Thought Leadership Speakers

Allison Arthur Young

Allison has been a member of Russell McVeagh’s Board since 2018, prior to which she was the firm’s National Practice Group Chair for Environment, Planning and Natural Resources. She is a member of the Resource Management Law Association and is the author of the Climate Change chapter in leading resource management textbook Environmental and Resource Management Law (6th Ed).

Her practice covers all aspects of resource management and local government law, with a particular focus on development and large-scale infrastructure projects, along with district and regional planning, and policy matters. She provides expert advice to clients on a range of local government law issues including development contributions and rates, information disclosure and the role of local authorities in decision making.


Alex Cartwright

Alex is a passionate consultant with a drive to better integrate people and the environment, focusing on developing knowledge and preparedness for natural hazards and climate change, with extensive experience in New Zealand and the UK.

As part of the risk assessment team for New Zealand’s first National Climate Change Risk Assessment (NCCRA), he focused on the built environment whilst providing technical input into wider risk assessment and engagement processes. Alex continues to support a wide range of clients as they undertake their own risk assessments to understand the impacts of climate change for their communities, assets, and its impact on their wider business.

A proud Geographer, Alex specialises in communicating complex data clearly for wide ranging audiences, combining his aptitude for geospatial science and stakeholder facilitation to develop interactive solutions that encourage engagement. He is also focussed on finding new ways to improve the sustainability, engagement potential and efficiency of workshops through utilising digital tools and techniques.

With a background in risk reduction and emergency management, he has been deployed into a variety of events, including operational and strategic flood response roles in the UK, and the National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC) to support New Zealand’s All of Government response to the Covid-19 global pandemic. Alex has also co-authored an academic paper on the use of operational plans to aid incident management, published by the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE).

Simon Cox

Dr Simon Cox is a Principal Scientist at GNS Science in Dunedin, with professional expertise in the fields of geological mapping, tectonics and fluid flow.  As a regular recipient of national geoscience awards, he is widely respected in the earth science community.  Simon graduated with a PhD from University of Otago in 1993, then developed consulting experience in the mineral industry. He now uses his resources knowledge to develop iwi aspirations around managing their stone and mineral taonga. During the past decade Simon’s work has been focussed towards the environment and natural hazards, including: groundwater and climate change; fault and earthquake research in the South Island; the mapping of rock avalanches, earthquake-induced landslides and alluvial fan flooding hazards. He has led immediate earthquake and landslide responses, was part of the Alpine Fault Drilling Project, run experiments on Southern Alps hot springs, and held a Marsden project examining whether liquefaction damage was exacerbated by the release of groundwater aquifers beneath Christchurch. A major international initiative has been to lead the construction of a continent-wide digital geological map of Antarctica. Widely recognised as a public speaker and communicator of science, Simon maintains close ties with local iwi/Māori, supervises research students, collaborates internationally and is cited globally, and has a wide-network to science end-users.

Helen Davidson

Helen joined Engineering New Zealand in 2016 and is responsible for leading the organisation’s legal and public affairs work, including complaints resolution, governance, communications, policy and thought leadership, and human resources. Helen has an LLB (Hons) and a Master of Bioethics and Health Law (MBHL) from the University of Otago. She has close to 20 years’ experience working in professional regulation, policy and ethics in New Zealand and Canada. In 2017 Helen was awarded the In-house Lawyers’ Association of New Zealand’s Private Sector In-house Lawyer of the Year and Innovation awards and in 2019 her team took out the in-house legal team award.

Peter Dennis

Peter is one of the leading water industry strategists with over 30 years’ industry experience both in Australia, New Zealand and Internationally.  Peter is an experienced Chief Executive Officer having led Seqwater (Bulk Water Utility for South East Queensland) through a major merger and significant business transformation.  He is also an experienced Board Member being on several water industry and Local Government Boards throughout Australia.

Peters extensive experience in water industry and local government operations over this period means he is ideally placed to provide informed advice on strategy development and execution, strategies to seek operational excellence and industry risk management.

Danielle Francis

Danielle Francis wrote WSAA’s All Options on the Table – Lessons from the Journeys of Others report, about community engagement on purified recycled water for drinking. She researches many aspects of purified recycled water around the world including demonstration projects, visitor centres, education materials and approaches, and is on a Project Advisory Committee for the Water Research Foundation in the US.

Danielle worked in the Australian water industry for 20 years in communications, regulatory, stakeholder, strategy and research roles. In her work with WSAA she leads advocacy work supporting the need for all options to be considered for water supply planning

Gary Hewson

Gary demonstrates a deep understanding of the challenges leaders face and is committed to demonstrating the effectiveness of training, including validating ROI. Gary also manages the development of measurement and assessment systems for Umbrella, in addition to facilitating training and providing individual coaching.

Gary’s professional history includes a 10-year career mostly in the UK financial and information technology sectors in senior business management roles. This experience in companies ranging from multinationals to start-ups informs Gary’s work with leaders.

As a registered clinical psychologist with a specialist interest in wellbeing and positive performance, Gary has extensive experience providing individual coaching and facilitating training for a wide variety of teams across the public and private sector. His facilitation areas of expertise include resilience, positive leadership, productivity and performance, and leading high performing teams.

James Hughes

James has an 18 year career in the infrastructure and environmental sectors – participating in a wide variety of projects ranging from major civil engineering projects (design and construction) through to strategic studies focusing on the areas of resilience to hazards (including climate change), risk assessments and also project sustainability considerations. James is a certified practitioner of the ISCA (Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australasia) Rating tool, and was involved in the verification of New Zealand’s first rating application (Waterfront Auckland) in 2015.

James is T+T’s Technical Director – Climate Change, and has supported public and private sector organisations understand the risk from climate change, and establish adaptation options. He was the Built Environment Domain Lead for New Zealand’s Frist National Climate Change Risk Assessment (NCCRA), having technical oversight of the approach to quantifying climate risk to New Zealand’s infrastructure.

His recent work in the risk and resilience fields includes projects focussing on both urban and infrastructure resilience. These include: the Rockefeller 100 Resilient Cities Project, advice to NZTA and Los Angeles Metro Authority on developing resilience measurement tools, and lead author of risk management scoping guidance for the proposed Local Government Risk Agency. In late 2016 James was appointed to The Ministry for the Environment’s Climate Change Technical Advisory Group.

He has been involved in the National Science Challenges, works closely with the University of Auckland and regularly speaks and presents at Climate/resilience conferences and seminars.

Brent Gilpin

Dr Brent Gilpin is a Science Leader in the Environmental Science team based at ESR’s Christchurch Science Centre.

Brent is a molecular biologist whose primary research interests include the application of genetic analysis techniques to understanding food and waterborne outbreaks and disease, microbial water quality, faecal source tracking, and zoonoses (diseases or infections that can be transmitted from animals to humans). He has been involved in outbreak investigations related to a number of organisms including Listeria, E. coli O157, Salmonella and Campylobacter. Brent works with councils and other agencies on understanding microbial contamination of water, the importance of different indicators and pathogens in water, and tools for tracking sources of contamination of water and assessment of health risks.

Building on previous experience using wastewater to understand illicit drug usage patterns, Brent is now part of the ESR project team investigating how analysis of sewage can help with monitoring for COVID-19 in the community. This session will explore the international application of sewage testing to COVID-19 (the good, the bad and simply confusing), results of analysis of New Zealand samples, and present options for the use of sewage testing to help keep New Zealand COVID-19 free.

Gerald Lanning

Gerald Lanning is a partner in Simpson Grierson’s local government and environment group. He advises on all aspects of resource management and local government law, with a focus on large public infrastructure projects, land transport management and policy, and Maori/Treaty of Waitangi issues. In addition to providing a wide range of legal and strategic advice, Gerald regularly appears before a range of decision-making bodies including local authority hearings panels, the Environment Court and High Court.

Since 2001 Gerald acted for the Auckland Council (and its predecessors) in relation to the consents required for the public stormwater network, and acted for the Council in relation to the stormwater (and other) aspects of the Auckland Unitary Plan.

Ian Mayhew

Ian is a Principal Planning and Policy Consultant with 4Sight Consulting, a Member of the New Zealand Planning Institute and an Accredited Hearing commissioner.  Ian was Auckland Council’s lead planner in the development of the Auckland Stormwater Network Consent and the subsequent hearing.

Ian has been a planning consultant for 20 years, specialising in resource management policy/plan development and consent acquisition with a focus on freshwater, stormwater/contaminant discharges, the effects of urban development and major infrastructure.  Ian was Auckland Council’s planner for the stormwater management, wastewater and other discharge provisions in the Auckland Unitary Plan.

Prior to becoming a consultant, Ian was the Manager, Land and Water Quality at the Auckland Regional Council.

Helen Rutter

Helen is a hydrogeological research scientist with 28 years’ expertise. This includes 17 years with the British Geological Survey working on varied hydrogeology projects in the UK and Africa. She has expertise in resource assessment, recharge processes, groundwater flooding, catchment characterisation, geology and geochemistry, and also considerable expertise in the application of GIS techniques to assist in analysing spatial data. Her current areas of expertise include:

  • assessment of source protection zones and aquifer vulnerability assessment,
  • impacts of sea level rise and climate change on water resources and groundwater flooding,
  • earthquake impacts on groundwater resources and flooding,
  • assessment of groundwater quality impacts from land use change.

She is a Chartered Geologist (Geological Society of London), a Research Adjunct at the University of Canterbury, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Hydrological Society of NZ.

Amanda Singleton

Amanda is originally from South Africa, where she worked in the telecommunications industry, as well as consulting for a number of major corporates in brand and corporate strategy. A passionate customer advocate, she has held senior customer roles at Genesis Energy and Vodafone since moving to New Zealand in 2014. Amanda was appointed Watercare’s Chief Customer Officer in May 2018 and has responsibility for building a customer-centric culture and overseeing all the customer touch-points in the business.

Nick Turner

Nick Turner is a senior principal of strategic programs at Water Corporation and is leading its efforts in the assessment of innovative alternative water supply options for the Perth Peel region. Nick pioneered groundwater replenishment as a drinking water source for Perth. He led stakeholder engagement for the highly sensitive source and played a major role in defining the required regulatory frameworks to make this a viable major drinking water source for Perth. He is now applying these learnings in his current role. Nick has worked for his entire career in the water industry, in the fields of consulting, contracting, marketing, research, and for the last twenty years with the Water Corporation. Nick was named Australian Water Professional of the Year for 2018. Nick has a degree in Chemical Engineering and a Masters Degree in Water Resources Technology.

Paula Vincent

Paula Vincent is Principal – Planning for Healthy Waters Auckland Council where she works to deliver quality stormwater and freshwater outcomes through planning processes and policy development.  Paula led the council team through the Network Discharge Consent hearing process and subsequent Environment Court mediation and now takes a lead role in implementing aspects of the consent. Paula has a breadth of central and local government experience in strategic planning roles on resource management issues with a focus on freshwater and marine environments.