Governance Group

Our Governance Group provides strategic oversight of the Challenge, approves research projects and allocates funding.

They are also responsible for appointing the Challenge Leadership Team, Kāhui Māori and Stakeholder Panel. The Group reports to the NIWA Board and operates under the Challenge Collaborative Agreement.


Tania Te Rangingangana Simpson

Deputy Chair, Reserve Bank of New Zealand and Waitangi National Trust & Director, Auckland International Airport and Tainui Holdings Group

Tania is a professional director with expertise across social policy, the environment, economic development, and Treaty-related matters. Tania is of Tainui, Ngāi Tahu and Ngā Puhi descent.

Tania is a member of the Waitangi Tribunal, NZ Conservation Authority, and Deep South Challenge. She is Deputy Chair of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and the Waitangi National Trust, and a Director of Auckland International Airport, Tainui Group Holdings, Waikato Tainui Fisheries and Kōwhai Consulting.

Tania’s past directorships include Mercury Energy, Global Women, AgResearch, Landcare Research (Deputy Chair), Ngai Tahu Tourism and Oceania Group, and she is an accredited fellow of the NZ Institute of Directors. She was made a Commander of the Order of the Taniwha in 2014 and a Dame of the Order of St Lazarus in 2019 for her services to Māori business and community. In 2024, Tania was awarded an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to governance and Māori.


Shelley Campbell

Chief Executive, Waikato/Bay of Plenty Cancer Society

Shelley is currently chief executive of Waikato/Bay of Plenty Cancer Society and is an Advisor to NEXT Foundation and board member of LIVE OCEAN, Te Pou, Le VA and Cancer Council New Zealand. Shelley is of Ngā Puhi descent.

Prior to joining Sustainable Seas in 2016 Shelley was chief executive of the Sir Peter Blake Trust, where she was responsible for implementing its leadership development and environmental programmes throughout the country. She was awarded a Member New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for her work in health care and is an Hon. Captain in the Royal New Zealand Navy.

Roger France

Roger is a professional, non-executive director and chartered accountant with almost 20 years governance experience in a wide range of organisations, including Fonterra Co-operative Group, Air New Zealand, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and Team New Zealand. He was member of the Council of The University of Auckland for 12 years and Chancellor between 2009 and 2012.

He was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2016 and is a Fellow of both the New Zealand Institute of Directors and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

Volker Kuntzsch

Chief Executive, Cawthron Institute

Volker has a distinguished international career in the seafood industry spanning 30 years. He was formerly the CEO of Sanford Ltd (NZ), President of Nippon Suisan (USA), and President and CEO of King & Price Seafood Corp in Brunswick, Georgia, USA. His former appointments include Global Marketing Director for Nippon Suisan Kaisha Ltd in Tokyo, Managing Director of Hangana Seafood in Namibia, and he has had senior roles with Unilever Europe in Germany and the United Kingdom.

He was educated in South Africa, where he gained a Master of Science from the University of Stellenbosch.

Wendy Lawson

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic, AUT

Wendy has in-depth knowledge of higher education in Aotearoa New Zealand along with a range of management and leadership experience in the academic sector. This includes two decades of crown governance, with directorships at Antarctica New Zealand, NIWA and MetService.

Hailing from the UK, Wendy’s research specialty is in glaciology, and she gained her PhD from the University of Cambridge. Wendy came to Aotearoa in 1991 to take up a lecturing position at the University of Auckland. Wendy recently served on MBIE's Te Pae Kahurangi Crown Research Institutes 2030 review panel, and she currently represents Aotearoa on the Board of Melbourne-based FrontierSI.

Rebecca Mills

Founder & Managing Director, The Lever Room

Rebecca is the founder of The Lever Room, New Zealand’s oldest specialist impact consultancy. It works at the intersection of innovation and sustainability, with a dedicated focus on impact strategy and measurement.

She has led large-scale regeneration developments and extensive experience in private and public sector organisations across sustainability, energy, climate change, water and oceans strategy and policy, public/private partnerships and governance. She was one of two UK representatives on the ESPACE (European Spatial Planning Adapting to Climate Events) project team to shape planning for climate change adaptation at a global level. She is a member of both Global Women, an organisation championing for greater equality in New Zealand’s Leadership, and the Institute of Directors, New Zealand.

John Morgan

Chief Executive, NIWA

John joined NIWA as Chief Executive in April 2007. He has extensive senior executive and governance experience in public and private sector organisations covering a range of markets and activities including business, science, education and sport. His science sector roles have included Chairman of Science New Zealand (current Chairman), Chief Executive of AgriQuality Ltd, Executive Director of Orica New Zealand Ltd, and Chairman of New Zealand Pharmaceuticals Ltd. John is passionate about the role science can play in transforming New Zealand's economy, environment, society and global reputation.

James Palmer

Chief Executive, Hawke's Bay Regional Council

Born and raised in Hawke’s Bay, James has been Chief Executive of Hawke's Bay Regional Council since June 2017 and has expertise in government policy and planning. Previously, he was Deputy Secretary Sector Strategy at the Ministry for the Environment responsible for strategy development across the natural resources sector, including climate change and ocean management.

He was Director Strategy at both the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry before that. Between 2005 and 2008, James served as Chief of Staff to the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity, and was an advisor in central government between 1999 and 2003.

Tā Mark Solomon

Deputy Chair, Te Ohu Kaimoana

Sir Mark is a professional director and Māori tribal leader of Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Kurī descent. He was elected as kaiwhakahaere (Chair) of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, from 1998 to 2016 and is a Summit Member of the Hillary Institute.

He has served on numerous boards including the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa from 2001 to 2007 and was an original member of the Minister for Māori Affairs, the Hon Dr Pita Sharples’ Māori Economic Taskforce. Sir Mark was knighted in 2013 for his services to Māori and business.