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Elected representatives

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: Marese McGee & Sonia Thursby

Māori health: Donna Matahaere-Atariki, Carole Koha & Beverly Te Huia

Mental health and addictions: Marion Blake & Barbara Disley

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

Personal health: Catherine Marshall & Frances Blyth

Public health: Warren Lindberg & Trevor Ihaka Simpson

You can read more about them in their profiles below.

Barbara Disley

Organisation: Chief Executive, Emerge Aotearoa

Sector: Mental Health & Addictions

Emerge Aotearoa was formed 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 on the Board of Platform, the NGO sector peak body for mental health providers. She has a doctorate in education and in 2011 was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Beverly Te Huia

Organisation: Manager, Kahungunu Health Services

Sector: Maori Health

Tena koutou,

Kahuranaki toku Maunga

Ko Ngaruroro toku awa

Ko Takitimu toku waka

Ngati Kahungunu rawa, ko Ngaitahu toku iwi

Ko Mihiroa toko Marae

Ko Beverly Te Huia Ellison ahau

I have worked for a Māori Provider since 1996 and am very aware of the environment and struggles in which Māori Providers endure.  I understand that Māori Providers have unique access to our Māori Population and the strengths that contribute to better health outcomes.

I have experienced the different funding models in which Māori Providers have negotiated in order to provide care that is overly scrutinised and reported.

I am currently implementing an integrated model of care (Kotahitanga Whanau Model), which was developed within our service, which enables GP services and Māori Providers to work meaningfully with Māori Whanau.  This programme is in its second year in which we work with our 17,000 enrolled population (GP service).

I look forward to working collaboratively with the NGO Council and offering 20 years of experience, at every level that a Māori Provider services.

Current Positions:

  • Mother of three very active children
  • Acting CEO for Kahungunu Health Services
  • Chair Nga Maia Māori Midwives Aotearoa
  • Integration Manager for Kahungunu Health Services and Totara Health
  • Kahungunu Community Breastfeeding coordinator
  • Steering group member of Priority Population Committee of the Hawkes Bay Health (PHO)
  • Member of Workforce Development National Committee for Maternity Services
  • Founding Member of ‘Midwives on the Move’ New Zealand and Australian Midwives providing a Humanitarian support through training Specialists, Midwives, Drs and Nurses in the Gobi Province of Mongolia, Maternal and Infant health.Traveling to Mongolia 2014 and 2016.Planning support in the South Pacific.

Carole Koha (formerly Maraku)

Organisations: Pou Kaihautu (CEO), Te Waka Whaiora Trust (Porirua) and Te Menenga Pai Trust (Newton)

Sector: Maori Health

Carole is the Pou Kaihautu at Te Waka Whaiora and Te Menenga Pai Trust, both services funded through Capital & Coast District Health Board.

Carole brings experience working with DHBs and Māori providers within mid-Central region.

Carole has a range of expertise that include nurse, manager, auditor and health trainer; she has been within the health sector for over 30 years. She actively advocates on issues that still have disparities towards health outcomes for Māori. Carole is a strong believer in whanau ora and how the whanau and communities need to step up and become more responsible in making positive changes for Māori in ensuring we receive the same benefits as other people residing in Aotearoa.

Carole was a member when the NGO Working Group (now the NGO Council) was first established in 2003, she resigned in 2013 as a Māori health representative, and was re-elected in October 2016.

Catherine Marshall

Organisation: Deputy Chair / Independent Guideline Adviser, Takapau Community Health Charitable Trust

Sector: Personal Health

Catherine Marshall has a strong interest in health consumer rights, evidence-based healthcare and consumer empowerment. She spent most of her health career based in Wellington, but for the last nine years she has been based in Central Hawke’s Bay. This has given her a good understanding of both ‘head office’ and ‘rural’ issues.

Catherine has been working in the NGO health sector in NZ since 2000. She has worked in a variety of roles, as Chief Executive for the New Zealand Guidelines Group (2000–2006), and currently as a project officer for an integrated primary care service in Tararua. Currently she also provides consultancy services on guideline implementation projects to NZ, Australian and other overseas government agencies or NGOs. Prior to her work with NGOs, Catherine was a manager in the Ministry of Health and worked on projects associated with the Cartwright Inquiry, consumer rights, the development of the HDC legislation and the establishment of the HDC's office and health professional regulation.

Catherine's pro-bono work includes:

  • being part of a governance body running a nurse-led primary care service.
  • being a member of the Kaitiaki Group overseeing the Consumer Collaboration of Aotearoa.
  • being involved in the Cochrane Consumer Network.
  • being an Honorary Patron and mentoring guideline implementers through the Guidelines International Network.

Skills Catherine brings to the NGO Council include:

  • an advocate for the provision of evidence-based health care
  • a desire to promote consumer-oriented services
  • management and leadership skills
  • a comprehensive understanding of the health policy environment in NZ
  • an understanding of the vulnerability and risks faced by small NGOs
  • an ability to work with others to develop creative, positive solutions.

In early 2016, Catherine was appointed to the international governance steering group of Cochrane – an independent,  global network of more than 35,000 researchers, professionals, patients, carers, and people interested in health who work together to produce credible, accessible health information that is free from commercial sponsorship and other conflicts of interest.

Donna Matahaere-Ata​riki – Chair

Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Ruanui, Ngā Rauru and Te Atiawa

Organisation: Board Member, Arai Te Uru Whare Hauora Ltd

Sector: Māori Health

Donna has a background in Māori development and is engaged in roles at national, regional and local levels, including the Chair of Ōtākou Rūnanga in Dunedin. An elected Trustee for Bathgate Park Primary School, she remains committed to community participation and local decision-making. Her big passion is whānau and the quality of outcomes that they receive from their engagement with health and other statutory agencies.

An experienced governor on a number of diverse companies, Donna is currently a ministerial appointee to the University of Otago and a Commissioner of the NZ Gambling Commission. Donna is also a Trustee of Well South Health Network – the PHO for the Otago and Southland district. A former member of the National Taskforce for Family Violence, Donna is also a Trustee of Te Whare Pounamu – the local women’s refuge. Donna is an experienced advocate for Māori providers and the NGO and community sector.

Frances Blyth

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.

Marion Blake

Organisation: CEO, Platform Charitable Trust

Sector: Mental Health and Addictions

Marion has spent most of her working life in a variety of health, disability and social service settings both in England and New Zealand. Her roles have included hospital and social services management, planning and developing new community services, quality assurance and workforce development.

Marion is CEO of Platform Trust, a national network of community organisations that work with people whose lives have been impacted by the complex and damaging impact of mental health and addiction issues. Platform provides a point of contact for nationwide feedback on issues that relate to mental health and addiction and the community sector. A key role of Platform is to champion matters that impact on community organisations, and their ability to confidently provide contemporary health and social services.

Marion is a connector and takes an active role in working across agencies to get the most we can from everyone. Working in Wellington and having an understanding of the political process, Marion often finds herself bridging the gap of understanding and translating between the cultures of the community sector and the many government departments that use the services of the sector.

Marion is a trustee of Hui E! Community Aotearoa, which has been recently formed to promote, strengthen and connect the community sector across the diverse activity areas of health, education, social justice, international development, sports, human rights, the environment, youth, women and ethnicity.

Marion brings to the NGO Council, experience of working across communities that contract with District Health Boards, the Ministry of Health and other government departments; understanding of governance and stewardship in the context of non-government organisations and skills in working collaboratively to achieve the best health system we can in New Zealand.

Marese McGee

Organisation: Chief Executive, Community Living Trust.

Sector: Disability Support

Marese has been a leader in the development of innovative, responsive services for people with a disability for over 34 years, yet she has the passion and enthusiasm for this sector as if she only started in it yesterday. This energy and drive is infectious and through her leadership and extensive networks and relationships, she inspires others to contribute to supporting people with disabilities to live the lives of their dreams.

As a leader, Marese has a high profile nationally and a well-deserved reputation, having worked at the sector’s highest level for a number of years; holding senior management and directorship roles in community mental health, disability support services, social work and funding and planning – resulting in a breadth of skills and networks across NZ.

In recent years, Marese has sought to involve Community Living Trust more actively in the wider community; championing strategic partnerships with key stakeholders. A highlight of this work has been Community Living Trust’s strategic sector partnership with Wintec, focussing on innovative projects that combine learning opportunities for Wintec students and tutors. This partnership has been fundamental in building the future workforce in the disability sector, as well as creating wider relationships in the community.

As Chief Executive of Community Living for the past 14 years, she has also represented organisations from within the sector at their peak bodies; i.e. NRID and NZDSN, and has led and chaired a number of national forums.

Marese holds a Bachelor of Social Studies (Hons) and a Masters of Arts from Trinity College Dublin, as well as a Bachelor of Applied Management (Strategic Management) from Otago Polytechnic.

Marese is superb at identifying the strengths of people and supporting them to maximise their contributions, through mentorship and her well-renowned open door policy.

A colleague says of her:

“She has challenged outdated thinking and continuously strived to ensure that people with a disability are able to achieve their dreams through connection to the community.” Fran Tilley, General Manager, Community Options

Pesio Ah-Honi Siitia

Organisation: National Public Health Manager and Pacific Manager of Mapu Maia, Pacific Unit of the Problem Gambling Foundation of NZ

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 Pacific Manager of Mapu Maia services (the Pacific unit of the Problem Gambling Foundation of NZ), Pesio heads a team of experienced and qualified Pacific clinicians, social workers and community health promoters nationwide.  In addition, she also oversees and leads the national Public Health team within PGF. 

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

Pesio served as a board member for LifeChurch Community Trust in Manurewa and worked extensively in Auckland, serving the community in various community projects before moving to Wellington in 2014. 

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
  • Member of the Otara Network Committee, 2011
  • Leadership role in Servolution NZ, 2008–13
  • Advisory and mentoring role with Penina Health Trust, Auckland, 2008–11

Silao Vaisola-Sefo

Organisation: Chief Executive Officer, 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 Commerce majoring in Management.

Silao has a strong background in professional rugby, playing representative rugby at international level. Silao sees his background in professional sports as providing the building blocks to his professional career because of understanding the mechanics around high performance teams and the transferable skills he acquired have assisted with his leadership roles within the Pacific health sector.

Silao aims to ensure that a key part of his role as Chief Executive of South Seas Healthcare Trust is to strengthen and build relationships with community and partners to ensure healthcare developments are in line with future growth and aspirations. 

Silao has worked in health for almost a decade and has a wealth of experience and understanding in funding and planning, and policy development at District Health Board level.

Silao has also worked in the non-government sector and has worked in primary health care for almost five years.

Sonia Thursby

Organisation: Executive Member, NZ Federation of Disability Information Centres Inc.

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.

Trevor Ihaka Simpson

Organisation: Deputy Executive Director, Health Promotion Forum of NZ

Sector: Public Health

Kia ora koutou. My name is Trevor Ihaka Simpson and I am of Tuhoe and Ngati Awa tribal descent.

I am the Deputy Executive Director for the Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand – Te Runanga Whakapiki ake I te Hauora o Aotearoa. Along with this leadership role, I am also responsible for the Māori Health Promotion Development Portfolio, teaching a range of health promotion and Māori Health courses, workshops and other workforce development activities.

I have worked in the health promotion field since 2006. Prior to this, I have worked in a number of areas including Crown Land administration, Treaty of Waitangi Historical Settlement work, Māori Social Development and Special Youth Projects.

I have an interest in Māori health, the health of children and young people, ecological health promotion, and the link between Hauora, Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Health as a Human Right. I am committed to health promotion as a fundamental approach to improving Māori health outcomes and believe that strong Māori leadership in this field is essential for any success in this area. I believe my background, experience, and adherence to these kaupapa is such that I would be a useful addition to the NGO Council.

I am also a White Ribbon NZ Ambassador (Men Against Violence to Women), Co-Chair of the International Network for Indigenous Health Promotion Practitioners (INIHPP) and a proud, committed koroua to my two mokopuna. Tenā rā koutou katoa.

Warren Lindberg

Organisation: Chief Executive Officer, Public Health Association of NZ

Sector: Public Health

Warren took up his current position as Chief Executive Officer for the Public Health Association of New Zealand (PHA) in September 2012, following five years as Group Manager Public Health Operations in the Ministry of Health’s National Health Board. 

The PHA is a national association, open to all who consider themselves to be part of the public health workforce. This includes members from the public, private and voluntary sectors, and provides a forum for the diverse occupational groups making up this workforce to gather, share their knowledge and experience and learn from each other. Our organisation’s vision is ‘Good health for all – health equity in Aotearoa/Hauora mō te katoa – oranga mō te Ao’.

PHA has a contract with the Ministry of Health to advocate for evidence-informed public health services, to promote collaborative partnerships, and build a stronger public health infrastructure.

Although he began his working life as a teacher in south Auckland, Warren has now worked in the public health sector for 30 years. He is best known as the first Executive Director of the NZ AIDS Foundation, but he has also worked on a wide range of public health issues, including the Like Minds Like Mine media campaign to counter stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness, and contributed to the Auckland Regional Migrant and Refugee Settlement Strategy. He was also a Human Rights Commissioner from 2001 to 2007.

Warren has a Master of Philosophy degree in management and labour relations from Auckland University.  In 1999 he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to welfare.

Hamish Gibson (Interim)

Organisation: NGO Rela​tionship Manager, Ministry of Health

Contact details:
Ministry of Health
133 Molesworth Street

Email: ngo@moh.govt.nz