About the panel members

Review into the Future for Local Government - Te Arotake i te Anamata mō Ngā Kaunihera

Jim Palmer

Jim Palmer has recently retired as the Chief Executive of Waimakariri District Council after 17 years. Currently, Mr Palmer has leadership roles in Greater Christchurch Partnership and the Canterbury Interim Regional Skills Leadership Group. He is a chartered accountant with experience as an audit director for Audit New Zealand and the Audit Office. Mr Palmer has had a wide range of prior governance experience on various groups including Co-chair of Canterbury COVID-19 Recovery Oversight Group, Chair of the Kaikōura Earthquake Recovery Steering Group and Chair of the Canterbury Chief Executives Forum.




Penelope Hulse

Penelope Hulse, MNZM, is currently a board member of Kainga Ora. She also holds a number of other current appointments such as board member of the Auckland Museum, board member of Aktive (a regional sport body) and trustee of the Community Waitakere Trust. Ms Hulse has extensive local government experience. Previously, Ms Hulse was the Deputy Mayor of Auckland Council (2010 to 2016). She retired as a Councillor in 2019, after a 27-year period in roles for Waitakere City Council and Auckland Council.





John Ombler

John Ombler, QSO, has been a senior public servant who has held a wide range of roles over the years. Most recently, Mr Ombler was the Controller of the All-of-Government response to COVID-19 and Deputy Chief Executive of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. In 2019, Mr Ombler was the Deputy State Services Commissioner. Prior to 2019, Mr Ombler held a number of management roles including as the Acting Chief Executive of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (2014 to 2016) and General Manager and Conservator roles at the Department of Conservation (1987 to 2007).



Gael Surgenor

Gael Surgenor is currently a General Manager of Community and Social Innovation at Auckland Council. Since 2015 she has led a team of local government entrepreneurs at the TSI, a place-based approach to enabling wellbeing and prosperity in South and West Auckland. She is the Chair of the Auckland Co-Design Lab Governance Group which is a collaboration of Auckland Council and ten government agencies and is also a member of the South Auckland Social Wellbeing Board. Ms Surgenor has held senior leadership roles within central government and in community organisations including being a voluntary board member of various organisations.




Antoine Coffin

Antoine Coffin is currently a director/consultant at Te Onewa Consultants, which offers specialist expertise to government, local government, and corporate clients in the areas of strategic planning, Resource Management Act (RMA) decision-making, infrastructure and building relationships with tangata whenua. Mr Coffin has 25 years’ experience in Māori resource management, cultural heritage planning, community engagement and facilitation. He is a qualified RMA Commissioner and a Crown appointed Freshwater Commissioner. Mr Coffin is of Ngai Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāti Raukawa iwi of Tauranga.