Urban strategist Meredith Dale named Future Thinker of the Year for 2021

19 April 2021

After impressing the judges with her passion and clear vision for the future of the built environment in Aotearoa, urban strategist Meredith Dale has been named the New Zealand Green Building Council Future Thinker of the Year for 2021.



Now in its third year, Future Thinker of the Year is awarded to a student or recent graduate passionate about green building and who demonstrates leadership and knowledge about driving change in Aotearoa.

"We have so many brilliant people going through study and entering our industry who are already bringing about positive change. Future Thinker of the Year is an opportunity to celebrate that mahi and provide a platform for our Future Thinkers to make a real difference across our built environment," NZGBC Director of Communication and Engagement Jennifer Whittle says.

Four finalists, Negin Imani, Sophia Olo-Whaanga, Meredith Dale and Madison Fleming were invited to present their visions and ideas for a better built environment at an awards evening at AUT's School of Future Environments last Tuesday night.

After listening to the presentations and asking questions of the finalists, the judging panel of Jade Kake, Fiona Short, Warner Brunton, Michael Gillon, and 2020 Future Thinker of the Year Tessa Meyer, awarded the role to Meredith.

"I'm humbled and excited to be the Future Thinker of the Year for 2021. I look forward to making new connections, learning from others and seeing how we can work together to build the low carbon future we want and need," Meredith says.


Having previously held roles in the public and private sector as a civil engineer, Meredith completed her Masters in Urban Planning and Urban Design at the University of Auckland last year and works as an urban strategist with The Urban Advisory.

"We need to work together, across disciplines and sectors to develop a shared vision for what kind of homes, neighbourhoods and cities we want and need in New Zealand," Meredith says.

Warner Brunton Sustainability Leader at Mott MacDonald says the finalists presented exceptional insights into the challenges that society faces, and visions for tangible action on climate change, carbon and social outcomes.

"It is essential to bring this diversity of ideas and experience together to create necessary change and I would encourage all of our finalists to collaborate with Meredith Dale and use their voice over the next 12 months and into the future," Warner says.

The award forms a key part of the NZGBC Future Thinker network, sponsored by Mott MacDonald and Bayleys.

“Congratulations to all of the fantastic finalists and in particular to Meredith Dale for winning the prestigious NZGBC Future Thinker of the Year 2021 award," judge and head of retail management at Bayleys Michael Gillon says.

"Bayleys as a business have an ongoing commitment to environmental responsibility and we are proud to be sponsors of this award and to be corporate partners of the NZGBC. Well done Meredith on this significant achievement.”


The evening also provided an opportunity to thank Tessa Meyer for her brilliant work championing better buildings after last year's awards were moved online due to COVID-19.

"I’m honoured to pass the baton on to Meredith and to have heard from our other incredible finalists," Tessa Meyer says.

"Meredith will be an inspiring, highly knowledgeable and courageous ambassador for the Future Thinker’s and I am excited for her to use this platform to share her passion and ideas."


About Meredith Dale

Kia ora, ko Meredith Dale tōku ingoa. Nō Kotirana, Aerana me Ingarangi ōku tīpuna. Nō Kirikiriroa ahau, kei te noho au ki Tāmaki-makau-rau. I am an urban strategist with The Urban Advisory. I am passionate about improving urban development systems, processes and approaches to deliver more sustainable, inclusive and equitable built environment outcomes for communities and whānau. I have unique experience and expertise in urban design, urban planning, transport and land development engineering that has developed my integrated and interdisciplinary understanding of the built environment, across the scales, contexts and stages of the development journey.

Prior to working at The Urban Advisory, I held roles in the public and private sector as a civil engineer providing specialist input to resource consents, and designing infrastructure for small to medium scale residential land development projects. In these roles, I developed an interest in urban design and insight into other disciplines which highlighted the wider system challenges of urban development, and the risks and limitations of engineering expertise seeking to resolve urban issues alone. I wanted to meaningfully participate in addressing these complex and systemic development challenges, to create better outcomes for communities. For this reason, I chose to complete a Masters in Urban Planning and Urban Design at the University of Auckland. While studying I held several roles supporting Council urban design teams in Christchurch and Auckland, and later joined The Urban Advisory as an Urban Strategist.

Watch Meredith's full video submission here

The 2021 Future Thinker of the Year shortlist include Jas Qadir, Fred Smithers, Alice Bui, Praj Modak, Sophia Olo-Whaanga, Madison Fleming, Negin Imani, and Meredith Dale.