is a director of NZX-listed Cavalier Corporation Ltd, and recently retired as a director of AsureQuality Ltd.

Colleen Neville (Waikato-Tainui) is the Rotorua-based Chief Financial Officer of Te Arawa Group Holdings. She is a chartered accountant and has 16 years’ experience in a range of financial roles for national and local companies. Ms Neville has governance experience as a director of Te Arawa Tourism, Vice-Chair of Te Reo Irirangi o Te Arawa (the iwi’s radio station), trustee of a farming trust, and a former director of the Rotorua Public Health Organisation.

Jane Taylor is a company director and barrister whose career spans finance, law and science. She is currently a director of Silver Fern Farms Ltd, HirePool Group Ltd and Radio New Zealand Ltd. The appointment at Landcare Research will build on a successful track record as a director in the science sector, which includes GNS Science (retiring in June), and previously Scion and REANNZ.

Steve Saunders (Ngai Te Ahi, Ngati Ranginui) is a Tauranga-based businessman and entrepreneur. From a background as a horticulturalist and kiwifruit orchardist he has built up a range of related ventures as founder, shareholder and director. His companies (Plus Group) specialise in horticulture and export backed by investment in R&D, and applied technology.

Professor Steve Weaver is Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of Canterbury. He has been at the University since 1978 and for the bulk of that time was Head of the Department of Geological Sciences. Professor Weaver is currently an executive member of the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation, and was previously a member of the University of Canterbury Council. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a former member of the Earth Sciences & Astronomy Panel of the Marsden Fund. Professor Weaver is also a director of GNS Science and the NZ e-science Infrastructure (NeSI).

All appointments:



AgResearch LtdSam RobinsonChairReappointmentn/a
Jeff GrantDirectorNew appointmentJohn Loughlin
Andrew MacfarlaneDirectorReappointmentn/a
Institute of Environmental Science & Research LtdMarion CowdenDeputy ChairAppointment – Elevation to Deputy ChairRoss Peat
(as Deputy Chair)
John O’HaraDirectorNew appointmentRoss Peat
(as a director)
Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences LtdSarah HaydonDirectorNew appointmentDeborah (Jane) Taylor
Belinda VernonDirectorReappointmentn/a
Landcare Research New Zealand LtdJane TaylorDeputy ChairNew appointmentTania Simpson
Steven SaundersDirectorNew appointmentHon John Luxton
Gavan HerlihyDirectorReappointmentn/a
Dr Emily ParkerDirectorReappointmentn/a
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research LtdNick MainDirectorNew appointmentEd Johnson
Dr Gillian LewisDirectorNew appointmentHelen Robinson
Dr Helen AndersonDirectorReappointmentn/a
The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research LtdAndrew von DadelszenDirectorNew appointmentn/a – additional director
Stana PezicDirectorReappointmentn/a
New Zealand Forest Research Institute Ltd (Scion)Colleen NevilleDirectorNew appointmentChris Insley
Sheldon DrummondDirectorReappointmentn/a
Research and Education Advanced Network NZ LtdJim DonovanDeputy ChairAppointment – elevation to Deputy ChairProf George Benwell (as Deputy Chair)
Professor Steve WeaverDirectorNew appointmentProf George Benwell (as a director)
Susie JohnstoneDirectorReappointmentn/a


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