OraTaiao: The NZ Climate and Health Council is a not-for-profit, politically non-partisan incorporated society. It is governed by an Executive Board of members including two Co-Convenors (one of whom is Māori) elected annually. Current membership of OraTaiao exceeds 1,000 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.
Summer (Ngāti Maniapoto) is a dietitian and a PhD candidate at Massey University. She is currently investigating the opportunities for Māori businesses in plant-based foods and is based in Papaioea. Summer is passionate about climate justice, health equity, and food sovereignty. She has also worked in disability as a youth worker and support worker. In her spare time, Summer has a few creative pursuits and likes to spend time outside and with animals.
Grant (he/him/ia) is a Mental Health Nurse with a background in campaigning and advocacy, strategic communications and policy development in health sector unions and membership-based NGOs. His passion for a Just Transition to a zero carbon Aotearoa has led him to work across kaupapa Māori, mainstream and Tiriti-based organisations, and from 2015–2020 he served as the President of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa. Originally from Dunedin, he is now living in Wellington with his partner, their two teenagers and a delightfully harmless cat. His other current roles include directorships with NZNO and the Newtown Union Health Service.
Executive Board Members:
Romelli Rodriguez-Jolly, Secretary
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, playing folk music and enjoys biking.
Pete Bernhardt, Treasurer
Pete is a strategy practitioner with a passion for helping organisations thrive while caring for our communities & environment. With a focus on strategy, governance and climate change, he has extensive experience working with Boards & leadership teams across the private, public, & not-for-profit sectors. Pete has an MBA and finance degree from the University of Otago, is a Chartered Member of the Institute of Directors, and is currently a Trustee and Board Member of Melanoma New Zealand. He is particularly motivated by the potential for positive health and equity gains from health-centred climate action.
Dr Penelope Milsom, International Coordinator
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.
Liz Springford, Policy Development Coordinator
Liz is impatient for a fairer healthy Aotearoa Net Zero next decade - calculating how fast our country can seriously share in keeping global warming within the humanly-adaptable 1.5 degrees limit. She is a Wellington-based climate policy analyst, parent of three, and proud grandma/lola. As a descendant of Celtic arrivals long ago, she is increasingly aware of the terrible costs of ongoing failures to respect tikanga. Liz enjoys collaborating, strategy, writing submissions and media releases, policy (Masters of Public Policy, BA – Economics & English Lit), community cars for hourly hire, and safe cycleway networks.
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.
Isabella Lenihan-Ikin (she/her) is a Rhodes Scholar currently studying at the University of Oxford. Her PhD research looks at the occupational health impacts of climate change in Aotearoa, through a just transition lens. Prior to this, she was a union organiser and campaigner, which included working as a political organiser at NZEI Te Riu Roa and serving as the National President of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations. Isabella also holds a Masters of Science from the University of Oxford, as well as a Bachelor of Science (Hons) and a Bachelor of Laws from Te Herenga Waka | Victoria University of Wellington)
Michael works as a Youth Health Nurse Practitioner. 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.
Angad is a trainee intern who is passionate about sustainability and climate change advocacy. He has started a student-led sustainability organization by the name of Sustainability Social Group (SSG) in Wellington. The group has led street cleaning initiatives for which it has received Green Your Scene Kowhai award from the University of Otago. He is also a member of the sustainability network of Te Whatu Ora Capital, Coast and Hutt Valley, and is trying to incorporate sustainability and climate education into the medical school curriculum. In his spare time, he enjoys volunteering, travelling, and cooking!
Corbin (Waikato Tainui) is a Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Health, working in the Māori health directorate. He is passionate about protecting ocean health and how people can benefit from communing with Tangaroa. Corbin has experience in communications, community engagement, and hauora whānau. In his spare time he enjoys diving for a pāua or 10.
Other team members:
Dr Matt Jenks, Membership Officer
and OraTaiao liaison for Sustainable Healthcare Aotearoa (SHA)
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 involved in the SHA as well as OraTaiao and was executive board member for OraTaiao from 2016 until 2021. He runs his Hilux Surf on waste vegetable oil from the local Japanese restaurant.
Dr Graeme Lindsay, Web Officer
Graeme is a public health physician and lectures in environmental health. Research and interests have focused on environmental health, particularly climate change, transport, air pollution, cycling and health, health sector sustainability. Executive board member for OraTaiao from its foundation in 2009 until 2015, and has been a board member for the Counties Manukau District Health Board Environmental Advisory Group.