The Foundation is honoured to have the support of these influential people who exemplify our vision to end avoidable blindness in the Pacific.
Dame Alcyion Cynthia (Cindy) Kiro is a New Zealand public health academic, administrator, and activist from Whangārei. She is of Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Kahu and British descent. On 21 October 2021, Dame Cindy became the 22nd Governor-General of New Zealand. She is the first Māori woman to hold the office.
Dame Cindy has spent much of her career in the tertiary education sector, and has a PhD in Social Policy and an MBA (Exec) in Business Administration. She served as Children's Commissioner from 2003 to 2009, from 2014 to 2018 she was a member of the Ministerial Cross-Sector Forum for the Ministry of Education, and from 2018 to 2019 she chaired the Welfare Expert Advisory Group. Dame Cindy also has had extensive experience in the public health sector, including a role as General Manager Funding and Services Planning and Māori Health for the Auckland District Health Board.
Before taking up her role as Governor-General, Dame Cindy was the Chief Executive of the Royal Society Te Apārangi, which advances and promotes research in science, technology and the humanities, and raises public awareness and understanding of those fields.
Dame Cindy was appointed as a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (DNZM) for services to child wellbeing and education in the New Year 2021 Honours List.
Gabi has been a driving force behind The Fred Hollows Foundation since she and Fred established it around their dinner table almost 20 years ago. She’s the public face of The Foundation, a founding director and patron of The Fred Hollows Foundation Miracle Club in Australia.
Gabi was born in 1953 in Newcastle, New South Wales, and grew up on an orchard on the Central Coast of NSW.
“I was quite cross-eyed when I was about three years old. After visiting doctors and having an operation to correct my eyes I decided that I wanted to help people with eye problems.”
In her teens, Gabi worked every Saturday morning as a receptionist for a local GP and graduated as an orthoptist in 1972. Orthoptists specialise in disorders of eye movements and associated vision problems.
She first met Fred Hollows during her training. In 1976 she joined the National Trachoma and Eye Health Program (NTEHP), initiated and led by Fred and sponsored by the Royal Australian College of Ophthalmologists and the Australian Government.
Over three years, Gabi and Fred visited over 465 remote Indigenous communities with a team of people, treating Indigenous Australians for trachoma and other painful eye conditions.
Gabi had previously known very little about Indigenous Australians and says that working on the program was a tremendous honour.
“I saw so much of Australia and have beautiful memories. I was very privileged to be initiated into Aboriginal culture the way I was. Those years changed my life and the way I see things.”
Gabi and Fred were married in 1980 and had five children: Cam, Emma, Anna-Louise, and twins Ruth and Rosa.
In 1992, four years after Fred became sick with cancer, Fred and Gabi realised he didn’t have long to live. They got together with friends and set up The Fred Hollows Foundation to continue his work.
Since Fred’s death on February 10, 1993, Gabi has continued to work tirelessly for The Foundation while caring for her large family. In 1996 Gabi married lawyer and family friend John Balazs, who has a daughter Kate from a previous relationship.
Gabi has been recognised for her work through an Advance Australia Award for Community Service and a Paul Harris Fellowship from Rotary International. She has also been named one of Australia’s 100 Living National Treasures. In 2003 she was awarded a Centenary Medal by the Australian Government. In 2012 she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Sydney in recognition of her tireless work in the field of blindness prevention.
Our Executive Team, headed by Chief Executive Officer Dr Audrey Aumua, is responsible for The Foundation's day to day running.
Dr Audrey Aumua joined The Fred Hollows Foundation as Chief Executive Officer in January 2021. As a Pacific woman of Fijian descent, Dr Aumua has focused most of her career on improving the livelihoods of Pacific people and communities. Her passion has always been in public health, workforce development, and finding sustainable solutions for the communities served.
From March 2016 until late 2020, Dr Audrey Aumua led The Pacific Community (SPC) Suva office as Deputy Director-General. SPC is the principal scientific and technical organisation in the Pacific region. It is an international development organisation owned and governed by 26 country and territory members.
As Deputy Director-General, Dr Aumua has been responsible for the executive leadership and management of all SPC Suva operations, including over 600 staff and technical divisions whose primary focus is on Small Islands and Developing States sustainable development challenges.
Prior to her appointment, Dr Aumua served as the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative, Solomon Islands, United Nations Office and was responsible for shaping the public health development dimensions of the United Nation’s partnerships with the government of Solomon Islands.
She has also held positions with the University of Queensland, and Curtin University, Western Australia. She served as Chief Advisor for the Pacific, within the Ministry of Health of the Government of New Zealand from 1999 – 2004 and was responsible for public policy advice on improving Pacific people's social-economic outcomes in New Zealand. She holds a PhD in Public Policy from Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia, and a Master’s in Public Policy from Massey University, New Zealand. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in International Health, with Distinction, from Curtin University, a Graduate Diploma in Business from Auckland University and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Auckland.
Dr John Szetu has been with The Foundation since it started delivering programmes in the Pacific in 2001. He currently holds the position of Medical Director, based at the Regional Eye Centre in the Solomon Islands.
Among his myriad other achievements, Dr Szetu (with the support of The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ) established the Pacific Eye Institute in 2006, a training centre for Pacific eye health workers now located in Suva, Fiji. At around the same time, he formed the Pacific Eye Care Society (PacEYES) to represent eye care professionals working in the Pacific Islands region. Dr Szetu also held the IAPB Western Pacific Region Co-Chair position for the Pacific Islands Sub–Region from 2009–2012.
Dr Szetu had long recognised the importance of training Pacific eye health workers to deliver eye care in their own communities and has always advocated strongly for formalising ophthalmic training, both of doctors and nurses in the Pacific. He realized that more of both cadres were badly needed to cater for the particular needs of the small but scattered populations across the islands. He has an impressive track record in designing and implementing training courses for eye care nurses and supervising registrars in the Pacific. His successful training and clinical service programmes in Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands are highly regarded throughout the Pacific eye health sector.
The growth of the Pacific Eye Institute reflects the respect that Dr Szetu commands amongst his Pacific Island colleagues as well as those from New Zealand and Australia. He has been able to inspire others to realise that, like him, they can stand on their own feet and provide increasingly high-quality eye health care and leadership for their own communities. Dr Szetu is highly respected by the global eye health community and has inspired others to join the fight against avoidable blindness.
Having joined The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ in March 2017, Sharon is a relative newcomer to the not-for-profit sector. However, with her extensive knowledge and experience in the corporate sector across a wide variety of industries, Sharon has been instrumental in strengthening the financial reporting, compliance and operational oversight of The Foundation both in New Zealand and the Pacific entities that form part of the Group. She has enjoyed nurturing the finance and operations teams from strength to strength across New Zealand and the Pacific. Sharon has led The Foundation to excellence in financial reporting by being one of the first charities to early-adopt the Service Performance Reporting standard, which provides our supporters and partners with greater insight into our non-financial results - The Foundation’s impact. In addition, under Sharon’s guidance, The Foundation has been held as an exemplar, with its success in the Charity Reporting Awards - three of the past four annual audited Performance Reports have either won or received the highly commended awards for a Tier 2 (expenditure between $2m and $30m) charity.
Sharon qualified as a Chartered Accountant in the Waikato, having been born and raised within the farming community. Her career commenced in audit, followed by twelve years overseas in Australia and the United Kingdom, working in senior finance roles in medium to large multi-national corporates spanning the manufacturing, distributorship and banking sectors. She returned to New Zealand to raise a family and continue working in the corporate sector by guiding her own business to success over 19 years and that of a large luxury 5-star hotel in Auckland. She is a member of Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand and the Institute of Directors. She is a keen advocate for continuing professional development as she sees this as a pathway to strive for success.
Sharon is keenly aware of the generosity of The Foundation’s supporters and that the outcomes achieved by The Foundation working alongside our partners in seven Pacific countries result in improved livelihoods and economic wellness due to stronger, more resilient eye health systems for more people in the Pacific. She feels extremely privileged to work alongside the passionate and inspiring Team Fred. She knows that she and her highly regarded finance teams are well-positioned to add value to and provide financial stewardship for The Foundation.
Peter Raynes was appointed Programme Director with the Fred Hollows Foundation New Zealand in January 2020.
Peter has more than 20 years experience working in international development and humanitarian programming, focusing on leadership, coordination and management, strategic development, and capacity-building. He has broad sectoral experience with a specific focus in health, education and gender equality programming and has led several research initiatives in the sexual and reproductive health field.
Peter has worked in senior roles with non-governmental organisations, including CARE International, Save the Children and VSO International, in a range of developing country contexts and has in-depth experience of the Asia-Pacific region. He has an MSc in Public Health in Developing Countries (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine 2004). His MSc thesis focussed on the rollout of antiretroviral therapy in Papua New Guinea. For five years from 2005 -2009, Peter led Save the Children’s nationwide HIV and AIDS Programme in Papua New Guinea, comprising advocacy, community mobilisation, research, clinical service delivery, and capacity building activities across government, civil society and private sector partnerships.
Peter’s career in international development began in the early 1990s when, as a volunteer based in a remote, rural placement, he worked alongside diverse stakeholders to advance government reforms in the education sector. The learning from this period has formed the foundation for his subsequent career.
In his current role, Peter is a member of the FHFNZ Senior Leadership Team and oversees the FHFNZ Regional Programme across the Pacific and Papua New Guinea.
An experienced fundraising leader, Jo joined The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ in February 2022. Following a successful career in marketing and fundraising in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, Jo was drawn to The Foundation’s purpose of ending avoidable blindness and vision impairment in the Pacific.
Jo began her career in marketing roles for tech companies and blue-chip multinationals including IBM and Memorex Telex. Looking for fresh challenges, Jo rode her push-bike from Canada to Mexico. She got married along the way and settled down in Edinburgh, starting a family. Jo transferred her talents into a successful fundraising career, beginning at Children 1st, Scotland’s leading children’s charity, then moving to universities and education. Jo’s achievements were recognised with several Heist Marketing Awards and she was awarded ‘2010 Fundraiser of the Year’ by the UK Institute of Fundraising.
In 2014 Jo was approached to lead the development function within the University of Canterbury, moving her young family to Christchurch, New Zealand to take up the role. Jo led a small team which reconnected with over 40,000 lost alumni, improved engagement and increasing annual philanthropic income threefold from $3m to $9m. The additional funding allowed the university to achieve projects not possible from government funding alone, including first-in-family scholarships, world-changing research, teaching, outreach, and new facilities.
Joining the Foundation in its 30th anniversary year, Jo is passionate about working with the Team Fred community of staff, donors, partners, and volunteers to continue Fred’s work. Jo is inspired by many of Fred’s actions and views, particularly this one; “I believe that the basic attribute of mankind is to look after one another.” Professor Fred Hollows.
Appointed as People, Culture and Capability manager in March 2022, Kathy brings extensive knowledge and experience in the field of Human Resources and Organisational Development, with a career spanning the commercial, public and not for profit sectors in the UK and New Zealand.
After completing a degree in Economics, Kathy's initial career was in marketing and sales. While successfully developing high profile consumer brands for large multinationals, over time, she came to realise that her passion was for supporting organisations to deliver great outcomes through their people, rather than through their brands. This led her to re-orientate her career in Human Resources and Organisational Development and undertake further tertiary qualifications in psychology, human resources, and become an accredited coach through the International Coaching Federation. Since then, Kathy has implemented many highly effective people practices and organisational development initiatives that have resulted in enhanced engagement, performance and leadership capability. She is a strong advocate of continuing personal and professional development. Seeing people thrive, grow and be enabled to contribute their very best at work, is what Kathy relishes most.
Kathy has previously experienced working for a charity and in public health, while leading the people function at the New Zealand Heart Foundation for 6 years. She has also travelled extensively through much of Africa and Asia and has seen first-hand the challenges to people’s quality of life through lack of basic healthcare. Kathy is inspired by the legacy of Fred Hollows and is passionate about enabling and supporting our people to realise his vision in the Pacific.
The Board has overall governance and accountability for The Foundation, and is responsible for our strategic direction and key policies.
The Board meets quarterly and members are elected annually at an annual general meeting in May.
Craig Fisher is a Fellow Chartered Accountant with 30 years public practice experience, 23 of those being an audit partner for a wide variety of entities in the public, private, and not-for-profit / charitable sectors. He is an experienced Chairman and specialises in governance, audit, assurance and financial consulting, as well as assisting with restructuring, growing and developing organisations. Craig is a recognised specialist in not-for-profit and charitable issues and also has a long history in audit, assurance and ethical standard setting both in New Zealand and representing New Zealand internationally. A trustee of The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ since 2011, Craig stepped into the Board Chair role in late 2014.
“Having an eye condition myself, I realise how fortunate I am to live in a developed country with easy access to eye care. Fred’s legacy and The Foundation’s work is fantastic and life-changing for people in countries less fortunate than us. It is an honour to serve and help continue the positive difference,” says Craig.
Sir Maarten Wevers was Chief Executive of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet from 2004-2012. He led the Government House Conservation Project, chaired the Better Public Services Advisory Group, and led the implementation of the review conducted into New Zealand’s intelligence and security agencies. He was Regional Director of New Zealand Post International Limited and General Manager of Government Business for New Zealand Post.
Sir Maarten is a former diplomat and served as counsellor to the New Zealand Embassy in Brussels, High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, and New Zealand’s Ambassador to Japan. He was Chair of the APEC Senior Officials Meeting in 1999, during New Zealand’s year as APEC host. In 2000, Sir Maarten was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the 1999 APEC summit.
Martin is the Chief Operating Officer of Ngāti Paoa Group. Martin has held executive positions in listed corporates, professional service firms, start-ups and NGOs. He has worked in New Zealand, Australia, Asia, India, the Pacific and the US.
Martin began his career as a banking and finance lawyer in Sydney before moving into business. He was Executive Director and head of business development for Warner Bros. International TV Asia-Pacific for almost 8 years. He returned home in 2013, initially to take up an appointment as Director and member of SKY TV’s executive team. There he looked after content acquisition, anti-piracy, and subscription video on demand. Last year Martin worked in Otara with a charity helping at-risk young people.
Martin has served on the boards of a dozen companies and NGOs. He has lectured on business and media topics at both graduate and undergraduate level since 2000. He’s in his fifth year as a judge, mentor and speaker on the University of Auckland’s Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship Velocity business planning program, and supports local Iwi-led business development.
Martin is a graduate of Otago University, University of NSW, the Australian Graduate School of Management, London Business School, Oxford University and the Australian Film TV & Radio School (AFTRS). He’s a member of the Institute of Directors New Zealand and was appointed to the Leadership Panel at AFTRS. He’s s been admitted as a Barrister & Solicitor in New Zealand and as a Solicitor in several Australian jurisdictions.
Dr Mantell is an eye surgeon specialising in cataract and retinal surgery. Following thirteen years of medical training to qualify as an ophthalmic surgeon, Dr Mantell spent a further three years working at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in Melbourne, and the Royal Manchester Eye Hospital.
He has performed thousands of cataract and vitreoretinal operations and helped pioneer day stay vitreoretinal surgery, making him one of the most active and highly trained surgeons in New Zealand. Dr Mantell has also been involved in the teaching of optometrists, training junior doctors and junior ophthalmologists at the University of Auckland Medical School. He helped establish a cataract clinic in Fiji and additional Eye Institute clinics in the North Shore and Manukau.
Sifa Taumoepeau has a background in government relations and public policy. Sifa is a Director at specialist corporate affairs consultancy, Thompson Lewis and before that worked for some of New Zealand’s largest organisations. Most recently, he managed government relations, industry affairs and corporate social responsibility for SKYCITY Entertainment Group Ltd across Australia and New Zealand and, prior to that, Fonterra, Todd Property Group, Telecom and the Tourism Industry Association. He also worked in Parliament as a senior researcher and policy advisor.
Sifa is a current Trustee of the Anglican Trust for Women and Children and is a former board member of Radio New Zealand and the National Pacific Radio Trust. Sifa was born and raised in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, before immigrating to New Zealand.
Kath Watson has been involved in the advertising and marketing industry for all of her career. She’s held senior roles in television, advertising and media. Kath is the former CEO of OMD New Zealand, the country’s largest and most awarded media agency, a role she held from 2007–2017. The agency works with a wide range of global, regional and local clients.
Kath is also an active executive member of the communication industry’s organisation, CAANZ, which focuses on industry professional development providing awards and training programmes.
Meg is an experienced leader with a significant health and public sector experience. She is currently a member of the executive leadership team as Chief of Strategy at Auckland District Health Board. She is also the Pacific Director at the Northern Region's hub for COVID-19 response. Previously, Meg held roles as Director of Partnerships for the Department of Conservation, Director of the State Services Commission and Chief Executive of the Pacific Cooperation Foundation.
Born in Dunedin, to a family hailing from Fagali’i and Solosolo in Samoa, Meg is passionate about bringing New Zealand and Pacific voices together to drive enduring benefits.
“I am excited to contribute towards continuing The Foundation’s legacy of impact for families in the Pacific region,” says Meg.