Thought Leadership


Murray Sherwin

Local Government Funding Review
11.30am – Wednesday 18 September

Murray is an economist with over 40 years of experience in a wide variety of public policy roles. He has been Chair of the New Zealand Productivity Commission since it commenced operations in April 2011. The Commission – an independent Crown entity – conducts in-depth inquiry reports on topics selected by the Government, carries out productivity-related research, and promotes understanding of productivity issues

Murray’s previous appointments include: Chief Executive and Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry; Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand; member of the Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank; and member of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Group.

Mei Fern Johnson & Allison Arthur-Young
Russell McVeagh

Three Waters Reforms – Planning and Procurement Implications
11.30am – Wednesday 18 September

Mei Fern is a partner at law firm Russell McVeagh. She specialises in infrastructure and projects, advising on investment in and funding of projects, project and asset finance, joint ventures, outsourcing and contracting and facilities management. She has broad experience in the water sector and understands how industry and operational considerations can facilitate or detract even the most significant investment in those industries. She is highly skilled in stakeholder management and over the last 20 years, having worked on various high profile and sensitive projects for private sector and public sector clients.  Mei Fern is a Russell McVeagh Board member and was previously acting as General Counsel for a significant Crown entity with varied investment interests.

Allison is a member of the Russell McVeagh Board. Her practice covers all aspects of resource management and local government law, with a particular focus on large-scale infrastructure and development projects, along with district and regional planning, and policy matters.  She also provides expert advice to clients on a range of public law issues including the role of local authorities in decision making.


Deborah Lind
Harrison Grierson

Rebranding 3 Waters for the 21st Century
12.00pm – Wednesday 18 September

Dr Deborah has a PhD in physical chemistry and an impressive background in the water sector, spanning 24 years.

She’s worked with public and private organisations in NZ, Australia, the UK and the Pacific Islands. Deborah’s held senior management roles for Watercare in water operations and water planning. Before joining HG, she was Manager, Strategy & Performance at Queenstown Lakes District Council.

Multi-talented, Deborah’s also a theatre director, producer, actor and singer.


Dr Eric Crampton
The NZ Initiative

Refreshing Water: Freshwater Management through an ETS style scheme
2.30pm – Wednesday 18 September

Dr Eric Crampton is the Chief Economist at The New Zealand Initiative and co-author of The Case for Economic Growth. Dr Crampton served as Lecturer and Senior Lecturer in Economics at the Department of Economics & Finance at the University of Canterbury from November 2003 until July 2014. He is also the creator and author of the well-known blog “Offsetting Behaviour”.


Mike Joy
Victoria University

Freshwater Issues
3.00pm – Wednesday 18 September

Mike was a late starter in academia, first attending university in his early thirties to gain his BSc, MSc and PhD in Ecology from Massey University. He began lecturing there in ecology and environmental science in 2003.  After seeing first-hand the decline in freshwater health in New Zealand, he became an outspoken advocate for environmental protection.

Mike has received a number of awards for this work, including an Ecology in Action award from the NZ Ecological Society (2009), an Old Blue from Forest and Bird (2011), a Tertiary Education Union Award of Excellence for Academic Freedom and contribution to Public Education (2013), the Royal Society of New Zealand Charles Fleming Award for protection of the New Zealand environment (triennial, 2013), the Morgan Foundation inaugural River Voice Award (2015), the inaugural New Zealand Universities Critic and Conscience award (biennial, 2016) and was a semi-finalist for the 2018 Kiwibank New Zealander of the year.

He has been an Associate Editor of Marine and Freshwater Research Journal (CSIRO; Australia) since 2015, and an Editorial Panel Member for Transylvanian Review of Systematical and Ecological Research since 2010.

Mike has developed bio-assessment tools used by many regional councils and consultants, and has published scientific papers in many fields from artificial intelligence and data mining to the freshwater ecology of sub-Antarctic islands. He has been working for two decades at the interface of science and policy in New Zealand with a goal of strengthening connections between science, policy and real outcomes to address the multiple environmental issues facing New Zealand.


Rosie Wheen
Water Aid

Clean Water Projects in the Pacific
4.00pm – Wednesday 18 September

Rosie is a passionate advocate for human rights, gender equality and universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene. She has two decades of international development experience, having lived and worked in Indonesia for six years before joining WaterAid Australia at its inception in 2004. She was Director of International Programs prior to becoming Chief Executive in 2016. Rosie’s leadership manifesto focuses on being an authentic, servant leader who always pushes herself beyond her comfort zone; this is where Rosie believes she learns most and performs at her best.

Rosie serves on the Board of the THREE Foundation, ACFID and is a Founder and Committee Member of Not in My Workplace, a group of executive leaders working to address workplace harassment and abuse across all industries in Victoria. Rosie has recently discovered obstacle racing and electric bikes, which keep her sane and healthy. She is a shamelessly proud mother of two boys.


Brent Manning & Brian Mason
To Tatou Vai Ltd.

Water Management in the Cooks
4.30pm – Wednesday 18 September

To Tatou Vai Ltd is wholly owned by the Cook Islands Government through a statutory corporation set up to manage Crown assets, the Cook Islands Investment Corporation.   The company is tasked with managing new waterworks infrastructure, when completed, on the island of Rarotonga.

Brian began his career working in the Local Government Division of the Department of Internal Affairs in New Zealand and was later a private secretary to the Minister of Local Government and then worked for the Local Government Commission.  In 1990 he completed a degree in law at Victoria University and in 1993 migrated to the Cook Islands.   Brian spent two years as Chief Executive of the Cook Islands Investment Corporation but most of his years in the Cook Islands have been spent in private practice as a lawyer

Brent is the Chief Executive Officer with new start-up water utility for Cook Islands Govt. Responsible for the establishment of public organisation for water treatment and supply on the Pacific Island of Rarotonga. Previous leadership experience with New Zealand Defence Force, and past President of Water New Zealand national water sector and industry body concurrent with 25 year career in local government (primarily in water and engineering management roles). Professional civil engineering degree achieved in 1993 through Canterbury University (NZ).

John Penno
Freshwater Leaders Group

10.30am – Thursday 19 September

John co-founded and led the Synlait Group from 2000 until 2018. He continues to contribute to the governance of the company as a board-appointed director.

John chairs The Pure Food Company and is on the board of Leaft Foods. John is also chairing the Fresh Water Leaders Group for the Ministers of the Environment and Primary Industries.

Prior to founding Synlait John had a successful career as a scientist with a focus on dairy farming innovation.

John holds a PhD in animal nutrition from Massey University and a BAgSci from Lincoln University. In 2009, John received an emerging leader’s award from the Sir Peter Blake Trust and the Federated Farmers Agribusiness Person of the Year.  In 2015 he received the Excellence in Leadership Award at the New Zealand International Business Awards. John is a member of the Te Hono Alumni, and in 2019 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Lincoln University.


Bruce Sherman
NZ Beverage Council

Bottled Water
11.00am – Thursday 19 September

Bruce Sherman is the current President of the New Zealand non-alcoholic beverage association, former general manager of New Zealand Quality Waters Ltd and a current independent board member of Alpine Drinks Ltd. Bruce has over 25 years of experience in the packaging and bottled water sectors and is passionate about sustainable packaging design and circular economy in the bottled water and beverage sector.

Mark Pascoe
International Water Centre, Australia

Future Utilities and Skills Needs
11.30am – Thursday 19 September

Mark Pascoe has worked for his more than 40-year career in the water industry, predominantly in Brisbane, Australia.  He spent many years with Brisbane City Council where his most recent position was as the Manager, Water and Sewerage.  Other roles included Manager, Water Treatment and Manager, Wastewater Treatment.  For a brief period in the mid-1990s, Mark held the position of Queensland Operations Manager of Woodward-Clyde Pty Ltd, an environmental engineering consultancy firm.  Mark left the Brisbane City Council role to take up the position of Deputy Director, International Water Association in London, which he held for three years before returning to Brisbane in early 2005 to begin his role as Chief Executive Officer, International WaterCentre.

Mark’s positions have included: President, Australian Water Association; Board Member, Water Services Association of Australia; Board Member, Co-operative Research Centre, Water Quality and Treatment; Board Member, Global Water Research Coalition; Board Member, Environment Business Australia; Board Member, Australian WaterSecure Innovations Ltd; Board Member, Queensland Manufactured Water Authority and the Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence; Board Member, Western Corridor Water Recycled Water Company; Advisory Board Member, United Nations Environment Program, International Environment Technology Centre, Osaka, Japan; Expert Panel on the State Minister’s Energy and Water Supply on Water; Panel  Member, Development of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

Mark’s current positions include: Adjunct Professor with the University of Queensland’s Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology; Board Member, Advanced Wastewater Management Centre, University of Queensland; Board Member, World Water Council; Board Member, Advisory Board for the Cities Research Institute; Committee Member, Australian International Water Association; Governing Council Member, Asia Pacific Water Forum; Member, Regional Advisory Panel, Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities; Member, Australian Institute of Company Directors; Member, Water Industry Skills Taskforce.

As the Chief Executive Officer of the International WaterCentre, Mark’s role is to provide solutions to water management issues for national and international clients in the areas of education, training, applied research and knowledge services.  Mark leads the development of the business in providing capacity building services to these water managers and their organisations and particularly to help develop our future water leaders.


Oliver Hawes
MottMacDonald, UK

Smart Water Infrastructure
12.00pm – Thursday 19 September

Oliver leads Mott MacDonald’s global multi-sector Smart Infrastructure business and has been with the company for 12 years.  His background is in civil engineering and the UK Water Sector, although his time with Mott MacDonald has seen him work on many international projects.

Oliver is passionate about helping Clients navigate their own digital transformation; delivering enhanced information management and asset performance optimisation through consultancy, applied decision support tools, AI and advanced analytics.

France Curtis

Engaging with Iwi on 3 waters projects
2.00pm – Thursday 19 September

Frances is currently a fulltime PhD student in Environmental Studies at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, Whakatane. Frances PhD Thesis topic – Kaitiakitanga: Whenua? Wai? Or a Wastewater Treatment Plant? focuses on developing a Case Study of the Haumingi 9B3B land block in Rotoiti where a Wastewater Treatment plant has been constructed to service both the Rotoiti and Rotomā communities.

Frances is an Iwi representative on the Rotoiti Rotomā Sewerage Steering Committee (RRSSC)  and the Iwi Wastewater Liaision Group (IWLG) that was implemented through the approved Resource Consent Both committees are concerned with the proposed wastewater reticulation scheme to be implemented into Rotomā June 2019, and Rotoiti June 2020.


Kaylarnee Meleisea-Murray
Arup New Zealand

Truly embracing diversity and inclusion
2:30pm – Thursday 19 September

Kaylarnee Meleisea – Murray is a Graduate Engineer from Arup New Zealand. She joined Arup as a Tupu Toa intern in 2017 and has been immersed in the operations of a multitude of innovative projects. Presented with these opportunities and experiences, she has built upon her repertoire of skills and knowledge to deliver various types of works such as Rail Track Alignment design, Drainage Design, Roading Alignment Design, Internal and External Design Coordination, Community Engagement and Client Management in both New Zealand and Australia. Kaylarnee strives to implement innovative solutions and identify areas in her work that have direct links to sustainability and resilience, especially those regarding cultural, environmental and social well-being. She approaches all opportunities with enthusiasm and passion, consistently delivering a high standard of quality embracing and living Arup’s vision of shaping a better world.  Kaylarnee is proud to be of Samoan and Māori descent and is driven by her commitment to providing a positive example for her four younger siblings and younger cousins.

Henrik Bjorn
VIA University College, Denmark

Non-chlorinated Drinking Water Supplies
4.00pm – Thursday 19 September

Henrik Bjoern has a M.Sc. in geology and 18 years work experience in consulting engineering companies. For the past 10 years employed as an associate professor at VIA University College, Denmark. As a consulting engineer, the field of work was first in-situ remediation of contaminated soil and groundwater and later all aspects of water supply. With VIA University College the focus is on water supply and shallow geothermal energy. Henrik participates in CEN-TC-451 developing a European standard for construction of boreholes. He also participates in an international experts group under the International Energy Agency (IEA-ECES, Annex 27) on shallow geothermal energy. Besides teaching water supply and participating in VIAs group for applied research and development, the day-job is to coordinate teachers and develop the curriculum at VIAs Climate and Supply Engineering, a unique bachelor’s degree programme that focuses on climate change adaption, drinking water, wastewater and district heating. Any spare time is spent on the board of the local water supply


Tara Okan
Aquaero New Zealand

The Dangers of Infection from Wastewater Treatment Plant
4.30pm – Thursday 19 September

Water Quality Scientist and Science Chair for the New Zealand Trade and Industrial Waters Forum. 15 years working with online UV-Vis spectroscopy as an analytical tool for the analysis and optimisation of municipal and trade waste treatment processes in New Zealand. Now in science working with Aquaero New Zealand Ltd on advanced process control for the treatment of dairy waste and with Australia PTY Ltd building, assessing and field-testing new aeration technologies for the optimisation of oxidative lagoon treatment plants, especially in Australia with regards to water reuse for irrigation. Also working in health and safety presenting on the dangers of Biohazards and infection for workers in wastewater treatment facilities