Board of Directors

Membership of the Central Plains Water Ltd (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.

Geoff Stevenson


Geoff Stevenson is a farmer based in the Selwyn district with interests in both dairy and dry stock farming.  He has been an elected member of the CPWL Board for more than twelve years. During his time on the Board, Geoff has been involved in the raising of capital via a rights issue and the issue of Stage 1 & 2 and Sheffield Construction Shares.

Geoff has an Institute of Directors New Zealand certificate in Company Direction, obtained in 2009.  In 2006 he attended the Monash University Course in Agribusiness for Cooperative Leadership and Governance and in 2003 was a participant in the Kellogg Rural Leadership Course.  He has also been an elected member of the Fonterra Shareholders Council and the Livestock Improvement Corporate’s Shareholder Council.

Geoff is currently a Director of Te Pirita Irrigation Limited (a wholly owned subsidiary of the Company) and personal business companies consisting of Clovernook Farm Limited and Addington Pastures Limited. Both companies are shareholders in the CPWL scheme.

Bill Luff

Independent Director

Bill Luff is a professional director with more than 30 years’ experience in government and business roles, including a long period at British Petroleum and 4 years as Chief Executive of the Canterbury Development Corporation.

Bill is currently a director of Isaac Construction Limited, Overseer Limited and J Ballantyne and Company Limited and a Trustee of the Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust, the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra Trust, and the Lighthouse Vision Trust.

Bill’s past directorships include Silver Fern Farms Limited and Lyttelton Port Company Limited.

Damon Summerfield


Damon Summerfield has been a dryland arable farmer in Sheffield for 20 years. His property is irrigated by CPWL. Damon is a director and shareholder in Summerfield Farming Co Limited, which owns Shares in the Company. He became a director of CPWL in October 2011.

Derek Crombie

Independent Director

Derek Crombie is a Civil Engineer with over 20 years’ experience of large (over $200,000,000) water resource based civil engineering projects in various countries including New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Philippines, and Hong Kong.

Derek was the Managing Director of CPWL from early 2017 through until the end of 2019. He was previously the Company’s Chief Executive Officer and has been the overall project manager of the Scheme, working with the Board to develop all aspects of the Scheme, since 2009.

Derek holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) from the University of Canterbury and a Diploma from Harvard Business School.

He was a director of Citycare Limited between 2003 and 2012. Derek is a Trustee of Tait Communications and was Managing Director (New Zealand) and General Manager (Asia) for MWH Asia Limited (formerly Montgomery Watson Limited) from 1989 until 2003. He was a Director of the GHD Pty Global Company and was South Island Manager for GHD NZ Limited, one of Australasia’s largest consulting engineering practices, until 2010.

Grant Miller

Independent Director

Grant Miller is a Selwyn District Councillor who currently chairs the CPWL Audit and Risk Committee.  Grant farms a dairy, beef, and cropping enterprise based at Tai Tapu and McQueens Valley.  These farms are outside the Scheme area.

Grant has previously been involved in New Zealand commercial banking at a management level and has worked for two large international banks in London.

Since returning to New Zealand, Grant has completed the Fonterra/Massey University Governance development programme.  He is a current member of the Fonterra Alumni Programme as well as a Chartered member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors.

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.

Stuart Wright


Stuart Wright runs a dryland mixed arable, seed potato and lamb-finishing operation at Sheffield, west of Christchurch. Stuart has been a member of the Ravensdown Board since 2007 and was elected Deputy Chairman in December 2014. He was elected to the CPWL Board in 2019.

Willie Palmer


Willie Palmer grew up in Sheffield and has an interest in an 80-hectare farm in the area that is irrigated from CPWL's Sheffield scheme.  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.