General news

9 October 2020

New Trustee, new Board Member announced for Cawthron Institute

Cawthron Institute is delighted to announce the appointment of Jan Hania as a new Trustee to the Cawthron Institute Trust Board, and Nagaja Sanatkumar as the newest member of its Board of Directors.

Jan Hania, who has a background in environmental engineering and strategic philanthropy, is currently Environmental Director at NEXT Foundation and has previously worked as a consulting environmental engineer and held roles with the Department of Conservation and local government. Jan is of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Raukawa and Te Ātiawa descent.

Cawthron Institute Trust Board Chair John Palmer says “Jan will bring an understanding of how creating collaborations can be used to enhance collective impact. He also has an appreciation that the active participation and leadership of Māori in science, innovation and business will create success for Aotearoa.

“Jan has a strong background of putting environmental thinking into action and will be an asset as Cawthron continues this important work.”

Trustee Dr Pam Williams stepped down from the Board in September 2020 after six years of service.

L -R: Cawthron Institute Trustee Jan Hania and Cawthron Director Nagaja Sanatkumar

Nagaja Sanatkumar joins Cawthron Institute’s Board of Directors effective from 1 October 2020.

Nagaja is a Professional Non-Executive Director with over 20 years’ international executive and leadership experience. Nagaja studied chemical engineering at IIT Bombay and then moved to the US for a consulting role with Deloitte, before completing an MBA from the University of Washington. Through progressively senior leadership roles in the USA for leading commercial and technology organisations (notably Amazon & Expedia), she brings deep expertise in general management, strategy, digital technology, eCommerce, customer-led innovation and commercial scale across a variety of industry verticals and corporate structures.

Nagaja moved to New Zealand with her family in 2015, and now runs a consulting practice alongside her corporate governance roles at New Zealand Post and Meridian Energy. Her most recent executive role (as of 2019) in New Zealand was General Manager – Global Digital at Icebreaker.

Cawthron Institute Board of Directors Chair Meg Matthews says she is delighted Ms Sanatkumar is joining the Board, as the organisation continues to focus on supporting the sustainable development of New Zealand’s primary industries through its research.
“Nagaja is passionate about sustainable futures; the future of our planet and our children, consumer behaviours, education, science and technology, and its ever-changing socio-economic impact. She enjoys motivating and inspiring people to continuously raise their standards for collaboration, execution and learning and we are thrilled to gain the benefit of her expertise.”

David Kenning stepped down from the Board of Directors in September after more than eight years of service.


Cawthron Institute is owned by a charitable trust, established in accordance with the Thomas Cawthron Trust Act 1924. In keeping with the original Act, the Trust includes the Member of Parliament for Nelson electorate, the Mayor of Tasman District, the Mayor of Nelson and the Anglican Bishop. These Trustees appoint six additional trustees, who bring scientific and business expertise to the Trust.

The Trust appoints Cawthron Institute’s governing Board of Directors, who establish Cawthron’s strategic objectives and policy framework, and appoint the Chief Executive.

Find out more about our Trustees here.
Find out more about our Board of Directors here.