Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough’s mission is to deliver programmes that are proven to bring positive changes to the lives of young people at the top of the south.

Presently we have five transformational programmes in Marlborough:

  • Kiwi Can: our energy-packed, primary school programme, teaching positive relationships, values of respect, integrity and resilience, and developing the soft skills needed for our communities and workplaces of the future.
  • Stars Teina: preparing our Year 7 and 8 students to make an effective and confident transition to college.
  • Stars: which pairs incoming Year 9 students at Marlborough Girls’ College with senior students, via a proven peer mentoring programme (which includes an adventure camp and a community project). Stars offer proactive measures to support enhanced resilience, mental health and wellbeing of students. 
  • Career Navigator: our unique mentoring programme helping our secondary school students find appropriate career pathways, and developing strong connections between our young people and industries.
  • Career Navigator Community: a pilot programme for 16-25 year old Marlburians, not currently in work or training – but keen to be! 

Today’s fast-paced technological change impacts on many levels within society; from education to employment, from communication to recreation. Our children need to learn skills and strategies to develop into resilient people who can cope and thrive amongst this ongoing evolution and disruption. They need to learn how to work together, understand other perspectives, collaborate for mutual success, and how to bounce back from setbacks.

Our programmes support the development of these skills and values, so our youth are able to overcome the challenges they will inevitably face in life. We want every Marlborough child to know what they have inside is greater than any obstacle.  

Our vision: “Thriving young people, strong community”

Staff

Kelvin Watt – Regional Manager

From a rural upbringing in the deep south to various undertakings around the globe, Kelvin was originally attracted to Marlborough through work at Outward Bound.  With a background in experiential education and personal development the step across to the Graeme Dingle Foundation in 2012 was a small one.

Kelvin’s an absolute ball of positive energy and to say he’s passionate about making a difference for the community and young people of Marlborough would be an understatement!

“I love talking with schools and whānau about the changes they see in their kids – I’m really proud to be part of the team bringing our programmes to over 50% of kids across Marlborough.”

Kelvin is also a key point of contact for all our sponsors, and with his infectious enthusiasm, it is no wonder we are privileged to have built up such a strong support base in Marlborough.

Kelvin enjoys adventures (with backpack, paddles or pedals) in the Marlborough outdoors – and nowadays these are usually shared with his 3 daughters, and wife, Irmi.


Tayla Hayes, Graeme Dingle Foundation MarlboroughTayla Hayes – Programmes Manager

Tayla’s role, as Programmes Manager, has her involved across the five Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough programmes, supporting the coordinators and the foundation as a whole. With a focus on continuous improvement and quality control, Tayla’s also the kind of a person you can really count on to get things done!

“I love working for the Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough – it’s not every job that makes it so obvious what a difference you made in the world each day. I love that my new role allows me to support the amazing team that we have here. I now get to help build and grow the programmes and the amazing people that run them. The connections I am building within the community across all programmes are amazing and I love getting to see the incredible work that our staff and supporters do with the tamariki and rangatahi of Marlborough.” 

Tayla’s background is as a marine and environmental scientist, so it is no wonder that she gravitates to the outdoors in her spare time – surfing, diving, mountain bike riding and travelling to see more of New Zealand (when Covid allows!)


Laekin Simmonds, Graeme Dingle Foundation MarlboroughLaekin Simmonds – Kiwi Can Coordinator

Laekin has been a Kiwi Can Leader for two years now and in 2022 we’re proud to have her step up into the Kiwi Can Coordinator role. In this role she’s our primary point of contact for our 16 Kiwi Can schools, liaising with them and working with our team to ensure the programme’s success. She’s also working as a Kiwi Can Leader in Grovetown and Spring Creek Schools, so she doesn’t miss out completely on working with the kids!

“I love building positive relationships with so many different students and teachers! I’m really excited to be leading such a great team this year too. We all have such diverse strengths and interests, which complement each other really well. And we’re all so focussed on making a difference for our tamariki and the Marlborough community.”

After hours Laekin loves being outside and spending time with friends and family. She’s also a regular on the (winning) Dingle Foundation touch rugby team! Laekin went through all her school years here in Marlborough – at Richmond View, Bohally Intermediate, and Marlborough Girls’ College.


Gemma Miller, Graeme Dingle Foundation MarlboroughGemma Miller – Stars Coordinator

Gemma came to us at Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough (back in 2018) from an early childhood background, with experience in preschools and in-home care. As a mother herself she brings valuable life experience and a thoughtful maturity to her approach with our young people. “I came to work at Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough because I want to help kids reach their full potential. I also know what it’s like to be excluded and bullied as a kid, so if I can do something to stop that type of behaviour from happening, I want to do my bit”.

In 2021 Gemma began also working as Assistant Coordinator for our Stars Programme, working with our college-aged students. In 2022 she has stepped up into the Stars Coordinator role. “The most inspiring thing about Stars is getting to see the Year 9s develop confidence as the year progresses – because they know they have a support network in their Peer Mentors. The growth in the Peer Mentors is also incredible! By the end of the year, they can confidently stand up in front of classes and teachers, and deliver a lesson that they have developed themselves – this makes me immensely proud of them and all that they have accomplished.”

Gemma’s a keen sportsperson, playing netball, and skiing in the winter, and playing touch rugby and water sports in the summer. You might also be surprised to know she’s also an experienced scuba diving instructor – a woman of many talents!


Aimee Pickles, Graeme Dingle Foundation MarlboroughAimee Pickles – Career Navigator Coordinator

Aimee helps Marlborough students navigate their way through the countless career opportunities out there – to help them find a meaningful career pathway, through our Career Navigator programme.

Hailing from a small rural town down South called Duntroon, Aimee grew up spending a lot of time in the outdoors and being incredibly active. After college she completed a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education before going on to teach water-skiing at a summer camp in the USA, working on banana farms in Far North Queensland, and seeing the world. She lived in multiple cities in Australia where her personal training career progressed to gym management, eventually leading her to Blenheim to open her own group fitness gym here.

Aimee says: “Career Navigator is an exciting opportunity for me to work with our students and use my experience to bring out the best in them. It’s inspiring to be helping our young people gain the confidence to walk their own path – by learning the knowledge and skills needed in order to navigate the next stepping-stone in their life!”

Outside of work Aimee loves weekend adventuring with her partner and two “extremely hyper” dogs called Milo and Otis. She’s all about health and wellbeing, and one of her achievements includes having run a 100km Ultra Marathon (for charity) – no mean feat! 


Rachel Rodger, Graeme Dingle Foundation MarlboroughRachel Rodger – Career Navigator Community Coordinator

Rachel joined the Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough team in late 2020 to head up our Career Navigator Community pilot programme.

Rachel has done lots of different things over her working life in both public service and the private sector, including function management, restaurant service, commercial feijoa growing, administration, IT, corporate training, and most recently HR. Having a varied work background herself (and having developed an awesome professional network) has set Rachel up well to work with our rangatahi as they begin developing their own career pathways.

Rachel joined us as she “wants to share my HR knowledge and work skills with young people to help them into employment.” She says the most rewarding part of her role so far has been “seeing our participants learn, progress, and become more outgoing and sure of themselves as the programme progresses. It feels amazing to be helping make a difference for these young people, and our community.”

What you might not know about Rachel is that she’s a (not-so-secret) Snoopy fan! She says she loves Snoopy’s outlook on life, and has amassed a giant collection of Snoopy memorabilia!


Bronwen our Communications and Marketing Specialist (aka “Chief Storyteller”)

Bronwen Laird – Communications and Marketing  Specialist

Bronwen’s role is officially “Communications and Marketing Specialist” but we call her our “Chief Storyteller”. She’s our resident wordsmith. Her role is to prepare our materials which go out into the community in various ways and forms – for children, schools, parents and whānau, for grant funders and sponsors, and for media and social media.

“My job is really helping to share the story about what we are doing here at Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough. I really enjoy working for organisations whose values align with mine, and the Graeme Dingle Foundation is teaching children about integrity, respect, resilience and positive relationships – as well as the skillsets they need for the communities and workplaces of the future. It’s magic! I’m proud to be involved, and it’s a fantastic story to have the privilege to tell.”

When she’s not writing for us, Bronwen works part-time with a couple of other successful New Zealand companies on their marketing and communications – and she also works hard on her ‘work-life balance’ (especially making sure she keeps time for her family).


Laura Huntley – Office Administrator 

Our Office Administrator role recently changed – to involve more hours as we get busier and busier – and so we have been delighted to welcome Laura on board in this expanded role. Laura hit the ground running, joining us a couple of weeks before our Future of Work Conference – which could rightly be described as a ‘baptism of fire’, but which Laura took completely in her stride. She describes it as A crazy busy time to start at Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough – but I just love the buzz of working at an event, so it was a great time for me to join the team.”

She says she was excited to join the Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough team because “it’s a great opportunity to work with an awesome organisation that do so much to help the young people in our community be the best that they can be.” Her children have all been “Kiwi Can kids” and provide the personal inspiration for Laura to ‘make a difference’. My children are my biggest inspiration. They have faced adversity and some pretty tough situations head on and have bounced back with a strong desire to help others. The strength of connection they have with their Maori heritage – and their sense of belonging within Aotearoa – is something I am very envious of! They inspire me to find my place in the world and make them proud.”

Originally from Bristol (south-west England), Laura has been happy to call Marlborough home since 2014. Laura has a degree in psychology and an events management background. In her ‘pre-motherhood’ life she used to work for a top university in central London – and most recently was running the office at Awatere Early Learning Centre in Seddon. Laura’s role sees her juggling all logistics and administrative tasks, and spearheading event coordination for the team. “Efficient” is her middle name!

Meet our Kiwi Can and Stars Teina Leaders

Aliyah Grey, Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough

Aliyah Grey – Kiwi Can Leader

Before joining the Kiwi Can team Aliyah studied sport and recreation. Through her course she discovered she loved teaching kids in sports such as athletics, basketball and gymnastics. When she heard the role of Kiwi Can Leader had come up back in 2020, she didn’t hesitate to take the next step in her career working with young people.

“It is such a rewarding job being a Kiwi Can Leader! I enjoy working with kids and creating a safe, positive environment for them. I love seeing when kids are happy and look forward to learning. My favourite part of my role is seeing how one Kiwi Can lesson can brighten a child’s day – and even their week.”

Aliyah is a genuine outdoors girl who enjoys swimming, fishing, and hunting. Despite her fear of heights, she has braved bungy jumping, ziplining and jet boating – and her next goal is to go sky diving!


Daniel Brunel, Graeme Dingle Foundation MarlboroughDaniel Brunel – Kiwi Can Leader

Kiwi Can leader Daniel’s bright personality brings a lot of life to Kiwi Can classes. Daniel’s a talented performer – having taken part in a number of theatre productions, including a lead, Juan Peron in ‘Evita’, and starring on TV in “Home Learning” Kiwi Can episodes – and this brings a whole other element to his Kiwi Can lessons.

It’s amazing watching the boost of confidence and knowledge that Kiwi Can provides. It’s super-rewarding and I feel proud to be making a difference for the next generation here in Marlborough. There’s also never a dull day in this job, it’s amazing how thoughtful – and entertaining – the kids can be! I also love being a Kiwi Can Leader because every day is an eye-opening experience for learning and personal growth for me as well.”

 Dan loves spending his free time outdoors. A recent injury caused him to retire his football boots, but you will still find him surfing, swimming, or relaxing at his favourite place – the beach. Dan’s a Marlborough boy through and through, and did his schooling at Richmond View and Marlborough Boys’ College.


Dave Mote, Graeme Dingle Foundation MarlboroughDave Mote – Kiwi Can Leader

Dave’s a Wellingtonian originally, though he has whakapapa links to Ngāi Tahu / Kāi Tahu. His pathway to Kiwi Can came via studying Sports and Exercise Science – and he’s excited to get the kids of Marlborough active and learning.

“I always look for the positives and try to bring a positive attitude to those around me. I really enjoy working with varying abilities and ages to bring out the best in everyone, and I love bringing a group together. I’m stoked to be joining Kiwi Can in 2022 to make a difference for local kids.

When he’s not in the Kiwi Can shirt, Dave’s enjoys all the sports he can fit in in a week and staying very active. You might be surprised to know Dave’s also a talented gamer who never quits – he just hits restart a lot!


Fili (Filimoe’ulie) Moala Fotu, Graeme Dingle Foundation MarlboroughFili (Filimoe’ulie) Moala Fotu – Kiwi Can Leader and Career Navigator Assistant Coordinator

Fili’s a genuine, compassionate leader who creates special bonds with our Kiwi Can kids. You can usually find Fili at the centre of a group of engaged children, with fun and laughter surrounding them.

“I really enjoy working with young people and kids, being a positive role model in their lives. I love helping them build the skills they need to overcome obstacles.”

In 2022 Fili is moving into a dual role, working some of the week in Kiwi Can, and also stepping up to support the Career Navigator Community programme as Assistant Coordinator.

Fili is our resident dance legend and it is no exaggeration to say this guy really has the moves! He comes from a family of 11 and is the second to youngest – although he likes to add his twin sister is only older by 5 minutes!


Kylie Senior, Graeme Dingle Foundation MarlboroughKylie Senior – Stars Teina Leader

Kylie joined the Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough team in 2021 – as a Stars Teina Leader – preparing our Year 7 & 8 students to transition from Kiwi Can to college (where they will join the college Stars programme).

“My favourite part of my role is knowing that what we are teaching is really going to help our young people in their next chapter of their lives. It’s pretty inspirational watching them grow in confidence and capability.”

“I became a Stars Teina Leader because I believe I have something to offer our future generations and community, and truly believe this is a much-needed programme.

Outside of her time in Stars Teina, Kylie also runs ‘Kfit Personal Training’ out of the ‘The PT Collective’ here in Marlborough. She has also formerly worked as a tutor at the Community College working with at-risk youth, using outdoor rec and sport skills to support their learning. Together with her husband and three children they love spending time outdoors, fishing, hunting, hiking and kayaking. As a former top provincial rugby player, and adventure racer it may come as no surprise she’s set herself another big goal – and is currently training to compete in the Coast to Coast!


Lesieli Taufa, Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough

Lesieli Taufa – Kiwi Can Leader

Lesieli is an ex-Kiwi Can student, who has now become a Kiwi Can Leader! Lesieli got to be part of Kiwi Can in her final year at Redwoodtown School and says she saw what a difference it made to student wellbeing.

“It was definitely something we looked forward to each week! It’s cool to be paying it forward now and letting others have that same experience. I joined Kiwi Can because I love connecting with the younger kids and watching them grow. I’m excited to lead them to achieve their goals and understand new things.”

Lesieli was born in Gisborne (and spent her early years there before moving to Marlborough) and proudly describes herself as “full Tongan”. She enjoys hanging out with her family and friends, as well as playing rugby and netball. In fact, when work finishes for the day, Lesieli often swaps her Kiwi Can shirt for a Tasman Mako one – playing in the backs for the Mako Women’s squad.


Lydia Perkins – Kiwi Can Leader

Lydia’s a relative newcomer to Marlborough – though she’s not new to the South Island, having studied and lived in Dunedin previously. We were lucky enough to lure her away from her career in environmental management and she joins the Kiwi Can team this year.

I’ve chosen to become a Kiwi Can Leader so I can be a role model who builds whanaungatanga and creates a positive environment to support tamariki to reach their potential – while having fun and laughing along the way!”

With Lydia’s background in environmental management it is perhaps no surprise that she has a love for all things to do with nature and water. On a sunny day you’re likely to find her swimming or walking her dog. A fun fact about Lydia that might surprise you is that she has travelled to over 30 countries around the world.


Tāne Anderson, Graeme Dingle Foundation MarlboroughTāne Anderson – Kiwi Can Leader

Born and bred Blenheim boy Tāne also joins the team this year, though he’s no stranger to the Graeme Dingle Foundation. In fact, Tāne was a graduate of the Foundation’s “Career Navigator” programme back in 2019!

“After having been involved with the Graeme Dingle Foundation as a student and understanding the positive impact the organisation has, I am excited to have to be a part of the organisation, and see each individual grow through the Kiwi Can programme. I have always wanted to contribute to the lives of local tamariki and give them a few opportunities I was given growing up.”

As an ex Tua Marina School (and Marlborough Boys’ College) student, he’s chuffed to be back at his primary school this year, helping the next generation of Tua Marina kids.

Tāne enjoys spending his time outside of Kiwi Can keeping fit and relaxing in the outdoors and Marlborough​ Sounds with his friends and whānau. Something people might be surprised to know about him is that he’s a bit of champion in the kitchen.


Tii Paulo, Graeme Dingle Foundation MarlboroughTii Paulo – Kiwi Can Leader and Stars Teina Facilitator

Excited to be joining the team in 2022 is Tii – who’ll be working part of the week with our junior primary-school students in Kiwi Can and the remainder with our Year 7 and 8 students in our Stars Teina programme – helping prepare our seniors for the transition to college.

I enjoy helping and being a positive person for young tamariki of the community. Building positive relationships with students and teachers is really important to me.”  

Tii’s also a proud father to 3 beautiful kids and loves spending time with them, especially in outdoor fun. He also modestly says he “enjoys sports”. What he wouldn’t say (because he’s too humble) is that he’s an awesome rugby player – having pulled on his boots for the Samoan team, the Crusaders, French teams Clermont and Lyon, and the Tasman Mako!


Zarya Quitta, Graeme Dingle Foundation MarlboroughZarya Quitta – Kiwi Can Leader

“Ko Ngāpuhi, koWhakatōhea ngā iwi”.

Coming from a large whānau helped drive Zarya’s passion for working alongside tamariki:

“Having a large whānau made a big impact on me. I really enjoy relating to our tamariki, and helping them to be the best they can. Also coming from a small community where opportunities are more limited, I am wanting to show our taiohi, no matter what obstacles there are, that they are able to succeed.”

Zarya moved here to Marlborough from the Hokianga (in Northland) at the start of 2022. Her happy place is the beach or by the river – swimming. She also loves performing and watching Kapa Haka. Zarya always brings her energy to a room – maybe powered by the sweet chilli sauce she loves to have on pretty much everything she eats?!


Brierley Stewart, Graeme Dingle Foundation MarlboroughBrierley Stewart 

Brierley is our Kiwi Can team’s “super-sub”, relieving for us when one of the team is out.

When she’s not in Kiwi Can mode, she’s working on her degree in social work through Te Rau Puawai and Massey University – to get further understanding and skills to help our tamariki to thrive.

 “I got to see a Kiwi Can lesson when my son first started school and knew it was just where I’m meant to be. I’m delighted to join the Kiwi Can ‘waka’ now. I love working with kids and watching them grow to their full potential.”

Originally from Picton, Brierley went to Grovetown and Spring Creek schools, before boarding school at Turakina Māori Girls’ College – rounding out her college years back in Picton, at Queen Charlotte College. She describes herself as having “a huge amount of energy” and loves to sing, play guitar, dance and perform. One thing you might be surprised to discover about Brierley is that she has 2 completely different coloured eyes – one blue and one green! (She was born with them, they’re not trick contact lenses!)


Trustees

Nicki Stretch – Board Chair

Nicki Stretch, Board Chair for Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough

Nicki says she originally became a trustee for Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough because she believes in building strong communities. “We can achieve this in part by helping our young people develop strong social and resilience skills which help them as well as the community they are a part of,” she says.

Nicki’s day job is managing the Churchill Private Hospital and Specialist Centre here in Marlborough. Nicki has enjoyed quite a varied career which started with several years in the trust and financial services industry before moving into banking – and now hospital management. For the past fifteen years she has also held governance positions with charities, and is currently deputy chair of the Marlborough Electric Power Trust as well.

Nicki says the most rewarding thing about her role on the Board is “seeing the positive difference our wonderful team are making in young people’s lives”. As just one example she mentions the Career Navigator graduation ceremony where she “got to see the personal growth in these students over a short period of time. Some that had never spoken in public gave a great speech and brimmed with confidence – truly heart-warming.”

Outside of work, Nicki is an excellent role model for giving things a go. She took up rowing aged 38 and competed at the World Masters Games the following year. She recently took up cricket… and who knows where that will lead!

Karen Draper

Karen Draper, Trustee GDF Marlborough BoardKaren is our Deputy Chair – and the chair of the Audit/Risk committee.

Karen is a Chartered Accountant who has worked in public practice and the corporate sector in both New Zealand and overseas.

Although she has served on various Boards for a number of years previously, she says she thoroughly enjoys the dynamic and the enthusiasm on the Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough board. “I enjoy learning from the other trustees too – you’re never too old to learn! We all have a high level of skill in various aspects of business, which complement each other beautifully.”

Karen’s a true-blue Marlburian, who lives on a vineyard which is next door to where she grew up (with her 90-year old grandma as her neighbour, and her Dad the next house along). So, it’s little surprise that Karen cares deeply about making Marlborough an even better place.

Karen explains I like knowing that the Graeme Dingle Foundation is making a positive impact on the lives of young people in Marlborough. Seeing how the kids interact with the leaders, and how much they enjoy the lessons is wonderful. And as a parent myself, I want to make a difference for our young people and our community.”

Karen’s day job is an Associate at Wallace Diack Chartered Accountants.  She recently rejoined the firm after 7 years corporate experience working in the wine and tourism industries.

Lucy MacLean

Lucy MacLean, Trustee, Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough

Lucy’s day job is “People and Culture Manager” at local, vineyard management and labour supply company, Hortus. Lucy studied commerce at Lincoln University, then found herself drawn to HR – and she has since worked in various facets of HR roles for around twenty years, both in New Zealand and the UK.

Lucy is nothing short of passionate about working in HR and enjoys supporting people to become their best and do great work. She says it is small wonder then that she gravitated towards the Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough! Lucy explains “I love what we do and the difference we are making to our young people. It is awesome seeing Marlborough as a community get behind the mission. So many people, schools, businesses are involved in making it all happen and it is that sense of community that is really rewarding.”

Outside of her day job, family life, spending time with friends, and volunteering, Lucy loves a good adventure. Her most memorable was a month-long trip walking from Aoraki Mount Cook to Arthur’s Pass – an adventure of the more extreme kind, where she says she “almost died a few times!”

Peter Crowe

Peter Crowe, Trustee, GDF Marlborough Board

Peter joined the Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough Board because he is passionate about developing the next generation of ‘leaders’ within our community – and has long been a big supporter of the work of the Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough. He sees that “the lessons the team teach in schools provide the critical building blocks for creating great leaders – and helping our young people reach their potential”.

Peter’s day job is CEO of WineWorks. He is deeply committed to sustainability and driving positive environmental change, and he is very proud that WineWorks has recently become a certified carboNZero organisation. WineWorks has been a sponsor of the Foundation for a number of years, and most recently assisted with producing the range of Borough Wines – a social good enterprise which supports the Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough as it’s charity of choice.

Outside of work, Peter enjoys mountain biking, and loves watching sport (in particular rugby!). Together with his wife Anna and three children, they volunteer at Grovetown Lagoon helping with pest eradication and helping New Zealand achieve its goal of being predator free by 2050.

Kimberley Thomson

Kimberley Thomson, GDF Marlborough BoardWhile she is not originally from Marlborough, Kimberley considers herself a “Marlburian through-and-through”. She currently works as a Senior Business Analyst for a bank, based in their head offices across Wellington and Hamilton – and works primarily on compliance projects. Kimberley explains “I am not formally tertiary educated (I probably could have done with the GDF in my time!) but I do have a degree in commonsense.”

Kimberley came on board as a trustee for the Graeme Dingle Foundation Malborough in 2021, as “I am passionate about unlocking the potential of young people, and a firm believer that there is no one size-fits all approach to being successful – but it begins with resilience and believing in and understanding one’s self-worth.”

Kimberley says her “proudest achievement” is her two beautiful tamariki, Jack and Ava. As well as her family, she also loves adventure-racing, and hopes to compete in the Coast-to-Coast in the next year or two.

Stephen Leitch

SWE Stephen Leitch, GDF Marlborough BoardStephen is the Managing Director and lead design engineer at SWE, a technology and consultancy company in Marlborough – specialising in water engineering, electrical and automation solutions and irrigation. Stephen and the SWE team have always had a strong commitment to “doing the right thing by our staff, clients, community and environment”, so support for the Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough always “felt like a great fit”, he says. SWE are a platinum sponsor, and in 2021 Stephen also volunteered for a seat on the Board.

Stephen explains “the Foundation is helping our young people develop the resilience and self-belief to thrive. As a human being, a father, and an employer, to me that’s vital. I wholeheartedly embrace their vision of ‘thriving young people; strong community’, and am delighted to put my efforts behind helping that become a reality here in Marlborough.”

Stephen has consistently championed sustainability at SWE; culminating in their carboNZero accreditation (from 2017 onwards), numerous awards, and living wage employer status. He also volunteers for the Te Hoiere Bat Recovery Project, and has clocked up over 10,000km on his e-bike in the past four years.

Something you might be surprised to know about Stephen is that although he comes from a line of several generations of engineers, he initially tried to ‘buck the trend’ and trained as a teacher! (He then went on to study dairy effluent design and horticulture, all of which now marry perfectly in his business).

Dave Brown

Dave Brown, GDF Marlborough Board (2021)

Dave’s day job is the head of ‘Business Transformation’ at 2degrees, where his role sees him looking at ways of modernising processes and technologies, and innovating to provide better customer experiences. Despite “never actually knowing what I wanted to do growing up, I semi-meandered my way through my career and into the IT sector which I love”. Dave now has a long background in the IT industry, much of it in the telecommunications industry, but also with spells in the health and financial sectors.

He was drawn to a role on the board having recently moved to Marlborough with two young children soon to be entering the school system. “The younger generations (including my children) now face a number of challenges that didn’t exist when I was their age. I see that the Foundation provides valuable programmes to help in youth development and I’m keen to help ensure that the Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough is still thriving when my children get to enrol – and long beyond!” Dave’s pleased to be able to contribute his skills and knowledge in IT transformation and innovation to the team.

When he’s not at work or helping out with Board duties, Dave keeps busy with family life, running, playing squash – and the no mean feat of completing his MBA!

Something you might be surprised to learn about Dave is that he grew up over 18,000 kilometres away from Marlborough, on a farm in rural Devon (in south-west England).

Sonya Bishara

Sonya Bishara, Trustee, GDF Marlborough Board“Ko Te Arawa te Waka

Ko Tongariro te Maunga

Ko Taupo te Moana

Ko Te Heuheu te Tangata

Ko Ngāti Tūwharetoa te Iwi

Ko Ngāti Manunui te Hapū

Ko Kakahi te Marae

Ko Sonya Bishara tāku ingoa,

No reira, tēnā koutou katoa”

Sonya was born and bred in Marlborough where her mum, dad, and extended whānau still live. Having been to Wairau Valley School and Marlborough Girls’ College, she’s built strong, lifelong relationships within the Marlborough community.

Sonya has played representative level softball and netball, and is now based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara with her husband and their children who are keen learners of te reo Māori.

She supports her parents’ vineyard business in Marlborough, for which she is a co-opted Director, as well as contracting full time in Wellington specialising in human resources, organisational design, cultural competency, and learning and development.

Sonya says she is “truly excited about serving in this incredible organisation and making a difference for our tamariki and rangatahi in Marlborough.”