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Our CEO (Acting)

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Colin has a background in veterinary clinical practice, and during that time developed an avian health practice. Memorable moments were working with Orana Park on their kākā and kererū breeding programmes and a brief stint with kākāpō paediatrics. Colin went on to hold a number of senior executive roles in the primary, secondary and tertiary health care sectors and more recently was CEO of Otago Innovation, the commercialisation arm of the University of Otago.

He currently chairs the Boards of Tiro Medical, Upstream Medical Technologies, Elbaware and Ember Wellbeing Trust. He is a Director of The NZ institute for Minerals to Materials Research and Deputy Chair of the NZ Institute for Plant and Food Research. Previous Director roles were with NZX listed healthcare companies Pacific Edge Biotechnology and BLIS Technologies.

Colin’s connections to the land are through a native species planting programme in Northland and a cherry orchard and vineyard in Central Otago.

He is a graduate of The University of Auckland Business School, an SEP alumnus of the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and a Chartered Fellow of the NZ Institute of Directors.

Paul Reynolds is the Deputy Chair and Acting Chair of Manaaki Whenua, and the Chair of AgResearch. He served as Chief Executive of the Ministry for the Environment from 2008 until 2015. From 2002-2008 was Deputy Director General (Policy) at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Ngarimu Blair is the Deputy Chair of the Ngati Whatua Orakei Trust Ltd. He’s a Director on Ngati Whatua Orakei Whai Rawa Ltd and a Trustee on the Sir Peter Blake Trust.

Justine is a director of ESR, Tui Ora, AGMARDT (Agricultural Marketing, Research and Development Trust) and Economic Development New Zealand. Until April 2022, she was the chief executive of Venture Taranaki, prior to which she was Deputy Director-General, Sector Partnerships and Programmes, at the Ministry for Primary Industries. She has held a number of other senior management roles across the public service in innovation, strategy, communications, policy and operations, including as Executive Director of the Royal commission of inquiry into the Canterbury earthquakes’ building failures. She resides in Taranaki with her young family.

John Rodwell is an experienced director with a background in corporate finance, investment banking and investing in agri-businesses. He was chief executive (1995-1999) of GF Brierley, a Bangkok-based investment company focused on agri investment in the region. Through this role John forged deep ties in South East Asia.

Marje Russ is an environmental and resource management specialist. Her experience and expertise include environmental planning/policy-setting, environmental certification and assurance, and risk management & governance. She served on the Board of Tonkin & Taylor Group (environmental and engineering consultants) for eleven years and is a member of the Group’s Risk and Assurance Committee. She is a member the New Zealand Auditing and Assurance Standards Board.

Caroline Saunders is a Board member of Manaaki Whenua and the Director of the Agri-Business and Economics Research Unit at Lincoln University. She has 30 years research expertise in the UK and New Zealand. She has over 300 publications specialising on sustainable economic development. Her current research includes evaluating trade and the environment including assessment of international market policies and their impact on development.

Warren Williams is the Chief Executive of 2020 Communications Trust, and is on the boards of Trust Tairāwhiti (a regional economic development agency), REANNZ, Community Living Trust, Te Mana Raraunga (Māori Data Sovereignty Network), and board chair of his hapū trust. He is also on a number of Māori and Technology boards and committees. Warren has held executive and senior management roles across education and iwi organisations. With a background in strategy development, research, technology, operations, and digital communications, he is passionate about strategic leadership and increased Māori representation in decision-making roles.