Chief Science Advisor Forum

He Rauhinga Tohu Putaiao

The Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor convenes a forum of Chief Science Advisors from across government, with additional support from co-opted members to ensure that the forum can provide a full range of advice, and an extensive range of contacts as needed.

Chief Science Advisor Forum Terms of Reference

Dr Michael Bunce - EPA

Dr Mike Bunce

Professor Mike Bunce is Chief Scientist at the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) in New Zealand. Mike completed his undergraduate degree at Lincoln University (NZ), his PhD at the Australian National University. He undertook post-doctoral training at Oxford (UK) and McMaster (Canada) Universities before moving to Perth, Western Australia in 2006 to start his own laboratory. In 2014 he founded Curtin University’s Trace and Environmental DNA (TrEnD) laboratory. Through his research career Mike has developed and applied DNA techniques to characterise biological communities within a wide variety of biological samples from sediment & scat, to seawater & streams. His research focus has spanned many areas of environmental science including; biodiversity assessment, impact assessment, archaeology, extinctions, food-webs, biosecurity, marine conservation and endangered species detection. Mike has over 100 peer reviewed publications including nine publications in the journals Science and Nature. Details of his track record can be found at; Mike took up the role of EPA Chief Scientist in August 2019.

Dr Alison Collins - Ministry for the Environment

 Dr Alison Collins

Dr Alison Collins

Departmental Chief Science Advisor – Kaitohutohu Mātanga Pūtaiao Matua

Ministry for the Environment – Manatū Mō Te Taiao

Alison, intrigued from an early age about the how the world works, studied soil science (the mysterious universe beneath our feet) and geomorphology (how landscapes evolve). Seeing many different soils and landscapes became a passion and took her on a journey from the UK, around Europe and into Mississippi before landing almost 15 years ago in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Alison spent 12 years working for Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, leading a portfolio of science around ecosystems, soils, land use and informatics.  During her time with Manaaki Whenua she worked closely with regional councils and central government agencies in understanding and prioritising their science needs, and working with the science community to find ways in which to facilitate better uptake and use of science.  In this capacity she established and became director of a centre for integrating data and science-based tools, facilitating clear and engaging communication.

Alison joined the Ministry for the Environment in August 2017 as Departmental Chief Science Advisor.  Still passionate about enabling wise use of science, her role is focused on ensuring ‘valued and trusted science for environmental stewardship’.  On a day-to-day basis this means translating complex science, helping to navigating the science system so decision-makers can better access and use the excellent research being done, and building capability at the science to policy interface.

Vince Galvin - Statistics New Zealand

 Vince Galvin

Vince Galvin is Chief Methodologist at StatsNZ. He has had extensive experience of Official Statistics, two spells at the Australian system, one spell in the British system and involvement in a wide range of international collaboration activities adding to his over 30 years working in the New Zealand system. 

His work has encompassed Environmental, Social and Economic measurement. He has been on a number of cross agency advisory boards advising on a diverse range of measurement issues.

He currently is active in Statistical measurement in the Pacific, chairing the Pacific Methods board, a new group looking to ensure that the nations of the Pacific receive benefit from developments in Statistical Methodology.

Vince is an organiser of the Wellington Data Analytics Forum and has served as both a board member of the Market Research industry association and a member of the organising committee of the New Zealand Statistics Association. 

Dr Gill Jolly

Dr Gill Jolly

Gill went to Cambridge University to read Geological Sciences. This then led to a Ph.D. at Lancaster University on the physical properties of lavas, including the physical properties of lavas from Mt. Etna, Italy and Oldoinyo Lengai, Tanzania.

On completing her Ph.D, she joined the British Geological Survey. Her work at BGS was varied, mostly concentrating on mineral exploration, using 3D modelling software for mine design and structural geology interpretations, and environmental geochemistry.

From 1996 to 2005, she was involved in the monitoring of Soufrière Hills Volcano on Montserrat, West Indies. From 1997 to 1999, she acted as Deputy Chief Scientist at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, and then became the Director of MVO for various periods between 1999 to 2005.

She joined GNS Science in 2006 and became the Head of the Volcanology Department based in Taupō, New Zealand. Between 2007 and 2014, she led the Volcanology team through both New Zealand eruptions and responses in the SW Pacific.

In 2014, she became the Director of Natural Hazards. She led a team of over 150 people who are responsible for research and monitoring of New Zealand’s geological hazards and for providing advice to the NZ government. During this time, she led the team through the response to the November 2016 M7.8 Kaikōura Earthquake.

Most recently, Gill has moved into the General Manager – Strategy role at GNS Science and is enjoying developing the future science path for GNS Science across energy futures, natural hazards and risk, and environment and climate.

Prof Tahu Kukutai

Professor Tahu Kukutai

Tahu Kukutai (Ngāti Tiipa, Ngāti Kinohaku, Te Aupōuri) is Professor of Demography at the National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis, The University of Waikato. Tahu specialises in Māori and indigenous demographic research and has written extensively on issues of Māori population change, Māori identity, official statistics and ethnic and racial classification. Tahu is a founding member of the Māori Data Sovereignty Network Te Mana Raraunga that advocates for Māori rights and interests in data in an increasingly open data environment. She is also Co-Chair of the Research Data Alliance International Indigenous Data Sovereignty Interest Group and co-edited (with John Taylor) Indigenous Data Sovereignty: Toward an Agenda. Tahu has undertaken research with and for numerous iwi, Māori communities, and Government agencies, and provided strategic advice across a range of sectors. Recently she was appointed to the Census 2018 External Data Quality Panel and the Child Wellbeing Strategy Reference Group that is informing the development of the Government’s first child wellbeing strategy. Tahu has degrees in History, Demography and Sociology from The University of Waikato and Stanford University. She was previously a journalist.

Prof Stuart McNaughton - Ministry of Education

 Professor Stuart McNaughton ONZM

Stuart is Chief Education Scientific Advisor, Professor of Education and Director of the Woolf Fisher Research Centre at the University of Auckland. His academic focus is children’s learning and development; literacy and language; the design of effective education for culturally and linguistically diverse populations, and cultural processes in development. His 9 books and numerous research articles in educational and developmental science are in areas of children’s development in family, early education and school settings; instructional designs and equity outcomes in education; and the use of design based approaches in large scale interventions with schools. International and national awards for research contributions include the Dame Joan Metge Medal awarded by the Royal Society of New Zealand, a University of Auckland Research Excellence Award and in 2014 being inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame. He has served on numerous international and national advisory bodies including the International Reading Association’s Literacy Research Panel. In 1998 he established the Woolf Fisher Research Centre at the University of Auckland and was its inaugural Director. He holds a visiting position as a Distinguished International Professor at East China Normal University (Shanghai) as. In 2011 he was made Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, and has been the Chief Education Scientific Advisor since 2014. 

Tim Ng - Deputy Secretary, Chief Economic Adviser, Treasury
Tim Ng

 Tim Ng

Tim Ng is responsible for ensuring that the Treasury’s policy advice on raising New Zealand living standards is supported and strengthened by sound economic theory and evidence.

Tim is a macroeconomist by training, with extensive international experience in monetary, fiscal and financial system policy. His work is published in a range of professional and academic journals.

Prior to joining the Treasury, Tim managed various functions at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, including domestic and international economic monitoring and forecasting, analysis of monetary policy conduct, banking regulation and payments system policy.
Tim has also worked as an economist at the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland and at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Tim was born and raised in Auckland. He has postgraduate degrees in economics from Victoria University of Wellington and in biochemistry from the University of Auckland.

John Roche - Ministry of Primary Industries

 Dr John Roche

Dr John Roche is the Department Chief Science Adviser for New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries, Managing Director and Principal Consultant for Down to Earth Advice Ltd, and an Honorary Academic in the School of Biological Sciences at University of Auckland. Until recently, he was Principal Scientist for Animal Science at DairyNZ; but, he has also held science appointments with the National Centre for Dairy Production Research at Moorepark in Ireland, the Department of Primary Industries in Australia, and the University of Tasmania.

Dr Roche has published more than 150 peer-reviewed science journal articles and book chapters. He is a regular contributor at international science and farming conferences and has been a section editor for Journal of Dairy Science since 2012.

During the last two decades, his animal science programme has focused primarily on dairy cow peripartum nutrition and the role of body condition score and energy balance on milk production, health, and reproduction. His review, Body condition score and its association with dairy cow productivity, health, and welfare, was the most cited article in the Physiology and Management section of Journal of Dairy Science in 2010-11.

Dr Roche has also been involved in numerous genotype x diet comparison studies, identifying physiological reasons for differences in body condition score change and reproductive efficiency in different genetic strains of Holstein-Friesian cows. His research work in intake regulation identified diurnal patterns in the endocrine profiles of grazing dairy cows that explain observed behavioral responses to feeding.

Dr Roche also has extensive publications in grazing management, with a particular focus on the responsiveness of temperate grasses to carbon depletion, and is well known for his expertise in grazing farm systems, having published some of the seminal applied studies in stocking rate and farm system profitability.

Hema Sridhar - Ministry of Defence
Prof Gary Evans - Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Gary Evans  is currently Professor at Victoria University of Wellington and Deputy Director of the Ferrier Research Institute. Gary has a PhD in organic chemistry and currently specialises in understanding the role of enzyme function in diseases with the aim of developing better medicines. He works in collaboration with a number of international and national groups including the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Maurice Wilkins Centre.  A number of potential compounds from his work are in clinical and pre-clinical trial for the treatment of cancers, gout, malaria and microbial infections.  Gary is a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit,  a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry and winner of various awards.  In 2011 he won the inaugural MacDiarmid Award from the Royal Society Te Aparangi for his outstanding scientific research that demonstrates the potential for application to human benefit.

Gary will lead the science leadership team at MBIE. He will join Hamish Spencer and Rob Murdoch as part of the cross government group of departmental science advisors. He will be seconded to MBIE for 80% of his time.


Prof Evans University Web Page
Prof Ken Hughey - Department of Conservation

 Prof Ken Hughey

Ken Hughey is Professor of Environmental Management at Lincoln University and is an adjunct Professor at the Sustainability Research Centre at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia.

Ken’s research interests are diverse. He leads the ongoing triennial environmental perceptions survey of New Zealanders (started 2000; next due early 2019), works on sustainable tourism, studies and publishes on various aspects of sustainable water resources management, and is interested in climate change and the economics of threatened species management. He is currently involved in the supervision of five PhD students and one Masters student. Ken is highly applied and is a committee or board member on several organisations involved with aspects of water resources and/or threatened and endangered species management.

Ken is seconded for 3 days per week to the Department of Conservation, normally working these in Wellington but sometimes for a day per week at a shared desk in the Christchurch office. He is on the Senior Leadership Team at DOC and his work covers a wide variety of activities. Ken is on the kauri die back and myrtle rust strategic science advisory groups, is leading implementation of the Conservation and Environment Science Roadmap, assisting MBIE with a variety of strategic science initiatives, helping develop and implement a Biodiversity Conservation Science Prospectus amongst a wide range of activities.

Ken’s University staff profile:

Prof Simon Kingham - Ministry of Transport

Professor Simon Kingham

Simon Kingham is Professor of Geography at the University of Canterbury

Simon’s research primarily focuses on the impact of the urban environment on individual and community health and wellbeing.  Much of his research uses geospatial science including some done through the GeoHealth Laboratory, of which he is the Director. His research is generally applied and carried out with end users with a strong community engagement focus.

Simon spends two days a week working for the MoT. The work spans across a range of transport areas including access and mobility, resilience, active travel, urban development, demand management and safety. In addition Simon’s role includes a focus on how to better link the research being done in NZ with the policy decisions the MoT are making.

University Profile Geohealth Research

Prof Ian Lambie - Justice Sector

Associate Professor Ian Lambie

Ian Lambie is Associate Professor in Clinical Psychology at the University of Auckland, where he teaches clinical, forensic, child and adolescent psychology. His specialist clinical and research interests are in child and adolescent mental health, childhood trauma and youth justice, building on more than 30 years’ experience working with children and adolescents and their families. Initially as a  general and psychiatric nurse, then as a specialist clinical psychologist, he has worked with children and adolescents with severe conduct problems and trauma, in both family and criminal-justice settings, and was involved for 15 years in programmes for adolescents with harmful sexual behaviour and children who deliberately light fires. His academic position is an opportunity to build robust, applicable knowledge in these areas, including in training new forensic and clinical psychologists, and advising Fire & Emergency on child firelighters and Oranga Tamariki on child offenders. He was made an Honorary Fellow of the New Zealand Psychological Society for his services to Psychology in New Zealand in 2018. As Science Advisor for the Justice Sector two days a week, Ian works across the Ministry of Justice, Department of Corrections and Police, as well as maintaining links with the broader social sector including Oranga Tamariki and Ministry of Health.

Dr Rob Murdoch - Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Dr Rob Murdoch

Dr Murdoch is Currently NIWA’s General Manager Research, responsible for overseeing all of NIWA’s research, and the operation of its research vessels.

Research experience includes biological oceanography, fisheries, ocean productivity, the environmental effects and management of marine resource use (aquaculture, oil & gas exploration) fiord ecology, coastal reef and fish surveys, seabird ecology, marine natural products, and marine invertebrate taxonomy.  Field research has ranged from the tropics to the Southern Ocean.

Provide input primarily into science investment processes, and science policy development and implementation, along with advice into other areas of MBIE such as economic development and Crown Minerals. Work closely with other DSA’s, especially within the Natural Resources Government agencies.

Prof Richie Poulton - Social Sector

 Professor Richie Poulton, CNZM FRSNZ

Professor Richie Poulton, CNZM FRSNZ

Professor Richie Poulton is Director of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit which conducts the Dunedin longitudinal study, one of the most detailed studies of human health and development ever undertaken.

In 2007, he established and became a Co-Director of the National Centre for Lifecourse Research, a research centre based at the University of Otago in Dunedin, but with partners located at universities across New Zealand and internationally.

He has published 250+ peer-reviewed scientific papers, with many appearing in leading international journals. His research interests include: mental health, nature-nurture interplay, and psychosocial determinants of chronic physical disease. In 2014, he was named as a Highly Cited Researcher by Thomson-Reuters (one of only four New Zealanders so designated) and was listed in 2015 World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds, Thomson-Reuters.

In 2004, he was awarded the New Zealand Association of Scientist’s Research Medal and the Health Research Council of New Zealand’s (inaugural) Liley Medal for Excellence in Health Research. In

2005 he was awarded the University of Otago’s Rowheath Trust Award and Carl Smith Medal for Outstanding Early Career Achievement, and also received the Dunedin School of Medicine Distinguished Research Award. In 2010, he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and was the joint recipient of the RSNZ Dame Joan Metge Medal for excellence and building relationships in the social science research community. In 2014, he was awarded the Dunedin School of Medicine Dean’s Medal for Research Excellence. In 2016, he received the Celebrating Research Excellence Award from the Health Research Council for ‘an outstanding contribution to health research throughout an established career’. In 2017, the Dunedin Study Research Group, which he leads, received the New Zealand Prime Minister’s Science Prize for work that has had a significant impact on New Zealand and internationally. He was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List of 2017, for services to health research and science.

He has also held a part-time position as the inaugural Chief Science Advisor to the NZ Ministry of Social Development since October 2014 and is currently Chief Science Advisor to the Right Honourable Jacinda Adern in her role as Minister of Child Poverty Reduction.

Professor Richie Poulton, CNZM FRSNZ
Director, Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health & Development Research Unit (DMHDRU)
Co-Director, National Centre for Lifecourse Research (NCLR)
Department of Psychology
University of Otago
PO Box 913
Ph:       +64 3 479 8507

Prof Hamish Spencer - Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment


 Prof Hamish Spencer

Hamish Spencer is a professor in the Department of Zoology at the University of Otago, where he has been since 1992. After completing his PhD at Harvard University, he was appointed lecturer in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics at the University of Waikato. At Otago he teaches in the Genetics Programme. In 2009 Hamish was elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Hamish research interests are broad, from the mathematical modeling of genetic changes that occur in human, animal and plant populations to the use of molecular-genetic methods in the understanding of our native flora and fauna. In collaboration with historians, he has written about the history of eugenics, the laws and attitudes surrounding first-cousin marriage and the historiography of Robert FitzRoy.

Hamish served as Director of the Allan Wilson Centre, which was notable for its innovative engagement with Māori communities in the Gisborne area. In recognition of this work, Hamish was awarded the 2016 Royal Society of New Zealand’s Callaghan Medal for science communication. That same year Hamish was appointed as half-time Departmental Science Advisor at the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment.

University Profile:

Prof Ian Town - Ministry of Health

Prof Ian Town

Professor Ian Town MBChB, DM, FRACP

Ian Town has worked across both the health and education sectors during his 30-year career. A physician by training, he has published extensively in respiratory medicine. Much of this research has been implemented through evidenced based guidelines for the management of common conditions such as asthma, COPD and pneumonia. Following an 8-year period at the University of Canterbury as Deputy Vice-Chancellor he has taken on a wide range of roles including Chair of the PBRF Sector Reference Group and Chair of the TEC PBRF Governance Group overseeing the 2018 Quality Evaluation. Returning to the health sector in recent years, Ian has worked extensively on the development and implementation of the New Zealand Health Research Strategy and has contributed to a range of projects locally and nationally across rural health, community pharmacy, infection prevention and control, antimicrobial stewardship and occupational safety and health. Ian has just completed a 5-year term as the Chair of the Health Precinct Advisory Council leading one of the key Christchurch recovery projects.


  Phone: + 64 9 923 6318

Mailing Address

Office of the Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor
The University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019
Victoria Street West
Auckland 1142
New Zealand