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”


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 + Kiwi Can Coordinator

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.

Debbie Fisher, Graeme Dingle Doundation MarlboroughDebbie Fisher – Kiwi Can Coordinator

Debbie joined the team in 2023 as our Kiwi Can Coordinator to support, mentor, and work alongside our amazing team of Kiwi Can Leaders. Debbie’s early career was in the corporate world, but after having her own children, she realised that teaching was her passion. She retrained and has since chalked up thirteen years teaching experience in the early childhood sector, across a variety of roles.

“I firmly believe that our tamariki and rangatahi are the best kaitiaki (guardians) of our beautiful country, and as such need a kete full of tools and strategies to not only overcome life’s obstacles but to take themselves and us into the future. The Kiwi Can programme and its core values are the perfect way to make this happen and I couldn’t be prouder to play a role in this.”

Although born and bred in Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland, Blenheim has been home to Debbie, her husband Grant (and their three rescue dogs!) for the last six years, and Debbie is here to stay. She says she enjoys the “quality of life here in what we consider to be our little slice of paradise”. Debbie is all about making the most of life, and making a difference, and her favourite saying is “Don’t count the years – make the years count”.

Tash Leov, Graeme Dingle Foundation MarlboroughTash Leov – Stars Teina Coordinator

Tash joined the team in 2022, but it wasn’t her first taste of working with the Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough. She’d previously been involved with the Foundation as a facilitator for our Stars Camps at the Outward Bound site at Anakiwa and had seen first-hand the energy, enthusiasm, as well as the impact the team were having. In 2023 Tash has stepped into our Stars Teina Coordinator role, leading the Stars Teina team and preparing our Year 7 & 8 students to transition effectively from their primary school years to college.  

“I’m all about helping others learn more tools for their toolbox, which is exactly what Stars Teina does! It’s exciting to work with the tamariki of Marlborough on their skills, strategies and knowledge they need to set them up for life. After all, he mana tō te kupu – where thought goes, energy flows!”

Born and bred in Marlborough (the Rai Valley, in fact) Tash has a special connection with Marlborough, but also loves exploring elsewhere too. Outside of work she loves hiking, kayaking, sailing and road trips – basically anything outdoors and in nature! One thing people might be surprised to know about Tash is that she speaks “passable Swedish” and was the school mascot for her uni in Perth!

Gemma Miller, Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough

Gemma 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! 

Craig Harper, Graeme Dingle Foundation MarlboroughCraig Harper – Toroa Career Navigator Coordinator

Having previously cycled the length of Aotearoa to raise funds for Graeme Dingle Foundation (non-stop in a record-breaking under 4½ days we might add!) – it felt like a natural fit for Craig to join the team ‘officially’! Craig’s official title is the ‘Industry Coordinator’ for our Toroa Career Navigator programme. This sees him not only working with our unemployed rangatahi, but also our local employers, both of whom can benefit from developing that two-way connection.

Craig is incredibly passionate about youth development, and fervently believes “all people are capable of becoming great people” given the right tools and someone to be there for them. His philosophy is that “it’s not what we are that holds us back, it’s what we think we are not.” He says he’s excited to be joining the dynamic team who are out there making a positive difference to so many young lives.

An ultra-endurance cycling legend, Craig is well-known for his sporting exploits and his resilience. When he’s not competing in high-performance sport, he has spent most of his adult life working as a qualified carpenter / builder. What you might not know about Craig is he also has a diploma in business studies (with a major in sport management and coaching) and is a qualified chef!

Megan Slape – Toroa Career Navigator Coordinator

Megan is our Youth Coordinator for the Toroa Programme, working with our unemployed rangatahi. She is a qualified early childhood teacher and behaviour specialist, and was most recently working as a health coach in the primary mental health sector.

“When I heard Rachel [Rodger] talk about the programme I thought that’s where I want to be! I’m excited to be working with the Graeme Dingle Foundation supporting the youth potential. The team is fab, and the students are stars. It’s an inspiring thing to be part of!”

Megan’s a born and bred Marlborough girl, who grew up in Seddon. Fittingly though (given her childhood dream was to be a National Geographic photographer travelling the world!) – she worked in UK, Europe and Australia before settling back down in her hometown. If she had her choice of superpowers, she would like to be able to teleport, using teleportation to zip to other countries and enjoy the local food. Outside of work Megan loves tramping and hanging out with her faithful dog, Floss.

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).

Keri Lankshear, Graeme Dingle Foundation MarlboroughKeri Lankshear – Office Manager

Keri took up the reins as Office Manager here in early 2023. She says she was excited to join the Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough team because “it’s a great opportunity to join a passionate group of people, working collectively to bring Marlborough’s young people such fantastic programmes. I wish this had existed when our boys were at school!”

Raised in Blenheim she moved “overseas” (to Wellington) in her early twenties with her husband Paddy. They came back to Blenheim in 2004 with their (then) two small boys to be closer to both sides of their families. Career-wise, she’s had interesting roles in the banking, legal and real estate sectors and, on returning to Marlborough, also worked for a number of years for a large wine company.

Keri’s Office Manager role sees her juggling logistics, financial and administrative tasks, as well as helping with event coordination for the team – and almost everything else you can imagine to keep us operating like a well-oiled engine. Luckily “efficient” is her middle name! “I love the energetic nature of the team! Everyone is genuinely so fired up about what they do, and making a difference for our young people and community. No two days are ever the same around here!

When she’s not in the office, Keri loves travelling, spending time in the Sounds with family and friends, and reformer pilates. One thing you might be surprised to know about her? She is an avid crocheter!

Heather Haronga, Graeme Dingle Foundation MarlboroughHeather Haronga – Programme Support

Heather is our vital Programme Support person, providing invaluable support to our Toroa Career Navigator programme. She makes sure there are no obstacles to our rangatahi getting the most out of their programme, and is Rachel and Megan’s right-hand woman! Nothing is ever too much trouble for Heather and she simply gets things done without fuss or fanfare. In her previous working life she had a more corporate career, working as PA in both the legal and banking industries.

“Since having my children, my priorities have taken a big turn, and I now love working for organisations whose values are all about helping people and making a difference. I see the benefits our young people get from the support of the Graeme Dingle Foundation, and I love working here. We are lucky to have outstanding staff who really believe in what they do. There’s never a dull moment!”

Heather is a born and bred Blenheim girl, who moved away to Wellington and progressed her career there, until the call of family and Marlborough saw her return home in recent years. When she’s not busy keeping everything ship-shape workwise, you can often find Heather cheering her children on from the side of the sports field, or court. One thing you might be surprised to know about Heather is that she has had seven broken bones – but no plans to increase the tally, we hope! (She may have to be relegated to sideline support for our touch rugby team!)

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!

Chantelle “Chonnie” Galvin – Kiwi Can Leader

Chonnie Galvin, Graeme Dingle Foundation MarlboroughExcited to be joining the team in 2023 is Chonnie!

Chonnie was born in Christchurch and lived in many different places around the South Island. She ended up in Marlborough many years ago, on what was to be a stop-off en-route to a road trip around Australia – but she liked Picton so much, she stayed on, and the rest is history!

Chonnie comes from an early childhood background, having worked for over fifteen years in childcare. She is excited to turn her passion for working with young people to working with primary-aged tamariki through the Kiwi Can programme.

“I love working with youth and want to help them become the best version of themselves. Kiwi Can is such a great way for me to help make a difference in the world.  Graeme Dingle Foundation Marlborough has such a positive impact on not only on students, but the community as a whole. That’s super inspiring.”

A creative person at heart, Chonnie loves to dance and says her “rule is you have to dance a little bit in the morning before you leave the house because it changes the way you walk out into the world”! Something you might be surprised to know about her is that she is also a qualified make-up artist and trained barista too!

Courtney King, Graeme Dingle Foundation MarlboroughCourtney King – Kiwi Can Leader

Courtney joined the Kiwi Can team in 2022, keen to help our tamariki thrive. One of her core values is kindness, so she has always gravitated towards work where she can help others and show kindness. She remembers vividly the first time she saw Kiwi Can in action:

“What I saw when I watched a Kiwi Can lesson for the first time was how engaged the children were – and how excited they were to come to Kiwi Can. Some said it was the highlight of their week”. 

Courtney has family ties to the Havelock community, but lives in Renwick these days with her family. Outside of work she loves playing netball in the weekends and spending time outdoors. Her biggest fear is spiders – which she freely admits to being terrified of!

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.

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!

Pita McDonald, Graeme Dingle Foundation MarlboroughPita McDonald – Stars Teina Facilitator

Pita has moved to Marlborough from the West Coast after successfully facilitating the Cactus programme in schools for the Westland rohe. He began his early career in the military – which he credits with helping him understand discipline, practise hard work, and start his journey of self-discovery. After leaving the military he went on to work in outdoor education, as a Māori mentor, youth worker, support worker, and youth advocate.

He has become a Stars Teina Facilitator as he believes growth is an important part of life, which can be “hard and challenging” at times. “I believe that building a connection with some good people, both school friends and adults can make a massive impact at those hard times.”

Pita was born in the “great wee town of Hunterville” and grew up in Palmerston North and Feilding before moving to various places around Tē Wai Pounamu. Outside of work Pita enjoys adventuring, challenges, mountain biking, carving, reading, drawing and being physically challenged. His favourite mantra is: “Who’s gonna carry the boats and the logs?!”

Saxon Wolfe, Graeme Dingle Foundation MarlboroughSaxon Wolfe – Kiwi Can Leader

Saxon joined the Kiwi Can team in 2023, and says that although her career path initially took her in a different direction, she has always wanted to work with kids since she was a child herself. After leaving school Saxon worked in retail and hospitality. She honed some mean barista skills along the way, and worked her way up to café management and head barista roles in two iconic local companies. She says she really enjoyed customer service and working in a team – but the sense that her calling was to work with children never left her. Saxon is excited to take the plunge into following her dream now.

“I want to make a difference, be someone who helps children learn the skills and values they need to achieve whatever they put their minds to. I think the Graeme Dingle Foundation has a massive positive impact on children. The team really cares about making futures brighter and empowering kids to believe in themselves and others. I wanted to be a part of that!”

Although she was born in Auckland, she moved to Renwick when she was just one year old – so classes herself as a Marlburian, and has lived here ever since. Saxon is a proud graduate of Renwick School and Marlborough Girls’ College. Something that might surprise people about Saxon is she is a huge fan of kids’ movies – with The Grinch her current favourite.

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.

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?!

Emma Null, Graeme Dingle Foundation MarlboroughEmma Null – Kiwi Can Leader

Emma’s a born and bred Blenheim girl and excited to be helping the next generation of Marlborough kids reach their full potential.

“I’m a people person and love learning about and working with others. I’m excited to be able to directly make a difference in children and young people’s lives by giving them tools to cope in our ever-changing world (that is sometimes extremely hard to navigate). I want Marlborough children to know that it is ok to make mistakes and for things to be hard, but to have to skills and knowledge to know how to cope.”

Something people might be surprised to know about Emma is that she’s an artist! So when she’s not in the Kiwi Can shirt Emma’s often knee-deep in creative pursuits. She’s studied floristry and botanical illustration and enjoys creating flower arrangements and growing her own flowers. Her inspiring philosophy is “be brave – what’s the best that could happen?!”

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!)


Peter Crowe – Board Chair

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.

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.

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.”