Governance Reform

Independent review of the constitution, governance structure and processes of the New Zealand Rugby Union Incorporated

Panel Members Bios

  • David Pilkington (Chair)

    David graduated with a BSc and BE (Chem) from Canterbury University. He then completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Dairy Science and Technology at Massey University, prior to joining the New Zealand Dairy Board where he spent his executive career in a variety of senior management positions both in New Zealand and offshore. These included President of NZMP (Japan) based in Japan and CEO NZMP (North America) based in California, USA. In 2000, prior to the formation of Fonterra, David was appointed Managing Director of New Zealand Milk Ltd, the dairy industry’s global foodservice and consumer products business. He continued in this role until May 2004 whereupon he left Fonterra and formed Excelsa Associates Ltd establishing a fulltime governance portfolio.

    David’s directorships have covered a variety of companies including Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ltd, Zespri Group Ltd, Port of Tauranga Ltd (Chair), Northport Limited (Chair), Primeport Timaru, Restaurant Brands Ltd, Douglas Pharmaceuticals Ltd (Chair), Rangatira Limited (Chair), Tuatara Brewing, Heller Tasty (Chair), Contract Resources, Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (Chair) and Prevar NZ Ltd (Chair). David also served for 9 years as an independent appointee to the Wellington City Council Audit and Risk Management Subcommittee.

    David recently retired as Chair of Port of Tauranga after 17 years on the board. During his time spent at New Zealand’s largest, fastest growing and most efficient port, David has seen and driven many changes throughout the sector.

    David’s current governance roles include, Rangatira Limited (Chair), Douglas Pharmaceuticals (Chair) and New Zealand Community Trust (NZCT) where he chairs the National Grants Committee. In this capacity David has overseen the distribution of grant funding to many of New Zealand’s sporting codes.

    He is a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Directors and a Committee Member of the Wellington Branch. David completed the Advanced Management Programme (AMP) at Harvard University and attended London Business School.

    In 2019 he was awarded The Deloitte Top 200 “Chairperson of the Year” award.

  • Anne Urlwin

    Anne is a professional director with more than 20 years governance experience in sectors ranging from energy, property development, infrastructure, construction, and insurance, as well as sports administration. 

    She is currently a director of Precinct Properties New Zealand Ltd, Summerset Group Holdings Ltd, Vector Ltd and Ventia Services Group Ltd. She is also a director of City Rail Link Ltd and Queenstown Airport Corporation Ltd. 

    Her former governance roles have included directorships of Chorus Ltd, Tilt Renewables Ltd, Cigna Life Insurance New Zealand Ltd, deputy chairmanship of Southern Response Earthquake Services Ltd and chairmanship of the New Zealand Blood Service and of the Naylor Love Construction group.

    Anne has also had governance roles on the boards of two national sports organisations – NZ Cricket and Hockey New Zealand.

    She also serves as the independent Chairman of the Te Rūnanga Audit and Risk Committee of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. 

    One of New Zealand’s most experienced professional directors, Anne’s directorship experience – as director, chairman and deputy chairman – has been with a range of organisations at different stages of their life cycles, from start-up through to fully mature, and having varied shareholders including commercially-focussed owners in the private and publicly-listed sectors, as well as the Crown and local government sector, and stakeholders of not-for-profit entities.

    Anne is a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Directors and a representative on its National Council. She is also a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, the New Zealand Shareholders Association and a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

    She was awarded an ONZM in the 2022 Queens Birthday Honours for services to business. 

    Anne divides her time between Wanaka and Wellington.

  • Whaimutu Dewes

    After graduating from Victoria University of Wellington with Bachelor’s degrees in arts and Law, Whaimutu joined the public service, rising to become the chief legal adviser in what was then the Department of Māori Affairs. In 1988, he was a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., looking at Māori economic development, and in the same year he graduated with a Master of Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. 

    Subsequently, Whaimutu worked in senior roles for Fletcher Challenge and held directorships at organisations including Housing New Zealand, Television New Zealand, Maori Television, Contact Energy and Ngati Porou Holding Company. He has also been a member of the Advisory Boards to the Treasury and to AMP He currently chairs Sealord Group Ltd and Ngati Porou Forestry and is a member of the governance group of the High Value Nutrition National Science Challenge.

    Whaimutu has established himself as a leader in Maori business organisations, with particular expertise in fisheries. He was a member of the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission, the forerunner to Te Ohu Kaimoana (the Māori Fisheries Trust) for its first 10 years during which time the core components of the Māori commercial fisheries businesses were acquired and set up. He is the current chairman of Sealord Group and Moana New Zealand. He also served as a member of the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission in its first 10 years.

    Whaimutu is also a prominent advocate for the revitalisation of te reo Māori. His involvement in this movement dates from membership of Victoria University of Wellington’s Te Reo Māori Society and his part in the campaign that resulted in the te reo Māori 1972 petition to Parliament. Those efforts led to the establishment in 1975 of Māori Language Week and the Māori Language Act 1987. Whaimutu regards the fact that he and his wife, Judy, have raised their children to be fluently bilingual as their most rewarding achievement.

    In 2018, he was awarded the Māori Governance Leader Award as part of the Māori Business Leader Awards. 

  • Graham Mourie

    Graham had a long and distinguished rugby playing career. He captained his province, Taranaki, and played a total of 61 matches for the All Blacks in the late 1970s and early 1980s. For 57 of these matches he was captain including on the historic Grand Slam tour of Great Britain and Ireland in 1978.

    Between 1985 and 1987 Graham was involved with marketing the first Rugby World Cup. He was a director of the New Zealand Rugby Union from 2003-2013 and on the International Rugby Board where he chaired the Rugby Committee. He is currently chairs the World Rugby Match Officials appointment group.

    With strong grassroots rugby credentials Graham coached the Opunake senior team, his club side, and was instrumental in helping to set up the Coastal rugby club in 1995 and was its first coach. In 1998 he took over as coach of the Wellington team in the National Provincial Championship and with Dave Rennie made the NPC final in 1999 before winning it in 2000. Also in 2000, he became coach of the Hurricanes.

    Recognition of his contribution to the sport and his achievements in it were recognized by induction into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame (1996), the World Rugby Hall of Fame (2014), and the Taranaki Sports Hall of Fame (2015). Graham was also made a Life Member of the Taranaki Rugby Football Union in 2018 and became its Patron in July 2019.

    In 1980, as the then All Blacks captain he refused to play against the Springboks, denouncing South Africa’s then racist apartheid policies. This values-based stance helped bring about the start of a change within New Zealand society. When he retired from playing in 1982, he accepted royalties from sales of his autobiography and declared himself 'professional' to challenge the existing rules around amateurism. As a result, he was banned from coaching, playing, or administering the game for 10 years. 

    Graham is also well known in the dairy industry. Growing up on a family dairy farm he purchased his first farm in 1979. Later he set up a successful farm consultancy business and was a director of the local dairy-processing cooperative. Currently he is a shareholder and executive director of ethical dairy investment fund Southern Pastures. The fund holds a portfolio of 19 dairy farms covering more than 6600 ha split between South Waikato and Canterbury. Southern Pastures which produces milk under its own 10 Star Certified Values program also owns well known dairy product brand, Lewis Road Creamery. Graham’s focus on leadership, team building, and mentoring has been credited with helping to build a strong on-farm team to compliment the company’s management structure.

    Wellington-based he currently has governance roles in a number of trusts including the Rugby Foundation, QEII National Trust and the Graham Dingle Foundation Wellington.

The panel was supported in its work by

Special General Meeting

A Special General Meeting (SGM) has been called for 30 May 2024, at which voting members will be asked to approve one of two alternative proposals for governance reform of NZR. In order to pass a proposal must receive at least two thirds of the votes cast at the SGM.

Proposal 1

Proposal 1 provides for implementation of the Review Panel’s recommendations to the extent practicable. It also includes a Skills and Competencies Framework for Board appointments.

Click here to review Proposal 1 and the Skills and Competencies Framework.

Proposal 1 also provides for an Initial Appointments Panel to select Board appointees for 2024 and 2025, while the Stakeholder Council is being finalised. After the 2025 AGM the Appointment Panel will be appointed annually, including two members appointed by the Stakeholder Council.

Click here to view the Initial Appointments Panel biographies.

Proposal 2

Proposal 2 is an alternative proposal which has been proposed by a group of Provincial Unions and will also be considered at the SGM.

Click here to review Proposal 2.

Commentary from the independent review panel

At the request of the governance review commissioning parties (NZR and New Zealand Rugby Players Association), the independent review panel has reviewed the two proposals being presented to the SGM on 30 May. The independent review panel have considered whether each proposal aligns to the principles and recommendations of the governance report and if one or both proposals reflect the intent of the review.

Click here to view the independent review panel’s report.

Background Information

You can read the terms of reference for the Governance Review which can be found here.

The constitution and strategic plan of NZR are the other key relevant documents.