The Retirement Policy and Research Centre (RPRC), Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) and Centre for Applied Research in Economics (CARE) Annual Summit speaker line-up.

Professor Peter Whiteford

Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, Canberra

Professor Whiteford previously worked as a Principal Administrator in the Social Policy Division of the OECD, Paris. His work there encompassed pension and welfare policies in OECD countries, Eastern Europe and China, as well as child poverty, family assistance policies, and welfare reform. He has also worked at the Social Policy Research Unit at the University of York, UK.  From 2008 to 2012 he worked at the Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW, Sydney. He has published extensively on various aspects of the Australian and international systems of income support. In July 2008, he was appointed by the Australian government to the Reference Group for the Harmer Review of the Australian pension system. He was an invited keynote speaker at the Melbourne Institute-Australia’s Future Tax and Transfer Policy Conference held in June 2009 as part of the Henry Review of Australia’s Future Tax System, and he participated in the Australian Government Tax Forum held in Canberra in October 2011. He is an Associate Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR), an Adjunct Professor with the Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW, and an Honorary Professor in the School of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Nanjing University, China.

Dr Simon Chapple

Director of the Institute of Governance and Policy Studies in Victoria University’s School of Government

He has worked in a research and policy advisory capacity in New Zealand for the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the NZIER, the Ministry of Social Development and the Department of Labour. Internationally, he has worked for UNCTAD in Geneva and for the OECD in Paris. His main areas of work have been in labour market and family and child policy. His current research focus is on social investment and welfare reform in New Zealand.

Peter Alsop

Director of the Insights and Investment Group at the Ministry of Social Development

Peter Alsop recently joined Ministry of Social Development as Director, Insights and Investment Group, a leadership role that includes work on the ongoing development of social investment within MSD. Peter’s career has spanned the public and private sectors, including establishing the Productivity Commission and two stints at PHARMAC, a government agency specialising in health and social investment. Peter is passionate about organisations making the best possible decisions; in MSD’s context to achieve the best possible social outcomes for New Zealand. Outside work, Peter is the proud dad of four young kids, with a sideline passion creating books on New Zealand art and culture.

David Kenkel

Lecturer in Social Practice at Unitec

David Kenkel is a Lecturer in Social Practice at Unitec. Born, raised and still resident in West Auckland on the land of Te Kawerau-a-Maki – David is unreasonably passionate about the West’s landscapes of ecology, culture and history. David and his partner are blessed with 2 children aged 19 and 27. His working background includes a wide range of social practice arenas including work with families facing struggle, family violence prevention, community development and political advocacy on behalf of children. He is partway through a Phd focused on time, sustainability and people in place. His previous research involved studying the impact of neo-liberal ideologies on children’s sense of self and future. He is involved with a number of community organizations such as Community Waitakere and Eco-matters Trust.

Dr Jess Berentson-Shaw

Head of Research at the Morgan Foundation Public Policy Think Tank 

She describes herself as a good science agitator. Jess has worked across government, academia and the not for profit sectors building an understanding of evidence and its use in policy and practice. Jess is particularly interested in how to tell powerful stories about evidence to improve its proper use. Her most recent book is Pennies from heaven: Why cash works best to ensure all children thrive.

Honorary Associate Professor Susan St John (QSO)

QSO, Economics Department, University of Auckland and director of the Retirement Policy and Research Centre

She is the CPAG founding member, economics spokesperson, and co-editor of CPAG's flagship publications Our children, our choice: priorities for policy (2014), Left Further Behind: How policies fail the poorest children in New Zealand (2011) and Left Behind: How social and income inequalities damage New Zealand children (2008). She is co-author of CPAG’s Cut Price Kids: Does the 2004 Working for Families' Budget work for children? (2004) and Our Children: The Priority for Policy (2001, 2003). She was co-editor with Dalziel & Boston of Redesigning the Welfare State in New Zealand: Problems, Policies Prospects (1999) OUP. Recent articles are: Reflections on the Child Hardship Bill, Policy Quarterly, 2015; Children at the Centre: Making policy as if children mattered, Edu. Philosophy & Theory, 2014.


Dr Bill Rosenberg

Economist and Director of Policy, Council of Trade Unions since 2009 

He holds a B.Com in Economics, a BSc in Mathematics and a PhD in Mathematical Psychology. He was previously Deputy Director, University Centre for Teaching and Learning at the University of Canterbury, a Commissioner on TEC, and a member of the Regional Land Transport Committee of Environment Canterbury. Bill is widely published on labour issues, globalisation and trade and has been an active trade unionist for 35 years including the Tramways Union and Association of University Staff where he was National President for several years. His article in Policy Quarterly, “The 'Investment Approach' is Not an Investment Approach” is available here, and his presentation to Treasury on social investment can be found here

Alan Johnson

Social policy analyst for The Salvation Army's Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit

He is author of the Salvation Army's State of the Nation reports, including ‘Off the Track’ in 2017. In his spare time he is a community activist in South Auckland, an administrator in local sports clubs and a school trustee. He is also a trustee of the Auckland Community Housing Trust and an executive member CPAG. Alan has an academic background in town planning and economics and has been involved in Auckland local government for over 15 years both as politician and bureaucrat. He wrote the housing chapter in CPAG's Our children, our choice: priorities for policy, 2014.

Len Cook

Families Commissioner

Len was New Zealand’s Government Statistician from 1992 to 2000, and the UK’s National Statistician from 2000 to 2005. He was a member of the Royal Commission on Social Policy in 1987-88. He is chair of the board of Superu, and a member of the Remuneration Authority.  Len's prime interests include public administration, population change and public policy, official statistics and the place of science in policy. He regularly works with official statisticians in the Pacific. He was appointed Families Commissioner in July 2015.

Associate Professor Mike O’Brien

School of Counselling, Human Services and Social Work at the University of Auckland

He is a member of the CPAG Management Committee and contributed to the two recent CPAG reports on children. He has written extensively in New Zealand and internationally on child poverty (including the recent CPAG publication ‘Our Children. Our Choice’), social security and social service changes and social policy. He chaired the Alternative Welfare Working Group in 2011 and is currently working on social investment and its implications for social services


  • Janfrie Wakim
  • Gerry Cotterell
  • George Makapatama