Board of Directors

Managing an outstanding company


Auckland Airport’s board of directors and executive team focus on ensuring the company is managed at the highest strategic level. They work to realise the company’s long-term corporate objectives, as it continuously strives to become the world’s most outstanding and welcoming airport.

As New Zealand’s busiest airport, we are one of our country’s largest infrastructure assets and one of the biggest employers in the Greater Auckland region.

Meet our board of directors


Sir Henry van der Heyden

Chair, KNZM, BE (Hons)

Sir Henry van der Heyden was appointed a director of the company in 2009 and its chair in 2013.

His goal is to lead and support the growth of strong, internationally competitive and sustainable businesses which contribute to New Zealand Inc and the well-being of its people.

He is chairman of Tainui Group Holdings Limited and chairman of Manuka SA. He is a director of Rabobank New Zealand Limited, Rabobank Australia Limited, Foodstuffs North Island Limited and Pascaro Investments Limited.

Sir Henry graduated from The University of Canterbury with a Bachelor of Engineering degree with Honours and served in dairy industry governance roles for 24 years. He is a past chairman of the New Zealand Dairy Group and was the chairman of Fonterra from 2002 to 2012.

Sir Henry was awarded Chairman of the Year in 2012 and The New Zealand Herald Business Person of the Year in 2007. In 2009, Sir Henry was appointed a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Richard Didsbury

Director, BE

Richard Didsbury was appointed a director of the company in 2007. He is the chair of Auckland Airport’s safety and operational risk committee.

He graduated in engineering from The University of Auckland.

In 1992, Richard co-founded the Kiwi Income Property Trust, now the largest diverse property investment vehicle listed on the New Zealand stock exchange. It owns major assets such as the Sylvia Park retail complex and the Vero office building in Auckland. In 2014 the Trust was restructured as Kiwi Property Group Limited and Richard became one of its directors.

He is also a director of the Hobsonville Land Company Limited, which is developing a major new waterfront community in North-west Auckland, and a director of SKYCITY Entertainment Group Limited. He is passionate about Auckland and is a former chair of the Committee for Auckland.

With his extensive property-development expertise, his experience of transportation issues gained during his time on the board of Infrastructure Auckland, and his passion for tourism in part due to many years promoting the Matakana Coast and as a trustee of Tourism Auckland, Richard offers complementary skills to the Board of Auckland Airport, especially as the company evolves its long-term masterplan and focuses on growing travel markets.

Brett Godfrey

Director, BCom, ACA

Brett Godfrey was appointed a director of the company in 2010.

He is a chartered accountant and has had a 20-year career in airlines, holding senior finance positions which culminated in conceptualising and writing the business plan for what is now Virgin Australia Limited. He was the airline’s founding chief executive and led the company until 2010.

Today he maintains his connection to the industry as a director of Canada’s publicly listed second-largest airline, WestJet.

His keen interest and experience in marketing is channelled into his position on the board of Tourism Australia.

He has been awarded the Australian Centenary Medal for his service to tourism and aviation, and was recognised as the Australian Chief Executive of the Year by the Customer Service Institute of Australia and the Outstanding Chartered Accountant in Business by the Australian Institute of Chartered Accountants.

Michelle Guthrie

Director, BA, LLB (Hons)

Michelle Guthrie was appointed as a director of the company in October 2013. She is a seasoned media executive with significant experience in the areas of digital marketing, business development, business acquisitions, law and governance. Prior to her current role as Managing Director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Michelle was an executive at Google Asia International Pacific based in Singapore.

Michelle has considerable international board experience, having sat previously on a number of other boards including Modern Times Group in Sweden, Verisign in the United States of America and numerous Asian media boards.

Michelle lives in Sydney and speaks Mandarin. Her experience and skills broaden the Board’s and the company’s engagement with new markets, in particular key markets in Asia. Her customer engagement and new media experience serves the airport well as it addresses the challenges and opportunities of the digital era.

James Miller

Director, BCom, FCA, AMinstD

James Miller was appointed a director of the company in 2009. He is the chair of Auckland Airport’s audit and financial risk committee.

James has spent 14 years working in the share-broking industry. During this time, he has specialised in the strategy and valuation of airport and utility companies. Specifically, he had a leading role in the valuation and global premarketing of Auckland Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport and of Contact Energy Limited and Vector Limited initial public offers.

James is a qualified chartered accountant and is a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants, a Certified Securities Analyst Professional, a member of the Institute of Directors in New Zealand, and is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School in the United States of America. James is chair of NZX Limited and is a director of Accident Compensation Corporation and Mercury NZ Limited.

Justine Smyth

Justine Smyth

Director, BCom, CA

Justine Smyth was appointed a director of the company in 2012. She is the chair of Auckland Airport's people and capability committee.

Justine is currently a director of Spark New Zealand Limited and chairs both of Spark's Audit and Risk and Human Resources board sub-committees. She is also chair of The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation. Previous directorships include being a board member of the Financial Markets Authority and deputy chair of New Zealand Post Limited.

Justine's background includes being the Group finance director of Lion Nathan Limited and a partner of Deloitte.

Through her roles, Justine has strong experience in retail, governance, mergers and acquisitions, taxation and financial performance of large corporate enterprises, and the acquisition, ownership, management and sale of small and medium-sized enterprises.

Christine Spring

Director, BE, MSc Eng, MBA

Christine Spring was appointed a director of the company in 2014.

Christine is a civil engineer and has approximately 20 years' experience in aviation infrastructure development and strategic planning roles in New Zealand, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Asia and the Pacific Islands.

During her career to date, Christine's experience has been focused in strategy, stakeholder management and the planning of significant capital development projects in the aviation industry. Also, she was an executive of Auckland Airport before heading overseas to broaden her experience in 2002.

Christine's experience in aviation infrastructure and executive management is serving Auckland Airport well as it implements its 30-year vision for the airport of the future.

Christine is also a director of Holmes Consulting Group Limited, a specialist structural engineering consultancy.

Dr Patrick Strange

Director, BE, PhD, Dist FIPENZ

Patrick Strange was appointed a director of the company in 2015.

He has spent 35 years working principally in the New Zealand and international electricity and infrastructure sectors.

Patrick completed a doctorate in civil engineering at the University of Auckland, and then spent 13 years in Europe and North America. He was appointed Chief Executive of Mercury Energy in 1998 and went on to build the network unit into a successful standalone business as Vector. Patrick recently retired as Chief Executive of Transpower, New Zealand’s transmission owner and operator. During his tenure, Transpower successfully completed a major, multi-billion dollar reinvestment in the grid.

Patrick is currently Chair of Chorus Limited, and a director of Mercury NZ Limited, NZX Limited, New Zealand Clearing and Depository Corporation Limited (a subsidiary of NZX Limited), and NSW Networks (Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and Essential Energy).

He was appointed a Distinguished Fellow of IPENZ in March 2014.