Our People

Board of Directors

Members of the Board are appointed for three years by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in consultation with the Board Chair. This period may be extended by the Minister for up to a further three years.
Members are collectively accountable to the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the performance of Antarctica New Zealand. All delegated functions and powers within Antarctica New Zealand arise from the Board's delegations. The Board’s role is governance.

Senior Leadership Team

Our people and our culture drive the success of Antarctica New Zealand, and that hasn’t changed over the past 60 years. Our vision and values also form an integral part of how we go about our business. The Antarctica New Zealand Senior Leadership Team sets, evaluates, and aligns the strategic direction of Antarctica New Zealand within the organisation.


Sarah Williamson - Chief Executive

Sarah joined Antarctica New Zealand in June 2019 following a long career with Air New Zealand in a range of roles.

Sarah’s most recent role was Group General Manager Airline Operations and Regional Airlines. She has experience in sales, customer services, operations, human resources and the banking industry.

With a Masters in Psychology and a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography and Psychology Sarah has always been impressed with the work Antarctica New Zealand does to support science in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

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Professor John Cottle - Chief Scientific Advisor

John has been a Professor of Geology at the University of California Santa Barbara for the past 12 years and has spent ten field seasons on the ice working with the New Zealand, United States and Italian programmes as both a guide and scientist. His research interests centre on the geologic evolution of Antarctica and the Himalaya, and he has published more than 120 scientific papers.

He began his career at the University of Otago undertaking an M.Sc in Antarctic geology. This was followed by a D.Phil at the University of Oxford and a postdoctoral position at the British Geological Survey.

John leads the Antarctica New Zealand science team, supporting the delivery of world-class research and the communication of research findings.

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Peter Smith - General Manager, Corporate Services and Strategy

Peter has led the Corporate Services team since joining Antarctica New Zealand in December 2003.
Peter is a Chartered Accountant who has undertaken a variety of senior finance roles in the Profession, in business and most recently in the public sector. He has managed corporate services teams for over 20 years and enjoys the variety this brings.
Peter has worked in New Zealand, Australia and the UK but considers the highlight to be the short times he's spent working in Antarctica!

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Simon Trotter - General Manager, Antarctic Operations

Simon has been involved with the Antarctic field operations, planning and science support for over ten years. Simon joined Antarctica New Zealand to lead the Field Training Team before moving into the area of operations planning and of science support. Simon has interests in Search and Rescue and represents Antarctica New Zealand on the NZ SAR Consultative Committee and at COMNAP as part of the Safety Advisory Group. As GM Antarctic Operations, Simon is passionate about the relationships between other National Antarctic Programmes, the team environment within the organisation and supporting the customers of Antarctic New Zealand.


Megan Nicholl - General Manager- Communications and People

Megan leads a passionate team of communications professionals who are focused on celebrating and promoting Antarctic science and the logistical support that makes it all possible.

Megan was a journalist for 20 years, 13 of that with TVNZ, before moving into corporate communications.

She oversees Antarctica New Zealand’s Community Engagement Programme which takes media, educators, artists and writers to the Ice to help tell our Antarctic story.

Megan has travelled and lived around the world, but Te Tiri o te Moana (Antarctica) holds a special place in her heart as the last great wilderness on earth.

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Matt Johnson - General Manager, Engineering

Matt is an experienced engineer and project manager with a career spanning diverse business sectors around the world, including delivery of major programmes with BAE SYSTEMS, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company and the London Underground. Matt joined Antarctica New Zealand in November 2016. As the General Manager for Engineering he leads the team to ensure that assets, equipment and facilities meet the needs of science, field and support staff. At a strategic level, he develops the vision to ensure that the Engineering team are able to continue to support the emerging needs of the science programme conducted from Scott Base in the future.

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Ceisha Poirot - General Manager, Policy, Environment and Safety

Ceisha has been involved in Antarctic policy and environmental management for 12 years, working in both the Science and Policy, Environment and Safety teams at Antarctica New Zealand. She has led the development and management of the Environmental Management System and more recently the Health and Safety Management System, focusing on the organisation's commitment to Zero Harm. She is currently the New Zealand representative to the Committee for Environmental Protection and the expert group leader of the Council of Manager of National Antarctic Programmes Environmental Protection Group.