Master of Ceremonies
Nadine Higgins (nee Chalmers-Ross) is renowned as an intelligent, articulate and engaging MC.
From her strong background in broadcasting and business journalism, Nadine has developed the ability to comprehend complex topics, moderate multi-person panels and think on her feet to swiftly adjust to the direction of the conversation.
Nadine’s clients engage her year after year, her robust skills as an MC, facilitator and interviewer are difficult to surpass.
Minister of Tourism
Hon. Kelvin Davis was born and raised in the Bay of Islands and now lives in Kaitaia. He is a former teacher and school principal with 20 years’ experience in education.
As well as being the Minister of Tourism, he also holds Ministerial portfolios for Corrections, the newly created Crown/Māori relations portfolio, and Associate Education (Māori Education).
He recognises that Aotearoa – our people as well as our stunning landscapes – offers a unique experience to international visitors. Tourism has the potential to deliver strong economic growth for our regions, and to create business opportunities for Māori to offer tourism ventures that highlight our culture, stories and history.
Chief Executive Officer, Air New Zealand
Christopher has been Chief Executive Officer since January 2013 having previously held the role of Group General Manager International Airline for almost two years. Prior to joining Air New Zealand, Christopher was President and Chief Executive Officer at Unilever Canada. This was one of several senior leadership roles he held during an 18-year career at the multi-national that saw him work in roles in Europe, North America and Asia/Pacific. Christopher has a Master of Commerce in Business Administration from the University of Canterbury.
Executive Vice President, Global Acquisitions & Development, Two Roads Hospitality
In his role as Executive Vice President of Global Acquisitions & Development for Two Roads Hospitality, Todd oversees the company's global business growth efforts, including sourcing and securing new management contracts and investment opportunities.
The impact of his 30-year career in the hospitality industry has spanned continents through his senior leadership positions at some of the world’s most well-known hotel companies. Todd has lived and worked in the U.S., Asia, Australia and the UK and led the development efforts for IHG, Starwood and Marriott in the Asia Pacific region and for the Trump Hotel Collection globally.
Todd earned an MBA from Thunderbird Graduate School of International Management (Glendale, Arizona) and a BA from Alma College (Alma, Michigan). Todd also studied briefly as an undergraduate at Scotland’s University of Aberdeen and now serves on the university’s Board of Directors
Chairperson, Restaurant Association Education Trust
Tony’s restaurant ownership days started forty years ago with Le Brie French Provincial Restaurant, a leader in Auckland’s restaurant scene in the early 70’s. Tony jointly owned and operated the iconic Harbourside Seafood Bar and Grill for some 24 years and was involved with many other restaurants. Tony opened and operated Orbit Restaurant on behalf of Sky City for the first five years.
Tony has provided consulting services to Restaurant Management Ltd's clients including design, operational and financial advice specialising in winery restaurant operation. A menu and service consultant to Air New Zealand's business class and guest chef coordinator over a 10-year period. Currently he is the Restaurant Association's in-house Business Mentor and Chairperson of the Restaurant Association Education Trust.
Chief Executive, Tourism Export Council of New Zealand
Judy Chen has over 15 years’ experience in the tourism industry and is currently the Chief Executive of the Tourism Export Council of New Zealand (TECNZ). Before joining the Tourism Export Council, she was the Director of Sales & Marketing at Hotel Grand Chancellor NZ. In 2017, she was awarded the New Zealand Hotel Industry's Senior Hotel Executive of the Year.
Judy holds a Masters of Tourism Management and began her career with Tourism New Zealand. She is passionate in sharing her experience with the next generation of tourism leaders and is a founding member of YoungTEC - a subsidiary of TECNZ for young tourism professionals. She has also sat on the Tourism Advisory Board at Victoria University since 2009.
Her work at the Tourism Export Council now focuses on supporting and representing her members to achieve growth in export earnings whilst operating sustainably.
Director of Sales, New Zealand International Convention Centre
With over 20 years’ experience, Prue started her career with a Hospitality Certificate from high school whilst working as a casual kitchen hand at a small venue in Melbourne. Prue studied at Victoria University, gaining a Bachelor of Business (Hospitality and Marketing) and winning a coveted training placement with leading hotel group Accor. This placement led a career with Accor where she worked for several years in various business development and sales management roles.
Over the next decade, Prue broadened her experience with other leading companies in the events and hotel industry including the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), which she joined in 2009, holding the positions of Assistant Director of Sales and Senior Manager Customer Experience positions. During her 7 years at MCEC she was awarded a number of industry accolades, including Meetings and Events Australia’s National Business Development Person of the Year.
In October 2016, Prue made the move “across the ditch” to join the New Zealand International Convention Centre (NZICC) team as Director of Sales. Her key responsibilities currently include the development and implementation of sales and business development activities; recruiting a new team of sales professionals; maintaining strong relationships with association, government and corporate clients; and strengthening the strategic partnerships with Auckland Convention Bureau and Tourism New Zealand to ensure the success of large-scale international bidding and the growth of the business events sector for New Zealand.
Lisa Gardiner, International Business Events and Premium Manager, Tourism New Zealand
Tourism New Zealand is the organisation responsible for marketing New Zealand to the world as a visitor destination. Lisa Gardiner joined Tourism New Zealand in 2015 as the International Business Events and Premium Manager and is responsible for overseeing Tourism New Zealand's activity to attract more international business delegates and premium travellers.
With staff in Auckland, Wellington, Shanghai, Los Angeles, Singapore, Sydney, Mumbai and London, Lisa manages the development and implementation of Tourism New Zealand's Premium, International Business Events, conferencing and incentive market strategy.
Lisa holds a strong background in marketing, business development and digital innovation from working both domestically and internationally for global brands such as BP, Skype and Microsoft.
Professional Service Manager, BlockchainLabs.NZ
Matthew has been passionate about Blockchains since 2011, he is the Treasurer of the Blockchain Association of New Zealand and the Professional Service Manager of BlockchainLabs.NZ.
BlockchainLabs.NZ is a global leader in the audit and security of the Blockchain Ecosystem. Having been involved in the security and creation of over 30 new blockchain based assets through "ICOs".
Executive Chairwoman of the Board, Scenic Hotel Group
As Executive Chair of Scenic Hotel Group, Lani Hagaman oversees the company’s 18 hotels throughout New Zealand and the Pacific. Scenic represents New Zealand’s largest privately owned and operated hotel business and is unique for having a network of hotels in both metropolitan cities and provincial centres, as well as tourist markets in the Pacific
Lani’s career with Scenic Hotel Group began in 1987 when she was employed as a financial controller. Today she sits at the top table directing the Group’s future direction and growth with her Board of Directors. She is passionate about tourism as well as Scenic’s involvement in local communities and is a very active philanthropist, continuing the legacy established by her late husband Earl Hagaman
The Hagaman family’s interests also incorporate extensive landholding and property developments nationally. Lani is the current chair of the Helen Anderson trust – a centre that provides support for people aged 18 and up with mental and physical disability.
Managing Director, Australasia & Japan, InterContinental Hotels Group
Leanne Harwood is Managing Director of IHG’s Australasia & Japan Business Unit.
Appointed to this role in January 2018, Leanne is responsible for the operations, growth and performance of the more than 70 hotels in the Australasia and Japan Business Unit.
In this role, she will oversee the regional teams in Sydney and Tokyo as they to continue the fantastic growth momentum in Australasia and prepare for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympics in Japan.
Leanne has over 20 years’ experience in the hospitality industry with more than a decade at IHG. Before being appointed to this role, Leanne was Vice President for IHG's operations in South East Asia and Korea, based in Bangkok, overseeing the operations and performance of more than 60 hotels in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Korea – a number that is due to double over the next few years.
She had also worked for a number of hotel companies in a variety of countries including Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam and French Polynesia.
Originally from New Zealand, Leanne is a fitness fanatic and enjoys skiing.
National Director – Hotels, Colliers International New Zealand
Dean is recognised as New Zealand's leading hotel investment advisor specialising in the disposal, acquisition and valuation of hotel and tourism assets.
Dean is responsible for running the Colliers New Zealand National Hotel Division, the largest team of hotel consultants in the country. Since 2015, Dean has been responsible for the sale of over $430m in hotel assets and was awarded the New Zealand Commercial & Industrial Salesperson of the Year by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand in 2016.
Dean also provides advice to many institutional and private entities including; CDL, Heritage Hotels, CP Group, Colwall Investments, Distinction Hotels Group, Reddy Group, Scenic Hotel Group, AccorHotels, Auckland International Airport, Infratil, Russell Group of Companies and M&L Investments.
With one of the most notable recent assignments being the co-author of the New Zealand Regional Hotel Market Analysis and Forecasting Study (Project Palace) for New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, Tourism New Zealand, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and Tourism Industry Aotearoa.
Vice President New Zealand, Fiji and French Polynesia, AccorHotels
Gillian is Senior Vice President Operations for AccorHotels New Zealand, Fiji and French Polynesia. Appointed to the role in April 2017 she is the first female leader to have held a strategic role for New Zealand’s largest hotel operator.
An experienced hospitality professional across a variety of senior roles over the past 20 years, Gillian has been with AccorHotels since 2012 initially as Area General Manager of Operations for Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia and then more recently Vice President Operations, West Australia.
In her current role Gillian is responsible for managing AccorHotels’ interests in the region. In New Zealand specifically this comprises 33 hotels, 4300 rooms and 10 brands which generate over $350 million in revenue. There are 25 managed and 8 franchised hotels amongst the growing portfolio ranging from the luxury of Sofitel through to the ibis, ibis Styles and ibis Budget economy brands as well as the Pullman, MGallery, The Sebel, Grand Mercure, Novotel, and Mercure brands.
With a breadth of experience Gillian engages and collaborates with teams at both operational and strategic levels to improve performance and service delivery within the hotel industry. She has a passion for the industry and lives by the belief that no one person makes a hotel or corporate office; it’s the team that builds the character and supports the delivery of a high level of key metrics achievement.
National President, Federated Farmers New Zealand
Katie Milne is the first female Federated Farmers national president in the organisation’s 118-year history.
Recently described by The Listener as “a West Coast sheila through and through”, she’s a dairy farmer, Rural Woman of Influence winner and Westland Milk director who is committed to the betterment and welfare of farming families, New Zealand agriculture and the environment.
Managing Director, OCGL
Brett O’Riley is a Director and Advisor to organisations in New Zealand with a common theme, connecting them with international markets and opportunities. This is consistent with the work Brett has undertaken over the last 10 years devoted to the kaupapa of growing the New Zealand innovation eco-system, at NZICT (now NZTech), Ministry of Science and Innovation, and recently as Chief Executive of Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development, Auckland’s economic growth agency.
Brett’s current roles include Chief Advisor to Tata Consultancy Services in New Zealand, International Advisor to investment fund Innovation Capital, and the Chairman of Templar Tourism Management and beverage technology provider Wine Grenade respectively. He is a Director of the NZ Film Commission and Dotterel Technologies who provide sound technology solutions for UAVs.
Brett is also on the Boards of the Manaiakalani Education Trust, Bowls New Zealand and Baseball New Zealand, leading the latter’s push to have an Auckland based franchise in the Australian Baseball League.
Area Director Asia Pacific, STR
Jesper Palmqvist is based in Singapore as Area Director Asia Pacific for STR - leading the company and regional team for the wider region. He has spent his career across supplier and aggregator sides in hospitality, online travel and IT. As a strong supporter of simplifying big data through stories, he works to increase the engagement with data intelligence and clarify decision making for hospitality, research and investment companies in Asia Pacific. Jesper regularly attends and presents at client events and conferences around the globe, and has been interviewed by news outlets including Bloomberg, CNN and various financial, tourism or hospitality industry publications.
STR tracks supply and demand data for the hospitality industry and provide valuable market share analysis for global hotel and investment companies and agencies across the globe.
Managing Director, Tourism and Hospitality Services Australasia
Founded in 2005, Tourism and Hospitality Services AustralAsia (THSA) is an independent advisory, consulting and asset management firm, led by Managing Director Rodger Powell. Rodger has an uncommon breadth and depth of experience as an owner, operator and executive level manager across multiple hospitality and tourism businesses, with all THSA team members contributing specialist expertise to the practice.
Combined with substantial experience as a Director and Chair, Rodger’s CV includes CEO and C-suite roles on three continents, in hotel management, development and construction; marketing; industry advocacy and hospitality, gaming and online technologies.
An owner and former owner of pubs, restaurants and catering businesses, technology companies and services operations, Rodger is also a highly credentialed chairman and non-executive director of hospitality, tourism and other companies.
THSA team members have completed more than 400 assignments worldwide within the entire accommodation spectrum; attractions; food and beverage businesses; and tourism organisations. THSA’s practical advice is informed by 50-plus years of hands-on experience combined with the expertise honed from 25 years of consulting projects in Asia, Australia, Africa, Europe and the USA.
Clients include the largest multi-nationals, private companies, high net-worths, all tiers of government and smaller owner-operators.
Country Manager New Zealand & Pacific Islands, Mastercard
Ruth Riviere is the country manager for New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Ruth joined Mastercard UK in 2012 and has held varied roles across Mastercard, including driving digital sales in the UK and managing strategy and operations as the Chief of Staff for the President of International Markets, Ann Cairns. Her most recent role at Mastercard was Director of Social Impact at the Mastercard Centre for Inclusive Growth, where she designed and directed the Centre’s global philanthropic program work to support sustainable economic growth and financial inclusion. This included programmes in Indonesia, Romania, Mexico, Egypt, Rwanda, Nigeria and the US.
Prior to Mastercard Ruth worked in financial services consulting at Oliver Wyman, and helped to build an innovation & growth consultancy, recently acquired by Deloitte.
Ruth has an MA in International Relations from Kings College London, and a BA in Geography from Oxford University.
Founder, Haka Tourism Group
In 2007, Ryan started Haka Tours with no tourism experience but a desire to break away from the corporate world and to work in an industry he could be truly passionate in. With a business model going direct to the consumer online and bypassing the traditional travel agency and wholesaler market, Haka Tours gained traction and expanded its adventure tour range to include guided snow tours and mountain bike tours.
10 years later, the wider Haka Tourism Group includes a growing nationwide chain of up-market hostels, Haka Lodges, an international educational brand, Haka Educational Tours that operates in 12 countries globally, a competitor they purchased based in Wanaka, NZ Snow Tours which offers high end snow tours and a brand-new hotel brand, Haka Hotels, with the first two sites having opened in Auckland in Dec 2017 and Jan 2018.
The Haka Tourism Group see themselves as much as a digital marketing company as they do a travel company and has won many prestigious awards including the Supreme Award at the 2017 New Zealand Tourism Awards. With a strategy firmly based on niche tourism products backed by a shared service business model, the Haka Tourism Group aims to be on the most widely recognised and respected tourism brands in Australasia.
Barrister, Port Nicholson Chambers
Andrew Scott-Howman is a Wellington based barrister specialising in employment law. He was a partner at a major national firm before going to the bar in 2012.
Andrew is a graduate of the Association of Workplace Investigator's Training Institute and is a member of that specialist interest organisation.
He has wide experience as an investigator in employment matters, including undertaking:
- enquiries into allegations of workplace bullying;
- investigations into sexual harassment allegations; and
- workplace disciplinary investigations.
Chambers Asia Pacific lists Andrew as a Band 1 Leading Individual and records his clients’ endorsement as “the best at what he does in the country”.
Chief Economist, Westpac
Dominick joined Westpac as a Senior Economist in 2006 and became Chief Economist in 2011. His most well-known research concerns the roles of taxation, interest rates and inflation on the New Zealand housing market. He has also published research on the exchange rate, New Zealand’s labour market, and macroeconomic modelling.
Dominick started his career at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. He was closely involved in forecasting and interest rate decisions as second-in-charge of the RBNZ’s forecasting team. He is from Christchurch and graduated from the University of Canterbury with a Bachelor of Science with 1st Class Honours in Economics.
His travels include crossing Mongolia on horseback, riding 1000 miles down the Peruvian Andes and a year spent in the Amazon jungle.
Chief Executive, Conventions & Incentives New Zealand (CINZ)
Sue joined CINZ as Chief Executive in June 2014. Sue has full responsibility for the day to day operations of CINZ, Membership Management and Relationships, along with implementing the Strategic direction as agreed with the CINZ Board.
Sue has over 24 years’ experience in the Tourism Industry and has worked extensively in market and product development in the markets of Australia, North America, Europe and the UK. Sue has worked in sales, marketing and operations both in New Zealand and Australia within a publicaly listed company.
Independent writer, critic and educator in the food industry
Kerry has been involved in the food industry for many years in a variety of roles from writing books such as The Winemaker, Wild Kitchens, NZ Breweries and Beers to Head Assessor for Cuisine Good Food Awards, Devro Sausage Competition, Monteith’s Wild Food Challenge and judging Nestle’s Toque D’Or and New Zealand Restaurant of the Year.
Kerry was formerly Executive Director for New Zealand Beverage Council, restaurant reviewer for Cuisine Magazine and is involved with Muriwai Surf Lifesaving.
Chief Executive, Tourism Holdings Ltd (thl)
Grant Webster was appointed CEO of thl in December 2008, before which he was Chief Operating Officer – Attractions Division with the company for three years. Grant’s background includes senior executive roles and directorships across the tourism, hospitality, gaming and retail industries. Immediately prior to joining thl Grant was a General Manager at SKYCITY Auckland.