Science Programme Advisory Group

The Science Programme Advisory Group (SPAG) ensures the NZAGRC invests in high-quality, outcome-focused research.

The SPAG works closely with the NZAGRC Director to develop the NZAGRC science programme and assists in monitoring science performance against contracted projects. It formulates advice and funding recommendations to the NZAGRC Governance Group.

Governance Group SPAG
Diagram showing the governance and advisory structure of the NZAGRC.


The SPAG comprises four representatives from the eight NZAGRC member organisations (excluding PGgRc), the PGgRc Manager, two representatives from the Stakeholder Advisory Group, and observers from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

The NZAGRC member organisations decide among themselves who their four appointed representatives will be. The members not represented on the SPAG receive all SPAG correspondence and can provide feedback to the SPAG Chair at any time.

The Chair of the SPAG is also a member of the Governance Group.

Current membership


NZAGRC Science Programme Advisory Group

Peter is General Manager of Science at Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research. Peter has a PhD in plant physiology from the University of Leeds in the UK.


Member representative,
Plant & Food Research

Sarah is Business Manager, Sustainable Production, at Plant & Food Research. This involves maintaining effective industry-research relationships, working closely with science providers and external stakeholders from industry, government and the research community.

Dr Mike

Member representative,

Mike is Principal Scientist – Atmosphere at NIWA, leading their research programme on greenhouse gas emissions and the carbon cycle. Mike is an atmospheric scientist with expertise in natural and anthropogenic emissions and the processes transferring materials between the land/ocean and atmosphere. He has a PhD in environmental physics from the University of Nottingham in the UK.

Dr David

Member representative,

David is General Manager of New Systems and Competitiveness at DairyNZ. He has extensive experience in science leadership, technology commercialisation and product development in the agriculture and bio-technology sectors. David has a PhD in farm systems from Massey University.



Mark is Manager of the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium. The PGgRc is a partnership between the primary sector and Government, overseeing joint investment in agricultural greenhouse gas research and development.

Nicholson (Ngāti Ruanui)

NZAGRC Stakeholder Advisory Group

Claire has extensive expertise in veterinary science and animal health, rural marketing, business development, technical research and governance. She is also involved in several Māori agri-business ventures.


NZAGRC Stakeholder Advisory Group

Vera has worked internationally in agricultural research and the impact of agriculture on the environment. She is Chief Executive of the Fertiliser Association and has also worked for the Ministry for the Environment on climate and water policy.



Gerald is a Principal Science Advisor at MPI where his work covers national science policy issues for the primary sectors and the provision of science advice on public policy issues such as climate change, soils and contaminants, plant nutrients and fertilisers. Gerald has a PhD in pasture agronomy from the University of Wales in the UK.



Neil is an investment manager from MBIE's Strategic Investments team working on the NZAGRC partnership. He is part of the group managing the Strategic Science Investment Fund (SSIF). Neil joined MBIE in mid-2020 after completing his PhD in neurophysiology in Japan.