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.
- Amanda Stevens (2020–present)
- Bernadette Pereira (2018–present)
- DJ Michael Adams (2020–present)
- Edna Tu'itupou-Havea (2018–present)
- Hyejung Kim (2020–present)
- Joanne Neilson (2020–present)
- Leo Junior (LJ) Apaipo (2020–present)
- Mark Rogers (2020–present)
- Marlene Whaanga-Dean (2018–present)
- Martine Abel-Williamson (2014–present)
- Renee Greaves (2015–present)
- Russ Aiton (2020–present)
- Vishal Rishi (2020–present)
Amanda was 24 when she was registered blind. Twenty years later she experienced profound and sudden-onset hearing loss on one side. She became a committee member of the Nelson branch of Blind Citizens NZ, was chair from 2015–17 and remains active on the committee. She also served on the board of Blind Citizens NZ from 2013–17.
Until she lost her hearing, she had no experience of the day-to-day complexity of dual sensory loss and hadn’t heard the term ‘deafblind’.
In 2014, Amanda helped establish the Deafblind Association NZ and is now their executive officer.
Amanda spent 20 years in Britain and became a qualified yoga teacher with the British Wheel of Yoga, and for 10 years taught yoga and advocacy to people with intellectual disabilities. She counts team sports as riding her tandem bicycle and is a qualified massage therapist.
Here in NZ, in 2020, Amanda is excited about any developing technologies that support independent and healthy lives and is in support of funding for smartphones that help realise dreams of self-determination. She is thankful for devices and applications that support her hearing, blindness and the stabilisation of her Type 1 diabetes.
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.
DJ (Ngati Maniapoto, Ngati Kahungunu ki Te Wairoa) is an inaugural member and deputy chair for the Waitemata District Health Board (DHB) consumer council. DJ was born and raised in Auckland and spent a number of years in the South Island before returning to West Auckland in 2011. He now serves as the secretary of Ahu Whenua Trust Board, administering Whakaki Lake, and has strong ties to the Wairoa district. He is passionate about health and community services – especially making sure that quality and culturally appropriate health care services are available and accessible to the public. He is also a graduate of the Te Whare Tapa Whā (Māori model of health) and Powhiri Poutama (Māori framework for counselling, social work, mental health & social services) programmes.
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.
Hyejung Kim came to New Zealand from the Republic of Korea in 1999 as an international student and became a New Zealand citizen in March 2005.
Hyejung has worked as an information assistant and interpreter with InfoNOW since February 2019 and as a compost collective Korean facilitator since 2014.
She has volunteered at Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) Massey since 2004. She worked as an information officer/facilitator at CAB Language Connect from Feb–Dec 2018. Hyejung was a frequent guest speaker on Korean Catholic Radio, providing information as a CAB Language Connect spokesperson.
She was a committee member of the Korean Society of Auckland for more than 10 years and an editor of the Korean guide book (published by the Korean Society), liaised with other Korean community service providers and gathered useful information for settling in NZ.
Hyejung has been a member of Korean Women’s Wellness Community Group (KWWCG) since 2013. This is a small group of mostly health professionals, and she is currently the treasurer. KWWCG run health workshops and provide health resources such as brochures relating to women’s health translated into Korean.
Born in Gisborne and raised in Auckland, Joanne settled in Christchurch 28 years ago after spending a couple of years in Europe. An entertainer since her teens Joanne has visited and performed around New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and the USA.
Joanne is well known for her cookbooks Never Trust a Skinny Cook: Fabulous Low Fat Desserts and Ultimate Gluten Free. She is currently writing children’s books.
Joanne spent 20 years on community radio and 3 years on the Queer Nation TV show. She has been involved in a number of community groups locally and nationally. She is the past national president of Agender New Zealand, a support group for the transgender community and former co-chair of Qtopia a support network of LGBTQIA+ youth.
Joanne is part of the Christchurch Pride committee and a consumer on Pegasus Health’s co-design team, working on gender affirming pathways.
As well as running her own hair salon Joanne is also a marriage celebrant.
Joanne has been an out transgender woman advocating for transgender rights for nearly 40 years. Being part of one of the most discriminated groups, Joanne has great empathy for people from all walks of life. She lives in Christchurch with her husband of 10 years Cia and their 15-year-old Papillion ZsaZsa.
Ka tangi te titi ka tangi te kaka ka tangi hoki ahau, tihei mauri ora. Leo Junior Apaipo (Tainui, Ngati Porou, Cook Islands) was born and bred in Dunedin.
He has been involved in the Dunedin community for the past 15 years and has worked in community development and advocacy, locally and nationally.
Leo is secretary for Te Waipounamu Māori Rugby Board, trustee of the Dunedin Night Shelter Trust and a member of the executive board for Mana Moana Pacifica – a national group working to establish a Pacific-specific organisation for disabled people. The focus is on mental health, addictions and disability – a sector he has spent several years advocating for and effecting peer support frameworks in.
He is heavily involved in the local iwi in the rohe (region) and is a keen hunter, who also dabbles in equestrian sports.
Mark’s first significant experience with the health sector followed the birth of his youngest child who had heart and kidney problems. Developmental delays and other health struggles resulted in his son being diagnosed with 22Q deletion syndrome at 14 years of age.
Mark is a consumer representative on a number of teams for his local DHB and presently co-chairs the consumer council.
Originally from a banking background, Mark spent over 20 years in both local and national governance roles for the YMCA and is a life member of his local Y.
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.
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.
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.
Russ is originally from the United Kingdom (UK) with Scottish heritage.
He has worked in both public and private enterprises in the UK, primarily in the National Health Service in human resources, organisational development and project management. He previously owned a consultancy working as an external auditor for the UK Security Industry Authority.
Now a New Zealand citizen, Russ and his wife have lived in Nelson Creek on the West Coast for five years. He is involved in many community groups: including as secretary on the Nelson Creek Community Society Inc. Russ has previously worked with the Nelson Brain Injury Association and later provided admin/project support to Brain Injury New Zealand.
Russ is chair of the West Coast DHB consumer council and is interested in the challenges that living in a rural area and accessing equitable health care raises.
Russ’ significant cardiac issues have meant inpatient stays in Grey Base and Christchurch hospitals where he has had experience of issues like ‘being in the system’ to ‘rural discharge’ and the impact it had on his partner and whānau.
He hopes that as a member of the Commission’s consumer network he will broaden his understanding of how DHBs and consumers manage health provision and (rural) accessibility challenges across New Zealand.
Vishal migrated to New Zealand 17 years ago from India and has been working as public health practitioner since 2004. His focus is on addressing determinants of health at numerous levels. For example, collaborating with health research centres across NZ, leading national campaigns, initiating several community development projects and working along with the social sector and grassroot communities.
Vishal represented New Zealand in the third Emerging Pacific Leaders’ Dialogue (2014). He was also selected to be a part a New Zealand delegation to the Young Core Leaders of Civil Society Groups Development Program in 2012.
Vishal is a White Ribbon ambassador and director for The Asian Network Inc. (TANI), a pan-Asian community organisation that supports people of Asian background to enjoy optimal quality of life and wellbeing in New Zealand. TANI bridges the gap between health service providers and grassroots Asian communities. As a part of his current role, he is actively involved in advocating for the advancement of Asian New Zealanders.
- Allison Franklin (2014–16)
- James Ahipene (2014–16)
- Kula Alapaki (2012–16)
- Maringikura Mary Campbell (2015–16)
- Vicki Culling (2012–16)
- John Hannifin (2018–19)
- Janice Marsters (2013–14)
- Shaun McNeil (2015–18)
- Camron Muriwai (2018–20)
- Neelu Memon (2012–14)
- Traci Stanbury (2015–18)
- Gary Sutcliffe (2012–15)
- Kelvin Twist (2012–14)
- Shreya Rao (2015–18)
- Ivan Yeo (2014–15)
- Marj Allan (2015–20)
- Courtenay Mihinui (2015–20)
- Ezekiel Robson (2015–20)
- Fonoifafo Seumanu-McFarland (2018–19)
- Tamara Waugh (2018–19)
- Te Rina Ruru (2014–20)