Irrigation New Zealand

IrrigationNZ has appointed Elizabeth Soal as its new Chief Executive.

“IrrigationNZ has recently adopted a new strategy which focuses on creating an environment for the responsible use of water for food production. As part of the strategy we will be focusing on advocacy, encouraging innovation through sharing ideas and adopting new technology, developing a robust information base, bringing the irrigation sector, researchers and decision makers together to make better decisions for our future and creating world‑leading irrigation standards,” says Nicky Hyslop, IrrigationNZ Board Chair.

“Elizabeth has a strong background in water management, law and policy and she will help contribute to all of these goals but she is particularly well qualified to contribute to national discussions as we seek to achieve solutions to complex issues around water allocation which result in good outcomes for both communities and the environment.”

“I am looking forward to leading the implementation of IrrigationNZ’s new strategy which I think will take the industry in a really positive direction. Managing our freshwater effectively whilst reducing our environmental footprint is critical for the wellbeing of our communities and for New Zealand as a whole,” says Elizabeth Soal.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to participate in national-level discussions about these important issues.”

Elizabeth has worked as the Director of Strategy and Policy at Waitaki Irrigators Collective for the past eight years. She also served on IrrigationNZ’s board from 2011 to 2016, and until recently she sat on the Technical Committee of the International Alliance for Water Stewardship, based in Edinburgh.

Elizabeth has previously worked as a policy advisor for the Ministry of Social Development, at the Ministry of Justice, and at law firms in New Zealand and England. She has a Master of Arts in Politics, a First Class Honours Degree in Politics and a Bachelor of Law from the University of Otago, and is currently working towards a PhD in Geography which focuses on freshwater governance in New Zealand.

In her spare time, Elizabeth plays squash and touch, and enjoys gardening and reading. She has also previously chaired North Otago Women’s Rugby and was the deputy chair of the North Otago Rugby Union.

Elizabeth will take up her new role in late February, with current Chief Executive Andrew Curtis leaving his position to start new ventures in late January.

“I would also like to thank retiring Chief Executive Andrew Curtis for his considerable contribution to IrrigationNZ over the past decade and wish him well for the future,” says Nicky Hyslop.