OraTaiao: The NZ Climate and Health Council is a not-for-profit, politically non-partisan incorporated society.
OraTaiao is governed by an Executive Board of 16 members including two Co-Convenors (one of whom is Māori) elected annually.
Current membership of OraTaiao exceeds 630 health professionals, health students, and associate members.
Dr Rhys Jones, Co-convenor
Rhys (Ngāti Kahungunu) is a Public Health Medicine Specialist and father of three boys who lives in Auckland. He is a Senior Lecturer in Māori Health at the University of Auckland. His research interests include ethnic health inequities, the role of health professional education in advancing indigenous health, and environmental influences on Māori health.
Dr Alexandra Macmillan, Co-convenor
Alex is a Public Health Medicine Specialist, environmental health academic at the University of Otago, and mother of one. She lives in Dunedin, where she is involved in research to improve policies for health, equity and environmental sustainability across transport, housing and food systems. She was one of the founders of OraTaiao in 2009 and has been the co-convenor since 2014.
Julia Crosfield, Co-ordinator
Julia is based in Auckland. She has several years experience in communications of science and policy, and previously worked as communications adviser for the Ministry for the Environment. She holds an MSc in Social Research Methods with Social Psychology, and a postgraduate diploma in journalism. She hopes for a future founded in a green and just economy. She loves spending time with her two young boys and enjoys writing, yoga and hiking.
Executive Board Members:
Dr Richard Jaine, Secretary
Richard is a Public Health Medicine Specialist who works at the University of Otago, Wellington. His interests include tobacco control, healthy food environments, and the health impacts of climate change. He is also a long-suffering Hurricanes rugby fan.
Dr Mark Smith, Treasurer
Mark is a Consultant General Surgeon at Dunedin Hospital with a special interest in surgery for benign and malignant foregut conditions including bariatric surgery for obesity. His interest in climate change developed when he was living in Portland, Oregon, and could see first hand how some of the drivers of climate change also affected human health. He returned to NZ in 2011 and has lived in Dunedin with his family since 2018. Mark currently fills the role of Treasurer for OraTaiao and is learning to keep quiet in the future when exec roles are allocated.
Dr Alison Blaiklock
Alison is a Public Health Medicine Specialist based in Auckland and with special interests in child health, global health, health promotion, and human rights. She is a former Executive Director of the Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand and was founding chairperson of Action for Children and Youth Aotearoa. She has been recognised by the Public Health Association of New Zealand as a Public Health Champion.
Dr Russell Tregonning
Russell is a semi-retired orthopaedic surgeon. He belongs to a number of groups in Wellington concerned with active and climate-friendly public transport. He is a founding member of Congestion-free Wellington, representing OraTaiao on that coalition of 9 local organisations. He reads climate change science at bedtime but still sleeps well.
Dr Matt Jenks
Matt is an anaesthetist at Dunedin Hospital. He has long had an interest in environmentally sustainable healthcare practice initially focussing on operating theatre recycling and more recently the contribution of healthcare to the problem of climate change. He is an executive member of OraTaiao the New Zealand Climate and Health Council and runs his Hilux Surf on waste vegetable oil from the local Japanese restaurant.
Dr George Laking
George (Te Whakatōhea) is a Medical Oncologist in Auckland and Northland. George's involvement in tobacco control spurred an interest in the motivated denial of science. He sees a parallel between people’s adjustment to major illness, and society’s adjustment to looming environmental catastrophe. Outside of his clinical and advocacy work, he likes to get away on bikepacking trips.
Dr Carmen Chan
Carmen is a house surgeon working in the Wellington region. She cares deeply about issues in global health, and the impacts of climate change upon livelihoods, and the environment. Carmen strives to connect those of her generation with playing a role in creating 'health climates, 'healthy people'. An ardent tramper, you'll find her out scaling a mountain in her spare time.
Bruce is a 4th year medical student passionate about health advocacy and sustainability. He has presented a statement to the WHO and facilitated a breakout at the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development. He is currently the Pacific Regional Focal point for the UN MGCY Co-ordination team for oceans and marine resource conservation (SDG 14). In his spare time he enjoys making music, playing basketball, or a game of chess.
Kera (Kāi Tahu) has a background in politics and Māori Public Health. She is passionate about the intersections between health, indigenous rights, and climate change, working on indigenous rights kaupapa at the United Nations Climate Negotiations, COP23 and COP24. Having fibromyalgia, she is also interested in disability rights and how our health system deals with chronic illness. She is based in Tāmaki Makaurau where she heads up comms and engagement at a social impact and creative agency, and studies at the University of Auckland.
Dr Lorna Davies
Lorna has worked in the field of midwifery as both practitioner and educator for nearly thirty years. She is currently Associate Head of Midwifery at Ara Institute of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. She has had an interest in the field of sustainability and health care including the impact of climate change for several decades. She has written articles and chapters around the issue and co-edited the textbook, ‘Midwifery, Sustainability and Birth’. Her doctoral thesis focussed on sustainability and midwifery. More recently she has carried out research around sustainability literacy in midwifery education and is currently helping to develop a Masters of Sustainable Practice programme within her institution.
Rahul s a University of Auckland medical student who has completed his 5th year and is currently undertaking a BMedSc (Hons). He is passionate about health equity and cares strongly about the impact of climate change on the wellbeing of Aotearoa and its neighbours. Through his contribution to OraTaiao he hopes to generate concern amongst the next generation of clinicians to engage deeply about challenges to health beyond disease.
Rowena is from Kirikiriroa and is a Registered Nurse at Waikato Hospital, previously working in Māori Primary Healthcare. She is passionate about health equity and climate change. Outside of work she enjoys spending time in te taiao.
Dr Dermot Coffey
Dermot is a GP based in Christchurch. His interests include the role of GPs as environmental advocates, the social determinants of health and active transport. In his spare time he loves to run and cycle in the Port Hills.
Dr Paula King
Paula is a Public Health Medicine Specialist (Fellow of the New Zealand College of Public Health Medicine) and Kaupapa Māori epidemiological and qualitative researcher based at Te Rōpū Rangahau Hauora A Eru Pōmare, University of Otago in Wellington. She is also an appointed member of the Capital & Coast DHB Māori Partnership Board. Her current research areas include tāngata whenua rights to health and wellbeing, Kaupapa Māori co-design of health services, and the elimination of inequities for mokopuna Māori in Aotearoa/New Zealand.
Dr Hayley Bennett, Membership Officer
Hayley is a Public Health Physician who lives and works in Rotorua. Her particular interests include: the social determinants of health, sustainability and climate change, and health equity. She is a keen mountain-biker.