This advisory committee provides recommendations to the Minister on the Nature Heritage Fund.

Role of the committee

The Nature Heritage Fund (NHF) Committee was established as a Ministerial Committee under Section 56 of the Conservation Act 1987, to assess applications to the Fund, and provide advice to the Minister.


The objective of the Fund is to encourage, facilitate and support programmes, activities and initiatives associated with the protection, management and enhancement of indigenous nature. The Committee considers this objective carefully whilst providing advice to the Minister.


The function of the NHF Committee is to assess applications submitted to the NHF against the Fund’s criteria and provide funding recommendations to the Minister of Conservation. This includes applications to protect South Island Landless Natives Act (1906) land that contains significant conservation values. 


Members are appointed by the Minister of Conservation, following a process of public nominations. Due to the Committee’s technical nature, a combination of ecological and geographic expertise is required so that appropriate advice is given. 

Cabinet agreed that members of the NHF Committee would serve three-year terms, with renewals as appropriate.


The NHF Committee meets as required. Members are paid a daily meeting fee.

Comittee members

The Nature Heritage Fund has five committee members appointed by the Minister of Conservation. 

Sue Rickman (Chair)

Appointment term: 13 July 2017 to 12 July 2023

Sue is an ex Rural Valuer and Banker and former Taupō catchment drystock farmer who has over 20 years of governance experience primarily in conservation , biosecurity, and environmental protection. She has been involved in the Lake Taupō Protection project since its inception in 1999 and is a founding and current Trustee of the Lake Taupō Protection Trust. Sue is a current Director of Orillion and was formally a Director for the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust for 8 years. She currently lives in Hamilton.

Dr Gerry McSweeney QSO CNZM

Appointment term: 5 August 2020 to 30 June 2023

Gerry has been on the NHF Committee since the fund’s establishment (as the then Forest Heritage Fund) in 1990. Gerry has a Botany honours degree from Canterbury University and a Doctorate in High Country Ecology from Lincoln University. He has worked in nature conservation for all his career including as Park Naturalist with Westland and Arthur's Pass National Parks, as CEO and later National President of the Forest and Bird Society, as a member of the DOC Establishment Unit and more recently as a member of the NZ Conservation Authority.

Gerry has owned and operated Cora Lynn Station/Wilderness Lodge Arthur's Pass for the last 26 years and the Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki in South Westland since 1986. He has considerable experience in eco-tourism, commercial business, land management negotiations, and is an enthusiastic champion of kaitiakitanga and empowerment of iwi and of rural communities.

Paula Smith

Appointment term: 5 August 2020 to 30 June 2023

Paula is a member and current chairperson of the Canterbury Aoraki Conservation Board Te Runanga Papa Atawhai o Waitaha me Aoraki. She has also been a community representative on the Lyttelton Mount Herbert Community Board, Summit Road Authority and the Banks Peninsula Water Management Zone Committee. She has a background in plant ecology and landscape architecture and experience as an RMA decision-maker. She lives on Banks Peninsula. 

Gina Solomon MNZM

Appointment term: 13 July 2017 to 12 July 2023

Gina Solomon is of Ngāi Tahu, Kurahaupo, Ngati Koata, Te Atiawa and Ngati Toa descent and is Ngati Kuri tangata whenua in Kaikoura. Gina participates in numerous groups/communities and projects in paid and volunteer capacities. Some of these committees are often conflicting groups of stakeholders who need to work collaboratively to develop pragmatic strategies and solutions that integrate cultural, environmental and economic interests. She brings Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Tikanga Maori to these forums and moves with ease and comfort with whanau, iwi, government and other authorities and the wider community.

Gina is passionate about her mahi and the groups she is involved in which include: Nature Heritage Fund Committee; Kaikōura Zone Committee; Te Korowai o Te Tai o Marokura and Kaikoura Marine Guardians. In June 2021 she was awarded the NZ Order of Merit. She has previously been a Trustee on Tītī/Hutton's Shearwater Charitable Trust; Director on the QEII National Trust; Chair of the Nelson/ Marlborough Conservation Board; Molesworth Steering Committee member and Forestry Ministerial Advisory Group member. Gina has also provided facilitation workshops to Irrigation NZ - An Introduction To Working With Tangata Whenua and Fisheries NZ to support imi/iwi community partnership in development of integrated management of the Chatham Is (Rekohu) fisheries. She has also been a certified RMA Making Good Decisions Commissioner.

Aroha Mead

Appointment term: 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2025

Aroha is appointed in consultation with the Minister of Conservation. Aroha (of Ngati Awa, Ngāti Porou and Tūhourangi) is an independent researcher currently working with the Biological National Science Challenge, Bio-Protection Aotearoa Centre of Research Excellence and Wakatū. Specialising in indigenous cultural and intellectual property issues, mātauranga/Indigenous knowledge and participatory inclusive conservation.

Aroha has previously served for 16 years on the Governing Council of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with eight of those years as elected global Chair of IUCN's Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP). Her career also spans across academia (Victoria University of Wellington) and the public service (Te Puni Kōkiri).


Nature Heritage Fund Committee
c/o Kees Hyink
Department of Conservation
PO Box 10420
Wellington 6143
Telephone: 0800 862 020

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