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 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.
The space of Māori co-convenor is being held open until there is someone who can fill this role. Applications from members are encouraged – please be in touch with Dermot firstname.lastname@example.org
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 contracts to OraTaiao for 10 hours a week as coordinator and 2 hours communications.
Executive Board Members:
We would like to welcome onto the board two new members Michael Brenndorfer and Romelli Rodriguez.
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.
Summer Wright, Organisational Membership Officer
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Dr Andy Phillips
Andy is passionate about sustainable living and taking action on climate change. He has been working on conservation projects and building awareness of human impact for the past 40 years. Andy is a trustee of Hastings Environment Centre and has worked as a researcher, clinician and Executive leader in Health for over 30 years.
Rebecca Sinclair (Registered Nurse)
Rebecca works as a Public Health Nurse and is the climate change representative for the College of Nurses Aotearoa. She has a passion for both children's health and the environment, particularly in relation to sustainable healthy food. She is based in Auckland with her husband and two young children. She loves music, the outdoors and is excited to be part of the movement towards net zero.
Dr Penelope Milsom
Penny is a medical doctor and for the past 6 years has been working internationally within different organisational contexts and disciplines including as a clinician, researcher and lecturer and advocate for health, social and, more recently, climate justice. She is currently completing a PhD at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in global health governance. Her research interests include the political economy of child health inequalities and how to translate child health equity research into transformative social and political action.
Michael Brenndorfer (Registered Nurse)
Michael works as a Youth Health Nurse and Nurse Educator for School Nurses in West Auckland. He has an interest in health and climate justice, specifically from Youth Health and a te Tiriti-based Positive Youth Development perspective. He has previously mobilised large events for climate change, including a 500-strong bicycle ride for 350.org, and has contributed to policy submissions on behalf of NZ Nurses Organisation on carbon emissions.
Romelli (Pākehā/Andean) grew up in Kirikiriroa Hamilton and is an Occupational Therapist/Kaiwhakaora Ngangahau working for mental health services in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. They are passionate about cultivating respectful relationship with Pachamama~Papatūānuku~Mother Earth and interested in how people and communities experience and adjust to the everyday impacts of climate change on wellbeing. Romelli has an interest in plant based eating. They also play folk music and ride bikes in their spare time.
Other team members:
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.
Dr Graeme Lindsay, Web Officer