Our People

Our team includes experts in obesity, literacy and mental health from New Zealand and around the world, and leaders in the Māori and Pacific communities.

Science Leadership Team

The Director and Co-directors set our research programme, and are responsible for guiding us to our goals. They and several other experts make up the Science Leadership Team, which manages our research projects.

Science Advisory Panel

We are tapping into the thinking of some of the world’s leading experts. Our Science Advisory Panel provides critical appraisal and guidance on our research projects.


Our Board provide management oversight, advice and support to the Challenge and its directors. Our Board members are respected for their management, academic and cultural expertise.

  • Pat Snedden - Chair
  • Professor Peter Crampton
  • Dr Monique Faleafa
  • Materoa Mar
  • Professor Jim Metson
  • Associate Professor Papaarangi Reid
  • Dr Colin Tukuitonga.


Our kāhui of Māori researchers advises the Challenge on its research programme, its engagement with Māori communities and its alignment with Vision Mātauranga.  

  • Professor Helen Moewaka Barnes - Chair
  • Garrick Cooper
  • Cath Rau
  • David jansen
  • Rees Tapsell

Pasifika Advisory Group

Our Advisory Group of Pasifika researchers advises the Challenge on its research, engagement with Pasifika communities and alignment with Pasifika health research guidelines.

  • Dr Gerhard Sundborn, Senior Research Fellow, Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland
  • Hilda Fa’asalele , Chief Advisor, Pacific Health, Ministry of Health   
  • Dr Mele Taumoepeau, Chairperson Health Research Council Pacific Committee, Lecturer,University of Otago  
  • Mark Tulia, Pasifika Regional Co-ordinator (South Island) MOE Canterbury

Support Team

Our support team provides research management, communications and administrative support.  They are based at the University of Auckland.

  • Cathrine Waetford – Research Operations Manager
  • Gilbert Wong – Senior Adviser Communications
  • Eleanor Surtida – Administration

Past Team Members

We would like to acknowledge the contributions of those who helped in our set-up phase: Distinguished Professor Jane Harding of the Liggins Institute at the University of Auckland, Distinguished Professor Niki Davis of the University of Canterbury, Distinguished Professor Richard Faull of the University of Auckland, Emeritus Professor David Fergusson of the University of Otago and Cathy Wiley of the New Zealand Institute of Educational Research.