Home / About us / Elected representatives

Elected representatives

Elections have recently been completed, NGO Council member profiles are in the process of being updated.

Note: If you would like to contact the NGO Council please contact the Secretariat in the first instance.

There are 13 elected representatives in 6 categories

Disability support services: Sonia Thursby & Karen Beard-Greer

Māori health:  Maria Baker & Karaitiana Tickel & Waylyn Tahuri-Whaipakanga

Mental health and addictions: Barbara Disley & Hine Moeke-Murray

Pacific health: Pesio Ah-Honi & Lemalu Silao Vaisola-Sefo

Personal health: Frances Blyth & Graham Walker

Public health: Jason Myers & Selah Hart

You can read more about them in their profiles below.

Barbara Disley

Organisation: Chief Executive, Emerge Aotearoa

Sector: Mental Health & Addictions

Barbara has been the Group Chief Executive of Emerge Aotearoa since it was formed in 2015 as a result of the merger of Richmond Services and Recovery Solutions. Barbara has extensive leadership and management experience in the NGO sector, and in the education and health sectors.

In the early stages of her career she worked for both disability and mental health NGOs, including a three-year period living in a therapeutic community house supporting people. She has held a number of senior NGO sector roles, including Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation. From 1996–2002, she was the inaugural chair of the Mental Health Commission, leading the development of the first Mental Health Blueprint. From 2002 to 2007, Barbara was Deputy Secretary Ministry of Education where she had responsibility for special education.

Prior to returning to the NGO sector as Chief Executive of Richmond, she worked as a Principal Consultant for Cognition Education Ltd, an educational consultancy and charity, leading their research and evaluation team. Barbara is also on the Board of Platform, the NGO sector peak body for mental health providers and the Co-chair of Navigate Northern.

In 2018 Barbara was appointed as a member of the panel to undertake the Ministerial Inquiry into mental health and addictions. This resulted in the report He Ara Oranga. She has a doctorate in education and in 2011 was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Hine Moeke-Murray

Organisation: CEO, Te Kupenga Net Trust

Sector: Mental Health & Addictions


Frances Blyth

Organisation: Chairperson, Dementia Wellington

Sector: Personal Health

Frances lives in Wellington and has a background in the public sector (mainly Health, Education, Justice) that includes policy, service design and delivery, and management roles. She has also worked in international trade policy, run the national office of a parent support community organisation, and worked with an international human rights organisation in France.

Frances has held governance roles with community organisations since the 1990s. She is currently Chair and Trustee of Dementia Wellington, Vice Chair and Trustee of Dementia NZ and is a Trustee of Incredible Families.

Frances joined the Health NGO Council in mid-2018.

Frances believes that NGO community health services play an important role in supporting people to live well. She has a special interest in access issues and continuous service improvement. Frances looks forward to helping the Council advocate for the greatest possible support for community health services.

Graham Walker

Organisation: MS Taranaki Inc; Executive Member, MS New Zealand

Sector: Personal Health

I am married to Julie, who is a primary school teacher and we have two daughters, a son and 5 grandchildren. I spent 5 years at Massey University completing a Science Degree and I was a dairy farmer in Taranaki for most of my working life.

Community involvement is important to me. In my younger days I was into cycling and running and got involved in the committees of several local clubs and served on the national cycling body. I served for many years on school Boards of Trustees for my children’s school and received a national award for services to education as recognition.

In 2005 I was the proud recipient of a Citizens’ Award from the New Plymouth District Council in recognition of my work establishing an outdoor education trust, serving as a trustee for the building of the Taranaki Cycle Park, coaching school cycle teams, Chair of the local Domain Board and trustee for the restoration of a historic swing bridge.

When my son took up playing the saxophone at high school, I decided I could too, and this began a stint playing alto sax for me in a local swing band that lasted 12 years.

Several years ago, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, so I sold the farm and bought a business in Whanganui selling and servicing farm bikes. I closed the business in 2018 which has enabled me to focus on my voluntary work addressing the needs of people who have multiple sclerosis and other neurological conditions.

I joined the Committee of MS Taranaki Inc. and I have served as President for the last two years. In 2018 I was invited onto the Executive Committee of Multiple Sclerosis New Zealand. This position with MSNZ affords me a window on the situation and life experiences of people with disabilities throughout the country.

In 2019 I was nominated to a committee of the International MS Federation that engages people with MS in reviewing information. My eldest daughter is a medical researcher based in Auckland focused on neurological conditions and this has been very helpful to my personal education and in guiding my leadership and participation in the organisations I am involved with.

Through my own lived-experience of being a person with potentially advancing disability, and my voluntary service, I have a growing awareness of the issues that need to be addressed including equity of access to health services.

My Committee includes members with a range of disabilities not all caused by multiple sclerosis. We maintain a Fieldworker for 20 hours a week to visit the homes of people with neurological conditions throughout the Taranaki region. 

Jason Myers

Organisation: CE, New Zealand AIDS Foundation

Sector: Public Health

Dr Jason Myers graduated from the University of Auckland in 2010. A Social Scientist by training, his postgraduate work explored the everyday worlds of people living with HIV in New Zealand. His PhD research is published in a number of academic journals and edited book collections.

Following a two-year palliative care research fellowship at University College London, Jason returned to New Zealand and began working as a Policy Officer at the New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF). By 2014, he was managing the organisation’s International Development programme. In this role, he worked with community groups around the Pacific to build capacity and improve the health and rights of gender and sexual minorities.

In late 2014, Jason moved into a leadership role with Oxfam New Zealand. Heading up the advocacy and campaigns function of the organisation he led work in climate change, gender justice and economic inequality in the Pacific. After honing his not-for-profit leadership skills, Jason followed his heart back to the NZAF in 2016 when he took up the role of Chief Executive. He has led a transformation in NZAFs strategic approach to HIV prevention and built an organisation that is fit-for-purpose and financially sustainable as it embarks on a mission of ending new HIV transmissions in New Zealand by 2025. He also Chairs the National HIV and AIDS Forum.

Selah Hart

Organisation: Chief Executive Officer, Mana Amorangi, Hāpai Te Hauor

Sector: Public Health

As the CEO of Hapai Te Hauora for the past two years, Selah has served over a decade in Māori Public Health, which enables her to advocate passionately for the health and wellbeing of Māori communities, whilst leading a strong, experienced and dedicated team who act as the “conduit between people and policy” every day, servants of our people, enablers of system and structural change that benefits all communities we are tasked to serve.

A busy māmā of 5 beautiful tamariki, Sione, Siuta, Sekope, Jordan and Jericho, her passion and drive comes from an inherent need to put in motion the levers of change to achieve a better future for all mokopuna of Aotearoa. Selah’s iwi affiliations are Ngāti Kuia, Ngāti Apa ki te Ra To, Rangitane o Wairau, Ngāti Rarua, Ngai Tahu and Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa and was born and bred in the sunny district of Blenheim, Marlborough, now residing in Tamaki Makaurau for the past 11 years.

Selah hopes that she is able to represent and enable a voice of representation for Public Health as part of her role with the NGO Council, and with an ever increasing understanding of Public Health, Population Health, Disease Protection and Prevention, it is hoped that the passionate, hardworking members of all NGO’s providing Public Health service across Aotearoa will continue to be seen and heard, even more so now, than ever.

Maria Baker

Organisation: CEO, Te Rau Ora (formerly Te Rau Matatini)

Sector: Māori Health

I  trained as a registered nurse in the 1990s, I bring a 20 year professional history in Māori health and mental health (adult). Added to by my doctorate research alongside Māori with lived, whānau and practitioner experience of mental illness and mental health services.

I am currently the CEO for Te Rau Ora (formerly known as Te Rau Matatini). I am a graduate of Te Rau Puawai program (Massey University) and I have urban and rural experience from living and working in grassroots and Māori communities, working with Iwi, Hauora and community based services. I am pro NGO, I am strategic, and I am focused on driving the growth and strengths of the NGO sector alongside the NGO sector. 

I draw from extensive knowledge and understanding of Māori needs and values to assist the Health and Disability NGO Council in addressing the inequalities experienced in Māori communities. I will provide leadership to connect Māori with the NGO Council and will promote the Māori voice at multiple levels to ensure Māori NGO development and success. 

I bring research, evaluative skills, in addition to health workforce development and business skills with an understanding of community, and the NGO sector. It is my belief that the most important asset we have in the NGO sector is you, the people who work tirelessly in the NGO sector and in the communities you are serving. It would be a privilege to be able to contribute what I can to help you become the best you can be – for yourself, for the future of  NGOs and of your communities.

Hutia te rito o te harakeke, kei hea rā te kōmako e kō?
Kī mai ki ahau, he aha te mea nui o te Ao?
Māku e kī atu, he tangata, he tangata, he tangata.

Karaitiana Tickel

Karaitiana Tickel

Organisation: Kaiwhakahaere Matua, Purapura Whetu Trust

Sector: Māori Health

Nei rā te mihi ki a koutou ngā rangatira, hei kawe mai ngā kaupapa whakahirahira ki mua rā.

I live in Ōtautahi/Christchurch with my whānau and have been involved in the NGO health and disability sector for over 20 years. My focus is to improve health equity for those with the least resource, considered at risk of poor health outcomes and recognised as vulnerable populations in Aotearoa – ensuring that all members of our communities are seen and heard.

My background is in psychotherapy and kaupapa Māori Health care and Māori education, with extensive experience in governance and health service delivery regionally and nationally, working closely with Māori, Pacific and CALD communities.

I am a founding member and the Kaiwhakahaere Matua of Purapura Whetu Trust, established in 2002, and am currently involved with several Boards and groups that support whānau.

Through my work with the Canterbury Clinical Network Alliance Leadership Team (Member), Pegasus Health Te Kāhui o Papaki Kā Tai (Chair) and Population Health Advisory Board (Member), NGO, Māori health and mental health issues have stayed on the table and maintained a position of priority in a competitive environment with competing interests.

As a CCN Māori Caucus Member and through providing the Māori Health Perspective for South Island Mental Health Alliance and Mental Health Workstream, Māori mental health issues have a committed voice seeking equity.

Having previously been a member of the NGO Council, I am glad of the opportunity of returning with knowledge and experience from my work with Platform Trust (NGO Board member), Te Matau o Maui Collective (NGO Member), Navigate Waitaha (NGO Member), Mana Ake Service Level Alliance (NGO perspective), and Right Service, Right Time (Governance Member).

I believe that prevention is better than a cure, I promote partnership between NGOs and Crown agents, I support the provision of diverse options for consumers and whanau, I think we all have a responsibility to actively protect the rights of health consumers, and tino rangatiratanga is the way by which equity can be achieved.

Waylyn Tahuri-WhaipakangaWaylyn Tahuri-Whaipakanga

Organisation: Chief Operating Officer, Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga

Sector: Māori Health

E mihi kau ake nei ki a koutou i tēnei wā o te mate urutā. E tangi tonu nei ō tātau mate, haere, haere atu rā. He maha ngā kaupapa hauora kei mua i a tātau hei whakatutuki mā tātau. Tēnā, kia kaha, kia māia, kia manawanui!

Ko Tītīrangi, ko Maungapōhatu ngā maunga Ko Tamaterangi, ko Kākakutāpiki, Ko Tamakaimoana ngā hapū Ko Ngāti Kahungunu, Ko Tūhoe ngā iwi.

Ko Waylyn Tahuri-Whaipakanga tōku ingoa.

I have 28 years of experience working in the health and disability sector and it is my aim to bring the voice of the Kaupapa Māori NGO sector to the NGO Health and Disability network.

My current role as COO includes managing extensive services across the following portfolios:

  • Social Services
  • Disability Support
  • Community and Clinical Services
  • Corrections – Drug Treatment Units, Youth Programmes and Therapeutic residential Programme
  • Mental Health and Addiction – Clinical and Non-clinical Services in Residential and Community settings
  • Whānau Ora
  • Housing - Emergency and Transition.

I have had the privilege of travelling to Alaska and visit South Central Foundation (SCF) to see, feel and learn what a high-quality indigenous model of providing health care in the world looks like. SCF have 60,000 whānau voices of their customer-owners who guide and improve services to their communities through ongoing consultation.

At TToH we are on a journey to improve the way we listen to, and then design services around the voice of our whānau. This is an exciting time for us as we move towards a whānau centred approach.

NGO Sector Experience:

  • GM Tūhoe Hauora
  • Operations Manager – Te Whatuiāpiti Trust
  • Team lead and kaimahi roles in mental health, Alcohol and Drug services
  • Residential Manager of a range of services, Rangatahi, Mental Health, AoD rehabilitation services.

Further relevant experience:

I have worked for Tūhoe iwi at Te Uru Taumatua in Tāneatua as the GM Iwi – Health, Housing, Education and Welfare, had roles at HBDHB and am privileged to be a board member of Hōhepa Hawke’s Bay since 2016.

He ao te rangi, ka uhia, mā te huruhuru te manu ka rere ai.

Pesio Ah-Honi

Organisation: National Director, Mapu Maia

Sector: Pacific Health

Pesio is of Samoan descent and was born in Samoa and educated and raised in Auckland. Her mother is Asi Misa Ah-Honi from the villages of Leulumoega Tuai and Safotulafai, Savaii and her father is Lauano Pesamino Ah-Honi from the village of Leauvaa, Upolu. 

As the National Director of Mapu Maia, Pesio heads a team of experienced and qualified Pacific clinicians, social workers, and community health promoters nationwide

For the past 24 years, Pesio has worked extensively within the Pacific Island community in the areas of public health and clinical service delivery, community development and service development. From 2006 to 2009, Pesio was an elected board member for the NZ Health Promotion Forum and was responsible for the public health training of Pacific workers nationwide.

She has worked in community development, training and workforce development and project management in Pacific public health for the past 15 years in the NGO sector – bringing extensive experience in Pacific media, social services, and education. 

Past and present representation on boards and advisory groups for Pacific and non-Pacific agencies and services includes:

  • executive member of DRUA – National Pacific Addictions Workforce Network
  • board member for LifeChurch Community Trust, 2006 to present
  • elected board member of Health Promotion Forum NZ, 2010–12
  • board member of Ka Mau Te Wero Community Projects, Glen Innes, 2003–06
  • coordinator for the Otara Gambling Action Group and Glen Innes Gambling Action Group
  • advisory group member for Addictions Pacific Group
  • advisory and mentoring role with Penina Health Trust, Auckland, 2008–11.

Lemalu Silao Vaisola-Sefo

Organisation: Chief Executive, South Seas Healthcare Trust, Otara

Sector: Pacific Health 

Silao was born in the village of Gagaifo o le Vao in the district of Lefaga in Samoa. Silao was educated in Dunedin, having attended Otago Boys High School and is an alumnus of the University of Otago, graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Management.

Silao played representative rugby through School and University. This culminated in an international career, where he was part of the Samoan team that represented Samoa at the Rugby World Cup in 2007.

Silao has worked in the health system for most of his career. Trained in funding, policy and planning at Counties Manukau District Health Board, he joined the leadership team at South Seas Healthcare in 2013, and he has been the Chief Executive of South Seas Healthcare since June 2016.

During his time leading South Seas, the business has grown from a highly trusted community clinic, to the core of a network of primary care and social service providers, all with a focus on serving the South Auckland community to the best of their abilities. As well as a health clinic, South Seas is a Whanau Ora service provider, provides a drug and addiction service, and it is currently partnered with CMDHB to pilot new approaches to addressing Long-Term Conditions and Mental Health. South Seas has worked hard to become a centre of excellence in Pediatric care and has a strong presence in youth and young persons welfare.

South Seas exists to support its community. South Seas provided a full medical team to Samoa during the measles outbreak. During Covid, South Seas set up the Otara COVID-19 testing station, which tested 18,500 people between April and October 2020. South Seas also, delivered 1,200 food parcels, 160,000 facemasks and other PPE gear to families, churches and community groups.

South Seas Youth Wellbeing Hub responded to Covid by developing and running the “Bubblegum” initiative (we have to stick together) that directly supported 800 young people, and reached 25,000 young people through events and social media during lockdown, with a mix of positive messaging, care grants and mental and physical health services.

Silao coaches school rugby, and is a member of Pacific Rugby Players, an association dedicated to supporting the collective welfare of current and emerging Pacific rugby players, male and female. He still occasionally turns out for Pacific Legends charity rugby games.

Sonia Thursby, MNZM

Organisation: Executive Member, NZ Federation of Disability Information Centres Inc; CE, YES! Disability Resource Centre

Sector: Disability Support Services

As CEO of two charitable organisations in New Zealand, the first being YES Disability Resource Centre, a multi-million dollar, multi-level community hub housing 16 different organisations; the second being PHAB Association Inc, an International Organisation providing recreational and leadership support for young people with disabilities; much of my working life has been in the not-for-profit disability and youth sectors. 

As a leader in the sector I am driven, innovative and passionate about community, philanthropy, collaboration and making a difference. I am a CEO who leads teams by example and from a strengths-based approach. I have an excellent relationship management and governance track record at all levels of community and government departments. I have reported to Governance Boards and Chaired Governance Boards. I am a leader who believes I lead a group of people who are all leaders in their own right. In the last 20 years working in the not-for-profit sector in New Zealand, I have built a reputation as a person who gets things done and delivers exceptional results.

I have worked in the disability, health and youth sectors in New Zealand for 22 years and prior to that in the UK. Some of the many boards I have been involved with as a Trustee or advisor include Primary Health Organisations, Health Board Advisory Committee and Council Strategic advisory groups. 

I co-designed one of the longest running most successful collective impact agencies in New Zealand ‘The Cube’.

I have extensive experience in:

  • Strategic planning to position the organisation as an innovative leader, including writing and delivering business plans and implementation plans
  • Budget and financial management and analysis
  • As an appointed member of the Waitemata District Health Board statutory advisory committee on Disability (2005-2010), I have a good understanding of the wider health sector
  • As an appointed member to Board of directors for ProCare Network North (2007-2010), I have an excellent understanding of PHOs
  • My role on the Executive of the New Zealand Federation of Disability Information Centres. (2014–present) gives me a New Zealand wide picture of the disability and health sectors.

Karen Beard-Greer

Organisation: Independent Living Charitable Trust

Sector: Disability Support Services

Karen is the CEO of the Independent Living Charitable Trust based in Auckland and holds a range of Governance roles across New Zealand and Asia Pacific.

She has twenty-five years’ experience running businesses in health, wellness and disability.  A resourceful leader with a wide diversity of skills; is solutions focused, an innovator, adaptable and decisive, has good strategic oversight and is comfortable with an ever-changing landscape.  She has a depth of expertise to call on, not only from within her own organisation, but the leadership positions she holds within Assistive Technology and her networks and linkages into the health and disability sector and understanding the mechanisms of Government.

Karen is Mum to two teenage boys, lives in Auckland, is a passionate South Islander and loves the outdoors.