Bay of Plenty/Waikato Lifeline Utilities Forum


The Bay of Plenty / Waikato Lifelines Utilities Forum is a an annual event that provides an opportunity for regional lifeline utilities project managers and managers of major utility companies to come together, share ideas and learn best practice.

This year the event is being hosted in the Bay of Plenty.

Club Mount Maunganui, 45 Kawaka St, Mount Maunganui, Tauranga
Thursday 23 August 2018

Forum Topics Include:

  • Sea level rise and climate change adaptation
  • GIS in Emergency Management
  • Preparedness for future central North Island Super volcano eruptions
  • Legal interactions between Lifeline Utilities and Civil Defence during a State of Emergency
  • Transpower 'Black Start' planning
  • GNS Science 'communicating during and emergency'
  • Lessons learned from recent utilites disruptions

Andrew Hitchfield - Chairperson of Bay of Plenty Lifeline Utilities Group
Andrew Hitchfield, currently the Regional Manager of Vodafone, has been involved in telecommunications for over a decade. He has previously held Senior Management roles within the industry, including National Sales Manager at Telecom Mobile and General Manager of Emphone.

He is currently Chairman of Papamoa Surf Life Saving Club and has been an active life guard and club member for over ten years.  He has previously held a number of governance and advisory roles, including as a Board member and Chairman of Tahatai Coast School, committee member of the Tauranga Club, member of The Institute of Directors and currently on the judging panel for the Tauranga Westpac Business Awards. Andrew lives in Mt Maunganui and enjoys his down time surfing, reading and enjoying time with his wife Lynda – and two teenage sons.

Kevin Biggar - Trans-Atlantic rower and Polar explorer
Kevin Biggar was a strategy consultant with The Boston Consulting Group before he left the corporate world to take part in the world’s toughest test of endurance - the trans-Atlantic Rowing race. An unusual choice for anyone but particularly someone who hadn’t rowed before and was prone to sea-sickness.

Nevertheless - applying the same skills from his business career he took on the challenge and over two years transformed himself into a world record beating endurance athlete. Together with his rowing partner Jamie Fitzgerald he then went on to undertake a much tougher challenge - the first ever unsupported trek from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole and back.

Since then he has been the CEO of a software startup and has written or co-written three books ‘The Oarsome Adventures of a Fat Boy Rower’ (the Sunday Star Times best sports book of 2008) ‘Escape to the Pole’ (2010), and ‘First Crossings’ all published by Random House. Kevin was also the host of the TVNZ series ‘First Crossings’ and ‘Intrepid NZ’ recreating historic adventures in NZ.

Kevin has spent the last ten years continuing his fascination with performance, personal transformation and the psychology of teams.  His advice about how to unleash your potential - shared in highly visual and entertaining presentations have made a lasting impact on thousands of people in New Zealand and Australia.

Todd Muller - National Party Member for Bay of Plenty
Todd Muller was born in Te Aroha and raised in Te Puna. He attended Tauranga Boys College before earning his Master’s Degree from the University of Waikato. His career experience includes roles as a General Manager for Zespri, Chief Executive of Bay of Plenty company Apata, and most recently as Group Director Cooperative Affairs for Fonterra. He is a former University of Waikato Councillor, and sat on the Boards of Plant & Food Research and the Sustainable Business Council.

During his time in Parliament Todd has served as the Chairperson of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee, and as the Deputy Chairperson of the Education and Science Select Committee. He is currently the Opposition Spokesperson for both Climate Change and Crown/Maori Relations.

Todd is married to Michelle and is father to their three children, Aimee, Bradley, and Amelia.

Rob Bell - NIWA
Rob is a coastal oceanographer with 35 years’ experience with a PhD from the University of Canterbury in Civil Engineering. He consults extensively on coastal & estuarine environmental projects particularly the effects of coastal wastewater discharges, dredging, water quality modelling, coastal hazards and the impacts of coastal climate change. Rob is a certified Hearings Commissioner under the Making Good Decisions programme, member of the Institution of Professional Engineers NZ (IPENZ) and a Chartered Professional Engineer CPEng (Environmental Engineering). 

Andrew Renton - Transpower
A Qualified Electrical Engineer with more than 28 years of technical and managerial experience in the New Zealand and Australian Oil & Gas and Transmission & Distribution (T&D) sectors. Working for utilities, consultants and government agencies over this time he has provided input on a wide range of opportunities and challenges in the technical, managerial and financial areas of the energy industry including advisory roles to Australian utilities and regulators and the New Zealand Treasury infrastructure unit. Presently, as Transposer’s Senior Principal Engineer, Andrew is involved across the business working in both the technical and business space to ensure that a holistic, future focused whole of life approach is adopted to the management and development of our assets and services. Examples of this are in the development and application of AI, drones, robotics and Distributed Energy Resources to address transmission challenges.

Andrew’s role also includes responsibility as a lifeline organization for the Civil Defense Liaison for the New Zealand Electricity Industry.

Graham Leonard - GNS Science
Graham is a Senior Scientist within the Risk and Society Department. His particular research interests are in Taupo Volcanic Zone - as a leader of the Eruption of Catastrophe: Learning to Implement Preparedness for future Supervolcano Eruptions (ECLIPSE) programme ( – and in developing effective response to warning systems, especially for volcanoes and tsunami.

Kate Clark - GNS Science
Kate Clark is an Earthquake Geologist at GNS Science, Lower Hutt. Kate studies the geological record to understand the earthquake and tsunami behaviour of major plate boundary faults. Her research is focussed on the Hikurangi margin where she studies the geomorphology of raised coastlines and sedimentary record in subsided wetlands to detect perturbations in coastal environments related to past large earthquakes. Kates other research projects involve long earthquake records of the Alpine fault, pre-historic large tsunami around New Zealand, and active fault mapping.

Daniel Blake - University of Canterbury
Dr Daniel Blake is a researcher in disaster risk and resilience with around 10 years’ experience in the subject area. He currently works as a post-doctoral researcher in the infrastructure component of the Resilience to Nature’s Challenges programme, based at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch. This involves developing a variety of research-based solutions for the continued operation of New Zealand’s critical infrastructure networks following extreme natural hazard events.

In 2017, Daniel completed a PhD on the impacts of volcanic ash on transport networks. The project adopted both qualitative and quantitative research methods in the field, laboratory and office environments. It included detailed studies of traction on volcanic ash covered roads, road marking coverage by ash, and visibility through airborne volcanic ash. Additionally, a scenario was developed to explore critical infrastructure impacts and emergency management activities for a hypothetical eruption in the Auckland Volcanic Field.

Prior to this, Daniel has worked as a Hazards Advisor for Civil Defence and Emergency Management in Auckland, and as a Flood Forecaster for the UK Environment Agency.

Craig Campbell-Smart - Taranaki CDEM Group
Craig is the CDEM Regional Manager for the Taranaki Group, and also holds the positions as Lead Group Controller (a recent appointment) and Alternate Group Recovery Manager (from 2015). A relative new comer to the CDEM sector Craig has been tasked with leading the change to local delivery arrangements, establishing 3 new EOCs, a major rewrite of the Group Plan and response arrangements. Craig was response manager during ex-cyclone Gita region wide storm event, helping lead the response to the loss of water supply to half of the New Plymouth city, and widespread power outages. He has a background in Local Government.

Donna Llewell - Bay of Plenty Regional Council
Donna is a foundation graduate of the University of Waikato and was admitted to the Bar in 1996.  She has a Bachelor of Laws and Arts (Māori) (1995) and Master of Laws from the University of South Pacific (2006).

Donna is currently employed as In-House Legal Counsel for the Bay of Plenty Regional Council / Toi Moana based in Tauranga.  Her legal career includes 20 years spanning both public and private sectors and advising NZ and South Pacific governments.  Donna was appointed Crown Counsel in the Treaty Issues & International Law Team in 2009.  She has been a volunteer legal advisor in Vanuatu and Bougainville and has also taught International Environmental Law in the Pacific.

Donna specialises in Resource Management and Planning Law, Public Administrative Law, Environmental, Litigation, Māori Land, Customary Law and Treaty of Waitangi issues.  She also has vast experience with negotiations and mediation of complex issues and has attended on a vast number of Treaty settlements in Aotearoa.  In her role with BOPRC, she provides legal support to specialist maritime and civil defence functions, including active member of the regional Civil Defence Emergency Management team for Risk: Safety, Legal & Reputation.