Director, Our Land and Water
Professor Rich McDowell
Chief Scientist, Our Land and Water
Kaihāpai Māori, Our Land and Water
Operations Manager, Our Land and Water
Senior Communications Advisor, Our Land and Water
Project Accountant, Our Land and Water
Science Leadership Team
The Science Leadership Team is responsible for overseeing the quality and impact of science undertaken by the Challenge. They work with the Directorate and research leaders, and contribute to the ongoing development of research priorities and strategy.
Dr Selai Letica
Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou, Tagata Pasifika
Vision Mātauranga Leader, Our Land and Water
Expertise: Kaiarataki, Research Priority Area Leader, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research
Given the central importance of te ao Māori and Māori knowledge systems in achieving the Our Land and Water objective, in 2019 the Our Land and Water Board and the Kāhui Māori advisory group were merged into a single governance group. Members have a broad range of expertise from various industries throughout Aotearoa.
Hōne is the former Chief Executive of the Royal Forest & Bird Society (2013–2016). He is currently a director for two leading Māori businesses, Wakatū Incorporation and Kono NZ, and is Chair of the Manawatū Kukutauaki Trust and Volunteer Service Abroad. He also serves on the Government's Trade for All Advisory Board and the Federation of Māori Authorities Executive, representing Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka a Maui members. Hōne is currently undertaking a PhD in Māori enterprise and cultural capital.
Bruce has a sheep and beef farming background. He is a past National President of Federated Farmers (2011–2014). Bruce has a number of off-farm governance roles: Motu (Chair), ApicultureNZ (Independent Chair), Deer Industry PGP (Chair), NZ Poplar & Willow Research Trust (Chair), Ravensdown (Board member), HortNZ (Board member), QEII National Trust (Board member) and Resilience to Nature’s Challenges National Science Challenge (Trustee).
Hilton (Ngati Porou) is a farm management consultant with more than 35 years of experience, particularly in the Hawkes Bay and East Coast areas, where he has strong links to Māori agribusiness. Founding shareholder of Agfirst, Hilton is a Trustee for Tarawhiti Land Development Trust and is involved with Firstlight (Wagyu beef) and The New Zealand Merino Company. Hilton has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science from Lincoln University.
Dr Ian Ferguson MNZM
Ian is the Departmental Science Advisor for the Ministry of Primary Industries. Prior to that, he was the Chief Scientist at Plant and Food Research (2003–2013). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, and a Fellow of the International Society for Horticultural Science. Ian was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to horticultural science in the New Year's Honours 2010.
Michael is the Chief Executive of Horizons Regional Council. He chairs the NZ Regional Council Chief Executive Group and is the key link from that group to the Regional Sector Group (a collective of all the regional and unitary council mayors and chairs). Michael is chair of Manawatu-Wanganui Local Authority Shared Services, and is the regional sector representative on the Land and Water Forum.
Gillian Wratt MNZM
Gillian is a former Chief Executive of Cawthron Institute (2006–2012), Chief Executive of Antarctica New Zealand (1996–2002), and Director of the New Zealand Antarctic Programme (1992–1996). Gillian has also been an environment negotiator for New Zealand free trade agreements, and was the Establishment Unit Convenor for the Crop and Food Research Institute. Gillian is a current Board member of the New Zealand Environmental Protection Authority and chairs the Steering Group for the Antarctic Science Platform, and has several not-for-profit Board roles.
Jim Peters MNZM
Ngāti Wai, Ngāti Hine, Ngā Puhi
Jim is the former Pro Vice-Chancellor (Māori) at the University of Auckland. He has extensive knowledge of Māori development, particularly in Northland, and strong linkages with Taitokerau iwi and regional government. He was a Member of Parliament (2002–2005), and was Chair of the Northland Regional Council (1995–2001).
Dr Erica Williams
Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Pikiao, Te Whānau ā Apanui
Erica is a scientist in Te Kūwaha, NIWA's National Centre of Māori Environmental Research, which assists Māori communities throughout New Zealand by providing the latest scientific knowledge, tools and resources to assist in their management of natural resources. Her expertise is in freshwater environments.
Science Advisory Panel
Our Science Advisory Panel is made up of local and international experts. They ensure Our Land and Water research is of high scientific quality, of international relevance and has the potential to be innovative and of high impact, through robust review of research plans and science strategy.
Professor Maggie Gill
Maggie is Chair of the Independent Science and Partnership Council of the CGIAR, a global partnership of agricultural research centres. She is a Professor of Integrated Land Use at the University of Aberdeen. Maggie was formerly the Chief Scientific Advisor, Rural Affairs and the Environment, to the Scottish Government. She has expertise in global foresight and international sustainable systems.
Dr David Wratt QSO
David is Emeritus Scientist (Climate) at NIWA and an Adjunct Professor in the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute at Victoria University. He was a Vice Chair of Working Group 1 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2002–2015), and was Chief Scientist (Climate) at NIWA (retired September 2014) and Director of the New Zealand Climate Change Centre.
Professor Ruth Beilin
Ruth is a Professor at the University of Melbourne School of Land and Environment. Her expertise is in developing the field of landscape sociology within environmental sociology, as a platform for integrating biophysical and social sciences.
Professor Ray Collins
Ray is Emeritus Professor in the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, at the University of Queensland. He has expertise in value chains, agribusiness, and supply chain management.
Dr Tony Petch
Tony is an honorary lecturer in environmental science at the university of Waikato. He is an independent consultant (Tony Petch Consulting Ltd), and was formerly with Environment Waikato. He has expertise in environment and catchment science.