NAWAC members

Information about the members of the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee.

Membership and criteria

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee is made up of a chairperson, the chairperson of the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee, and up to 9 other members. The Animal Welfare Act 1999 lays out requirements for membership.


Dr Gwyneth Verkerk, BVSc, DPhil

Gwyneth Verkerk is a retired veterinarian from Hamilton. Hailing from a rural background, she worked in mixed veterinary practice and the artificial breeding industry before pursuing doctorate studies. During the second part of her career she was employed by DairyNZ (and its predecessors) as an animal scientist. Gwyneth has previously served as a member of NAWAC (2003-2009) and represented New Zealand internationally within OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) and the International Dairy Federation. Her life-long interest in New Zealand’s natural landscapes and ecology has also resulted in her involvement in several Waikato organisations focused on environmental protection and enhancement.

Deputy chairperson

Mr Iain Torrance MInstD

Iain Torrance was nominated to join NAWAC by the RNZSPCA. He was chief executive officer of Wellington SPCA from 2011 to 2015 and qualified as an animal welfare auxiliary officer in 2012. In 2011, he was appointed to the National Council/Board of the Royal New Zealand SPCA. During the 3-year term he was Chair and Vice President, and also temporarily interim national chief executive. He is a founding member of the Wellington Zoo Trust welfare committee supporting the positive welfare accreditation program. Iain is a late in life New Zealand citizen, moving here in 2003 from the UK after working in senior commercial roles internationally then holding local positions with Ernst & Young, TelstraClear, and Coffey International. He shares his home with 2 elderly rescued cats – Monty and Marwood.


Dr Julie Wagner BVSc

Julie is a veterinarian employed as product manager Animal Health for Ravensdown Fertiliser Co-operative Ltd. She has previously worked in rural mixed veterinary practices and in the animal health industry. In addition, Julie was a member of the Veterinary Council of New Zealand for 12 years and was deputy chairperson for part of that time. She is also involved in Akaroa Civil Defence.

Ms Frances (Francie) Russell, QSM JP

With a background in corporate management and latterly in governance, Francie holds a number of board and consulting positions, the most relevant being Deputy Chairperson of Wellington Zoo Trust. Of particular interest are issues that surround animals in public display, exhibition and entertainment. Francie has a keen interest in the arts and owns a miniature schnauzer called Fritz.

Mrs Ingrid Collins MNZM

Ingrid Collins has more than 40 years’ experience in corporate governance. Ingrid’s expertise also includes 38 years in health management. Her day time job is as chief executive/partner in the largest medical practice in Gisborne, Three Rivers Medical Ltd. She is a past member of the Maori Advisory Group to AgResearch at Ruakura and Waikato University. Directorships include a Trustee of the 28th Maori Battalion “C” Company, Chair of Whangara B5 Inc, Chair of Whangara Farms Ltd, board member of the Maori Red Meat Coalition and co-patron of the Gisborne Malaysian Forces.

Dr Penelope Fisher BSc, MApplSc, PhD

Penelope Fisher has a background in zoology, ecology (studied in Victoria, Australia) and more recently wildlife toxicology (PhD from Lincoln University NZ). She has been a researcher in the Wildlife Ecology and Management team of Landcare Research since 2001. Her research interests are in the use and environmental effects of vertebrate pesticides, behaviour and welfare of wild/’pest’ animals and island conservation. She shares a lifestyle block with a retired greyhound, many Indian Runner ducks and miscellaneous sheep.

Ms Katrina (Katie) Milne

Along with her partner, Katie owns a farm in the heart of the West Coast. Katie is the chair of the local TB Free committee, president of West Coast Federated Farmers, and has been elected onto the board of Federated Farmers nationally. Previously she worked at the local freezing works at Kokiri, where she was involved from carcass grading on the slaughter floor to food safety work in the laboratory, meat inspection on the chain, and eventually documentation of all procedures as they applied for accreditation. She has helped local farmers set up numerous groups over the years – from solutions for nutrient runoff, to a farm plan project for Lake Brunner catchment, and more recently (in conjunction with Landcare Trust) the Lake Brunner Community Catchment Care Group.

Mr Alan Sharr CA (PP), DTM, MInstD

Alan Sharr has been a member of the Canterbury SPCA for 30 years and Secretary/Treasurer for the past 3 years. He has owned a German Shorthaired Pointer, budgies over many years, and several cats. His current cats are from the Canterbury SPCA and are called Maisy and Lucy. Maisy was left on the Waimakariri River bank with her kittens and Lucy was handed in as a kitten.

Professor Graeme Doole

Graeme Doole was appointed to NAWAC to provide knowledge and experience within the broad area of agricultural economics. Graeme grew up on a sheep and beef farm in Taihape, and has a background in pastoral farm management. His research is strongly focused on understanding the implications of alternative management strategies for farming systems throughout New Zealand, work that is strongly informed by ongoing relationships with industry organisations. Graeme also currently works as an economic advisor to the Ministry for the Environment, helping communities to understand the trade-offs associated with improved water quality outcomes.

Dr Karin Schütz

Karin Schütz was nominated by the New Zealand Society of Animal Production to provide knowledge and experience of animal science. Karin is an animal scientist with a MSc in biology and PhD in ethology that focused on behavioural and genetic changes due to selection for high production in chickens. She was born and raised in Sweden and has been a scientist with AgResearch since 2004 where she is mainly working with the welfare of dairy cattle. She is currently proud “owner” of 4 cats that decided that a domesticated life is better than gully life.

Mr Grant Shackell

As Chairperson of NAEAC Grant Shackell is an ex officio member of the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee.

Who to contact

If you have questions for the committee, email

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