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 700 health professionals, health students, and associate members.
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.
After many years of dedicated service to OraTaiao and this kaupapa, Dr Rhys Jones is stepping down as Co-convenor, but we are delighted that he will remain on the executive board.
Julia Crosfield, Coordinator
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 is interested in a future based in a green and just economy.
Executive Board Members:
We would like to thank those who have contributed so much to OraTaiao during their time on the executive board: Dr Russell Tregonning, Rahul Makam, Rowena Hay, and Lorna Davies. We welcome on to the board six new members: Rebecca Sinclair, Dr Maria Peach, Andrew Phillips, Summer Wright, Dr Susanna Lees Watt, and Penelope Milsom.
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 Rhys Jones
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 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 Dermot Coffey
Dermot is a General Practitioner 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 Maria Peach
Maria is of Nukutere and Papa’a descent. Born, raised and residing in South Auckland, she is a General Practitioner with a special interest in mental health. Her interests are adaptation planning to the changing environment, forging supports and relationships with Pacific Island communities and climate justice.
Cameron is a trainee intern at Palmerston North Hospital. He believes climate change is a cross-generational challenge that requires the engagement of young people with climate change response. He is interested in projects that tackle the climate change drivers of inequity, and practical solutions within the healthcare sector that foster adaptation to climate change. Most recently he misunderstood the impact of metered dose inhalers on greenhouse gas emissions, and is misguidedly working on rigging his car to run on pure propelled salbutamol.
Dr Susanna Lees Watts
Susanna is a House Officer based in Auckland. She is passionate about sustainability and the relationship between the environment and health. In her spare time she loves exploring a new bush trail or reading a book on the beach.
Summer (Ngāti Maniapoto) is a dietitian in training with the vision of increasing cohesiveness between environmental health and nutrition practice. She has a background in Māori health, and is passionate about food sovereignty and climate justice. Summer has also worked in the disability sector as a youth worker and support worker. In her spare time, she enjoys artistic pursuits, animals, and the outdoors.
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.
More biographies to follow.