This page provides information about our Te Pūrengi leadership team.
Vicky Robertson – Chief Executive
Vicky Robertson is the Secretary for the Environment, appointed in April 2015. An internationally experienced executive with a background in law and economics, Vicky is a champion for inclusive growth, transparency and accountability in the state sector. Before her appointment, Ms Robertson was a key member of the Treasury’s senior leadership team, where she held Deputy Chief Executive, Chief Operating Officer and Acting Secretary and Chief Executive positions.
Ms Robertson has extensive experience across a range of complex policy frameworks. She represented the Treasury in several capacities, including the steering group that established the programme to deliver the Mixed Ownership Model for State Owned Enterprises. Her leadership experience extends to strategic organisational initiatives, such as the Treasury’s programme to develop stronger relationships with Māori. Her professional accomplishments also include a year’s secondment to the United Nations Development Programme, where she led a strategic and structural review of the organisation.
Vicky is passionate about diversity as a critical factor in high performing organisations and speaks regularly at business and industry forums. She has worked extensively with iwi throughout her career and in recent years has attended Treaty of Waitangi events as a senior representative. She has been involved in significant interdepartmental strategic policy programmes, including the Social Housing Programme, the establishment of KiwiSaver, the New Zealand National Retirement Savings Scheme and leading the group involved in a cross-departmental review of New Zealand’s Climate Change policy.
Cheryl Barnes – Deputy Secretary, Water and Climate Change
Cheryl Barnes is Deputy Secretary for Water and Climate Change. Her role is to ensure the ministry provides leadership and stewardship that will make a difference for future generations of New Zealanders.
Cheryl's responsibilities include strategic leadership and policy advice across freshwater quality and management, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. She also leads work on monitoring the state of New Zealand’s water resources and reporting to the world on New Zealand’s emissions.
These issues are central to New Zealand’s transition to sustainable land use and a sustainable low emissions economy. The work she leads sits within the wider context of supporting the ministry to pursue its vision of making New Zealand the most liveable place in the world.
Cheryl joined the MfE as Deputy Secretary, Organisational Performance/Chief Operating Officer, and managed teams dealing with a variety of issues such as human resourcing, people and culture, as well as water management, funding for freshwater clean-ups, remediation of contaminated sites and environmental education.
Prior to that she was the Director of Budget and Public Services at the Treasury where she held a range of leadership roles, including on budget and fiscal policy and state sector reform.
Cheryl holds a Masters of Public Policy from Victoria University and a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from Leeds University in the UK. She is mother to two young daughters.
Amanda Moran – Deputy Secretary, Natural and Built System
Amanda has worked at MfE since 2006, before that holding planning roles in London and Dunedin. She brings expertise and commitment to the issues the ministry is addressing and the outcomes we are seeking for New Zealand.
Amanda has held acting roles at this level on diverse issues including urban, marine, air, hazardous substances and the resource management system and has built trusted working relationships across Government and beyond.
She has also played a significant role in the leadership of the ministry’s transformation programme.
Natasha Lewis – Deputy Secretary, Strategy and Stewardship
Natasha has worked at MfE since 2008, before that holding roles with the Wellington and Tasman Councils and a government role in Laos.
Natasha is an authentic leader who is committed to the environment sector and the opportunity that the ministry has to be at the forefront of real change. In partnership with Statistics NZ she leads our environmental reporting programme, and the growth of our engagement with young people.
Natasha has also represented New Zealand at the most recent OECD environmental performance review.
Melanie Mark-Shadbolt – Kaihautū – Chief Māori Advisor
Melanie’s iwi affiliations are Ngāti Porou, Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, Te Atiawa, Ngāti Raukawa, and Te Arawa.
Melanie works directly with Te Pūrengi, supporting us on our journey as leaders towards a greater understanding of Te Ao Māori, the Māori world.
Her appointment reflects MfE’s commitment to an authentic Crown-Māori relationship and meeting our Te Tiriti o Waitangi obligations. She provides advice and leadership – supporting a strategic approach that is consistent with Māori aspirations and values. This is important for our role in the ministry’s engagement with iwi/Māori (eg, in our policy development and implementation).
Melanie brings a wealth of experience across the public and private sectors, with strengths in leadership and strategy development, Matauranga Māori, science and research engagement and much more.
Dr Alison Collins – Kaitohutohu Mātanga Pūtaiao Matua
Alison, intrigued from an early age about how the world works, studied soil science (the mysterious universe beneath our feet) and geomorphology (how landscapes evolve). Seeing many different soils and landscapes became a passion and took her on a journey from the UK, around Europe and into Mississippi before landing almost 15 years ago in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Alison spent 12 years working for Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research, leading a portfolio of science around ecosystems, soils, land use and informatics. During her time with Manaaki Whenua, Alison worked with regional councils and central government agencies to understand and prioritise their science needs. She also worked with the science community to find ways in which to facilitate better uptake and use of science. In this capacity she established and became director of a centre for integrating data and science-based tools, facilitating clear and engaging communication.
Alison joined MfE in August 2017 as Departmental Chief Science Advisor. Still passionate about enabling wise use of science, her role is focused on ensuring ‘valued and trusted science for environmental stewardship’. On a day-to-day basis this means translating complex science, helping to navigating the science system so decision-makers can better access and use the excellent research being done, and building capability at the science to policy interface.
Claire Richardson – Chief Operating Officer
Claire is responsible for MfE's corporate and organisational performance, ministerial services, and organisational development.
Claire has diverse international experience spanning multiple sectors including international film and television and international aid. She came to the ministry from the Auckland Council where she held a number of senior roles.