Regenerative Recovery Advisory Group

The advisory group was formed to contribute to the evolution and achievement of the Recovery Plan, which was steered by Vision Beyond 2050. 

The Regenerative Recovery Advisory Group represented a wide range of backgrounds, knowledge and experiences. Their volunteer contributions have been greatly appreciated by the Council. 

The group considered innovative ideas for the future of the whole community, contributing to the development of the Diversification Plan and providing another channel of engagement to help shape He Mahere Kahurutaka, Council’s 2021-2031 Ten Year Plan.

Their tenure ended on 30 June 2021 and their final report can be downloaded here: 

Regenerative Recovery Advisory Group Final Report June 2021

Members of the advisory group:

  • Annis Somerville (Kāi Tahu, Kāti Mamoe, Waitaha)

    Both Annis and her husband have long-standing holiday-connections to Wānaka and Queenstown. Now settled permanently in Wānaka after living for 19 years in Tauranga, Lawrence-born Annis was educated at the local primary school, then Waitaki Girls’ High school, and subsequently the University of Otago.

    Appointed to the District Court in 2001 (also with a Family Court warrant), she was the first woman judge to be appointed from Otago and the first Māori Family Court Judge in New Zealand/Aotearoa. She and her husband were also the first husband-and-wife judicial appointments. She retired as a full-time judge in 2017 and continues to work part-time with a judicial warrant.

    Prior to becoming a judge, Annis was a teacher and the owner-operator of a manufacturing and retail clothing business, with her own label. 

    Annis was a lawyer in Dunedin for 24 years, running her own boutique, all- female law firm for 14 of those years. During that time, she became a mother of three children, all now adults. 

    Currently, she is a trustee of the Southern Lakes Festival Trust, a trustee of the Three Lakes Cultural Trust, a Fellow of Knox College (Te Kāreti o Knox), an honorary member of the Otago Women Lawyers’ Association (OWLS), a member of the International Association of Women Judges, and of Te Kāhui Kaiwhakawā Wāhine o Aotearoa (the New Zealand Association of Women Judges).

    Annis is also a member of Te Puna o Mata-au (the ‘source of the mighty Clutha’), the local mana whenua Kāi Tahu group in Upper Clutha.

    Annis has returned to the south with the hope she can make a meaningful contribution to her community and her iwi.

    She and her husband are grateful Taua (grandmother) and Pōua (grandfather) to seven mokopuna (grandchildren).


  • Erica bring a resilience focus to the Advisory Group, with over 16 years’ experience in disaster recovery; risk management; organisational resilience; crisis management; business disruption; and post-disaster reconstruction.  Erica is an Executive Director of Resilient Organisations (, a Commissioner on the Board of the Earthquake Commission - EQC ( ), Chair of the RRANZ consortium ( delivering response and recovery leadership development for New Zealand, and is a Principle Investigator with QuakeCoRE, a center of research excellence on earthquake resilience (  She is author of the book Resilient Organizations: How to survive, thrive and create opportunities through crisis and change and has led several large research programmes on resilience, particularly focusing on business and organisational responses to change and adversity. 

    Erica lives in Wanaka with her husband and two primary school aged boys.

  • Julian Knights has more than 35 years’ experience in the Financial Services industry, having held a number of senior roles in investment banking and funds management. He was a Founding Partner of leading Australasian private equity firm Ironbridge Capital and has served on a wide range of portfolio boards (including Envirowaste in New Zealand). He is widely respected in the private equity industry and was elected Chairman of AVCAL, the private equity and venture capital industry body.

    Julian has devoted a significant amount of time to the Not for Profit sector over the past fifteen years. He served as Chair of the leading Australian contemporary dance group Sydney Dance Company from 2007 to 2013. In 2013 Julian was appointed Chair of the Major Performing Arts Board, the umbrella body responsible for the 28 major performing arts companies in Australia. He was also Chair or on the Boards of The Biennale of Sydney, Kaldor Public Arts and Sydney Art Quartet, a highly regarded chamber music ensemble. Julian was also Chair of Human Rights Watch Australia.

    In June 2016 Julian was made an Officer in the Order of Australia, for services to the Performing and Visual Arts and to the Financial Services Industry.

    Julian and Lizanne have owned property in Arrowtown for 10 years and moved to live here permanently in early 2020.

    Julian is a Founding Benefactor and Chair of the Three Lakes Cultural Trust, a recent initiative to nurture and develop Arts and Culture across the Three Lakes Region.

  • Kathy is a community leader with a unique combination of strategic business and grassroots civic experience.  She worked in corporate strategic planning, organisational change, and communication consulting in the US and UK before moving to Wānaka in 2002.  Since then she’s held a variety of roles in the community sector, currently working in community development with LINK Upper Clutha.  LINK connects people across sectors and demographics - providing support, enabling collaboration, and building resilience.  In 2019 she was elected onto the Central Lakes Trust, the largest philanthropic trust per capita in the Southern Hemisphere. 

    Kathy has been on the boards of the Wanaka Chamber of Commerce, Parenting4Life, Mainly Music, Alpine Community Development Trust, Wānaka Alcohol Group, Wānaka Area Youth Trust, two local schools, and Shaping Our Future.  She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Northwestern University in Chicago and is a Leadership New Zealand Fellow. Kathy is a mother of three, wife of one, and is involved in music, theatre, education, and sport.  She is passionate about engaging people of all ages in future planning.

  • Leslie Van Gelder, Ph.D. is an archaeologist, university professor and conservationist currently serving as the Executive Officer of the Whakatipu Wildlife Trust. She has served on the faculty of Walden University for 19 years where she supervises Ph.D. students in Global and Indigenous Education and also lectures in Prehistoric Archaeology at the University of Victoria, Canada. Her archaeological work on Upper Paleolithic peoples in Australia and Europe focuses on embodiment, illumination and climate change and has been widely published in both academic and popular press. She has lived in Glenorchy since 2008 where she has been actively involved in the community. She currently chairs the Glenorchy Heritage and Museum Group, is Glenorchy Librarian, and on rare fortunate occasions has been the Glenorchy Pet Day judge for imaginary animals. In the realm of imagination she has also served on the District’s Vision 2050 committee. She is widowed with two wonderful stepdaughters and three cheeky mokopuna who inspire all of her work towards a hopeful future for their generation. 

  • Co-Founder of innovative, natural fibre composite start-up, Revology and curator of the Revology Concept Store. Co-founder and Chairperson of Wao, a charitable trust whose purpose is to educate, inspire and enable communities to accelerate towards a carbon-zero, regenerative future and beyond. Consultant with the United Nations International Labour Organisation on employment, labour and human rights standards.


  • Neil Jacobstein Co-chairs the AI and Robotics Track at Singularity University headquartered at the NASA Research Park in Mountain View California. He is a former President of Singularity University. Jacobstein is a Distinguished Visiting Scholar in Stanford University’s Media X Program.

    He was a Senior Research Fellow in the Reuters Digital Vision Program at Stanford. He has served as an AI technical consultant on research and development projects for leading business, government, and defense organizations including Deloitte, XPrize, GM, Ford, Boeing, ING, Wells Fargo, FMC, P&G, Hershey, Coca Cola, Loews, Harman, GE, Wipro, Dow, Genentech, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Applied Materials, NSF, DARPA, NASA, NIH, EPA, DOE, the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force.

    Jacobstein was CEO at Teknowledge Corporation, an early AI company. He chaired the 17th Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence’s (AAAI) Innovative Applications of Artificial Intelligence (IAAI) Conference, and continues to review IAAI technical papers annually. Jacobstein is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute, has led seminars, and coached Socrates moderators. He was a Graduate Research Intern in Alan Kay’s Learning Research Group at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, and a consultant in PARC’s Software Concepts Group. Jacobstein was appointed by the US National Academy of Sciences to its National Research Council Division on Earth and Life Sciences Committee for the period 2015-2018.

    Neil has a deep commitment to honoring the humanistic and scientific, and a sense of urgency about us resolving the grand challenge problems facing Earth. Jacobstein has served in a wide variety of executive and advisory roles for industry, nonprofit, and government organizations.

  • Roger has a long background in building and financing technology companies in global markets. He is currently Chairman of Webjet Limited, Geo Limited and Lotto New Zealand, and is Deputy Chair of Tourism New Zealand. 


  • Simon is a Wānaka based governance professional with a portfolio of privately owned business directorships. These roles currently span the transport, software, agritech and residential construction sectors. He is the founder of Appoint Better Boards, a social enterprise committed to increasing the diversity and transparency of board appointments in Aotearoa.  

    Simon is deeply involved in the community, leading a multi-year advocacy project for building safe and protected cycleways and other active transport initiatives within Wānaka.  Over the past five years he has helped rejuvenate Bike Wānaka and led its community advocacy for retaining Sticky Forest as a recreational asset. He was the inaugural head judge and convenor of the Ignite Wanaka Business Awards and a founding Trustee of Crux.

    Simon is a graduate of the University of Canterbury in Law (Hons) and Commerce and has lived and worked in the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand. He shares his passion for mountain biking, snowboarding and the outdoors with his wife and two school aged daughters.


  • Ray returned to live in NZ nine years ago after 19 years working within the field of international finance and global commodities markets. During this time Ray built global businesses and developed a range of innovative products that have changed the way these products are traded around the globe.

    Ray has a strong desire to help improve our community outcomes across New Zealand. He is based in Queenstown and chairs the Wakatipu Community Foundation, Community Foundations of NZ, and is also involved in a wide range of local community not-for-profit organisations including the Queenstown Community Hub Charitable Trust, Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust and Queenstown Alpine Ski Team.

  • Michael has grown up Whakatipu basin surrounded by the pioneering spirit of the Central Otago wine industry. With a background in design, branding and establishment new environmental enterprises, Michael has helped with the establishment of the Queenstown community gardens, and previously a trustee of Sustainable Queenstown, Shaping our Future, the districts Vision 2050 committee. Michael is also part of the Young Business Leaders Initiative of Asia New Zealand Foundation. Michael hopes to use his experience in new business development to expand the horizons and opportunities for the district.