Our People

Dr Chris Tanner


Chris Tanner is a Principal Scientist at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) in Hamilton. He earned his MSc (Hons) and PhD from the University of Waikato and has over 30 years of research experience across a range of freshwater ecosystems. Recently he has led NIWA's Aquatic Rehabilitation and Protection Programme and co-led the Innovative Resilient Land and Water Use Theme of the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge. His initial research on the ecology and management of submerged aquatic plants in lakes migrated to research on wetlands and pollution management. Although he has worked in a range of natural wetlands across the country, his particular passion has been understanding the ecology and functioning of constructed wetlands for water quality improvement.

Chris has consulted widely for government and industry, led demonstration projects and developed practical guidelines for ecotechnological approaches to wastewater and diffuse run-off management on farms, wastewater management in small communities, towns and marae across New Zealand, and interdisciplinary village sanitation projects in Fiji.Chris is enthusiastic about strengthening and expanding the productive collaboration between NIWA and the University of Waikato, and fostering linkages with councils, government, iwi, industry, and other stakeholders involved in freshwater management. More info.

Tim Manukau

Deputy Director

Tim assists in the establishment and operation of the Institute with a focus on partner relationships. Tim is experienced in representing iwi, corporate and community interests in environmental matters locally and nationally. He has been an advisor in treaty settlement negotiations and has developed and implemented Local Government Joint Management Agreements, Ministerial Accords and Corporate Relationship Agreements.

Tim was a long-time Waikato-Tainui Environment Manager and technical advisor to the Iwi Leaders Group for Freshwater and Climate Change. Tim has acted as an independent hearing commissioner, is a company director and currently sits on the Governance Trust for Puketutu Island alongside Auckland Council and Watercare. More info.

Prof James Brasington

Waikato Regional Council Chair of River Science

James joined the University of Waikato in late 2017, moving from Queen Mary, University of London. He gained his doctorate from the University of Cambridge for research into catchment modelling in the Nepal Himalaya in 1998. Since then he has held lectureships at the Universities of Hull, Cambridge and Wales, before being appointed to professorial positions at the University of Canterbury NZ and latterly, Queen Mary, University of London.

His research focuses on the links between the Earth’s surface morphology and the physical processes that shape it. Over the last decade he has attracted competitive funding from a range of sponsors including the UK Natural Environmental Research Council, the Leverhulme Trust, the US Department of Defence, UK and NZ Government departments and their executive agencies (DEFRA, DTI and the Environment Agency, Regional Councils) and a broad range of industrial partners. More info.

Prof Troy Baisden

Bay of Plenty Chair of Lake & Freshwater Science

Troy Baisden specialises in understanding the flow of nutrients, water and carbon through terrestrial ecosystems and resulting impacts in freshwater. He holds a PhD from the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also an Investigator in Te Pūnaha Matatini, the Centre of Research Excellence on networks and complexity, and now leads the Lakes Ecosystem Research New Zealand (LERNZ) group.

He spent the last decade at GNS Science’s National Isotope Centre, ensuring New Zealand has access to challenging isotope techniques combined with the ‘big-picture’ understanding required to apply them to the nation’s most important environmental issues. This has involved sophisticated instrumental techniques, yet the most crucial understanding often evolves from large scale environmental economic data, viewed in a policy, social and cultural context.

Troy wants to see science enable innovative approaches to water management that create flexibility and efficiency beyond what conventional environmental regulation offers. He has an interest in analytics and science policy as they relate to addressing global change issues. More info.