Professor Juliet Gerrard
Chief Science Advisor, New Zealand

Juliet trained at Oxford University and moved to Aotearoa in 1993 where her career has included roles in both Crown Research Institutes and universities. Juliet’s research background is broad and interdisciplinary, with particular interests in fundamental and applied protein science. She has held an Industry and Outreach Fellowship with Callaghan Innovation, founded a start-up company, chaired the Marsden Council, served on the Board of Directors of Plant and Food Research, and is currently on the Board of Te Papa.

Since Juliet’s appointment in 2018 as the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Kaitohutohu Mātanga Pūtaiao Matua ki te Pirimia, she has worked from a base of four founding principles: rigour, inclusivity, transparency, and accessibility. She has supported the science and science advisor community to provide advice to the PM, ministers, and the public on a wide range of topics, including advice on the Christchurch mosque shootings, the response to the Whakaari | White Island eruption, the Cannabis referendum and the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2019, the Office released a major report, Rethinking Plastics in Aotearoa New Zealand, which created a vision for a new relationship with plastic.

John Walsh
Director Readiness and Response Services, Ministry for Primary Industries

John Walsh is the Director of Readiness and Response Services for Biosecurity New Zealand, part of the Ministry for Primary Industries. He leads teams responsible for preparing for and managing biosecurity incursions and for leading national pest management programmes. He was seconded from that role to lead the public information management function for the Covid-19 response in March 2021. He previously worked as Communications Director at MPI and across these roles has had a significant involvement in a range of national emergency responses both for MPI and in the wider government system. Before joining MPI in 2014, John had a long career in public relations in the private sector.

Dr Caroline McElnay
Director of Public Health, Ministry for Health

Dr Caroline McElnay is the Director of Public Health at the Ministry of Health, a role she has held for the past 4 years. She completed her medical training in Northern Ireland with post graduate specialist training in public health in Manchester, England. She has lived and worked in New Zealand since 1995, mainly for the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board where she was involved in a number of public health issues and incidents such as listeria, SARS and the Havelock North drinking water contamination event. When her youngest left home to go to university in Auckland Caroline decided it was time to work in a national role at the Ministry of Health but continues to live in Napier, commuting weekly to Wellington.  She is a former President of the New Zealand College of Public Health and has had a number of other governance roles including her local kindergarten committee, regional sports trust and National Plunket board. She tries hard to maintain a work life balance, made more difficult by the emergence of a certain coronavirus.

Chris Webb
Emergency Practitioners in Crisis Communication (EPiCC), UK

Chris Webb is the former Head of News at the Metropolitan Police Service and is recognised as one of the UK’s leading experts in crisis communication and managing reputation risk, having dealt with almost every major incident and high profile security event to impact on London and other parts of the UK in almost 30 years.

He has played a major role in advising and influencing the British police service and UK Government on crisis communication policy, plans and structures.

Chris was appointed to lead and co-ordinate the communication response to the COVID-19 pandemic across London. This includes setting the overall communication strategy for the capital and provide strategic communication advice and guidance to members of the Strategic Co-ordination Group; to manage the Group and its staff; to lead and co-ordinate the response from partner agencies, including chairing the Covid-19 Multi Agency Communications Group. Those multi-agency partners include: Mayor of London’s office, London councils, Public Health England, NHS London, London Ambulance Service, London Air Ambulance, Metropolitan Police, City of London Police, British Transport Police, National Crime Agency, London Fire Brigade, Transport for London, National Rail, Ministry of Defence.

Each organisation leads on the delivery of communication for their part of the operational response. The role of the LRF COVID-19 Communication Group is to set the overall strategic direction for all media and communication across London, consult regularly with London partners, co-ordinate messaging and communication activity across all the different agencies.

In addition, they have an Elected Assembly Information Unit that deals with enquiries from elected members including MPs, GLA Assembly members and councillors.


Anniqe Davis

Ministry for Pacific Peoples

Catherine Coates

Marlborough Emergency Management

Andrew Holden

New Zealand Trade & Enterprise

Carolyn Schwalger

CEO, National Emergency Management Agency

Stefan Weir

Private Secretary Emergency Management, National Emergency Management Agency

A/Prof Caroline Orchiston

University of Otago & Science Lead, AF8

Kay Boreham

Whakatāne District Council

Lee Cowan

fmr PIM Christchurch City Council 2009-2014 

Dr Sara McBride

United States Geological Survey, US

Kathryn Ryan

Radio NZ

Michael Morrah

Investigations Reporter, Newshub

Kelley Toy

Fire and Emergency NZ

Dr Maureen Mooney

Joint Centre for Disaster Research (JCDR), Massey University

Bernard Hickey, The Kākā   | Drew Broadley, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council  Jo Davidson, Auckland Council  |
  Adrienne Henderson, Environment Southland