The Commission’s consumer network is involved in all of the Commission’s work programmes and provides strategic guidance to the Partners in Care programme. The consumer network meets regularly to find practical ways to increase consumer involvement in New Zealand’s health and disability sectors.
Click on the links below to find out more about our network members. They talk about their own personal health and disability experiences and the reasons they have got involved with the Commission.
- Martine Abel-Williamson (2014–present)
- Marj Allan (2015)
- Renee Greaves (2015–present)
- John Hannifin (2018–)
- Courtenay Mihinui (2015–present)
- Camron Muriwai (2018–)
- Bernadette Pereira (2018–)
- Ezekiel Robson (2015–present)
- Te Rina Ruru (2014–present)
- Fonoifafo Seumanu-McFarland (2018–)
- Edna Tu'itupou-Havea (2018–)
- Tamara Waugh (2018–)
- Marlene Whaanga-Dean (2018–)
- James Ahipene (2014–16)
- Kula Alapaki (2012–16)
- Maringikura Mary Campbell (2015–16)
- Vicki Culling (2012–16)
- Allison Franklin (2014–16)
- Janice Marsters (2013–14)
- Shaun McNeil (2015)
- Neelu Memon (2012–14)
- Traci Stanbury (2015–18)
- Gary Sutcliffe (2012–15)
- Kelvin Twist (2012–14)
- Shreya Yao (2015)
- Ivan Yeo (2014–15)
Martine is a member of the Commission’s consumer network, and the patient deterioration programme’s expert advisory group. From 2007 until February 2018 she worked in various roles for Manukau City Council and then Auckland Council, including as policy advisor disability and strategic advisor disability. She now runs her own business as a disability advocate.
Since emigrating from South Africa in 1996, Martine describes her experiences navigating the New Zealand health system as a blind person to be 'interesting and often challenging'.
She is currently treasurer at the global level of the World Blind Union, an international entity fostering wellbeing and aspirations of blind and vision impaired persons. At regional World Blind Union Asia-Pacific (WBUAP) level, she is Regional UN Advocacy Network Co-ordinator. In these roles she has travelled the world to assist building international capacity in disability services in developing countries, as well as liaising at worldwide level in areas of systemic advocacy, specialising in access to the environment and transport. She chairs Auckland Disability Law, the only disability-specific community law centre in New Zealand. She has held governance roles with the Workbridge Council, the Guide Dog Society, Disability Connect, Independent Living Service, and Blind Citizens NZ.
Marj was diagnosed with low grade non-hodgkin lymphoma in 2003. She was in the process of moving to the West Coast to run a small fly fishing lodge with her husband when she received the diagnosis. Marj found the experience of being in a rural area and requiring support without family nearby to be an interesting challenge.
Marj has valued the opportunity to contribute to the health care system, starting with training for Cancer Voices NZ, a patient advocacy organisation. Since then she has become very involved in many consumer panels and groups.
She worked with the Southern Cancer Network to establish the South Island cancer consumer group, including membership of the National Cancer Consumer Representative Advisory Group. Marj is interested in consumer engagement and co-design. She networks with a lot of groups and finds this knowledge very helpful whenever consumer involvement is required.
Renee was inspired to enter the health sector after a personal experience in 2011 which lead her to death’s doorstep. Renee had a long road to recovery with multiple surgeries and readmissions. She began volunteering at the hospital during this time, and developed a passion to help other patients and families to get the best care possible, through patient- and whānau-centred care and co-design.
Over the next few years Renee was involved in patient centred care at a local, regional and national level, through working groups, steering groups and co-leading training. In 2013 she made a career change, becoming the first patient and whānau advisor within acute areas at Counties Manukau Health. In this role she supports and co-leads the direction of consumer engagement, co-design and patient experience across the Counties Manukau Health system.
Renee is keen to use her experiences, together with her professional learning and increasing skills in change management and leadership, to help contribute to ongoing consumer engagement at all levels.
John Hannifin is the chair of MidCentral District Health Board’s consumer council. John is highly regarded for both his work in the health sector as a consumer representative, and for his work in health promotion and the field of problem gambling. Mr Hannifin worked in mental health and public health for 20 years until 1994, then operated a successful private commercial business for 15 years. He has also worked in social marketing and health issues, including sexual health and smoking cessation.
In 1997 Courtenay’s five-month-old daughter contracted pneumococcal meningitis and has lived with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, hydrocephalus, spastic quadriplegia and scoliosis ever since.
In 2012 Courtenay’s five-year-old son was diagnosed with autism. As a result, Courtenay has gained extensive experience of health services in both DHBs and NGOs.
She is currently a volunteer consumer advocate with Lakes DHB, sits on the clinical governance and infection control committees, and is the sole consumer representative on the Child Health Hub establishment committee.
Courtenay wants to influence health care services for people in similar circumstances, based on her experiences of the system and some of the trials it can bring.
Courtenay’s tribal affiliations are to Tuhoe and Ngati Awa.
Camron is the founding chairperson of the Bronchiectasis Foundation of New Zealand, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to pastoral care, education, resource development, research and supporting those that live with bronchiectasis. He sees the consumer network as a way to give a voice to children and adults living with chronic respiratory conditions.
Bernadette Pereira serves on the board of trustees for a Pacific clinic in Otara, South Auckland, and she has personal experience as a consumer of health services. She is the national president for Pacifica Incorporated and has done a lot of work helping Pacific mothers and families settle into their adopted country of New Zealand.
As a person with low vision, Ezekiel is dedicated to enhancing respect and inclusion for all disabled people in society. He is passionate about communities influencing the design and improvement of health services.
Ezekiel provides strategic and consumer input to Counties Manukau DHB. He supports the Disabled Persons Assembly as a community networker by promoting greater understanding and implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He is currently involved in workforce development, health promotion and social change projects dealing with community empowerment, violence prevention, and reducing obesity.
Ezekiel grew up in the multicultural suburbs of south Auckland and has a background in youth health and development, mentoring and group facilitation.
He has learnt to balance independent living skills with the value of knowing when to ask for help and of being courageous and persistent to get any support needed.
Te Rina (Ngāti Kahu Ki Whaingaroa, Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki) is a support worker for Geneva Health Care, and cares for her older brother who sustained a traumatic brain injury from a motor vehicle accident in 2007.
Te Rina and her family spent three months in hospital with him and seven months helping him through rehabilitation, before Te Rina became one of his primary caregivers. Te Rina says her family’s experiences, coupled with the experiences of others she had met along the way, have increased her awareness of the quality and safety issues people face on a day-to-day basis.
She has since founded the NZ Brain Injury Support Network for survivors and their families.
Te Rina and her whānau travel New Zealand sharing their story and arranging events to raise awareness of brain injuries. Their work has received a commendation award from the Trust Power Community Awards in Rotorua. They aspire to unite with other organisations to raise awareness on a national level.
Te Rina has been an ex-officio member of the Commission's Te Rōpū Māori group since January 2015. Te Rina is currently a fourth year law student, studying a conjoint degree in law and social science at the University of Waikato.
Fonoifafao Seumanu-McFarlane is a registered nurse from South Auckland. Growing up in a largely Pacific community, she has seen first hand what people with poor health outcomes go through and how their health differs from those of other ethnicity. She sees the consumer network as a way of representing her community and helping to improve health outcomes for Pacific peoples.
Edna Tu’itupou-Havea is a registered nurse and has had personal experience of poor health care through the care of her son. She is motivated to make sure that no-one else goes through the same thing she has, particularly with an unwell child. She is a senior nurse lecturer and is studying for her PhD. Her thesis is on Pacific people’s experience in launching formal complaints in hospitals in Aotearoa.
Tamara Waugh works in business development at Changing Minds and has a background in health promotion. She also runs her own social enterprise ‘The Happiness Experiment’. She is a member of a number of other consumer groups including those supporting youth development, rainbow communities and social entrepreneurship in the mental health sector.
Marlene Whaanga-Dean is an outreach community health worker for a non-government organisation. She describes whānau and community health as her purpose and passion. Marlene has a background in social work and she is dedicated to making health services more accessible for consumers and whānau in the Wairarapa.