Council member profiles

Profiles for Victoria University Council members.

Officers of Council

The Officers of the Council are the Chancellor, the Pro-Chancellor (Deputy Chair), the Chair of the Finance Committee and the Vice-Chancellor.

Council Member Profiles

The Constitution of Council 2012, originally promulgated in the University of Victoria notice 1990 pursuant to section 168 of the Education Amendment Act 1990, [The New Zealand Gazette, Issue No. 159 of 13 September 1990) was amended by the Minister for Tertiary Education [The New Zealand Gazette, Issue No. 61 of 3 June 2010].

In accordance with the current Constitution, membership of the Council is as follows:


Sir Neville Jordan KNZM CNZM BE HonDEng Cant DistFIPENZ

Appointed by the Minister for Tertiary Education
Convenor: Te Aka Matua Committee  

Current Term: 26 June 2013–31 May 2017
Previous Term(s): None

Sir Neville Jordan KNZM is a Wellington investor and adviser in science/technology and Executive Chairman of his company, Endeavour Capital. Sir Neville has a background in electronics engineering and is a Distinguished Fellow of the Institution of Professional Engineers of New Zealand and a Chartered Fellow, Institute of Directors. He founded MAS Technology Ltd in 1975, a telecommunications microwave company which he successfully listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange. His awards and accolades include the Governor–General’s Supreme Award for Exporting and induction into both the NZ Hi Tech Hall of Fame and the NZ Business Hall of Fame. Sir Neville was President of the Royal Society of New Zealand from 2006–2010 and Wellingtonian of the Year in 2012.

Pro-Chancellor (Deputy Chair)

Peter Walls ONZM, DPhil Oxf, MA (Hons) BMus Well, LRSM, LTCL, MInstD

Elected by the Court of Convocation
Convenor: Victoria Honours Committee

Current Term: 2013-2016
Previous Term(s): None

Emeritus Professor Peter Walls is a conductor, musicologist and consultant in the arts. He was Chief Executive of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra 2002-2011. Prior to that he was Professor of Music at Victoria (1994-2002) where he had taught since 1976, initially in the Department of English and then (from 1978) in the School of Music. Peter has held Visiting Fellowships at Exeter and Magdalen Colleges Oxford (where he presented the Waynflete lectures in 2000) and at Clare Hall in Cambridge. He has chaired the PBRF Creative and Performing Arts Panel since 2003 and was an international member of the Higher Education Funding Council of England’s 2008 Research Assessment Exercise.

He has published numerous articles and several books, one of which won the British Academy’s Derek Allen Prize and was a Choice ‘Outstanding Academic Book of 1997’. He has conducted many orchestras, choirs and opera companies including the NZSO, the NZSO National Youth Orchestra, Southern Opera, Voices New Zealand. He conducted Jack Body’s Alley in the 1998 International Festival of the Arts in Wellington and has been Music Director of the Hamilton-based Opus Orchestra since 2004. His CD with Tudor Consort of Peter Philips motets won a CHOC award from Le Monde de la Musique and was named as one of the top early music recordings of the year in 2001 by the Neue Musik Zeitung.

Peter is Chief Executive of Chamber Music New Zealand.  He was Deputy Chair of the NZSO board 1996-2002 and a board member of the Health Sponsorship Council 2008-2012. He is a member of the Advisory Board of Victoria University Press and Rattle Records. He is a member of the Music Advisory Committee of the Lilburn Trust.

He has received a citation from the Lilburn Trust for outstanding contribution to New Zealand music, a silver medal from the Polish Ministry of Culture, and was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2012.

Chair of the Finance Committee

Roger N Taylor MNZM BA, MCom Cant

Co-opted by the University Council

Current Term: January 2013–December 2016
Previous Term(s): 2011–2012 Co-opted by the University Council

Roger Taylor is a former financial consulting partner with Ernst and Young. He has specialised in providing financial advice and litigation support on price setting and valuations for infrastructural businesses and on behalf of the government. He has been an advisor to a number of government departments and agencies.

Roger is a director of a number of companies in the electricity and port sectors. He has also been a board member of a wide range of public sector organisations including The Open Polytechnic, the Wellington College of Education, Te Kura the Correspondence school as well as the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the Royal New Zealand Ballet Company.


Grant Guilford, BVSc BPhil Massey, PhD UC Davis

Appointed by the University Council

Current Term: 2014 - 
Previous Term(s): None

Professor Guilford took up the role of Vice-Chancellor in March 2014. He was previously the Dean of the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Auckland and a member of its Senior Management Team. He has successfully led large and complex academic organisations, beginning with the Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences at Massey University.

Professor Guilford holds Bachelor of Philosophy and Bachelor of Veterinary Science degrees from Massey University and a PhD in Nutrition from the University of California, Davis. Earlier in his career, he undertook teaching, research, clinical and leadership roles at the University of Missouri, the University of California, Davis, and Massey University.

He has driven major capital works processes and participated in a wide range of commercialisation processes, and has been on the board of a number of companies, research consortia, joint ventures, centres of research excellence and a Crown Research Institute.

Appointed by the Minister for Tertiary Education

Victoria Heine, LLM Chic, BSc, LLB(Hons) Well

Appointed by the Minister for Tertiary Education
Convenor: Human Resources Committee 

Current Term: 20 March 2012–5 March 2016
Previous Term(s): None

Ms Heine is a partner at the Wellington branch of Chapman Tripp. She is a lawyer with a background in public and administrative law, and regulatory litigation and enforcement. Ms Heine is a graduate of Victoria University of Wellington where she completed degrees in law and biochemistry. In 1996 she won a Fulbright Scholarship to study law and economics at the University of Chicago.

John Selby, BCom Auck

Appointed by the Minister for Tertiary Education
Convenor: Audit and Risk Committee

Current Term: 20 March 2012–5 March 2016
Previous Term(s): None

Mr Selby is a chartered accountant who recently retired from PricewaterhouseCoopers, and has experience working with audit and risk committees, boards and senior executives. Mr Selby has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Auckland, is a chartered accountant and a member of the Institute of Directors.

Neil Paviour-Smith, BCA Well, CA, ACIS, FCFIP, MSAA, AFA

Appointed by the Minister for Tertiary Education
Convenor of the Capital Expenditure Committee

Current Term: 26 June 2013–31 May 2017
Previous Term(s): None

Neil Paviour-Smith is Managing Director of Forsyth Barr and was an inaugural recipient of a Sir Peter Blake Trust Leadership Award in 2005. Neil is a director of the New Zealand Exchange and a director of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Finance Professionals NZ, and has been Chair of the NZ Society of Investment Analysts. He is a member of the NZ Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Institute of Directors, the Institute of Chartered Secretaries NZ, the CFA Institute and is an accredited Master Stockbroker of the Stockbrokers Association of Australia. Neil is from Wellington and alumni of Victoria University.

Elected by Academic Staff

Paul Morris, MA McM, PhD Lanc

Elected by Academic Staff

Current Term: 2013–2016
Previous Term(s):

  • 1997–2000 Elected by the academic staff
  • 2001–2004 Elected by the academic staff
  • 2005–2008 Elected by the academic staff
  • 2009–2012 Elected by the academic staff

Professor of Religious Studies at Victoria University since 1994, Professor Morris is Programme Director of Religious Studies and the author and editor of books on the bible, religion and politics, religion in Malaysia and New Zealand, religion, modernity and post-modernity, New Zealand spiritual poetry, religion and the environment, tradition in the contemporary world and an encyclopaedia of religion. He has been awarded a Montana prize, short-listed for another and the 2007 International Council of Christians and Jews Peace Through Dialogue Gold Medal for his contributions to national and international interfaith understanding.

Professor Morris has been active at Victoria on school, faculty, university and union committees and was the Convener of the review panel for the Review of Social Work. He is currently chair of the board of a New Zealand charity, the co-president of the New Zealand Council of Christians and Jews and the author of the recent Statement of Religious Diversity in New Zealand.

Prior to joining Victoria University, Professor Morris was at Lancaster University from 1980–1984. He has held visiting professorships of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Boston University and the University of Queensland. His research areas are in religion and politics, religion and morality, theories of religion, contemporary Judaism and the contemporary challenges to religion.

Dolores Janiewski, BA Sarah Lawrence, MA Ore, PhD Duke

Elected by Academic Staff
Convenor: Quality Assurance and Equity Committee

Current Term: 1 September 2014–2018
Previous Term(s):

  • 1995–1998 Elected by the academic staff
  • 1999–2000 Elected by the academic staff
  • 2003–2006 Elected by the academic staff
  • 2007–31 December 2010 Elected by the academic staff

Elected by General Staff

Theresa Sawicka, PhD Anthropology, BA(Hons) 1st class Well

Elected by General Staff

Current Term: January 2015–December 2018
Previous Term(s): May 2013–December 2014

Dr Theresa Sawicka has had a long association with Victoria. In the early 1970s, she graduated with a BA Honours degree in Anthropology. She went on to study at the University of Auckland for a PhD on the ‘Polish Children’ who were invited to New Zealand in 1944 by Prime Minister, Peter Fraser. She maintains a close connection with the Polish community in Wellington.

Her academic and administrative career has encompassed a varied portfolio of roles including teaching, research and management. Currently, she has two roles, one as the Manager of the Faculty of Graduate Research (FGR) and another as Manager in the Research Office where she is charged with a wide range of research management responsibilities supporting the University’s research strategy, including the PBRF evaluation of staff research. The FGR is Victoria’s Grad School and as manager she is responsible for oversight of the quality of the PhD. Together with the FGR Board, she and her team create policy and provide a professional development programme that supports PhD candidates and their supervisors at Victoria.

Theresa is also a qualified Feldenkrais practitioner, a member of the Feldenkrais Guild executive in New Zealand and a member of the Australian Training and Accreditation Board.

Elected by Student Body

Stella Blake-Kelly, BSc

Elected by Student Body

Current Term: 2015

Stella Blake-Kelly is a current student at Victoria University of Wellington, working towards a Postgraduate Diploma in Geographic Information Science, having completed a BSc in Geography and Environmental Studies.

In 2013 Stella was Co-Editor of Salient, Victoria's student magazine, and is currently a member of the VUWSA Publications Committee which oversees student media.

Appointed after consultation with the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions

Brenda Pilott, BA Hons Essex, Dip Lond

Appointed after consultation with the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions

Current Term: May 2012–April 2016
Previous Term(s): May 2008–April 2012

Brenda Pilott was the former National Secretary of the Public Service Association (PSA), New Zealand’s largest trade union. Prior to joining the PSA in 2004, she was a public servant for 11 years, working mainly in social policy, including five years as General Manager Policy at the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services. She was Women’s Refuge national coordinator for four years. A qualified librarian, Brenda Pilott worked in libraries in local government in New Zealand and the UK, and at the Parliamentary Library.

She has a range of governance experience, including being a current member of the management board of the Institute of Public Administration New Zealand; and was a Board member of the Local Government Industry Training Organisation, 2005–7. She was appointed as a director of Learning State Ltd, the public sector industry training organisation, in 2010. Brenda was born and educated in England and emigrated to New Zealand in 1980.

Appointed after consultation with Business NZ

Charles Finny, BA(Hons)

Appointed after consultation with Business NZ

Current Term: January 2013–December 2016
Previous Term(s):

  • August 2008–December 2008 Co-opted by the Council
  • January 2009–December 2012 Appointed after consultation with Business NZ

Charles Finny has been with the public policy firm Saunders Unsworth since 1 July 2010. He was CEO of the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce from January 2005 to June 2010. Prior to that, he had 22 years’ experience in international trade, economics and diplomacy having served in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Prime Minister’s Department. He has worked in Singapore, Beijing and Taipei. Charles chairs Education New Zealand and is on the boards of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, the New Zealand Film Commission and Kawarau Estate Limited.

Charles part-owns a wine company, Kawarau Estate, which exports wine to Australia, US, UK, Canada, Taiwan, Singapore and Korea.

Elected by the Court of Convocation

Ian D McKinnon CNZM, QSO, JP, BCom, DipEd

Elected by the Court of Convocation

Current Term: 2015–2016
Previous Term(s):

  • 2003–2006 Elected by the Court of Convocation
  • 2007–2010 Elected by the Court of Convocation
  • 2011–2014 Elected by the Court of Convocation
  • 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 Pro-Chancellor
  • 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 Chancellor

Ian McKinnon was a student at VUW in the 1960s, graduating with a BCom in Economics. He also served on the Students’ Association Executive, becoming Men’s Vice-President in 1966.

Mr McKinnon’s career was first in the independent school sector. He taught at King’s College in Auckland, where he was also a boarding housemaster, and then at Eton College in the UK, where he subsequently returned as Lower Master, cf Deputy Headmaster, in 1988. He was Headmaster of Wanganui Collegiate School from 1980–1988 and Scots College, 1992–2002, in today’s terms being also CEO at both schools. During his time in the school sector he served on various government committees and also on both the Executive of the Association of Heads of Independent Schools, of which he was President 1998–2000, and the Executive of the Independent Schools Council.

Following his time as a Head, he set up an Education Consultancy advising schools. In addition he was Chair of the Wellington College of Education for two years, in the period leading to its merger with the University in January 2005, and Chair of The Correspondence School for three years during its restructure.

Further, he has served and continues to serve on various other bodies, including for a number of years the Waitangi (now Link) Foundation for UK–NZ relations. For his work in the UK on the New Zealand 1990 Commemorations he was awarded the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal. He received the QSO in 1991 for services to NZ in the UK and in 1992 was made a Freeman of the City of London. In 2005 he became a Distinguished Alumnus of Auckland University. In 2013 he was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to education and the community. He is currently Chair of NZ National Commission of UNESCO.  He is a Justice of the Peace.

Mr McKinnon was a Wellington City Councillor from 2004 and Deputy Mayor from 2007 to 2013.

The Hon Justice Matthew Palmer, MPhil Oxf, MA Well

Elected by the Court of Convocation
Convenor: Governance Committee

Current Term: 2015–2018
Previous Term(s): None

The Hon Justice Matthew Palmer is a Queen’s Counsel at Thorndon Chambers in Wellington, specialising in constitutional and public law, including the Treaty of Waitangi. He has been at the bar since 2012 and was admitted to the Inner Bar in 2014.  He was Deputy Solicitor-General (Public Law) 2008–2012.  Prior to that he had been Pro Vice Chancellor (Law and Government), Dean of Law, and Director of the New Zealand Centre for Public Law at Victoria University of Wellington 2001–2006.  He was Deputy Secretary for Justice (Public Law) from 1995–2000 and an Economic and Financial Analyst and then a Manager at the Treasury from 1988 to 1995. In 1987 he was an Assistant Lecturer in Law at Victoria University of Wellington.

Matthew has published books and numerous articles and book chapters.  The Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand’s Constitution and Law (Victoria University Press, Wellington, 2008) won the Legal Research Foundation’s JF Northey Prize for the best book published by a New Zealand based author in that year.  His article, “What is New Zealand’s constitution and who interprets it? Constitutional realism and the importance of public office-holders” (2006) 17 Public Law Review 133 won the Legal Research Foundation’s Sir Ian Barker prize for the best article published in 2005 or 2006.

Matthew is an Honorary Fellow of the Victoria University of Wellington School of Law and an Honorary Research Associate of the Victoria School of Government where he teaches Law in the Public Sector. He will be a Kwa Geok Choo Distinguished Visitor while teaching Law and Policy at the National University of Singapore in 2016. He taught Law and Policy at the Faculty of Law at Hong Kong University in 2011 and Comparative Indigenous Peoples Rights while he was a Fulbright Senior Fellow at Yale Law School in 2007 and an Olin Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School in 1998. In 2007 he was also a Herbert Smith Visitor at the University of Cambridge Faculty of Law, a Visiting Fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge, and the Laskin Professor of Public Law at Osgoode Hall Law School. In 2005 he gave the Horace Read Memorial Lecture at Dalhousie Law School and was awarded the New Zealand Law Foundation’s International Research Fellowship.

In 2015 Matthew is President of the Law and Economics Association of New Zealand, of which he was also founding Secretary from 1994–97. He is a member of the Law Reform Committee of the New Zealand Bar Association and the Public and Administrative Law Committee of the New Zealand Law Society. He was a member of the Humanities and Law PBRF Panel in 2003 and 2006. He is an Honorary Life Member of the Australasian Law Teachers Association and was a former founding Board member of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government 2002–2006. He was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand in 1987 and was appointed a judge in the High Court in October 2015.

Helen Sutch, MPhil Oxf, MA Well

Elected by the Court of Convocation

Current Term: 2015–2018
Previous Term(s):

  • 2008–2010 Co-opted by the Council
  • 2011–2014 Elected by the Court of Convocation
  • 2010, 2011, 2012 Pro-Chancellor

Helen Sutch was a student at Victoria from 1963–67, member of the VUWSA Executive 1963–64, NZUSA Vice-President 1965-66, and represented Victoria at women’s hockey 1963–66. She was active in the Drama Club and Committee on Vietnam, and organised a teach-in on Vietnam at Victoria University in 1966. She obtained from Victoria an MA with First Class Honours, received an MPhil in Economics at Oxford in 1970 and returned to Victoria in 1971–72 to lecture in Economics.

Her professional grounding is as a public economist with a strong interest in social and poverty issues. After working in the UK Government Economic Service on policy and research on urban poverty, Ms Sutch joined the New Zealand Treasury in the mid-1970s, and then worked at the OECD from 1981–85. She returned to become economic adviser to the Prime Minister in late 1985, and later Director of Policy and Research and Chief Labour Market Adviser in the Labour Department, where her team contributed analysis on Treaty, immigration, pay equity and other issues for the Royal Commission on Social Policy.

In 1989 she took the Advanced Management (CEO) Program at the Harvard Business School before joining the World Bank (1989–2007), first in francophone Africa, and then in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, where she contributed to a wide range of macro-fiscal and institutional reforms and was also a member of the Bank’s Board on Women in Development. After three years in Warsaw working on governance issues in Poland and the Baltics she became manager in 2000 for Public Sector Governance strategy, programs and knowledge management bank-wide, before moving to the East Asia and Pacific region in late 2003. Ms Sutch returned to Wellington in 2004 where she now works on her own account, with a continuing involvement in Papua New Guinea and East Timor.

Co-opted by the University Council

Graeme R Mitchell, BA (Hons) Stirling, CA Scot, FCA NZ

Co-opted by the University Council

Current Term: March 2013–February 2017
Previous Term(s): 2013, 2014 Pro-Chancellor

  • 2009–2011 Co-opted by the University Council
  • March 2011–February 2013 Co-opted by the University Council

Graeme Mitchell is a chartered accountant, recently retired from Deloitte, Wellington where he was an Audit and Assurance Partner for over 28 years. He was responsible for leading the audits of large entities in the public and private sectors, covering a wide range of business activities.

Graeme completed his tertiary education in economics at Stirling University, Scotland, and has lived in Wellington for 32 years.

He is Honorary Consul General for Norway, a director of Barnardos New Zealand, a Trustee of the Karori Sanctuary Trust, and a board member of the National Provident Fund and the Accounting Standards Review Board. Graeme is also Chair of the audit committees of the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Science and Innovation, and a board member of the External Reporting Board and the New Zealand Audit and Assurance Standards Board.

Rick Zwaan

Student President

Current Term: 2015 

Rick Zwaan is the President of the Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association for 2015. He has previously served as Welfare Vice President and Wellbeing and Sustainability Officer on the Students’ Association, while studying towards a BSc and BA in Geophysics, Environmental Science and Political Science. Rick has also assisted with Physics Laboratory demonstrating and High School Outreach and has previously represented New Zealand at International Climate Negotiations in 2009 and 2010 as a youth delegate. Rick, in his role as Student President, serves on the board of Student Job Search.