Te Puna Whakaaronui members

Te Puna Whakaaronui Governance Group

The Governance Group provides leadership and strategic thinking to support New Zealand’s Food and Fibre Sector transformation.

Chair: Sir Brian Roche KNZM, Chair

Lain Jager, Chair of Te Puna Whakaaronui Thought Leaders Group

Caralee McLiesh, Chief Executive and Secretary to the Treasury – New Zealand

Ray Smith, Director General Ministry for Primary Industries

Peter Chrisp, Chief Executive New Zealand Trade and Enterprise

Thought Leaders Group

The independently chaired Thought Leaders Group brings international, industry and business expertise and insights to the Te Puna Whakaaronui Governance Group and work programme.


Dr Laura Domigan

Dr Laura Domigan is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Auckland. Following under-graduate and doctoral study at the University of Canterbury she was a post-doctoral Fellow in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Tufts University (Massachusetts, USA).  She is a member of the MBIE Science Board, a Principal Investigator in the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, and an Associate Investigator in the Riddet Institute.

Laura’s research is focused on sustainably sourced proteins, including formulating new protein biomaterials for surgical use, and cell-based meat production.


Lain Jager

Lain Jager is best known for work with the kiwifruit marketer, Zespri, where he was Chief Executive Officer from 2008 to 2017. Today, Lain is involved in a range of investment projects in Tourism and Agribusiness, serves as a Director on several Boards and acts as a strategic adviser to a small number of companies.


Rob Hewett

Rob Hewett is Co-Chair of Silver Fern Farms Limited and a Director of the Co-op Board. He is  Chair of: Farmlands Co-Operative, Pioneer Energy and the Strong Wool Action Group; a Director of T&G Global and member of the Lincoln University Council. He sits on the Te Taiao and KPMG National Food Strategy steering groups and is a Chartered Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Directors.

Rob farms a carbon-neutral 960 ha sheep and beef breeding and finishing farm in South Otago. 


Debra Birch

Debra Birch has over 30 years’ senior executive experience in financial markets, and has managed global investment portfolios in Asia, Australia and New Zealand. She is a Director of Tourism Holdings Ltd, Ngati Awa Group Holdings Ltd, Te Puia Tapapa Fund and Eastland Group Ltd, as well as is Chair of IWIinvestor, and Raukawa ki te Tonga AHC Ltd.

Debra has led a number of high profile investment strategies, her focus in recent years has been on Māori economic development.


Andrew Ferrier

Andrew Ferrier runs his own private investment business, Canz Capital Ltd.

Andrew was CEO of Fonterra, 2003-11; Director of global agri-business Bunge Ltd, 2012-20; a Director of Canada’s George Weston Limited from 2017-2022, and a University of Auckland Councillor, 2012-20. He was also Chair of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise from 2012 -22.

Prior to moving to New Zealand from his native Canada in 2003, Andrew worked for sixteen years in the global sugar industry and also ran a durable consumer products company in Canada.


Neil Richardson

Neil Richardson CNZM, has a long track record of leadership in business and the primary sector around the world. His primary sector roles include Chairmanships of AgResearch, the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology and the Kiwifruit Industry Strategy Project (following PSA). He is a member of the Primary Sector Council and an investor in numerous agri-tech companies.

Currently, Neil has various roles in a range of New Zealand and international start-ups and established companies. He a Board member for a number of charities, is a member of the NZTE Beachheads Board and has been a regular presenter on Institute of Directors programmes.


Nick Hammond

Nick Hammond is co-founder and Chief Executive of Spring Sheep Milk Co. and works with a particular focus on innovation and growth. The company has been recognised on the national stage for its innovation. He is a Director of the Infant Nutrition Council for Australia and New Zealand, Vice Chair of Future Food Aotearoa and Chair of ADC, a microfinance charity supporting women in Myanmar.

Nick is an NZ qualified Chartered Accountant and Lawyer.


Murray Sherwin

Murray Sherwin CNZM is an economist of more than forty-five years’ experience in a wide range of public policy roles. Murray’s twenty-five year long career with the Reserve Bank, culminated with seven years as Deputy Governor. He has held roles with the OECD and the Prime Minister’s Advisory Group, is a former Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and Board Member of the World Bank.

He was appointed as the inaugural Chair of the NZ Productivity Commission in 2010, a position from which he recently retired from. He serves on a number of boards.