Sam Ponniah

Senior Consultant | Kaiwhiriwhiri Matua
Auckland office

Sam is a strategic and analytical thinker with a passion for policy, infrastructure, and service delivery that improves people’s lives. He works closely with clients to co-design practical, evidence-based solutions that target real needs.

Sam specialises in business case development, infrastructure strategy and delivery, public policy, and regulatory design. He has worked in a wide range of sectors, including transport, water, health, tourism, and primary industries.

Through active listening and applying the right analytical frameworks, Sam creates order and focus out of complexity and gets to the core challenge or opportunity at hand. An innovative thinker, he develops and then evaluates a range of options to arrive at a solution that is practical and well understood.

Sam is a skilled communicator who is adept at building partnerships with multiple stakeholders. He prides himself on providing stakeholders with a voice and bringing them along on the journey. He values co-design processes that take full advantage of existing knowledge and perspectives, and he invests in key relationships along the way to ensure that projects succeed.

Sam has a strong understanding of legislative and regulation-making processes. He has advised Ministers and supported central and local government processes, including budget bids.

Examples of Sam's work

  • Preparing a business case considering options for a region-wide environmental remediation programme involving local government, industry and communities – this involved synthesising a large quantity of scientific modelling and monitoring reports to create an investment logic and narrative that met the strategic objectives of the commissioning Council and its stakeholders

  • Preparing a business case considering options for a tourism hub to provide opportunities for local iwi to develop and prosper and create wider regional development opportunities – this required engaging with local iwi, council staff, government and private-sector stakeholders to develop an investment logic and agreed criteria for assessing a wide range of options

  • Supporting the development of a needs assessment and service master plan in the health sector

  • Leading an analysis of delivery arrangements for the City Rail Link project in Auckland – this included applying commercial logic and international best practice in project delivery and governance arrangements

  • Providing policy support and leadership for a cross-agency initiative to align central government’s and Auckland Council’s strategies for transport in Auckland – this included developing an agreed intervention logic; preparing advice for Ministers, the Mayor and Councillors; and supporting the implementation of the initiative

  • Project-managing New Zealand’s presidency of the International Transport Forum (an OECD-affiliated transport body) in 2014/15 – this included preparing a large body of advice for the Minister, planning an exhibition stand for New Zealand businesses, and supporting planning for an annual summit of transport ministers

Sam's qualifications

Sam has a BCA in Economics and a BSc with First Class Honours in Psychology from Victoria University.