Meg Smith – Chairperson
Tēnā Koutou Katoa,
Thank you for voting me onto the board and providing me with this wonderful opportunity. The last year on the board has been an extraordinary experience and as a team, I am proud of the work we have done together to get to the place we are today. It is exciting to now be in in a position to move the Society forward with a fantastic strategic plan, team and vision.
My personal connection with Cerebral Palsy is through my daughter Molly who is now 12 years old. I also have a 10-year-old son, Archie. Molly has taught me a great deal about the world and what is important and I feel humbled and privileged to be her mother.
I am currently doing a doctoral degree looking into the experiences of Aotearoa whānau who have a child living with Cerebral Palsy. This is an area that I have discovered has had very little research done in NZ. I am really enjoying the journey that this work is taking me on.
I continue to work on the CP Clinical Network as co-chair with Professor Sue Stott. The network has made great progress over the last two years through work in early diagnosis and intervention, the CP Register, transition to adulthood, capturing the voices of people with Cerebral Palsy and therapy models. I see this work as crucial for improving and progressing the way people with Cerebral Palsy are supported in NZ and ultimately with optimising outcomes and quality of life.
I have been a nurse for more than 27 years and in the last 17 years I have worked mainly in management and leadership positions. I have a Masters in Health Management with first class honours. Previously I have worked as the Charge Nurse Manager for the Paediatric Orthopaedic service at Starship Children’s Hospital where many children with Cerebral Palsy came through the service. This allowed me to gain insight into the challenges and barriers that whānau living with Cerebral Palsy face. In my current job as a Clinical Nurse Director, I provide professional nursing leadership to a large nursing workforce at Counties Manukau DHB.
Like many parents of tamariki with Cerebral Palsy, I have dedicated a lot of time and energy into navigating the health and education systems in order to optimise outcomes for my daughter. This, along with my professional experience, has given me a good understanding of systemic structures across government services in NZ for our tamariki living with Cerebral Palsy. I have a strong desire to use my skills, knowledge and experience to help make a difference to improving the lives of all people living with Cerebral Palsy and to help navigate our society into a strong position of advocacy and leadership in health, wellbeing and inclusion.
Emma Lovett – Vice President/Secretary
Thank you for the opportunity to represent you on the Cerebral Palsy Society board.
I have been on the CPS Board since 2020, I served as the Board Chair and President until 2022. I am extremely proud of the hard work and dedication of the Board in some very challenging circumstances. We have made some bold decisions and it is a pleasure to work alongside the diverse members of our Board. I look forward to being part of implementing further positive outcomes with strong Governance.
My husband Steven and I have a now 7-year-old son, Reid, who has Cerebral Palsy. My family and I can relate to many people who are travelling the hurdles medically, financially, educationally, and personally.
I have an operational background in Government Departments including Child Protection Services and New Zealand Customs Service.
In 2019, I founded the business ‘Adaptive Footwear’ which brings orthotic and user-friendly footwear options to New Zealand. Managing and operating our business has enabled me the privilege of meeting and talking to many of our members and gaining a greater understanding of the support and resources people of all ages require. Being entrepreneurial, I look at things from a holistic view, am collaborative, and not afraid to seek solutions outside of the box. I invite open, honest conversation to ensure decisions are made in accordance with the evolving needs of our community.
I make time to spend outdoors as much as possible. As a family we have taken up fishing regularly along with kayaking and biking in ways where Reid is actively involved. I also know a whole lot about how to play Minecraft!
Peter Wynne-Jones – Board Treasurer
I am so privileged to be invited to join the Board of the Society and I am very much looking forward to working hard with a group of such very talented and dedicated Board members.
I was born and bred in Hamilton to a medical family. My mother was a Registered Nurse and my father a surgeon. My grandfather was also a doctor. Later on, I was lucky enough to marry Jacqueline, also a Registered Nurse who is now the Chief Nurse of the New Zealand Blood Service. We have three adult children, Victoria, James and Alexander.
I have a Bachelor of Business (Banking and Finance) from Chisholm Institute of Technology (now part of Monash University, Melbourne).
My career path has been interesting to say the least. I started off in banking but after 17 years, moved into local Government with the Hamilton City Council for 11 years and Fonterra for 3 years. Since then, my positions have all involved accounting more recently as a contract accountant with such companies as Auckland Council, Vodafone, Auckland Grammar School and Marsh New Zealand amongst others.
I live in Hamilton but have worked in Auckland since 2011, coming up to Auckland each Sunday afternoon and returning home each Friday night so I get the best of both cities.
As well as a lifelong interest in the outdoors and listening to and watching cricket, I am interested in movies, music (from the Beatles to Puccini), reading, theatre (on-stage as well as off-stage), public speaking, snow skiing, centreboard sailing and travel. Over the years, I have served on a voluntary basis (especially as Treasurer) on many committees.
I hope that my life experiences and professional expertise will be of use to the Society and I look forward to contributing to an organisation that is so important to so many people.
Ngā mihi nui,
Daniel Clay – Board Member
Kia ora e te whānau CP!
I am currently in my second term on the CP Society Board, helping to maintain the momentum of improving member services and providing stability and continuity to the governance team.
My fun loving nine-year old daughter Indie is a power chair user and lives with CP. This empowers me with a thorough understanding of the challenges and successes of living with CP. My experience with the CP Society has also facilitated opportunities to connect with adults with CP, enabling me to build my knowledge of their needs and goals. This insight and experience motivates me to promote solutions that address the systemic issues and challenges that CP can create for whānau and individuals.
Since 2020, the CPS Board has made several bold and positive changes to the strategy and investments of the CP Society, which I believe were necessary from both a member focus and good governance perspective. I am proud to have been part of these changes, and am privileged to continue to provide my time and expertise to implement the remaining changes and new strategy.
I am also the director of one of the two investment subsidiaries, Cerebral Investments Ltd. These positions are unpaid voluntary roles, but could not be for a better cause and I am happy to utilise my professional experience and expertise to benefit the CP community.
I am married to Amy and we have four children, and live in Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland. I am currently Chief Executive Officer of an iwi owned property development and investment company. I have held directorship positions on various company and charitable trust boards.
Prior to this I was a practising lawyer for 20 years with two national commercial law firms and a partner in both firms over 10 years. This experience provides me with the skills to provide the oversight and insight into shareholder/member facing organisations such as the CP Society, investment companies (such as the CPS’s commercial subsidiaries) and a client (member) focus. My legal background also provides me with the ability to ensure good governance practices are maintained and risks and compliance are managed well.
George Hewitt – Board member
Kia ora tātou.
I’m George and I’m honoured to be serving my first term as a member of the Cerebral Palsy Society board. I am 25 and live with a spastic quadriplegia form of CP – which I would have to say provides pretty good life experience for this role.
I grew up just south of a small town called Pahiatua on a sheep and beef farm with my family. I studied at Massey University in Palmerston North before venturing into the unknown on a solo backpacking trip for six months in South America.
I have had a media role in the disability services sector for the last 3 years up in Auckland so have an understanding of a leading disability organisation and see huge potential in the part the CP Society can play in this sector.
I have a strong rural connection and can be a sounding board for society members outside of the Auckland region. When I grew up, I knew no-one else in my community with CP that I could relate to, with the same unique walking gait or disability.
Moving up to Auckland changed this. I met others with CP and got to know people with differing disabilities. I now see real value in connecting with others with CP, sharing life’s stories, tips and tricks to success.
I’m always more than happy to share my experiences with others and I hope through my time on the board young New Zealanders growing up with CP can see great opportunity in the lives they lead, and be inspired by the fact they can achieve anything they set their minds to.
I am very excited by what the CP Society is doing in this time and see the Society connecting more with its members and resources to better serve the 10,000 Kiwis living with Cerebral Palsy across the country.
Outside of CPS I have a role in digital marketing, play and volunteer for NZ Wheelchair rugby in social media, love working on decreasing my golfing handicap, I am also a New Zealand Young Farmers member and like to keep in touch with friends and family.
Merryn Straker – Board Member
I am the Chief Operating Officer of Straker Translations, a company co-founded with my husband Grant and now listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. Currently also a director for T3W a Maori tech initiative to grow large NZ Maori export businesses. My husband Grant and I have three boys and our middle son Oscar has Ataxic Cerebral Palsy.
My work life includes growing a large mostly export business in 10 countries but firmly keeping our core roots and head office here in New Zealand. I have strong technical skills and system and process knowledge and have driven our business in the translation of 140 languages across all manner of industries.
I am passionate about the CP Society advocating for change at the governmental level to even up the playing fields for families of non ACC CP kids and adults to enable better access to therapy and equipment. It doesn’t matter if you are on an ACC path or a non ACC path we all have challenges to deal with but we need to work out how to get more meaningful inputs for the non ACC kids and adults to lighten the load on their lives.
I’m strong believer in the benefits of intensive therapy – not necessarily about week in week out – but incorporating short intensives to enable an uptick in function and then to carry on in the home environment in everyday life. Dr Karen Pape’s work and input with Pia Stampe for Oscar was life changing and the mantra ‘Habit hides recovery’ was proven immensely with our son. The options available to change the lives of from baby to adulthood is rapidly changing offers greater chances to live a better life with better work opportunities and a chance to participate in a meaningful and enjoyable way in Society.
It is important the Society has something to offer for all members and all ages and stages but the best way we can do this is to create meaningful governmental change so we change from providing vouchers that are essential to many members to enabling them to access those essentials at a governmental level. It’s not always about get the government to spend more it can be about repurposing how it is currently provided. I look forward to working with the Board on a journey to enact meaningful change – it won’t be quick but if we don’t start the journey we can’t hope to get any success.
Kat Thomas – Board Member
I’m Kat and am honoured to have been elected to serve on the board of the CP Society. My 8 year old daughter Ella lives with CP, and over the years of learning to be her advocate and ally I have met an incredible network of families. I hope I am able to return some of the support I have gained in my role on the board.
My professional background is in the arts, education community and activism. I am currently completing my doctoral studies in arts as a tool for social change at the University of Auckland. When the busy life I lead with my children allow I also teach at the university, and am a drama therapist. In the past I worked for InterAct theatre engaging in the creative arts with the disability community. I am passionate about making a difference and am experienced with grass-roots support, working alongside communities to generate change and self-efficacy. In 2021 I directed Squeaky Wheel, an award-winning verbatim theatre show sharing the stories of those living with CP, as part of the Auckland Fringe Festival.
I am based in Auckland, where I grew up, although my studies have allowed me to live in Dunedin, Wellington and overseas. Through supporting Ella I have gained awareness of how tricky it can be to navigate the systems of health, disability & education. I successfully fundraised for Ella to receive SDR surgery in St Louis, and during that time we generated a positive amount of support that was tracked through different forms of media. I feel that sharing our story and providing a strong voice for Ella can in turn help others as we work toward a more inclusive society.
In my spare time I am with Ella and her brother Frankie, either at the park or beach, playing Go Fish or drawing dinosaurs. I also enjoy football, writing and cooking.
Murray Waring – Board Member
Hello one and all, I’m Murray and I am from the rural community of Pukekohe in the southern region of Auckland.
Thank you to those of you who voted for me. I will work with the other Board Members to make a difference not only for those of us who have CP, along with other medical conditions, like myself, but also to those of you who support us regardless of the role you play.
Approaching my 50th year in March, I know how hard it is to fight for what is right along with being humbled for all the good things that come our way.
Regardless of if you voted for me or not, I’ll be at your side as I am approachable and easy going with a sense of humour when the time is right to use it.
Although I’m a Kiwi, I’ve had the privilege of living in the Middle East/UK for several years. A few highlights have been being the only student with a disability at an international British school with 1,200 other students from all over the world and seeing most of the world first-hand like Africa with family, friends and on my own.
Work wise, I enjoyed been a Disability Awareness Advisor over the years which was interesting, especially when my ideas and suggestions were adopted for the likes of what was then Franklin Council (now part of Auckland Council), Papatoetoe High School, Ansett New Zealand and Auckland International Airport.
Bearing in mind what I said above, I will ensure the CP Society continues to support you as it is vital to harness one’s abilities rather than their disabilities, as I for one believe it is a case of when not if.
Reuben Woods – Board Member
Kia ora koutou, I have been a corporate solicitor for more than 20 years working in New Zealand and London, and a partner at global law firm DLA Piper for more than 10 years. I have a teenage daughter (Phoebe) and young identical twin boys (Nico and Quinn), one of whom has CP. My partner is a medical doctor which helps our whanau to navigate and understand the various treatments and therapies available to Nico and also the inner workings of our public health system.
My work involves advising corporates, private equity investors and others on acquiring companies and businesses, capital raising, restructuring and governance. I also have governance experience having sat on the board of a not-for-profit regional sports trust for more than a decade, and having served on the CP Society board. I believe that there is great strength and innovation that can be derived from diversity in decision making, and I am heavily involved in my law firm’s diversity & inclusion programme and chair our ethnic diversity committee. I expect that there is some real talent in our membership that I would like to see the CP Society identify and harness, where possible.
The CP Society is an entity of real substance that can and must make a positive impact on the lives of members. I believe it must be governed professionally, responsibly and transparently.
I am from Kai Tahu. My hobbies (pre-kids) were surfing, guitar and most any sport I could get involved in. Nowadays all my time is consumed by the whanau and work, but I’m hopeful those hobbies will return to my life at some stage…
To contact the Board please email them at firstname.lastname@example.org