Scion Adds Three Directors to NZ Crown Research Institute

New directors will help drive 2030 plan which will lead to 10-fold increase in GDP for forestry and manufacturing by 2050.

Tue 11 Jul 23


The NZ Minister of Research, Science and Innovation, the Hon. Dr Ayesha Verrall, has appointed Nicole Anderson, Phil Taylor and Kiriwaitingi Rei-Russell to the Board for a three-year term, starting July 10.

New directors will join existing Board members for their first official meeting in Rotorua on July 27.

Scion Chair Dr Helen Anderson welcomed the new appointees in a Scion media statement.

“I’d like to extend my warmest welcome to Nicole, Phil and Kiriwaitingi. Their passion for sustainability, economic development and good governance aligns perfectly with Scion’s mission, and I am confident that their contributions will be instrumental in shaping our organisation’s future success.”

“Our Board firmly believes that effective governance is the cornerstone of achieving long-term stability and excellence. Their collective experience and expertise will ensure that as a board, we are well-positioned to tackle the challenges and seize the opportunities ahead of us in the forestry and biobased sectors.”

Meet Nichole Anderson
Nicole Anderson – one of three newly appointed Scion directors.

Nicole Anderson (Ngāpuhi, Te Roroa, Te Aupōuri) has a proven track record in governance across various sectors, bringing experience in strategic analysis, business planning and commercial development to Scion’s Board. 

As a director at Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities, Far North Holdings, Top Energy, she is the chair at Northland Inc, Northland’s Regional Economic Development Agency. 

She is also Chair of the International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ), the national authority for the accreditation of testing and calibration laboratories, inspection bodies and radiology services.

Meet Phil Taylor
Phil Taylor – one of three newly appointed Scion directors.

Phil Taylor brings more than four decades of experience in commercial forestry to his new director role at Scion – primarily focused on research and development and community service organisations.

He has gained international experience in forestry and governance and has held chief executive roles since 1999.

Mr Taylor is a former President of the New Zealand Forest Owners Association (NZFOA) and is currently the managing director at Port Blakely in Canterbury. 

In this role, he oversees all of NZ Forestry’s holdings. 

In addition, he also serves on the Board of the New Zealand Forest Owners Association and the Forest Growers Levy Trust.

Meet Kiriwaitingi Rei-Russell
Kiriwaitingi Rei-Russell – one of three newly appointed Scion directors.

Kiriwaitingi Rei-Russell (Te Arawa – Ngati Whakaue, Tūhourangi Ngati Wāhiao, and Ngati Awa – Te Pahipoto) was born and raised in Rotorua. She has a legal and governance background with a strong focus on primary industries. 

A strong advocate for Māori economic and commercial development, she was previously the CEO of Māori Investments.

Ms Rei-Russell is now the Head of Māori Alliances at Zespri based in Mount Maunganui. 

Deputy chair of the Māori Kiwifruit Growers Inc, and is the first woman appointed to the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union. 

She was also a Future Director on the Board of Auckland International Airport from 2016 to 2018.

The trio join existing Scion directors Greg Mann, Stana Pezic, Dr Jon Ryder, Steve Wilson and Brendon Green (Ngāti Hikairo, Ngāpuhi).

 The board meeting on July 27 will also be the first for newly appointed Future Director Zara Morrison (Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Tūwharetoa).

 Ms Morrison was nominated for a 12-month stint by the trustees of Ngā Hapū e Toru – Ngāti Hurungaterangi, Ngāti Taeotu and Ngāti Te Kahu.

2030: Right tree, right place, right purpose

Scion CEO Dr Julian Elder, also chair of the New Zealand Forest Certification Scheme, says he’s looking forward to working with the new directors as Scion advances its strategy to 2030: Right tree, right place, right purpose.

“Having this strategy to drive our work enables Scion to make a difference to our economy, well-being and environment by helping transition New Zealand to a circular bioeconomy.”

“There are challenges ahead, but we are confident that Scion’s research has never been more relevant, especially as New Zealand looks to build a modern, future-focused research system through the Te Ara Paerangi – Future Pathways programme.”

“Amidst this evolving research landscape, collaboration and diverse thinking are critically important. Together, we will continue to enhance New Zealand’s prosperity through trees, foster industry partnerships, and contribute to the growth of regional economies.”

Example of research: the Forest Flows Programme

Last month Wood Central published groundbreaking research from Scion on how forests absorb water in wild weather following Cyclone Gabrielle.

Using 1700 remote sensors across ten forests, it found that forests act as nature’s sponges during significant rain events, absorbing nearly 60% of rainfall.

This absorption process prevents immediate water flow across the terrain and into waterways, significantly reducing potential downstream flooding.

Dr Meason, who is leading the research, said the study will reveal important secrets about how water moves and is stored in catchments.

“Our network of field sensors, meteorological and hydrological equipment has been collecting data for about two years now. A key part of the Forest Flows research is to understand how water moves through forested catchments during and after weather events that range from light rainfall to heavy storms.” Dr Meason said.

“This type of analysis following extreme weather events hasn’t been done before or at this scale.”

The Forest Flows programme, boasting the world’s largest network of sensors, has yielded a massive volume of data.

In 2024, Scion will host several global conferences, including the IUFRO in March 2024 and the ForestSAT 2024 in September 2024 – the first time the meeting is hosted in the Australasian region.


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    Wood Central is Australia’s first and only dedicated platform covering wood-based media across all digital platforms. Our vision is to develop an integrated platform for media, events, education, and products that connect, inform, and inspire the people and organisations who work in and promote forestry, timber, and fibre.


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