Milford Opportunities welcomes new board chair

Media release
27 September 2023 

Milford Opportunities is welcoming a new chair and two new members to join its Ministerial Advisory Board, supporting the project to deliver for Southland and New Zealand.

Board members are appointed by the Milford Opportunities Ministerial Group comprised of the Conservation, Tourism and Transport ministers.

“The Milford Opportunities Project is creating a strategic roadmap to safeguard Milford Sound Piopiotahi and the remarkable visitor experience it offers, for current and future generations,” Milford Opportunities Project Director Chris Goddard said.

“We’re delighted to have secured three new appointments to our Ministerial Advisory Board, bringing with them an incredible depth of knowledge and skill to guide the project.”

“I’m pleased to announce the newly appointed board chair is Queenstown resident Jenn Bestwick. Jenn is the independent chair of Tonkin + Taylor, chair of the Tertiary Education Commission and an Antarctica New Zealand Board member.  She is a former independent Director of Invercargill City Holdings Ltd, and Tourism New Zealand Board member.

“Two new board members have also been appointed for their considerable collective skills, said Chris Goddard.

“Arihia Bennett has extensive experience in executive and board roles, has managed two tourism businesses in Fiordland, and has strong connections to te ao Māori. She has been the Chief Executive Officer of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu since 2012.

“Dave Bamford is a respected independent tourism thought leader. He is a consultant on tourism, protected areas and recreation with 40 years’ experience throughout the Pacific and Asia. He has been involved in many planning exercises and reviews, feasibility studies, tourism and recreation business advisories and business start-ups.”


Photos: Jenn Bestwick, Arihia Bennett and Dave Bamford

Jenn Bestwick takes over from, Bill Day who stepped into the acting chair role following Dr Keith Turner’s retirement in March 2023.

“Keith Turner led the project through stages 1 and 2 as board chair, investing a great deal of time and passion into the delivery of the Milford Opportunities Masterplan and laying the foundation for the project’s work today,” Chris Goddard said.

“Bill Day’s guidance has seen the project move at pace through the first stages of feasibility testing the masterplan. Bill will continue to be a highly valued member of the Ministerial Advisory Board, providing extensive marine, aviation and corporate knowledge and experience.”

‘We are thrilled to now have a full board with this level of expertise to steer our work as we develop options for visitor management over the second half of 2023, and then consult on these options in early 2024.”

Current members of the board include mana whenua representatives Muriel Johnstone and Michael Skerrett, alongside Bill Day and Andrew Patterson, who bring extensive knowledge of sustainable tourism, design and management.

Supporting the board’s experience are Southland District Council Chief Executive Cameron McIntosh and Wilma Falconer, Chief Executive of Environment Southland, as well as senior officials from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Ministry of Transport, and the Department of Conservation.



The Milford Opportunities Project is a collaboration between Ngāi Tahu, the Department of Conservation, Southland District Council, the Ministry of Transport, Waka Kotahi, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Environment Southland.

The Milford Opportunities Project is comprised of a Unit and a Ministerial Advisory Board providing advice to a Ministerial Oversight Group (with the Conservation, Tourism and Transport ministers).

Find out about the members of our board, the Programme Director and who leads the project’s workstreams by visiting