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Canterbury fab four recognised by Institute of Directors

Four outstanding Canterbury businesswomen have each won an Emerging Director Award from the Institute of Directors (IoD) Canterbury Branch.  

Media release
By Institute of Directors
20 Sep 2021
read time
4 min to read

Four outstanding Canterbury businesswomen have each won an Emerging Director Award from the Institute of Directors (IoD) Canterbury Branch.  

Sharemilker and director Ash-Leigh Campbell, treatment supervisor radiation therapist Allison (Alli) Copland, EnviroPlan and Van Black Farming director Alison van Polanen, and strategy, people & culture executive Anna Wilson, have all displayed the leadership, integrity and enterprise sought by the award judges.

The IoD presents its Emerging Director Awards annually. Each recipient receives $1,500 towards IoD governance development courses, a year’s complimentary membership of the Institute, a board internship and mentoring from an experienced director. 

Ash-Leigh Campbell

Ash-Leigh Campbell, whose three-year tenure as national chair of New Zealand Young Farmers ended in August, is recently self-employed as a sharemilker/director of Partners in Cream Limited with her friend. She is also contracted to Ngāi Tahu Farming to support the management of their dairy operations. In her role, she is responsible for assisting with the management and performance of Ngāi Tahu dairy farms and dairy support farms, including assisting with operational and environmental performance, and the implementation and improvement of sustainable farming practices. Ash-Leigh also supports local farmers with their administration and compliance needs under her sole trading company Kā Puke Limited.

She was the winner of the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year in 2020, a finalist in the Women of Influence Awards (Rural) in 2019 and the inaugural winner of the New Zealand Young Farmers Excellence Award in 2016.

“I was fortunate to receive the Whenua Kura Scholarship at university, a turning point in connecting me with my iwi – Ngāi Tahu – and more importantly meeting a woman who mentored and continues to support me, Traci Houpapa, and in more recent times Jane Huria,” says Ash-Leigh. “It was through their guidance and leadership that I understood how important it is for women to believe in themselves, strive for leadership roles and support those pursuing the same passion.”

Ash-Leigh also attributes joining Young Farmers in her early 20s for learning “the value of connecting with your local community and furthering your education.  I never realised how important being a part of the local community was for my mental health and well-being.”

Ash-Leigh will serve her board internship with leading New Zealand health insurance provider UniMed. Chair Jane Huria says the board is very pleased to welcome Ash-Leigh as an IoD Emerging Director.

“Ash-Leigh is an outstanding Ngai Tahu woman who was the youngest ever winner of the prestigious Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award in 2020, and she brings strong leadership from her role as chair of NZ Young Farmers. She is hard working and strongly values based, and we look forward to having her join our team."

Alli Copland

Alli Copland has worked in the health sector for almost two decades, including radiation therapist roles in England, Scotland and Switzerland.

In her current role, she leads and supports a team of radiation therapists at St Georges Hospital Cancer Care Centre in Christchurch. Her responsibilities include management of the treatment team staff rostering, performance reviews and feedback, staff and student training, general management, patient advocacy, and patient feedback.

Alli has been heavily involved in the implementation of new radiation therapy techniques and clinical advancements, clinical trials, service planning and is an active member of various steering committees.

She is also an executive committee board member for the local branch of the Cancer Society of New Zealand.

Alli will serve her internship with Akaroa Health, an integrated health service delivering primary, inpatient, emergency, community and aged residential care for the Akaroa and Bays community.

Chair Peter Young says, “Alli impressed us with her understanding of the issues affecting the provision of quality health services in rural health and her ambitions to grow her governance skills. Alli brings further diversity around our board table with her specialist clinical skills.” 

Alison van Polanen

Alison van Polanen has held a range of environmental and sustainability roles for leading companies including Meridian Energy and Central Plains Water. She has worked in resource consent management of renewable energy, water infrastructure, telecommunications and land development projects, and more recently supporting farmers to implement good environmental management so they develop sustainable farming businesses.

She is currently a director and consultant for EnviroPlan and a director of Van Black Farming.

EnviroPlan helps farmers to develop, plan and manage natural resources and environmental aspects of their agricultural activities. It provides personalised expertise in environmental planning, Farm Environmental Plan (FEP) audits, overseer nutrient budgeting, on-farm compliance assistance and resource consent applications.

Alison and her husband are directors of Van Black Farming, which share milks a 220-ha recent dairy conversion in Mid Canterbury.

“I want to challenge myself to take the next step in my development and further contribute to the local community,” says Alison, who is also a Board of Trustees member of Lauriston School in Mid Canterbury.

She will serve her internship with Ashburton Contracting (ACL), a leading civil and rural contracting business.

Chair Alister Lilley says, “Alison’s knowledge of environmental planning, as well as her experience across several different industry sectors, will add value and diversity to the ACL board. The development opportunities will certainly benefit Alison and the ACL board is delighted to be able to support Alison in her governance journey.”

Anna Wilson

Anna Wilson oversees people and culture for Holmes Solutions, which tests and develops new technologies across a range of industries. Holmes Solutions also develop system solutions for both local and international clients. A mechanical engineer by training, she has established and implemented strategies for wellbeing, culture and environment, brand and marketing for Holmes Solutions

Anna also serves on the company’s executive team, developing and implementing overall company strategy. She says her key successes at Holmes Solutions include developing a company-wide People and Culture strategy and she is passionate about developing and implementing a strategy for investing in the development of the next generation – investment in STEM for schools, school visits, internships and apprenticeships.

She sits on the Holmes Solutions US Inc board, helping to develop a US-specific company strategy, and is chair of the University of Canterbury Product Design School Advisory Board

She will serve her internship with Ashburton-based EA Networks, a co-operatively owned electricity distribution company. Chair Philip McKendry, says EA Networks was proud to support the emerging director awards. It is the fourth year EA Networks have hosted an IoD intern.  “Anna will, like our past three interns, undoubtedly be a constructive observer of and contributor to our board. We look forward to her joining us for the coming twelve months,” he said.



More information

For more information, and to request interviews or images, please contact:

Branch contact

Sharynn Johnson
IoD Canterbury Branch Manager
027 228 6069

Media contact

Vanessa Glennie
IoD Corporate Communications Manager
027 957 0315