Jess Ashley

Senior Consultant | Kaiwhiriwhiri Matua
Wellington Office

Jess has a broad range of policy experience that enables her to balance competing rights and interests, anticipate the needs of decision makers, and predict and prepare for the unexpected. 

Jess has considerable experience advising Ministers on government priorities, including the 2020 New Zealand Cannabis Referendum, and her advice is always nuanced and impactful. Jess’s sound judgement, coupled with her ability to plan for different scenarios, means she’s comfortable navigating complex and uncertain projects, and can develop recommendations that are creative yet pragmatic. 

Jess describes herself as a good listener, calm under pressure, and eager to challenge established ideas. With political nous and a sharp eye for detail, she successfully manages sensitive and challenging policy issues.  

She was pivotal in advising the Minister of Justice on abortion law reform and was also involved in establishing the Canterbury Earthquakes Insurance Tribunal, which provided homeowners with a fair, speedy, and cost-effective way to resolve their long-outstanding insurance claims. Jess also worked as a Private Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture, where she was responsible for managing environmental and climate-change issues. 

Building and maintaining relationships is always at the forefront of Jess’s approach to problem solving. She takes the time to build trust and confidence with clients, and always makes an effort to understand different perspectives. An excellent communicator, she cuts through complexity to produce simple, clear messages tailored to the audience. 

When she’s not working, you can find Jess tending to her vege garden, reading a good book, or planning a trip to the movies. Jess has also previously volunteered as a a cook and driver for Bellyful New Zealand, which provides meals for whānau and families who have babies or young children and would not otherwise have this kind of support. 

Examples of Jess's work

  • Led the development of guidance for the appointment of Human Rights Commissioners 

  • Supported the Law and Order Select Committee and drafted its Inquiry Report into issues relating to the illegal possession of firearms in New Zealand 

  • Worked closely with several government agencies to draft New Zealand’s seventh report under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and also led the analysis of public submissions on the report

  • Contributed to developing policy options and drafted a discussion document on modernising New Zealand’s export legislation for food and fibre products to help maintain and increase market access.

Jess's qualifications

Jess has a conjoint LLB/BSc (Psychology) from the University of Otago.