Board of Directors

Membership of the Central Plains Water Limited (CPWL) Board of Directors includes Shareholders and Independent Directors. The Directors are recognised for their expertise and experience in the agri-sector, construction, governance, finance, and utility operations, both nationally and internationally.

Grant Miller

Director and Chairperson

Grant Miller is a professional director who has previously been Chair of CPWL and Selwyn District Council Audit and Risk Committees. He is a current Director of Transwaste Canterbury Limited and Councillor for the Selwyn District Council.

Grant maintains an interest in a Dairy /Beef/Cropping farming enterprise. This is based outside the scheme area.

Prior to his Governance career Grant was involved in Commercial Banking both in New Zealand and Overseas.

Grant is a Chartered Member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors and Alumni of the Fonterra/Massey Governance Program.

Bruce Gemmell

Independent Director

Bruce was elected to the CPWL Board as an Independent Director in November 2020.

Bruce is a professional director, a Chartered Accountant and member of the Institute of Directors.

Throughout his career, Bruce has been involved in a wide range of assignments including consulting on business purchase and sales, restructuring, capital raising and valuations. He has extensive corporate governance experience, and in addition to being an Independent Director and Audit and Risk Chair of CPWL, is currently Chancellor (Chair) of Lincoln University, a director of Planz Consultants Limited, Chair of Audit and Risk Lincoln University (2014-2018), Chair of Audit and Risk and director of Orion New Zealand Limited, Chair of Audit and Risk and director of Highlanders Rugby Franchise, director of Lincoln Agritech Limited, trustee of Lincoln Memorial Trust and director of Miramar Consolidated.

Bruce was a Partner of both EY and KPMG for over 17 years where he managed the Wellington and Christchurch offices for EY and the Christchurch office of KPMG. He also sat on the executive management team for EY and the national partnership body for KPMG.

Willie Palmer

Independent Director

Willie Palmer grew up in Sheffield.  He is a commercial litigation lawyer and partner in national law firm Buddle Findlay.

Willie was an original member of both the Central Plains Water Enhancement Steering Committee (2000) and the Central Plains Water Trust (2003).  He has been on the CPWL Board since 2005.

Stuart Wright


Stuart Wright runs a mixed arable, seed potato and lamb-finishing operation at Sheffield, west of Christchurch. Stuart was previously a member of the Ravensdown Board and was Deputy Chairman in December 2014. He was elected to the CPWL Board in 2019.

Tony Coltman


Tony was elected to the CPWL Board as a Shareholder Director in March 2021.

Tony has over 25 years’ experience in rural leadership and advisory roles, both in New Zealand and abroad, including several years in rural banking. He has always had a passion for farming, even though he doesn’t come from a farming background. Tony graduated from Lincoln University with a BCom in Agriculture and a Diploma in Farm Management (with Distinction) and completed the Fonterra Governance Development Programme in 2016. He is a member of the NZ Institute of Directors and is in his fifth year as the Health and Safety chair for the Ruralco-ATS board.

For the past eight years, Tony has been the Manager & Director of a 3400-cow equity partnership in Dunsandel, and for the five years prior was a shareholder and manager of Focal Dairies, a 2500 cow pasture based dairy operation in Missouri, USA. Tony has a long history of engagement in the industry, being a Tactic for Tight Times Farmer, a Benchmark farm for Lincoln University, a Lincoln Dairy farm voluntary advisor, and an active leader in the highly successful Forages for Reduced Nitrogen Leaching Programme. He is also two-time runner up for the Dairy Industry Awards and recently received the Regional Supreme Award in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

John Donkers


John Donkers has been a director of CPWL since October 2003 and has been involved in the Central Plains Water initiative since its inception. John was initially a member of the Central Plains Water Steering Committee followed by a period as a Trustee of the Central Plains Water Trust.

John graduated from Lincoln University in 1981 with a degree in Agricultural Science.

After working as a sharemilker for several years, followed by two years working overseas, he returned to New Zealand and held senior management roles with Apple Fields Dairy Company Limited from 1989 to 1992, developing and managing large-scale dairy farms throughout the South Island.  John held a project management role with Sealord Shellfish in Nelson, before returning to Canterbury in 1996 where he established the dairy business consultancy Dairy Farm Management Services Limited (DFMS).  John remains a part owner of DFMS and continues to work for the business as a consultant.

John’s business interests include shareholdings in, and directorships of a number of companies involved in dairy farming in Canterbury.  Several of these farms are shareholders in the CPWL scheme.

John has previously been a board member of Irrigation NZ Inc. and was a member of the Regional Committee of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy for five years from 2010.

Pete Morrison


Director profile not available yet.

Simon Le Heron


Simon was appointed as a Wet Shareholder Director of Central Plains Water Limited in October 2021. Simon is currently the NZ CEO of Canterbury Grasslands Ltd, a large-scale dairy farming business with farms in Canterbury and Southland. Prior roles were large scale dairy focused in the North Island and time spent working at the Fonterra head office in Auckland. Simon and his wife have personal dairy farming interests in Southland and Canterbury. Simon has completed Director Institute programs and the Fonterra Governance Development course was completed in 2019. A legal background and strong technical understanding of pastoral farming and farming systems have allowed Simon to develop a unique set of skills. Simon studied Law and Economics at Canterbury University.