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: 1 July 2023 to 30 June 2025

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.

Gina Solomon MNZM

Appointment term: 1 July 2023 to 30 June 2025

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.

David Barnes

Appointment term: 1 July 2023 to 30 June 2026

David Barnes is an avid tramper who lives in Lower Hutt. He is a member of the Hutt Valley Tramping Club, a life member of the Otago Tramping and Mountaineering Club and was a member of the executive of Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand (FMC) for over 20 years.

He has previously been a member of the Otago Conservation Board, the New Zealand Conservation Authority and Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa/New Zealand Geographic Board, and volunteered as a Land Search and Rescue search manager and a Mountain Safety Council bushcraft instructor. He is a member of the Guardians of Lakes Manapouri, Monowai and Te Anau. David works for ACC and for Herenga ā Nuku Aotearoa/Outdoor Access Commission, dabbles in writing and enjoys fine whisky.

John Whitehead  

Appointment term: 1 July 2023 to 30 June 2026

Mr Whitehead is a semi-retired farmer. He is experienced in negotiating environmental outcomes and consensus building, and has a sound understanding of governance issues and conservation law and policies. His lifelong interest is in natural history and conservation, in particular high country issues and rivers and fisheries management. His outdoor recreation interest is tramping.

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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