Our Executive Leadership Team

GNS is managed by an Executive Team reporting to the Chief Executive Officer.

Peter Benfell

Chief Executive

  • Peter has had more than 30 years’ experience in research, science and technology...

    BE (Hons), University of Auckland; DipBusAdmin, Victoria University of Wellington

    Currently Chief Executive (interim), Peter re-joined GNS Science in October 2018 as General Manager, Science. He is responsible for the leadership and management of our research teams, as well as the quality and performance of our research projects and geohazard monitoring activities. Peter has had more than 30 years’ experience in research, science and technology and its successful application, as well as in establishing several major Research and Development partnerships. He previously worked at GNS Science as Group Manager, Environment and Natural Resources Group between 1998 and 2001.

    Prior to re-joining GNS Science, Peter was Chief Executive at the Infrastructure Industry Training Organisation, Connexis. Peter has held senior management roles at the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, AgResearch, and Opus International.

Gary Wilson

General Manager Research Strategy and Partnerships

  • Gary’s role is to guide the organisation’s long-term science research direction...

    BSc (HONS), BMus, PhD, Victoria University of Wellington

    As General Manager, Research Strategy and Partnerships, Gary’s role is to guide the organisation’s long-term science research direction. He has been instrumental in the delivery of the GNS Science Roadmap, which plots our 10-year strategic direction and describes the contributions our research will make to New Zealand businesses and communities.  Gary is also responsible for managing GNS Science’s international partnerships, building and leveraging global opportunities, and delivering value to New Zealand through our commercial partnerships and contracts.

    Gary is also our Chief Scientist, which means he is actively engaged in research. His two current projects involve researching natural greenhouse gas emissions in Antarctica and exploring natural carbon burial in New Zealand’s southern fiords (including Fiordland and the Sub Antarctic).

    Prior to joining GNS Science, Gary has held a range of academic positions around the world, including at the University of Oxford, Ohio State University, Stanford University and the University of Otago, where he remains an Honorary Professor in Geology and Marine Science.

    He has published more than 120 scientific papers in scholarly Journals and led a number of international research programmes. He has served as editor of a number of international journals and he is currently Editor of the Journal of Marine Science and Engineering.

    Gary is the Vice-President of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), Chair of the Royal Society Te Apārangi Committee on Antarctic Sciences, and a Trustee of the Sir Peter Blake Trust. He received a Blake Leadership award in 2006 and the Royal Society Thomson Medal for Leadership in 2021.

Lucia Roncaglia

General Manager Science

  • Lucia has delivered critical large-scale projects in her GNS Science department management roles...

    MSc (First Class Hons), Geology;  PhD, Paleontology 

    Lucia is an experienced geologist with interests in stratigraphy, sedimentology, and environmental research. Her expertise has been applied to the management and delivery of large-scale multi-disciplinary projects and research associated with environment and climate, natural hazards and risks and energy across many aspects of geosciences in New Zealand

    Lucia has previously led the Paleontology Department, and she joined Science Management Team in 2019 as Department Manager of Surface Geosciences.

Tania Gerrard

General Manager Maori and Stakeholder Relations

  • Tania is leading GNS Science through a period of transformative change...

    Te Whanau a Tāpuhi, Ngāti Porou
    BA, University of Otago

    Tania joined GNS Science in November 2018. She is responsible for the development and management of our external relationships and partnerships, including with government, iwi/Māori and industry. Tania’s role recognises the interconnectedness of the science system and her team is keenly focused on the benefits our research must deliver to both end users and New Zealand communities.

    Tania is leading GNS Science through a period of transformative change, creating a new Māori Strategy. This will guide our long-term approach to iwi/Māori research and innovation, workforce development, and partner, industry and community engagement. Linked to this is the rollout of the organisation’s new Stakeholder Relationship Strategy and its continued Vision Mātauranga activities. 

    Prior to joining GNS Science, Tania was Acting Director of Water at the Ministry for the Environment. Here she also held roles specialising in iwi rights and interests, and water rights and interests. She has also held senior roles at the Waitangi Tribunal, the Office of Treaty Settlements, and Ministry for Primary Industries/Fisheries.

    Tania is currently the Chair of Te Ara Pūtaiao, the pan-Crown Research Institute Māori Leadership Group, and she is an Associate of the New Zealand Institute of Directors.

Rose Macfarlane

General Manager People and Culture

  • Rose is experienced in managing change, understanding the challenges of differing business environments...

    Post Graduate Diploma in Management Studies, Waikato University

    Rose joined GNS Science as General Manager, People and Culture, in August 2018. She is responsible for leading and managing the Human Resources, Communications, Health and Safety and Administration functions of the organisation.

    Prior to taking this role, she was GM Human Resources at DairyNZ. Rose’s background spans a range of people-focused roles across education, social services, health, local government and science. She has held senior management roles in health, Hamilton City Council and DairyNZ. Rose is experienced in managing change, understanding the challenges of differing business environments and dealing with a broad range of organisational culture and people matters.

Andrew Simpson

General Manager Business Services

  • Andrew has specialist skills in risk management, internal audits, and business transformation projects...

    BCom, University of Otago; CA

    Andrew joined GNS Science in July 2019, bringing with him a wealth of experience in corporate and financial leadership and management. He has held executive roles in the global tertiary education sector, including as Vice President for Finance and Operations at the University of British Columbia, Chief Operating Officer at Victoria University of Wellington and Vice Principal of Operations and Finance at Queen’s University.

    Andrew has specialist skills in risk management, internal audits, and business transformation projects. He works alongside GNS Science teams and business units to ensure the seamless delivery of corporate and business services.