Challenge Leadership Team

Challenge Leadership Team February 2020 at Greta Point

The Challenge Leadership Team is responsible for the strategic direction, science quality, activities and management.

Julie Hall – Director

Julie has extensive experience in biological oceanography, leading large multidisciplinary research projects, and in the management of people and projects. Her scientific background is in food web dynamics in both marine and freshwater ecosystems with a special interest in microbial foodwebs. As the international chair of the Integrated Marine Biogeochemistry and Ecosystem Research (IMBER) project she was responsible for leading the development and implementation of the multidisciplinary Science Plan that addressed the interaction of marine biogeochemistry and ecosystems and their response to global change. This is a wide ranging project which includes experimental and observational studies and modelling of natural and social systems.

In addition, her involvement in a range of projects associated with the Global Ocean Observing System has given her a broad knowledge of marine observation systems, data management and the integration of observations and models. Julie also has extensive project and people management experience, and has been a Regional Manager for NIWA Wellington for the past 7 years.

Linda Faulkner – Manahautū (Deputy Director Māori)

Linda is of Ngāti Rangi and Whanganui descent from the southern central plateau region and the Whanganui River. She has worked for many years in the environmental management sector and has spent much of her career seeking to facilitate recognition and application of mātauranga Māori to mainstream environments.

Linda is currently the Director of Tutaiao Ltd., a private consultancy focusing on people, policy and planning. In her previous position she was General Manager Māori at the EPA, where she gained extensive experience in the area of environmental and cultural risk assessment and management. Linda has also served on several MBIE research investment panels and worked for Te Papa supporting the developing policy and process that ensured implementation of effective bicultural partnership.

Chloe Hauraki – Challenge Manager

Chloe has a broad range of experience in executive project support, managing complex projects for high profile clients in New Zealand including Air New Zealand, Southern Cross, and Telecom/Spark, and property development companies in her home town of London, UK.  Chloe studied Applied Biology (Marine) with the University of Waikato and has been working at NIWA since 2015, joining the Challenge from the Fisheries Centre in 2018.

Robin Wilkinson – Communications Manager

Robin has a science background and 17 years’ experience in communicating research, science and technological developments. She has worked for the Department of Conservation, Allan Wilson Centre and Science Media Centre NZ. Previously, she worked at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals, one of the most research-active NHS trusts in the UK, and at Proof Communication, a specialist science communication agency.

She has developed and delivered science communications strategies for UK research councils, European science collaborations, universities, and industry. Robin also has experience in public engagement, gained at the Science Museum in London and Manchester Museum.

TBC – Vision Mātauranga


Phase II Theme Leaders

Chris Cornelisen – EBM and blue economy in action

Chris leads the coastal sciences group at the Cawthron Institute and has over 20 years research experience in physical biology, land-sea interactions, and source-tracking contaminants in the marine environment. Earlier in his career, Chris addressed marine resource management issues as a US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fellow and spent several years as a marine educator. More recently, Chris and the teams he leads have been developing integrated frameworks for coastal monitoring and forecasting tools for aquaculture. He is also helping advance remote sensing methods and the design and deployment of ocean observing platforms.

Chris works extensively with Industry and resource managers at the coal face of resource management issues; this provides him with a big picture understanding of the challenges around growing the marine economy. Chris is passionate about the role science has to play in society, and envisions New Zealand becoming the world exemplar of ocean stewardship and sustainable use of marine resources.

Karen Fisher – Enabling ecosystem-based management

Karen is a a human geographer and Senior Lecturer in the School of Environment at the University of Auckland. She researches how knowledge is produced and used to inform environmental governance and management in New Zealand. Her work is focused on transdisciplinary approaches to understanding marine social-ecological systems; accommodating different conceptualisations of, and knowledge about, rivers and river management; and the potential for indigenous knowledge to enable just and sustainable river futures.

Judi Hewitt – Addressing risk and uncertainty

Judi is Programme Leader Our Changing Oceans, Coasts and Oceans Centre, NIWA, and Professor Marine Biology (docent), University of Helsinki, Finland. She is a statistical marine ecologist who has worked extensively in estuarine and coastal systems and has recently been involved in projects assessing ecosystem health and ecosystems services. She also has expertise in assessing species, functional trait and habitat diversity, analysis of spatial and temporal variation in populations and communities, design and implementation of ecological monitoring programmes, and ecological risk assessment. Most recently Judi has been involved in projects assessing ecosystem health and ecosystem services.

Judi has extensive experience in multidisciplinary research and interactions with stakeholders having completed many projects for commercial clients, and has worked with stakeholder panels for research projects she regularly leads.

Nick Lewis – Creating value from a blue economy

Nick is an economic geographer in the School of Environment at the University of Auckland. His area of interest is the interplay of investment processes, policy and institutions in industry development. His research focuses attention on the importance of sector organisations, the value creating possibilities of provenance, the potential of collaborative research with industry, and the work of NZ Inc in shaping national economic development.

He is examining the creation of a blue economy in New Zealand. Nick is committed to building innovative conceptual and methodological platforms for transforming the way we understand and perform economy as a collective social process.

Conrad Pilditch – Understanding degradation and recovery in social-ecological systems

Conrad is Professor of Marine Science at the University of Waikato. His research interests focus on the dynamics of marine soft sediment ecosystems – a globally-extensive habitat that provides critical ecosystem goods and services for society, and which is amongst the most affected by human activities. He has worked extensively in both coastal and deep-sea environments. Recently he has focused on determining biodiversity and ecosystem function responses to globally important stressors (sedimentation, eutrophication and acidification) in our harbours and estuaries. Conrad’s bio-physical research interests provide critical links between field-based science and models of ecosystem processes that underpin marine management.

Conrad has worked collaboratively on large national and international multi-disciplinary projects throughout his career. He has assisted iwi with developing monitoring programs; developed strong relationships with regional councils, port companies and others, who have funded research to underpin better management decisions; and contributed to marine management, conservation and policy initiatives through expert opinion, peer review and workshops for regional and central government agencies.

Beth Tupara-Katene – Tangaroa  

Beth has extensive experience providing policy and strategic advice in natural resource management, fisheries and Treaty Settlements. She has worked with Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Te Ohu Kaimoana and several government ministries.

Her key skills are in developing and driving stakeholder engagement, building capability, and providing policy. Beth’s experience and established networks with iwi, Māori and government will support the goals of the Tangaroa programme in Phase II.

Phase I Programme Leaders

  • Chris Cornelisen – Managed Seas
  • Linda Faulkner – Tangaroa
  • Judi Hewitt – Valuable Seas
  • Carolyn Lundquist – Our Seas
  • Conrad Pilditch – Dynamic Seas
  • Janet Stephenson – Cross-Programme Projects
  • James Whetu – Vision Mātauranga



Latest news and updates

Haere mai to our new Chair

We are delighted to welcome our new Chair, Tania Te Rangingangana Simpson, who brings a wealth of knowledge that is directly relevant to our research into bringing together tikanga and mātauranga Māori with western science and New Zealand law.

Blue economy core research concepts open for review

The Challenge Leadership Team has developed core research project concepts for Theme 2: Creating value from a blue economy.