Dave Gawn has enjoyed a distinguished military career spanning 40 years, starting with his enlistment in 1979 and culminating in his appointment as Chief of the New Zealand Army in 2013-15.
For the last two years he was based in Israel engaged as Head of Mission and Chief of Staff, United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO), overseeing peace keeping operations for the five signatories of the 1949 Armistice Agreement.
Prior to his appointment as Chief of New Zealand Army, Dave was Commander Joint Forces New Zealand from 2011 to 2013 and Land Commander New Zealand Army from 2007 to 2010. He holds a Master of Strategic Studies from Deakin University in Australia.
Dave leads the Agency and is accountable to the Minster Responsible for Pike River Re-Entry Andrew Little, while working in partnership with the Families Reference Group.
Kevin (Dinghy) Pattinson
Chief Operating Officer
Dinghy Pattinson has over four decades of underground mining experience on the West Coast and in Waikato. After 37 years in underground coal mining, he has worked most recently in underground metalliferous mining at Oceanagold.
In addition to his strong mining background, Dinghy has been actively involved with the NZ Mines Rescue Service for the past 33 years, with roles including Brigadesman, Huntly Station Manager and Board Member.
He has numerous mining qualifications, including Site Senior Executive and First Class Mine Managers certificates, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Coal Mine Strata Control from the University of New South Wales.
As Chief Operating Officer, Dinghy manages the operational elements of the Pike River re-entry work programme and has responsibility for ensuring activities at the mine comply with statutory health and safety requirements.
Chief of Staff
Michelle Wessing has more than 10 years’ experience in senior management, most recently as Acting Chief Executive of Standards New Zealand.
Having managed the ambitious programme of work required to set up the Pike River Recovery Agency, she brings significant knowledge as well as leadership and corporate services expertise to the role.
Michelle, who is a current member of the Institute of Directors, works closely with the Chief Executive to define and deliver on the agency’s strategic goals. She is accountable for all administrative, financial, legal and operational activities for our newly established Government department, to ensure the Agency functions effectively and efficiently while meeting all its legal and other obligations.
Principal External Relations Advisor - Communications
Lee Harris is a seasoned communications professional who has worked in local government, the corporate sector, central Government and has most recently been at the West Coast District Health Board for nearly four years.
Lee came to the Coast after working for the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA). Her background also includes many years as a journalist, roles in marketing communications, public relations, and running the film office/undertaking special projects (economic and community development) for the Queenstown Lakes District Council.
Lee lives just north of Punakaiki in the most magnificent part of the Buller District, with the Paparoas just behind her house.
Lee's leads the agency’s communications and engagement activity, including media and social media management.
Family Reference Group Liaison Officer
Emma Cummins has 18 years’ experience in administration and office management and for the last three years she has supported the General Manager, Energy and Resource Markets (ERM) at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
Emma played an active role on the ERM leadership team and in branch governance, supporting organisational change and implementing streamlined processes. She has a wide ranging knowledge of government and is a solutions-focused problem solver.
Emma started working with the Family Reference Group in November 2017, during the Pike River Recovery Agency establishment.
Emma manages the agency’s relationship with the Pike River Family Reference Group.
Senior Project Manager
Lloyd Steward has been involved in the mining industry for seven years. After completing his Bachelor of Science majoring in Geology and Masters of Engineering Management at the University of Canterbury, Lloyd started
his working career as an Environmental Engineer for Solid Energy. From 2013 – 2015, he worked as the Junior Project Manager for the Pike River Recovery under Solid Energy.
For the past few years he has been running a mining and manufacturing company of industrial minerals.
As the Senior Project Manager, Lloyd manages tasks to ensure the project is delivered on time and on budget. In his spare time he is a keen mountain biker, trail runner and supporter of local cafés and restaurants.
Principal Staff Officer
Karl Maddaford has been seconded to the Pike River Recovery Agency from the NZ Army. Karl has extensive experience in challenging project work including more than seven years in Afghanistan, serving with the United Nations.
He holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Canterbury and is a certified Project Management professional. At the Agency, he will be coordinating detailed planning for aspects of the manned re-entry project, including the forensics plan, rehabilitation and post close-out planning.
Karl has relocated with his wife Rebecca and their three children to Greymouth for the project.
Senior Advisor/Private Secretary
John has held a variety of policy, management, and advisory/support positions across the public sector.
He has worked in the State Services Commission, the Department of Justice, the Department of Labour and MBIE, as a contractor in New Zealand and as a development advisor in Africa and Asia.
Since 2011 John has had more than four years' experience as a ministerial private secretary. He holds a Master of Public Policy degree from Victoria University of Wellington.
John was born in Wellington but raised in Timaru and Christchurch before returning north. He now lives with his family (and two cats) in the seaside suburb of Eastbourne.
John is a conduit between the Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-Entry, his office and our Agency.
Karen has worked in education, community development and government roles, most recently at Community and Public Health in Greymouth. Having lived on the West Coast for more than 30 years, she has extensive networks and knowledge of the community.
Karen was a Grey District Councillor for nine years and was on the Council at the time of the Pike River Mine disaster.
Karen prepares weekly reports to the Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-Entry, Andrew Little, assists with information requests and provides administrative support to the technical team. She also provides executive support to the Chief Executive.
Finance Operations Officer
Greymouth-born Paul Kerridge has worked in the fishing industry, the ski industry, and has also practised law, along with his business consulting background.
Paul returned to the West Coast to develop all the administration and accounting systems required for a group of related companies involved in civil earthworks and gold mining.
Paul’s part-time role with the Agency will draw on his business administration and systems experience, dealing with all aspects of accounts payable, payroll, and managing various supply contracts for the agency.
In his spare time Paul, who lives in Hokitika, spends time being walked by his dog. He is keen to rediscover the local club ski field scene, while in summer he is a fiercely competitive sailor at the back of the fleet in his vintage boat.
Detective Senior Sergeant Grant Collins, NZ Police
Grant Collins has served in New Zealand Police since 1999, starting his policing career as a constable in Auckland. He joined the Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) in 2003 and qualified as a detective in 2006, and later as Detective Sergeant in 2012.
Grant is a national lead in telecommunications data analysis, specialising in cell site data and mapping, and cyber-enabled crime.
Closely involved with the Canterbury earthquakes since 2011, Grant took leading roles on the Missing Persons team and Foreign Nationals desk. He helped to prepare the 185 Coronial Files for Inquest Hearings and assisted the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission (CERC). In 2014 Grant was appointed as 2IC on the CTV Investigation; one of the largest and most complex manslaughter investigations conducted by New Zealand Police.
Grant has recently been promoted to Detective Senior Sergeant, seconded to the Pike River Recovery Agency (PRRA), the government agency focused on developing a plan to safely re-enter the Pike River mine drift, to give the Pike River families closure and to help prevent future mining tragedies.
Grant is married to Claire who is a Crown Prosecutor in Christchurch, with four children, aged 15, 12, six and five.
Underviewer / Health & Safety Manager
Greg grew up in a coal mining family on the West Coast and gained a mining engineering degree from Otago University.
While working in the Huntly underground mines he gained his First Class Coal Mine Manager's qualification.
He came back to the Coast in 1987 to manage various mines, including Terrace, Strongman, Strongman 2, Mt Davy and Spring Creek Mine.
He has 40 years’ experience with mine gases, spontaneous combustion and difficult geotechnical conditions as commonly found in New Zealand Coal mines.
Senior Mine Assistant / Mechanical Superintendent
Matt has spent about 25 years in mechanical engineering, including stints at five of the large underground coal mines on the West Coast. He has been a New Zealand Mines Rescue member for the past 20 years.
Outside coal mining, Matt worked on the Auckland Waterview project where two tunnels were driven using a large diameter tunnel-boring machine. He has been mechanical superintendent of remedial work on road tunnels in Kaikoura, and other pipe-jacking tunnels in the North Island.
As Senior Mine Assistant/Mechanical Superintendent, Matt will assist the Chief Operating Officer with planning and implementation of operational elements of the Pike River re-entry work and is also responsible for the safe operation of all mechanical plant, ensuring all equipment on site complies with statutory health and safety requirements.
Deputy / Mine Worker
Kirk is a coal mine deputy with 29 years underground coal mining experience in the Grey coal field.
He gained his deputy’s certificate of competency in 1998 and has been employed in this position since 2002.
Kirk is an extraction and development supervisor with experience in gassy conditions, heavy ground and dealing with the management of spontaneous combustion events.
He is very focused on safety.
Control Room Operator / Mine Worker
Barry started work at Morley mine, Southland in 1969, becoming an experienced miner after five years. He trained in mines rescue for 16 years. Barry moved to Wairaki, Southland after the closure of Morley mine.
He gained his deputy's ticket in 1989 and was employed in this role until Wairaki closed. After a brief break from the industry in 2008, Barry was employed as a control room operator at the Pike River Mine.
Following the disaster in 2010, he was employed as deputy during the planned re-entry by Solid Energy.
Barry brings with him sound knowledge and experience in all facets of underground coal mining.
Danie Du Preez
Electrical Superintendent / Mine Gas Technician
Danie's previous roles include electrical superintendent for Spring Creek, Rocky Creek and Solid Energy’s Reefton operations.
Danie is skilled in underground coal mining hazardous area electrical installations, gas monitoring systems and communication systems.
Engineering Assistant / Task Manager
Tjaart has worked in several underground and open cast coal and hard rock mines, managing projects and maintenance of mining plant and equipment.
He has been with Pike River since 2007 and was part of the engineering staff responsible for the installation of various pump systems into the mine and underground. He was also responsible for the maintenance management of all the underground mechanical related plant and mobile equipment in the initial stages of the mine’s development.
After the mine tragedy in 2010, he remained at the mine, working on the stabilisation of the mine and later attempted recovery efforts of the tunnel/mine.
He is the holder of a Certificate of Competency for Mechanical Superintendent and has a university degree in mechanical engineering.
Bryan started his mining career in 1996 in Ohai, Southland, going underground in 1999. He moved on to the Roa Mine (a hydro mining set up) out the back of Rapahoe in 2004.
A member of the NZ Mines Rescue service for 15 years, Bryan is a qualified coal mine deputy and has his B class tunnel manager’s ticket.
Damian (Dooma) Briggs
Barrytown-born and bred Dooma trained as a fitter and turner before starting work in mining and drilling in 1992.
The third generation coal miner worked at Spring Creek as a fitter, surface controller and underground driller from 2003 to 2009, and moved on to manage rigs in the oil and gas industry from 2010.
Somewhere in there Dooma spent three years crayfishing out of Milford Sound.
Vinnie is an experienced underground miner, operator, shotfirer and leading hand who has worked at various underground coal and metalliferous operations on the West Coast and Otago.
He has operated both mechanised and handheld mining equipment, with strong skills in drilling and blasting.
Vinnie has his B Grade Tunnel Manager’s certificate of competency and he has been a member of the New Zealand Mines Rescue Service since 2012.
Shane McGeady started learning the building trade at 16 with Graeme Pizzato. That took him to Spring Creek when he was 18, on the carpentry crew, before being employed by Solid Energy doing the same job.
He joined NZ Mines Rescue Service about six years ago and was contracted through the service to seal Spring Creek in 2017. About that time he started a building and tiling company.
Shane wanted to be part of the Pike River recovery so joined the mining team after initially being contracted to carry out some building work.
Geoff has 21 years of underground mining experience with mechanical and hydro techniques. He has worked at various West Coast mines, and has also completed a carpentry apprenticeship.
His mining expertise includes competency in roof and rib support techniques, knowledge of pumping systems, and an ability to manage gas and ventilation issues.
Geoff has been a member of the New Zealand Mines Rescue Service since 2005.
Chris Coll is the principal of his surveying and resource management consultancy Chris J Coll Surveying. He has extensive experience in both open cast and underground mine surveying and has provided services to coal, gold and limestone mines and tunnelling operations.
Chris is a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors, Registered Professional Surveyor, Licensed Cadastral Surveyor, Registered Surveyor and holds a Mine Surveyor Certificate of Competence. He is the Examiner for Mine Surveying for the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors Professional Entrance Examinations. He has been appointed to the New Zealand Mining Board’s Register of Examiners by Worksafe NZ. He holds a Diploma in Land Surveying and a New Zealand Certificate of Engineering (Civil).
At the Pike River Mine, Chris' work includes the preparation and certification of mine plans for submission to WorkSafe NZ, drillhole set-out to assist with drive intersection, installation of survey control, topographical surveying and provision of UAV aerial imagery and photogrammetrical data to inform decision-making.