Our People

The Defence Technology Agency (DTA) is a small unit of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) that has about 72 scientists, technologists, technicians and business services staff. We are all civilians and come from a variety of backgrounds.

Our scientists are specialists in their own fields and include chemists, physicists, metallurgists, engineers, operations analysts, psychologists, human systems specialists and environmental scientists. Organised into research groups, they also collaborate across workstreams to make sure a multi-dimensional approach is taken for all research tasks.

Read about our structure and governance.

We have a Director, a Principal Scientist and five Group Directors:


Young Brian

Dr Brian Young


Dr Brian Young started as Director of the Defence Technology Agency (DTA)  in 2012, after over 2 years as Director for Research at the University of Otago.

Previously, he served for 4 years at the New Zealand Embassy in Washington DC as the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology’s first Science & Technology Counsellor to the United States. 

Earlier, as a neuroscience researcher, he was a senior scientist at HortResearch, a Foundation for Research, Science and Technology Research Fellow at the University of Otago and undertook a period of post-doctoral work that was divided across the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the State University of New York at Stony Brook. 

He received a BSc(Hons) in psychology from the University of Canterbury (NZ) and a PhD in psychology (behavioural neuroscience) from Dartmouth College (USA).


Dr John Kay, MNZM

Principal Scientist

Dr John Kay worked initially in the undersea warfare domain. This included managing the Ocean Engineering section and leading various projects such as the design and development of a sea-floor acoustic measurement system.

From 2002 to 2010, John was the scientific advisor to the RNZN for a multilateral agreement on Surface Warfare Technology, and set up and chaired an associated specialist working group on infrared, visual and radar frequency propagation in the maritime environment.

In 2012 John started setting up, managing and growing the NZDF interests in research and development capabilities related to the utilisation and exploitation of space.

John’s career has been founded on active international engagement and collaboration. Within The Technical Cooperation Program (TTCP), John has been the National Leader in a number of maritime areas and the National Representative for Radar Technology and Sensor Systems until 2013.

John has a BE(Hons) electrical and PhD in Engineering from the University of Auckland.


Clint Barnes

Acting Group Director, Platform & Protection Systems

This position is currently vacant

Brown Tony

Tony Brown

Group Director, Electronic Warfare Systems

Tony Brown joined as a research scientist in 1977. He started his workinglife as a design engineer for radio and then moved to the medical laboratory industry.

He has spent many years at DTA working on sonar systems research for the RNZAF and the RNZN. He also spent two years on secondment to the United States Naval Underwater Systems Center in Connecticut.

Tony established the Electronic Warfare Group in 1993 and, because of his many years of experience in avionics and ship electronic systems, he has been the DTA lead for major NZDF electronic systems purchases.

Tony has an MSc in physics from Auckland University.
Read Rob

Robert Read

Group Director, C4ISR Systems

Rob Read joined DTA as a Research Scientist in 2008, then became Research Leader, managing the Information & Intelligence section in Network Systems.

Prior to that he spent 5 years as a Lead Systems Engineer for Defence Tactical C4I Systems at General Dynamics UK Ltd and led the Information Management capability definition on the BCIP6 programme for the British Army developing a long-term interest in C4ISR, IM and Systems Architecture.

In 1999, Rob worked for Industrial Electronic Automation as a Technical Team Manager in the Information Systems division. Rob led a team of Software Architects and Developers on turnkey projects and contracts in the Aerospace, Automotive and Manufacturing industries.

Previously Rob has worked for ADC Metrica Inc. in the Mobile Telecommunications Software business as a Senior Project Consultant and Technical Account Manager, and Sony Manufacturing UK Ltd in the Manufacturing Information Systems division with responsibilities for the design, development and implementation of Computer Integrated Manufacturing and Business Systems for both the production and corporate environments. He spent time in Singapore at Sony Display Device Pte Ltd and was responsible for a number of ICT projects.

Rob has a BEng (Hons) in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Glamorgan, South Wales, UK.
Richardson Andy

Andy Richardson

Group Director, Operations Analysis & Human Systems

Andy Richardson started as Director of the Human Systems Group (now Operations Analysis & Human Systems) in 2009. Before that, he provided Human Systems and Safety consultancy services to clients within the defence and transport infrastructure sectors in both the UK and Australia.

Andy has experience in manpower, training, workplace and equipment design, and health and system safety.

He has worked on a range of integration programmes and socio-technical systems projects, including developing standards and processes for Human Systems Integration in the United Kingdom’s defence sector.

Andy has worked in the United Kingdom for most of his career, mainly for international companies and in the defence sector, and also in the transport and offshore oil and gas industries.

Andy has a BSc(Hons) in Ergonomics and a Diploma in Professional Studies from Loughborough University of Technology (UK).
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Chris Powell

Director, Operations Support Group

Chris Powell joined DTA in 2013 following a 30 plus year career in the NZ Army (Regular and Territorial) coupled with 19 years in the NZ Police.

During his military career, Chris served in the Wellington and Auckland Battalions (commanding the latter) and as the Senior Instructor at Tactical School. He has also seen operational duty in the Middle East with the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, and in Bosnia-Herzegovina and East Timor with the International Stabilisation Force.

Chris’s police career saw him working in Wellington and Auckland in the uniformed branch from which he retired in 2010.

Since joining DTA Chris has changed the focus of the Operations Support Group from general administration to direct support of DTA’s research, science and technology outputs. He has worked towards a more commercial emphasis on technology transfer and achieving commercial returns for the NZDF through understanding the value of intellectual property.

Chris is leading several initiatives to engage military, commercial and educational entities in mutually beneficial relationships.

Chris completed the Joint Reserve Command and Staff Course at the Canadian Forces College, Toronto in 2006.