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Our people

Our Chief Executive 

Audrey Sonerson, Secretary for Transport and Chief Executive


Audrey joined Te Manatū Waka as Chief Executive and Secretary for Transport in December 2022. She is an experienced public service leader, having held senior roles at New Zealand Police, The Treasury and Ministry of Justice.

Prior to joining Te Manatū Waka Audrey was Deputy Chief Executive, People and Operations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 

Audrey has a strong background in strategy, policy, regulation and monitoring and has led major projects and investment across several sectors. She has vast experience in policy leadership, sector leadership and organisational leadership.  

Audrey has a Master’s degree in Economics from Victoria University of Wellington.

Chief Executive’s expenses

We publish spreadsheets showing the Chief Executive's business expenses, gifts and hospitality over NZD $50.

Chief Executive’s expenses (external link)

Our Senior Leadership Team

System and Regulatory Design Group

This group is responsible for the effective delivery of much of our regulatory policy and ensuring we perform our regulatory stewardship role at the highest level. The group also leads the strategic direction and design of other functions to balance key transport outcomes: inclusive access, healthy and safe people, environmental sustainability, economic prosperity, and resilience and security.

Our strategic direction

Bronwyn Turley, Deputy Chief Executive

Bronwyn joined Te Manatū Waka to lead the System and Regulatory Design Group following leadership roles at WorkSafe NZ, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the previous Ministry of Economic Development.

Prior to joining the Ministry she led the Regulatory Effectiveness and Legal Groups at WorkSafe New Zealand, where she also had experience leading the policy, guidance and education functions. She has led significant pieces of regulatory reform and led the work to support their effective implementation.

Bronwyn has a strong background in regulatory policy with a particular interest in regulatory stewardship and effective regulatory design.

System Strategy and Investment Group

This group advises government on system-level transport strategy and outcomes. It provides advice on, and some management of, transport infrastructure planning, funding and investment. The group connects this with other functions, and broader and place-based programmes that include or intersect with the transport outcomes. 


Bryn Gandy

Bryn Gandy,  Deputy Chief Executive 

Bryn leads the System Strategy and Investment Group

Bryn is an experienced public service leader, having held senior roles in the defence, health, internal affairs, justice, and social and children’s sectors.

Previously he was Deputy Chief Executive, Strategy, Governance and People at the Ministry of Defence, leading its transformation to improve delivery of long-range strategy and policy advice, as well as an NZD$20 billion capital programme. In his previous roles, Bryn has led agency and sector policy and strategy initiatives, and was an IPANZ Supreme Award winner for business transformation.

Bryn is committed to developing state sector people and leadership. He was a public service Leadership Fellow in 2009 and has co-led the design and delivery of award-winning leadership programmes. 

System Performance and Governance Group

This group leads the appraisal, assessment, monitoring and evaluation of the health and performance of the transport system, and the key government agencies within it. Insights from the group help inform system strategy and regulatory design. 

David Wood, Deputy Chief Executive

David joined Te Manatū Waka in June 2023 to lead the System Performance and Governance Group.

He is an experienced public sector leader, having served as a senior executive at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, The Treasury, and in the health sector.  David has also held leadership roles at Auckland Council, UK local government, and the Ministry of Education. 

David has a strong background in strategy, policy and commercial operations. 

The System Strategy and Investment Group provides advice on, and some management of, transport infrastructure planning, funding and investment.  The group connects this with other functions, and broader and place-based programmes that include or intersect with the transport outcomes.


Corporate Services ​|Te Kāhui Tangata

This group is focused on our effective operation as an organisation. It also has a key role in delivering our strategy. The group provides services, advice and support to ensure we can deliver our role both in the system and as part of the wider public service.

Robyn Smith

Robyn Smith, Deputy Chief Executive

Robyn is an experienced senior human resources professional with particular interest and expertise in organisational design, strategy development, leadership development, change management and talent management.

She is committed to helping organisations align their people strategy with business strategy, and developing managers to deliver high quality outcomes for their people and their business. Robyn has led a large number of organisational and cultural change programmes including during mergers, sales and acquisitions.

During her career, Robyn has held executive responsibility for human resources, health, safety and environment, administration and facilities, industrial relations, diversity, talent management, leadership development, culture and employee engagement, and shared services.


Karen Lyons

Karen Lyons, Director – Auckland

Before joining us, Karen held a number of senior positions in economic development, strategy,and governance in Auckland’s local government sector.

Before joining the Ministry she was General Manager for the local boards at Auckland Council. She established and consolidated the new and unique local governance model for Auckland, and supported 149 elected members in their governance roles. In addition, Karen managed the Auckland Council’s quality advice programme and elected-member professional development programme.

Before working in Auckland, Karen worked as an economist at the New Zealand Treasury and HM Treasury in London. 


Paul Laplanche, Chief Financial Officer

Paul has a wealth of experience in the transport sector having previously held roles as Chief Financial Officer at Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and the Civil Aviation Authority.

He is a member of our senior leadership team and reports to the Deputy Chief Executive, System Performance and Governance.

Paul has also held senior finance roles in central and local government, and positions in the banking and insurance industries. He has considerable experience in enhancing organisational and financial management frameworks, leading organisational change and being a trusted business partner.


Brent Johnston, Chief of Staff

Brent was appointed Chief of Staff in June 2023 and works closely with our Chief Executive and Senior Leadership Team to guide the strategic priorities of Te Manatū Waka. Brent brings considerable experience in leadership, strategic planning and regulatory policy through his 14 year tenure at Te Manatū Waka. Brent has held leadership roles in land transport safety and public transport policy, including the development of Road to Zero.


Our Ministers

We advise the Minister of Transport, David Parker and the Associate Minister of Transport, Damien O'Connor.


Hon David Parker

Minister of Transport


Hon Damien O’Connor

Associate Minister of Transport

You can find the ministers contact details on our website.

Contact us 

You can find more information about transport portfolio, including speeches, press releases and links to the ministers’ profiles on the Beehive website.

Transport portfolio(external link)