Mei Lin Harley

Senior Consultant | Kaiwhiriwhiri Matua
Wellington Office

Mei Lin specialises in programme design, monitoring, and evaluation. She has over 20 years’ experience working with government and non-profit organisations in New Zealand, North America, and the Pacific, helping them perform better through focusing on results and on learning and improvement.

Mei Lin joined us in 2022 after successfully leading a large systems-level evaluation at the Education Review Office. Before that she spent over a decade working in international development, mainly in the Pacific Island region.

This international aid work included five years as a Senior Adviser at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), where she developed “MERL” frameworks (Monitoring, Evaluation, Results & Learning) for New Zealand’s aid investments, including detailed policies, processes, and guidelines.

Before working at MFAT, Mei Lin was a Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Adviser at SPC, a Pacific regional organisation based in New Caledonia. She also worked in Canada as a Senior Policy Analyst at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, a non-profit advocacy group for small businesses.

Mei Lin is passionate about working for the people and communities of Aotearoa and the Pacific, and as an evaluation specialist she’s inspired by finding out what works in supporting their wellbeing.

Mei Lin combines her extensive experience across many sectors with a calm, thoughtful manner that ensures she fully understands her clients’ goals and contexts. Naturally a strong listener, she also has a talent for mentoring and supporting less experienced evaluation professionals.

Multicultural and multilingual (including Chinese, Malay/Indonesian, basic French, and basic te reo), Mei Lin also has a passion for working with diverse groups and communities.

Examples of Mei Lin's work

  • Evaluation of education for disabled learners in schools - Mei Lin was the project lead for this large, national evaluation by the Education Review Office. This mixed-methods evaluation involved surveys and interviews with parents, disabled students, and schools. She worked closely with senior leaders in managing relationships with multiple stakeholders including a Steering Group with the Human Rights Commission and the Office for Disability Issues (now Whaikaha | Ministry of Disabled People), and an Expert Advisory Group with academics and advocates. She also worked closely with Māori experts to ensure the evaluation was responsive to principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. 

  • Evaluating MFAT programmes in the Pacific – Mei Lin worked with education specialists in evaluating MFAT’s education support programme in Solomon Islands, as well as a mid-term review of New Zealand’s and Australia’s joint budget support for Samoa’s education sector. These evaluations required culturally responsive approaches that drew on Mei Lin’s experience working with Pacific governments at the national and regional level. 

  • Strengthening organisational processes and capacity for monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) – As Senior MEL Adviser at MFAT, Mei Lin developed MFAT’s refreshed Evaluation policy and improved annual monitoring processes and guidelines for New Zealand’s International Aid investments. At SPC in the Pacific, she developed improved organisational policy and systems for planning, monitoring, reflection, learning, and reporting to its governing body (the member countries) and donors. 

  • Business case development and project design – At MFAT, Mei Lin provided guidance to staff in business case development and project design, particularly in problem/needs analysis, intervention logic development, and planning for monitoring and evaluation. She also prepared business cases that resulted in MFAT’s multi-year investments in new Pacific-led programmes, such as the innovative Pacific MEL capacity building programme and the Pacific Data Hub. 

Mei Lin's qualifications

Mei Lin has a Master of Public Administration from Dalhousie University in Canada, and an MA (First Class Honours) in Educational Psychology from Auckland University.