Penny Nelson is the Director-General of the Department of Conservation.

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Penny Nelson, Director-General | Credit: Lance Lawson

Penny Nelson started the role of Director-General on 1 November 2021. 

Before starting at DOC Penny was Deputy Director-General for Biosecurity NZ. Penny joined the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in 2018 as Deputy Director-General Policy and Trade, where she led work shaping the future of the primary sector – enhancing the sector’s sustainability and growth. 

Penny has worked across a range of areas of government, including the environment, economic development, and social development. Prior to joining MPI, Penny was Deputy Secretary at Ministry for the Environment where she was responsible for climate change, the marine environment, environmental reporting, and the science system.

She has also worked within the private and science sectors including roles at DairyNZ, the Sustainable Business Council, and Landcare Research.

Penny holds a Masters of Science in Resource Management (Honours) from Lincoln University and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from the University of Otago.

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