Environmental Information key contacts

NIWA's Environmental Information team is led by Jochen Schmidt.

Key contacts for Environmental Information services

Chief Scientist - Environmental Information

Jochen has a background in hydrology, geomorphology, soil science, geo-informatics, and hazards and risk assessment. He worked for Landcare Research between 2001 and 2003 and was instrumental in developing the New Zealand Digital Soil Map (‘SMAP’). He joined NIWA in 2003 and coordinates systems for collecting, managing and delivering environmental information – ensuring they are robust and meet best-practice standards. Jochen leads NIWA’s engagement with the primary sector.

Principal Scientist - Coastal and Estuarine Physical Processes

Rob has been involved for 40 years in diverse areas of coastal engineering, climate-change impacts and adaptation, coastal/shelf physical oceanography, natural physical hazards, risk assessment and wastewater discharges. His expertise includes  natural hazard and risk assessments, coastal climate-change and sea-level rise guidance, assessment of environmental effects (AEE's) for coastal infrastructure projects, port developments, dredging and sand-extraction impacts, wastewater discharges and the design of monitoring programmes.

Rob also interfaces with coastal policy and planning. He was the Coordinating Lead Author of the 2017 Coastal Hazards and Climate Change guidance for local government published by the Ministry for the Environment and was a contributing author of the recent implementation guidance on the coastal hazard policies in the NZ Coastal Policy Statement, published by the Dept. of Conservation. He has acted as an expert witness at several Environment Court or Board of Inquiry hearings. Rob also regularly acts as a peer reviewer and has given numerous presentations to councillors, public groups and conferences and is in regular demand by the media on coastal processes, climate change and hazard/risk matters.

Rob has considerable experience in consultancies for coastal environmental impact studies and input to coastal engineering project design (including coastal roads and bridges, ocean outfalls, stormwater outlets, water quality monitoring, coastal hazards, ship-handling, harbour dredging and disposal, sand extraction, coastal reclamations and airport upgrade projects).

Rob is a certified Hearings Commissioner under the Making Good Decisions programme, a Fellow of Engineers NZ (FEngNZ) and a Chartered Professional Engineer CPEng (Environmental Engineering). 

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Principal Scientist - Water Quality

Rob is an environmental scientist specialising in water quality and aspects of stream ecology. He has an MSc in Earth Sciences (Waikato University) and PhD in Environmental Engineering (Water Resources; Oregon State University). His research interests range over general water quality, diffuse pollution from land uses (particularly pastoral agriculture), microbial contaminants and disinfection, optical water quality, natural wastewater treatment, and physical aspects of stream and riparian ecology. Applied/consulting work includes development of water quality guidelines/standards, assessment of wastewater assimilation, and impacts of livestock on streams. Rob is scientific spokesperson for the National Rivers Water Quality Network (NRWQN). 

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Roddy has a BE (Civil) and MSc (Resource Management) from the University of Canterbury. He has worked in the field of hydrology for more than 40 years. In that time he has been involved in research into channel erosion processes, high intensity rainfall in the Southern Alps, estimation of hydrological parameters in ungauged basins, revision of flood frequency estimation methods for New Zealand, and quality assurance of hydrological data. His many commercial projects involving hydrological data analysis and simulation, are generally either related to hydro-power projects (new and existing), flood and low flow frequency analysis, water supply systems, or estimation in locations with little or no data. He has prepared and presented 20 briefs of evidence as an expert witness to regional council hearings and the Environment Court.

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Emeritus Researcher – Atmospheric Physics

EI Role: Coordinator, Atmospheric Monitoring Programme. Paul Johnston is an emeritus atmospheric research scientist at NIWA's observatory at Lauder in Central Otago, New Zealand. His research is primarily in the field of long term monitoring of atmospheric chemical composition and radiation, using spectroscopic techniques. He has developed UV/Visible spectrometer systems for the measurement of the stratosphere radicals important in ozone loss chemistry, as well as applying similar techniques to measure halogens in the boundary layer. He has been a co-chair of the global Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change (NDACC), UV/Visible Work Group. He is also the GCOS Reference Upper Air Network (GRUAN) representative.

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Principal Technician - Marine Geology

EI Role: Coordinator, NIWA Marine Databases. Kevin Mackay (Bsc. Hons) is a geologist who as been working for NIWA for 22 years in the Fisheries and Ocean Geology groups. He has experience in relational database management and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). He has worked extensively with a variety of data sets in the marine environment including geology and geophysics, hydrography, freshwater fisheries, oceanography, fisheries, and biodiversity. Since 2010, he has been the IODE (Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange) National Coordinator for Oceanographic Data Management. 

Group Manager - Instrument Systems

EI Role: Coordinator, NIWA Instruments. Rod is an electrical and electronics engineer with a first class honours degree from Canterbury University. He manages the NIWA Instrument Systems team, and the bulk of his time is spent scoping new projects and ensuring that those projects in the delivery and support phases occur on time and to budget. Rod has over 20 years experience in the design and delivery of hardware and software systems to local and international clients. His particular fields of interest include hardware and software system integration, data collection and management, and industrial instrumentation and control systems.

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Manager Operational Forecasting

EI Role: Coordinator, NIWA Product Database and Delivery. Bernard is an ex-meteorologist with a BSc (Hons Physics) and MSc (Meteorology) from McGill University (Canada). He manages the forecasting and remote sensing operation part of EcoConnect, where several numerical models developed at NIWA are producing twice daily weather, ocean and river forecasts and satellite images are processed mainly for commercial and research users. Bernard was a meteorologist and sea ice forecaster for over 17 years for Environment Canada, and was data manager for a number of years for the CliC-SCAR WMO-WCRP program based at the (Norwegian Polar Institute, Norway) and the IODP program (Hokkaido University, Japan). 

Principal Technician - Marine Geology

Arne obtained a MSc in Geology from the University of Goettingen, Germany, in 1998. His work at NIWA focuses on GIS analysis and management, and on multibeam echosounder (MBES) operation and data processing.  Arne has more than 20 years experience using a variety of GIS software packages, but specialising in ESRI ArcGIS. Since 2007 he has managed the GIS team of the Ocean Geology/ Ocean Sediment groups, and in 2010 has taken on the role of NIWA GIS coordinator.  His work with MBES covers all aspects of data collection amd processing, but his main interest is in seafloor and water-column backsatter data processing and analysis.

Climate Scientist

EI Role:  Project Manager, Climate Database. Group Manager, Climate Data and Applications. This group manages the National Climate Database CLIDB, and the associated services that contribute to the science and applications of NIWA's National Climate Centre. Alan is also Project Manager for a range of climate early warning system developments in Pacific SIDS, including the development of the CliDEsc software platform. My background is in agriculture, having worked on a range of farms, and managed an experimental pedigree Jersey dairy farm in India for almost 10 years. I have a Diploma of Field Technology from Lincoln University, and a WMO post graduate certificate in Agricultural Meteorology gained in Israel. Gaps in my education have been plugged by extra mural papers from Massey University. Prior to the establishment of NIWA I was a research assistant at the New Zealand Meteorological Service. 

Marine Biologist

Dr. Kareen Schnabel is a taxonomist and systematist focussing her researach on New Zealand decapod crustaceans. She was the Collection Manager of the NIWA Invertebrate Collection between 2006 and 2015.

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Principal Technician - GIS and Spatial Data Management

EI Role: Coordinator, NIWA Marine Biology Databases. Brent started work for the Ministry of Fisheries in 1976, as a coastal fisheries technician. By the early 1980's he was developing computer programs to validate, manage, extract and analyse data collected by research projects. He spent some years working in the Computer Group as a data and database administrator, as well as the role of GIS expert before moving back to science when the Ministry's fisheries research team merged with NIWA in 1995. He has specialised skills in interactive data capture systems and spatial data management and analysis, and has most recently been working on systems to better manage data and metadata, and improve the discoverability of, and access to, various datasets held within NIWA. 

Full Staff List

Staff member Position
Michael Bargh Environmental Data Scientist Email Michael Bargh
Brian Bell National Projects Manager Email Brian Bell
Neil Blair Environmental Monitoring Technician Email Neil Blair
Dr Rob Davies-Colley Principal Scientist - Water Quality Email Dr Rob Davies-Colley
Ryan Evison Environmental Monitoring Technician Email Ryan Evison
Roddy Henderson Hydrologist Email Roddy Henderson
Tony Hill Environmental Information Technician Email Tony Hill
Kevin Mackay Principal Technician - Marine Geology Email Kevin Mackay
Kevin Manson Environmental Information Technician Email Kevin Manson
Rod McKay Group Manager - Instrument Systems Email Rod McKay
Juliet Milne Resource Management Scientist Email Juliet Milne
Bernard Miville Manager Operational Forecasting Email Bernard Miville
Arne Pallentin Principal Technician - Marine Geology Email Arne Pallentin
Alan Porteous Climate Scientist Email Alan Porteous
Dr Jochen Schmidt Chief Scientist - Environmental Information Email Dr Jochen Schmidt
Dr Tilmann Steinmetz GIS Data Analyst & Administrator Email Dr Tilmann Steinmetz
Brent Wood Principal Technician - GIS and Spatial Data Management Email Brent Wood


Free phone within New Zealand:
(0800 746 464)