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


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

Dry 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

Dry 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

Wet Shareholder Director

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

Wet Shareholder Director

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.

Simon Le Heron

Wet Shareholder Director

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.

Jenny Geddes

Wet Shareholder Director

As a dairy farmer with a professional background in environmental management, primarily water and land-use resource consenting, I believe that I can add significant value to the CPWL Board of Directors with my skill set.

As the 2022/2023 ‘Developing Director’ for CPWL, I spent the year in a very hands-on role, attending monthly CPWL board meetings, participating in strategy workshops, board training, site visits and stakeholder meetings. The role has given me valuable insight into the realities of being a CPWL Director, and an appreciation of the wide range of issues and decisions that the CPWL Board deals with. As part of the programme, I also completed NZ Institute of Director courses in Governance, Strategy and Finance. I hold a Bachelor of Science, and a Bachelor of Resource Studies, obtained as a double degree from Lincoln University. This set me on my path to a career working in environmental management, initially for Environment Canterbury, where I became a Senior Investigating Officer. I specialised in the take and use of ground and surface water, as well as land-use, discharge and coastal consents, including flood protection and irrigation intake works and structures in many Canterbury rivers. I then worked as a Senior Environmental Consultant for over ten years, for RJ Hall Civil & Environmental Consulting, and Irricon Resource Solutions, helping farmers throughout Canterbury to achieve their consenting needs. These roles all gave me strong skills in establishing connections with stakeholders, preparing technical assessments, analysing and auditing information, and presenting at consent hearings.

My professional career has given me a true appreciation of what it takes to have CPWL water delivered to our turnout, from a legislative, engineering, and compliance perspective, and what we as farmers, the water users, face to use that water to our best advantage. I also see the potential challenges that CPWL will face as the reality of new legislation around land and water management in NZ takes hold.

I strongly believe that CPWL must strategically futureproof our take and use of water, so that we can ensure reliable and affordable water going forward.

Renewal of the CPWL consents in 2047 may seem a long way off, but we must be proactive in ensuring that we are doing all we can now, to guarantee our future.

As a farmer, I am very aware of the mounting pressures that we all face, as we become increasingly accountable for how and why we farm the way we do. I believe there is strength in the CPWL co-operative, with opportunities to add value to our individual farming operations, by showing that as a scheme we are indeed striving to have ‘sustainable water growing our world’.

Tim Cookson

Wet Shareholder Director

My wife Lucy and I have been farming in Hororata for the last 25 years. In December 2025 our family will have farmed in Hororata for 100 years and our sons are keen to continue this legacy. We own 573ha, 525ha which is irrigated via CPW. We lease another 116ha of dryland heavy soils which is close to the home block. We run a mixed farm system with dairy support, arable and winter lamb finishing. A reliable irrigation water supply is integral to our business.

Off farm I work part time and am a shareholder and Chair of Cropmark Seeds Ltd which is the last NZ owned proprietary plant breeding pasture seed company in New Zealand. Irrigation is also very important to Cropmark Seeds with 95% of our seed production grown with irrigation.

I also hold a number of different voluntary governance roles. I am the Vice Chair on the board of Trustees at Christchurch Boys High School, the Chair of the Adams House Committee and a trustee on the North Canterbury Rural Support Trust. I see these roles as an important way to connect with the community.

My family is also committed to our rural community and are heavily involved with local groups and events.

I have done many different governance training courses such as the Kellog Rural Leadership programme, To the Core leadership and governance programme and IOD Governance essentials course. I am currently enrolled to complete IOD chairing the board course.