Meet The Commissioners

The Panel of Commissioners are appointed based on their knowledge, experience and mana. They represent a wide range of expertise in human rights, environment, science and health advocacy, mātauranga Māori, traditional Māori knowledge and much more.

Dr. Meriel Watts

Dr Watts is Director of Science and Policy at Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Asia Pacific.  She represents the PAN International network of 600 civil society organisations at UN Conventions, Agreements and Committees on the management of pesticides.

In New Zealand she has been a member of numerous government committees, provided service to Parliamentary Services for 9 years, served on New Zealand’s pesticide registering authority, and managed the establishment of Organic Farm NZ’s small-scale growers’ certification system. She is a widely-published nationally and internationally respected expert on pesticides, sustainable alternatives and policies. She also manages a small bio-diverse organic farm on Waiheke Island. 

Dr. Tom Kerns

Tom Kerns is dedicated to the work of bringing human-rights norms to bear on the climate crisis and other environmental issues. An emeritus professor of philosophy at Seattle College, Dr. Kerns is currently Director of Environment and Human Rights Advisory. In 2015, he helped draft the international “Declaration on Human Rights and Climate Change.” Dr. Kerns co-organized the International Tribunal on Human Rights, Fracking and Climate Change and, with Kathleen Dean Moore, has co-edited a book based on that tribunal. His current work shows young people how to organize their own Youth Climate Court trials. He writes from a village on the central Oregon coast.

Publications: Links to recent publications can be seen here, including a link to the PI2006 Report. “A Human Rights Impact Assessment of Auckland Transport’s Road Corridor Vegetation Control.” It was prepared in 2014 by Environment and Human Rights Advisory

Hema Wihongi

Ko Putahi te maunga, Ko Wairoro, Ko Ōmāpere ngā Wai, Ko Te Uri o Hua, Ko Ngai Te Wake ngā hapū, Ko Ngāpuhi, ko Te Rarawa ngā iwi, Ko Mataatua, Ko Ngā Tokimatawhaourua ōku waka.  

Hema is currently an honorary science research fellow at the school of environment and animal sciences at Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland and holds a masters in Technology Futures.  Her research interests are in freshwater ecology in particular monitoring acid mine drainage, mapping utilising drone acquired imagery, traditional Māori knowledge, and is an expert in the Wai 262 flora and fauna inquiry.  Hema has represented Māori at UN fora and is currently an indigenous advisor for Stop Ecocide, supporting the International Criminal Courts (ICC) new legislation to include ecocide as an international crime.  

Catherine Iorns Magallanes

Catherine Iorns is an award-winning Law Professor at Te Herenga Waka–Victoria University of Wellington. She has more than 25 years’ experience teaching and researching on environmental law, indigenous rights and statutory interpretation, including a focus on pesticides. Catherine has written a lengthy law journal article on New Zealand pesticide regulation as well as a shorter opinion piece.  Catherine’s additional roles include being the Academic Adviser to the NZ Council of Legal Education, a member of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law, and New Zealand’s nominee to the IUCN governing world Council. 

Left: The first People’s Inquiry hearings in 2006 at Waitakere City Council Chambers. Commissioners heard submitters stories and evidence on the aerial spraying of Auckland suburbs seventy times with Foray 48-B, a bacterial pesticide.

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