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As part of the modernisation process of the New Zealand Fire Service (NZFS), the New Zealand Fire Service Commission determined that NZFS should have a greater investment in research and in particular should set up a Contestable Research Fund of $550,000. The stated purpose of the Contestable Research Fund was to advance knowledge in fire prevention and fire management in New Zealand in order to meet the Commission's statutory interest as laid out in Part 2 of the Fire Service Act 1975.


At its July 1998 meeting the New Zealand Fire Service Commission agreed to establish the fund and a Research Advisory Group was formed to administer it. The Commission agreed the constitution of that group in August 1998.


Research Advisory Group members

The Research Advisory Group is mostly made up NZFS people. They are the Director of Programme and Change Management (Chair), National Risk Reduction Manager, National Rural Fire Officer, Manager Rural Fire Operations and the Programme Coordinator. In addition to the NZFS members there are 2 external consultants who sit on the group.


Dr Jenny Neale is currently an Honorary Research Fellow at the Health Services Research Centre, School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington. Her former roles at Victoria University included Deputy Dean of Research, Director of the MA (Applied) in Social Science Research programme and Head of the School of Social and Cultural Studies. Jenny has an more than 30 years’ experience in evaluation and research on social issues, having worked as a teacher, a research consultant, and more recently an evaluator of social policies and programmes. Her qualifications are in education, educational psychology and women's studies. She is a former President and Board member of the Australasian Evaluation Society and currently a panellist for MBIE Science Assessment Funding.


Peter Berg is the President of the NZ Forest Owners' Association, NZ Chair of the Commonwealth Forestry Association and a Board member of Forest Industries Training (FITEC), Scion and Auckland Conservation. Peter is involved in many aspects of New Zealand forestry and has jointly authored 2 books on aspects of New Zealand's forest history.