Our Board and Staff

Birthright New Zealand is governed by a National Board of six members. The National Board sets strategy and policy direction in consultation with affiliate organisations to ensure the organisation continues to provide high-quality services.

Introducing the National Board and Staff

Heather Hayden

Heather has a strong background in working in a multicultural environment both in New Zealand and overseas.  Her experience ranges from community work with women and children in India, advocacy at international government level, developing national programmes and strategies for action in New Zealand, to turning round failing organisations.  She has worked closely with government and has developed a wide network within the government sector.  Heather is experienced in building strategic partnerships and introducing business systems and processes along with disciplined planning and financial management.

Her first career was teaching and her particular interest was in Maori education.  She taught in Tauranga, Turangi and South Auckland.  Education has remained a particular interest and her passion is to see every NZ child reach school ready to learn and take advantage of our educational system in order to reach their potential. 

Heather has extensive commercial experience at the senior management level in New Zealand and internationally in the health and aviation sectors.  She has applied this business focussed expertise to her work in the community and not-for-profit sector.

Passionate about making the world a better place for all, especially in the areas of poverty, inequality, discrimination and injustice Heather works at local, national, and international levels to see change take place. She has held roles in organisations as a senior manager and chief executive and in governance as a trustee, board member and chairman.


Phillipa Ballard

Phillipa has been in a governance role with Birthright New Zealand since 2010 and has been Chair since 2013. Phillipa is legally qualified and is currently employed as a Disputes Tribunal Referee.

Phillipa’s professional experience includes management roles in the investigatory areas of the Broadcasting Standards Authority and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

In her earlier career, Phillipa trained and worked as a teacher. Whilst living in the United States, Phillipa was a teacher aide in Florida for the Head Start programme, a programme for disadvantaged pre-schoolers to ensure their readiness for school.

Although Phillipa has only been actively involved in Birthright for the past 6 years, she has a long association with the organisation as her father was one of the founders. Phillipa is well connected to the government and business community in Wellington.

Adrian Gregory

Adrian has been in a governance role with Birthright New Zealand since 2012 and also became a member of Birthright Otaki’s Committee in early 2016.

For five and a half years Adrian was a member of the Senior Management Team at Grow Wellington, the regional economic development agency, working alongside tertiary institutions, research bodies, health boards and innovative businesses to build a connected innovation system in which businesses, and their skilled workforce, could thrive and grow.

Recently he has started-up his own consultancy, Helix4, through which he will continue this work in conjunction with government, tertiary institutions, business and local communities.

Originally from the United Kingdom, Adrian has worked at a senior level in the education and health sectors in both the UK and New Zealand.

His experience has seen him engaged with a spectrum of organisations from community-based to government and has included forming strategic alliances between disparate bodies in both urban and rural settings.

He has been a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, manufactures and commerce (FRSA) since 1999.

Mark Young

Mark joined the board of Birthright Kapiti in 2015 and later joined the New Zealand Birthright board in 2016.

He has significant governance experience, both in the business world and non-for-profit sectors, including being chairperson of a large multicultural college in Porirua (Aotea) for a number of years during a significant period of change.

Mark has held senior management roles during his career and currently runs his own consulting business, specialising in project assurance and independent facilitation work, helping a wide range of organisations work better together (partnering, collaboration, dispute resolution).

Originally from the UK, Mark came to New Zealand in 1997 to watch England play cricket and loved it so much he brought the family over and stayed! He lives on the Kapiti Coast with his partner and they have 4 grown up children, all following their own careers around the world.

Mark enjoys travel, cycling and is a cricket tragic - still playing ‘vintage’ cricket when his body allows - who enjoys nothing better than a day at the Basin Reserve.

Lisa Hardie

Lisa has been on the Birthright New Zealand board since 2012 and is on the finance sub-committee.

She has also been on the Birthright Hawkes Bay board for around 14 years, 10 years as Treasurer and has been Chair since September 2015.

Her career in accountancy spans over 25 years and she enjoys building close relationships with her clients to make real and positive changes in their business. She has a particular passion for the not-for-profit sector and raising awareness of trending issues with local professionals.

Lisa is an ACA member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ). She joined the Local Leadership team in 2014 to represent the not-for-profit sector and, as part of her membership of this group, arranges networking and training events for like-minded accountants.

Born, raised and living in sunny Napier, between juggling working and meetings, and encouraging her two pre-adult daughters, her spare time is spent lost in crime novels or going to concerts, movies and shows.

Jane Lancaster

Jane joined the board of Birthright Christchurch Inc in 2012, and became chair in 2014. She is also a trustee for Birthright New Zealand Trust.

Jane is a director of Food Standards Australia New Zealand, AsureQuality, Catalyst® Ltd and High Value Nutrition National Science Challenge and is a chartered member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors.

In her working life she is a consultant to companies in food and agribusiness, providing advice about business development and export of products.

She was made a Member of the NZ Order of Merit (MNZM) in 2006. She and husband Bill have four adult children and four grandchildren. Jane enjoys gardening and walking and is active in her community church.

Herni Zunita

Herni joined Birthright New Zealand in March 2014. With a strong background in administration, banking, finance and systems. She manages the daily office and accounts administration of the Trust office and acts as the first point of contact for all general enquiries to the office.

Originally from Singapore, Herni moved to New Zealand with her family in 2007. She enjoys meeting people from different backgrounds and volunteers her spare time at her local community mosque.

Herni believes all children should be given equal opportunities and has a passion for children’s welfare.

In her spare time, Herni enjoys cooking, walking, gardening and keeping herself busy with the care of her two boys.

Ava Gibson
Contractor (Projects)

Ava Gibson has joined us in the Trust office for the next few months to assist with several projects, particularly the work that is being developed around competencies. This work is the first stage of the longer term workforce development planning.

Ava spent the early part of her career working as a social worker and counsellor before moving into the tertiary education sector with a focus on the development of national best practice standards in the area of inclusive education for people with impairments.

Ava continues to work within the disability and mental health sectors as a facilitator and contractor on specific projects and is also an accredited Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) practitioner.