Dr Edward Walker

PhD Molecular Medicine (Auck), MSc (Hons) Biology, BSc Biology

Dr Edward Walker is a scientist in the Consumer and Product Insights group at Plant & Food Research, New Zealand’s largest Crown Research Institute. His research focuses on identifying bioactive compounds from plants for use in plant-based health products, and as targets for directed breeding of whole foods with enhanced health properties.

He is the co-discoverer of a New Zealand plant-based extract that is clinically tested and used to support dietary change and healthy eating. Edward believes in the potential of plant compounds and plant-based diets for improving health and wellbeing.

He will talk about the potential use of bioactive plant compounds, the opportunities and challenges that present as plant-based diets become mainstream and how we might keep plant-based healthy in a consumer driven world of ultra-processed meat substitutes.

Professor Jim Mann


Jim Mann has been Professor in Medicine and Human Nutrition at the University of Otago and Consultant Physician (Endocrinology) in Dunedin Hospital for the past 31 years. Previously he lectured at the University of Oxford and was a Physician in the Radcliffe Infirmary.

He is Director of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Human Nutrition, the ‘Healthier Lives’ National Science Challenge and the New Zealand-China Non Communicable Diseases Research Collaboration Centre and; co-Director of the Edgar Diabetes and Obesity Research Centre (EDOR). He is principal investigator for the Riddet Institute, a national Centre of Research Excellence at Massey University.

His clinical work has mainly been in the field of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. His research has principally related to epidemiological and nutritional aspects with a special interest in diabetes prevention. He has been author and co-author of over 300 publications and has written and edited textbooks and popular books.

He has been involved with national and international, government and non-governmental organisations (including the WHO, the European Association for the Study of Diabetes and the World Cancer Research Fund) in guideline development relating to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and nutrition. He has chaired a range of professional organisations and advisory groups to the Ministry of Health and NGOs in New Zealand.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and has been awarded the Hercus Medal of the Royal Society and the University of Otago Distinguished Research Medal.  He was appointed a Companion of New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Medicine and medical research

Professor James Renwick

PhD (Atmospheric Sciences), MSc (Statistics), BSc Hons (Mathematics)

James has four decades’ experience in weather and climate research. His main field is large-scale climate variability especially over the Southern Hemisphere, and the impacts of climate variability and change on the Pacific, New Zealand and the Antarctic. James was a lead author for the last two Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and is a Coordinating Lead Author for the 6th IPCC Assessment to be published in 2021. He was awarded the Prime Minister’s 2018 prize for Science Communication, and has recently been appointed to the New Zealand Climate Change Commission.

Dr Greg Jacobson PhD

BSc, MSc, PhD, Senior Research Fellow

Greg is a researcher from Waikato University whose current projects include aspects of heart disease and the gut microbiome – i.e. the diverse population of >100 trillion species of microorganisms which outnumber our own cells by about ten to one.

Bacteria in the body can cause chronic and acute inflammation which, in turn, may promote atherosclerosis. Accordingly, an improved understanding of the populations of bacteria in the body and knowledge about whether certain bacteria associate with higher levels of inflammatory markers is extremely important.

The presentation will introduce broad concepts of the gut microbiome in health and include a summary of a recent research project from the Waikato studying the microbiome, inflammation and diet in heart attack patients.

Céleste Keesing RD

BSc (Human Nutrition), Master of Dietetics (Dist), Registered Dietitian.

Céleste is interesting in connecting and understanding all levels of our food system; from plant to plate, and is now following a mostly plant-based diet.

Céleste works in the Waikato region, providing dietetic care to the general public, in aged care facilities and rural community groups with Dietitians at Anglesea, and for Tū Tonu.

Her areas of special interest include nutritional prevention, treatment and, where possible, reversal of mental health and neurological conditions. She has published research on the cognitive effects of different glycaemic sugars.

In her spare time, Céleste enjoys surfing and has run surf camps for troubled youth.

Dr Lillian Kent PhD

Dr Lillian Kent first graduated with degrees in Microbiology and Biochemistry, but later changed her focus and completed a PhD in Public Health Nutrition, a Master in Public Health (nutrition major) and a Master in Applied Epidemiology. She is a senior research fellow in the Lifestyle and Health Research Centre at Avondale University College, a Fellow of the Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine, and a Registered Public Health Nutritionist with the Nutrition Society of Australia. Her research interests focus on the relationship between lifestyle and the prevention, treatment and reversal of chronic disease, particularly in low- to middle-income countries.

Suzy Amis-Cameron (2019 Speaker)

Suzy will be joining us by Skype.

A noted environmental advocate, founder and mother of five, Suzy Amis Cameron is committed to the principles of sustainability in all aspects of our lives, with an emphasis on plant-based solutions to address climate change. She is the author of OMD: The Simple, Plant-Based Program to Save Your Health, Save Your Waistline, and Save the Planet (Simon & Schuster/Atria) and the founder of the OMD Movement, a multi-pronged effort to transform eating habits and the food system. She is also a Founder of Plant Power Task Force, focused on showing the impact of animal agriculture on climate change and the environment, founded in 2012 with her husband James Cameron and Craig McCaw. In 2005, she founded MUSE School CA, with her sister, Rebecca Amis. MUSE is the first school in the country to be 100% solar powered, zero waste, and with a 100% organic, plant-based lunch program. Based on the engaging and relevant MUSE values and curriculum, they aim to franchise the model worldwide through MUSE Global. Additionally, Suzy is a founder of the plant-based initiatives, Verdient Foods, Cameron Family Farms, and Food Forest Organics, with her husband. In 2009, she launched Red Carpet Green Dress, showcasing socially and environmentally responsible fashions. Suzy has produced documentaries and serves on several nonprofit boards. As an actor she was featured in more than 25 films, including The Usual Suspects and Titanic.

Topic: New book release: OMD: The Simple, Plant-Based Program to Save Your Health, Save Your Waistline, and Save the Planet
Session: Sunday afternoon

Raniera Rewiri (2019 Speaker)

My iwi are Te Whakatohea, Tuhoe, Te Arawa and Ngapuhi

I have been sharing my journey to veganism on my Facebook and Instagram pages for just over a year. Things began to gain momentum when the idea of creating my own food services business called Tupuānuku came to fruition.

My interest are Te Ao Māori, self development, working with rangatahi and helping others.

Session details: Friday

Topic: Food Conscious Māori, sharing the connections between Te Ao Māori and Veganism

Dr Lora Wu (2019 Speaker)

PhD, registered clinical psychologist

Dr Lora Wu is a clinical psychologist and sleep researcher. She studied the effects of sleep loss on performance Washington State University before coming to research sleep in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Lora is based in Wellington where she is a senior research officer at the Sleep/Wake Research Centre and a clinician in private practice. Her research interests include sleep and circadian rhythms and their interactions with mental health and wellbeing. She is also keen to study environmental aspects of sleep health including the importance of natural light on syncing our rhythms. Her clinical work focuses on behavioural health as it relates to sleep, anxiety, depression, and stress.

Session: Saturday

Topic: Shining the light on sleep health

Let’s not forget about the other pillar of health: sleep! There is much to gain from tending to and optimising sleep and circadian health. This session will provide a brief introduction on what sleep is and how it affects you and your clients.