Panelists speakers

Thank you to the following speakers

Bernard Hickey

Panel: Growth Management and Infrastructure – who pays?

Bernard Hickey is an independent economic and political commentator who produces his own daily newsletter and podcast for subscribers on the political economy, and specifically housing affordability, climate emissions reduction and eliminating poverty. He worked for 30 years as a financial and economic journalist and editor for Reuters, the FT Group and Fairfax Media, along with being a co-founder of and He moved to Auckland from Wellington late last year for the weather…

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Mike Theelen

Panel: Growth Management and Infrastructure – who pays?

Mike has been Chief Executive at Queenstown Lakes District Council for the past seven years. Prior to taking on the role, he spent ten years as General Manager, Strategy and Planning, at Christchurch City Council. In his current role, rapid growth and development has been a constant theme. Queenstown Lakes continues to experience the country’s highest rates of growth and the associated pressures of achieving that based on a very small population base, and a challenging and difficult typography to develop in. In both positions, Mike has responded to rapid urban change and more recently significant changes in the sector. Mike is an active local government participant in the reform programmes underway, most notably the RMA reform and the development of the Spatial Planning Act. His experience has seen unprecedented disasters requiring local government responses including the Christchurch earthquakes, and the COVID-19 outbreak which had a severe impact on the Queenstown Lakes economy. Mike considers himself extremely lucky to be able to live and work in such a stunning environment. The district’s “unlimited desirability” ensures the locality is a magnet for investment, recreation, and lifestyle opportunities. The attractiveness creates significant pressure and demand, and a big responsibility not to ruin the qualities that make the district so special, while still meeting the needs of an ever-expanding community. Mike and his wife Janet live in Queenstown and enjoy all the district has to offer, including tramping, skiing, and lake swimming, and generally being active and outdoors in and across the region. He has a planning degree from Auckland University and a Diploma in Social Sciences from Massey University.

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Patrick McVeigh

Panel: Growth Management and Infrastructure – who pays?

Patrick is MartinJenkins lead for People and Places, a Chartered Town Planner (MRTPI) and economic development professional with more than 30 years’ experience, working across the public and private sectors in strategy development, policy formulation, research and evaluation, scenario planning and visioning. Patrick brings a wealth of knowledge of international best practices and a track record of practical delivery and innovative solutions across a wide range of policy areas. Before moving to New Zealand in 2013, Patrick was the Managing Director of a London based consultancy and spent five years with the London Development Agency where he was the Director of Strategy and Corporate Planning. Prior to joining MartinJenkins, Patrick spent five years at ATEED, where he led the organisation’s business, innovation and skills activities, including the establishment of the Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct / GridAKL. Patrick has advised agencies across New Zealand and Australia and has shared good practice lessons internationally through conference presentations and webinars for the International Economic Development Council, the World Bank and the Brookings Institution. Patrick has a BSc in Town Planning Studies, a Post Graduate Diploma in City and Regional Planning (Distinction), and a Post Graduate Diploma in Social Science Research Methods.

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Sara Irvine

Panel: Tourism

Sara joined the Queenstown Airport team in 2019 and is responsible for government and community relations, communications, and sustainability. Sara has led the development of the company’s sustainability and decarbonisation strategy over the last couple of years. Sara has extensive experience as a communications and corporate affairs executive with a strong community focus. Before joining QAC she was living and working in Sydney Australia and most recently the director of communications and operations for First Peoples Disability Network in Australia.

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Mat Wood

Panel: Tourism

Mat is currently the Chief Executive at Destination Queenstown (DQ). Prior to joining DQ, Mat was head of sales & services at Cardrona Alpine Resort (CARL) and Treble Cone and was involved in the acquisition of Treble Cone, securing the rights to develop into the SOHO Basin. Mat moved from CARL to join the parent company RealNZ as GM of Experience Whakatipu to oversee the Queenstown operation of the TSS Earnslaw, Walter Peak, Jet Boating and Water Taxis. Mat has a strong background in governance, He is currently a Director at Sport Otago Regional Tourism NZ and Racers Edge in Wānaka. Recently he was on the board of Snow Sports NZ and the Chair of Lake Wānaka Tourism. Before joining the tourism industry, Mat had extensive experience in outdoor adventure sports retail, he was the managing director of R&R Sport before selling to The Warehouse Group, merging R&R Sport with Torpedo 7.

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Matt Wong

Panel: Tourism

Be ruthless with standards, and gracious with people.” Matt Wong is an accomplished tourism leader, businessperson and community-builder, with over 20 years’ experience across a myriad of tourism businesses he now owns and leads the multi award-winning iFLY Indoor Skydiving Queenstown. iFLY is the back to back winner of the Tourism Industry Aotearoa “Employer of Choice” Award in both 2021 and 2022, solidifying their position as a leader in the industry, attracting top talent, enhancing guest satisfaction, and fostering a culture of excellence. Matt is also a board member for the Queenstown Business Chamber of Commerce, sits on various community trusts and Councillor for Queenstown Lakes District Council.

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Ewan Mackie

Panel: Tourism

Ewan Mackie has a dual role at Realnz; Treble Cone Ski Area Manager and Conservation & Sustainability Lead. Ewan has worked in the ski/tourism industry for nearly 20 years and has a passion for the environment, overseeing numerous trapping, planting and threatened species projects. He chairs the Ski Areas Association of New Zealand (SAANZ) sustainability committee and represents Realnz on the ongoing MBIE lead Industry Transformation Plan for tourism’s impact on the environment.

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Grant Dodson

Panel: Pivoting from farming to forestry – what can we expect from growth in carbon forestry and are we ready to manage its effects?

Grant has worked in the Forestry and Wood Processing industries across New Zealand and Australia for the last 32 years. Originally from Taupo and graduating with a Bachelor of Forestry Science Degree from the University of Canterbury in 1991, Grant initially worked for Tasman Forestry and New Zealand Forest Products, later Carter Holt Harvey in central North Island Forests. Moving to Victoria Australia in 1996 to work initially in forestry then moving into managing plywood and sawmill facilities. Grant returned to Dunedin, New Zealand in 2006 to take up the position as CEO of City Forests. At City Forests Grant has focused on growing the Company through acquisition and development. The Company has successfully used the incentives created by the Emissions Trading Scheme to significantly expand its forest areas under management, increase wood flows and reward its shareholder. Grant makes a significant contribution to the wider forest industry through his roles as Forest Owners Association President, Chairman Southern Wood Council, School of Forestry Advisory Committee, Forest Industry Safety Council and has been a past board member of Forest Growers Research Limited, Otago Rural Fire Authority and Dunedin City Treasury Limited. Personally Grant enjoys the outdoors and spends much recreation time enjoying hunting, fishing, boating, cycling and walking in New Zealand’s wild places. Grant is the Chairperson of the New Zealand Game Animal Council, an opportunity to give back to conservation and the sports he enjoys.

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Nicol Horrell

Panel: Pivoting from farming to forestry – what can we expect from growth in carbon forestry and are we ready to manage its effects?

Nicol was elected chairman of Environment Southland in 2016 at the start of his fourth term as a regional councillor in the Western Southland constituency. A born and bred Southlander, Nicol has always been active and interested in his local community, farming, politics and the wider Southland region. Nicol serves on the Council’s Organisational Performance and Audit Committee, Strategy and Policy Committee, Chief Executive Committee and South Port Sub-committee. Additionally, he is a member of Southland’s Mayoral Forum, the Regional Sector Group, the OSPRI Stakeholder Council, the Great South Joint Committee, and is Chairman of Te Rōpu Taiao. Nicol is a current member of the Tuatapere Lions Club and has had many other local community involvements over the years. These include past positions on the Tuatapere Community Board, Federated Farmers branch, Waiau Health Trust, Tuatapere and District’s Medical Trust, and the Southern District Health Board Rural Health Advisory Committee. Nicol and his wife Ann farm sheep on a 200 hectare property in Tuatapere. They also share an interest in wine and host a regular wine tasting group of mostly New Zealand wines.

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Shay Schlaepfer

Panel: Pivoting from farming to forestry – what can we expect from growth in carbon forestry and are we ready to manage its effects?

Shay is a resource management lawyer with 2 decades of experience advising Councils, environmental groups and commercial clients on resource consenting and plan making matters. She was EDS’s first in-house solicitor before working in chambers and for Brookfields Lawyers in Auckland. Shay is now EDS’s Chief Operating Officer and runs EDS’s litigation programme and its government consultations. She was involved in preparing EDS’s substantive submissions on the NPSIB, the NES-PF, the Ministerial Inquiry into land use in Tairāwhiti and Wairoa, the ETS (including the permanent forest category) and is currently preparing EDS’s submission on biodiversity incentives. Shay has also recently completed in depth reports on reform of the Land Act 1948 and the Wildlife Act 1953. She is a current member of the High Court Advisory Group.

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Madeline Hall

Panel: Pivoting from farming to forestry – what can we expect from growth in carbon forestry and are we ready to manage its effects?

Madeline Hall is a Senior Environmental Policy Analyst with Beef and Lamb New Zealand and thrives off delivering the best outcomes for farmers and growers. Based in Rotorua, Madeline works across environmental domains and focuses on Beef and Lamb New Zealand’s climate change work. Originally from Washington D.C., she came to New Zealand on a Fulbright Scholarship and has been specialising for almost a decade and how farming communities can be supported as part of our changing biophysical and political landscapes. She believes that active participation from New Zealand farmers is crucial to realising the opportunities that careful planning and policy development envisions.

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