Our Board

The Drowning Prevention Auckland Board

Dr Denise Atkins - Chairperson

Dr Denise Atkins

Date of Appointment

2011 Board member
2014 Appointed Chairperson


Finance and Risk, Sponsorship.

Professional Background:

Senior Lecturer & Academic Development Advisor, School of Sport and Recreation, Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, AUT University


PhD, MEdLM [Hons], CertMM, Dip Tchg

Skills and Experience:

Denise is an experienced director having demonstrated governance and leadership skills in several not-for-profit organisations. Denise is able to advocate both at a policy and practice level across sectors within Government departments, having previously worked as a senior advisor for the Ministry of Education and as a consultant to educational organisations. A strong proponent of the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Denise models practice in both the workplace and everyday life. Denise has had experience leading and managing teams within higher education and schooling. In 2005-2007 Denise was responsible for implementing the Physical Activity Initiative working in partnership with the Ministry of Health and SportNZ (formerly SPARC. Denise has a passion for education and as such she is committed to supporting initiatives using evidence based practice in injury and drowning prevention.

Dr Kevin Moran - ONZM

DPA Board Member Kevin Moran


  1. Drowning Prevention Auckland Inc (DPA)
  2. Surf Lifesaving New Zealand
  3. University of Auckland


Brief Bio


Kevin is a recently retired Principal Lecturer in Physical Education at the Faculty of Education, University of Auckland. Kevin has had a lifelong commitment to drowning prevention as a lifeguard, researcher, and educator. He has been a frontline surf lifeguard for over 50 years, still currently patrolling one of New Zealand’s rugged west coast beaches at Muriwai, near Auckland where he has been awarded Life Membership. In 2010 he was awarded a Distinguished Service Award by Surf Life Saving New Zealand and Surf Life Saving Northern.

Professional positions include: member of the International Advisory Committee for the WHO 2014 Drowning Report; member of the International Lifesaving Federation (ILS) Research and Information Committee; Co-chair of the International Task Force on Open Water Drowning Prevention; foundation member of the New Zealand Drowning Prevention Council, and Foundation Chairman of Watersafe Auckland Inc (WAI) from 1994-2012.
In 2014 he was awarded the Water Safety New Zealand Award for his “outstanding contribution to water safety” and the 2014 Irish Medal by the Lifesaving Foundation in international recognition of “his exceptional contribution to the saving of lives from drowning.” He was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year’s Honours list 2015 for “services to water safety”.

He is the author of two books on water safety and drowning prevention, has published 50+ papers in international journals, and presented 60+ papers at more than 20 international conferences in the last decade.

Anne Degia-Pala - QSM

Anne Degia-Pala

Date of Appointment:


Sub Committee:

Health & Safety

Professional Background

Anne Degia-Pala QSM, MInstD., GDipNFP is a civil society leader with over 20 years  management, governance and leadership experience in the education, community, NGO, government, and corporate sectors.  Over the course of her career, Anne has demonstrated a passion for philanthropy while playing a pivotal role in building, supporting and driving community initiatives as an ethnic women contributor on various government, public and nongovernmental organisations. As a passionate community and social inclusion advocate, Anne is committed to co-design wellbeing in collaboration with various partners to enhance social, cultural and environmental rights in New Zealand and internationally. Anne is currently a member of the National Lottery Community Committee and Outdoor Safety Committee  Department of Internal Affairs and a board member of Make A Wish Foundation Pacific. She is a founding member of the Auckland Council Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel, past Chair of Waitakere Ethnic Board, board member at Generosity NZ and Safer Communities Waitakere. Anne adds a diversity lens to her vision to create change through collective impact and strategic leadership. She is a Company Director of WinMac Solutions Ltd and a Trustee of NixCrew Road Safety Inc. Anne is a Member of the Institute of Public Administration and the Institute of Directors.

 In 2007 she was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for her work with women and children and she has continued her work for women, children and safer communities.

Anne has showcased her commitment towards honouring the core values and principles of New Zealand Aotearoa’s cultural diversity, Te Tiriti o Waitangi and everything that encompasses the New Zealand spirit. 

Skills and Experience

Qualifications in Board Governance, Not for Profit Management and Community Led Development
Events planning and project management skills
Inclusive, collaborative strategic leadership experience
Skills in Public policy and research
Funding, grant making, data-base development and information management skills

Richard Pamatatau

Richard Pamatatau


(BA (Auckland); Cert Tertiary Teaching)

Skills & Experience

Richard is a journalism academic at AUT University, teaching at both under and post-graduate levels in the School of Communication Studies, part of the Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies. He teaches media law and ethics, writing, the reporting of public and political bodies and broadcasting. He researches identity, media strategy, death and ritual, social media and how public policy is framed in the media landscape. Outside of the University, Richard is on the Auckland Museum and Red Cross Pacific Advisory Boards and is a former member of the Auckland Council Pacific Peoples Advisory Panel. He has been a surf lifeguard, long distance triathlete and spends as much as time possible sailing. Richard is passionate about Auckland and want to be in a place where people are able to use and play in its many water environments with safety top of mind.

Sandie Gusscott

Board member Sandi Gusscott


M Ed (Ed Mgt) Hons, Dip Sci Ed, TTC

Skills and Experience

Sandie Gusscott is an independent director with a background in education and business. She has been General Manager Education at Auckland UniServices Limited and more recently Acting Chief Executive Officer at WaterSafe Auckland. Her governance roles include Director at WaterSafe Auckland since 2014 and Councillor at Waikato Institute of Technology since 2015.

Sandie has strength in business growth and development nationally and internationally and works with organisations to put in place the critical steps to achieve organisational objectives for success and growth. She has proven governance skills in particular in the areas of leadership, change management, strategic direction, financial management, relationship management and business acumen. She is a member of the Institute of Directors and Appoint Better Boards.

Sandie has a passion for water sports and keeping safe carrying out these activities. She champions the cause of WaterSafe Auckland to prevent drowning through education so that we can have an Auckland free from drowning.

Melanie Sharma-Barrow

Melanie runs Ludo Consulting which consults to organisations regarding cultural relationships. She has a particular passion for bridging differences and helping people collaborate in the workplace with diverse outlooks.

She is a key practitioner and speaker in the field of diversity and inclusion and trusted adviser. She is proud to be offering her skills to the education, media, dental, retail sectors and more.

Melanie previously worked for a community organization in Auckland as a volunteer and learning and development facilitator, in which she was thrown in at the deep end of the social issues and concerns of New Zealand.

Alongside her professional work, she is also an activist and has a sturdy track record of holding organisations to account.

Melanie studied at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences from which she gained an LLB in Laws. She became a UK qualified solicitor in 2003 and enjoyed a vibrant and varied career in international finance and regulation. 

Melanie recalls her fear of the water aged 7 and still remembers the day she first swam 25 meters with a swimming instructor after a lot of encouragement! Through her work in culture she is sensitive to the intersectionality of water, culture and communities and is delighted to be part of Drowning Prevention Auckland to share her skills. 

Hannah Ross

Board Intern

Hannah is an accomplished communications professional with a decade of experience in corporate, consumer, government and not-for-profit sectors.

Growing up in Tāmaki Makaurau, she’s never been far from water. However, she understands how dangerous our oceans, waterways and swimming pools can be, even when they appear safe, and is conscious of the need for greater awareness of the risks and communication of strategies to get out of a sticky situation.

She is driven to use her skills in external relations, media relations, strategic planning, advocacy, community engagement and marketing communications to help Aucklanders have fun in, on and around the water, safely.

She holds a BA (hons) from the University of Auckland and a Postgrad Diploma in Communication from Auckland University of Technology.