Dr Jenny Webster-Brown
Director, Our Land and Water
Professor Rich McDowell
Chief Scientist, Our Land and Water
Kaihāpai Māori, Our Land and Water
Senior Communications Advisor, Our Land and Water
Operations Manager, Our Land and Water
Michelle van Rheede
Senior Advisor – Research, 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
Kaiarataki, Our Land and Water
Expertise: Tumuaki/Director, Orangahau Māori and Environmental Science 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 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.
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).
Andrew is an Associate Director at KPMG and has a multifaceted role in the food and agribusiness sector, developing and positioning KPMG New Zealand's agribusiness strategy with KPMG's Global Head of Agribusiness. Originally from the Bay of Plenty, Andrew returned to New Zealand in 2017 after a 20-year career in the food industry, with 15 years working in Asia, Africa, the America’s and Europe. He works with organisations in the primary industries, especially those who identify as being Māori or export-orientated.
Iain is the Integrated Catchment Management Group Manager at Hawke's Bay Regional Council, which covers environmental science, environmental information, catchment management, biodiversity and biosecurity. Iain has been working in the management of freshwater resources for over 25 years. Before joining Hawke's Bay Regional Council in 2011, he worked with Cawthron Institute as a Senior Freshwater Ecologist, Fish and Game New Zealand as a Regional Manager, and with the Department of Conservation.
Science and Stakeholder Advisory Panel
Our Science and Stakeholder 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 Andrew Ash
Andrew has recently retired as Chief Research Scientist in CSIRO Agriculture and Food, and has extensive research experience in agricultural systems with particular emphasis on developing management systems to improve profitability and environmental outcomes for rural communities. He also has taken national leadership roles in adapting Australia to the impacts of climate variability and change.
Professor Laurens Klerkx
Laurens is a Professor at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, with strong academic experience in agricultural transitions. He also has a good understanding of the New Zealand primary sector context.
Anake has an extensive knowledge of, and a keen interest in, social innovation and iwi governance. He has previously served as CEO of Ngāi Tahu, and has experience in developing innovative solutions to community challenges.
Dr Benjamin Dent
Dr Dave Clarke
Dave has recently retired as Principal Scientist from DairyNZ. He has extensive experience and expertise in primary sector issues and research needs, and his own research focussed on feed production, the environmental impacts of intensification and the social and labour aspects of dairy farming.
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.
Dr Jane Kitson
Ngāi Tahu / Ngāti Mamoe / Waitaha
Jane is an ecologist and environmental scientist with a background in traditional ecological knowledge research. She has worked in a range of research and management projects, including as a scientist at Environment Southland, Southland Regional Council.