NAWAC members

Information about the members of the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee.

Membership and criteria

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee is made up of a chairperson, the chairperson of the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee, and up to 9 other members. The Animal Welfare Act 1999 lays out requirements for membership.


Dr Gwyneth Verkerk, BVSc, DPhil

Gwyneth Verkerk is a retired veterinarian from Hamilton. Hailing from a rural background, she worked in mixed veterinary practice and the artificial breeding industry before pursuing doctorate studies. During the second part of her career she was employed by DairyNZ (and its predecessors) as an animal scientist. Gwyneth has previously served as a member of NAWAC (from 2003 to 2009) and represented New Zealand internationally within OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) and the International Dairy Federation. Her lifelong interest in New Zealand’s natural landscapes and ecology has also resulted in her involvement in several Waikato organisations focused on environmental protection and enhancement.

Deputy chairperson

Mr Iain Torrance MInstD

Iain Torrance was nominated to join NAWAC by the RNZSPCA. He was chief executive officer of Wellington SPCA from 2011 to 2015 and qualified as an animal welfare auxiliary officer in 2012. In 2011, he was appointed to the National Council/Board of the Royal New Zealand SPCA. During the 3-year term he was Chair and Vice President, and also temporarily interim national chief executive. He is a founding member of the Wellington Zoo Trust welfare committee supporting the positive welfare accreditation program. Iain is a late in life New Zealand citizen, moving here in 2003 from the UK after working in senior commercial roles internationally then holding local positions with Ernst & Young, TelstraClear, and Coffey International. He shares his home with 2 elderly rescued cats – Monty and Marwood.


Dr Julie Wagner BVSc

Julie is a veterinarian employed as product manager Animal Health for Ravensdown Fertiliser Co-operative Ltd. She has previously worked in rural mixed veterinary practices and in the animal health industry. In addition, Julie was a member of the Veterinary Council of New Zealand for 12 years and was deputy chairperson for part of that time. She is also involved in Akaroa Civil Defence.

Ms Katrina (Katie) Milne

Along with her partner, Katie owns a farm in the heart of the West Coast. Katie is the chair of the local TB Free committee and is National President of Federated Farmers. Previously she worked at the local freezing works at Kokiri, where she was involved from carcass grading on the slaughter floor to food safety work in the laboratory, meat inspection on the chain, and eventually documentation of all procedures as they applied for accreditation. She has helped local farmers set up numerous groups over the years – from solutions for nutrient run-off, to a farm plan project for Lake Brunner catchment, and more recently (in conjunction with Landcare Trust) the Lake Brunner Community Catchment Care Group.

Mr Alan Sharr CA (PP), DTM, MInstD

Alan Sharr has been a member of the Canterbury SPCA for 30 years and Secretary/Treasurer for the past 3 years. He has owned a German Shorthaired Pointer, budgies over many years, and several cats. His current cats are from the Canterbury SPCA and are called Maisy and Lucy. Maisy was left on the Waimakariri River bank with her kittens and Lucy was handed in as a kitten.

Professor Graeme Doole, BAppSc, MAppEc, PhD 

Graeme Doole was appointed to NAWAC to provide knowledge and experience within the broad area of agricultural economics. Graeme grew up on a sheep and beef farm in Taihape, and has a background in pastoral farm management. His research is strongly focused on understanding the implications of alternative management strategies for farming systems throughout New Zealand, work that is strongly informed by ongoing relationships with industry organisations. Graeme also currently works as an economic advisor to the Ministry for the Environment, helping communities to understand the trade-offs associated with improved water quality outcomes.

Dr Karin Schütz, MSc, PhD

Karin Schütz was nominated by the New Zealand Society of Animal Production to provide knowledge and experience of animal science. Karin is an animal scientist with a MSc in biology and PhD in ethology that focused on behavioural and genetic changes due to selection for high production in chickens. She was born and raised in Sweden and has been a scientist with AgResearch since 2004 where she is mainly working with the welfare of dairy cattle. She is currently proud 'owner' of 4 cats that decided that a domesticated life is better than gully life.

Mr Grant Shackell, Dip Ag, Dip Field Technology, MSc

As Chairperson of the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) Grant Shackell is an ex officio member of the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee.

Mr Nicholas (Nick) Poutu MSc

Nick has 10 years of experience working in vertebrate pest management as a Technical Advisor for the Department of Conservation, providing support and advice for animal pest control. This includes pest control methods, legislative and regulatory requirements, animal welfare in pest control operations, and wider consideration of hunting and killing animals in a wild state. He has been a DOC representative on the National Pest Control Agencies (NPCA) Management Committee which provided advice and quality assurance for the vertebrate pest control industry. Previously he worked for 6 years as a technician for Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, undertaking research on the control, impacts, and ecology of vertebrate pests. This included assessing the animal welfare performance of traps.

Who to contact

If you have questions for the committee, email

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