Our Board

The Drowning Prevention Auckland Board

John Holley - Chairperson

John Holley

John Holley is a senior Operational/ICT professional with a track record of successfully leading and delivering innovative/transformational business change projects. He is currently the IT Operations Manager for Mitre 10 NZ, having previously held a series of executive roles in business technology and ICT.

He is the board chair for Accelerating Auckland was a board member for ChildFund NZ for eight years . He has also been a board chair for for two schools (Henderson North School and Liston College).

He is also a reserve officer in the New Zealand Army. His time with the Army has included a planning officer (and NZ Senior National Officer) for the UN Mission in South Sudan for seven months in 2013/14, and was the planning officer for a NZ Army Battalion in East Timor in 2001/2.

John is a passionate supporter of Auckland rugby and cricket, and the Blues.

Dr Kevin Moran - ONZM

DPA Board Member Kevin Moran


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

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.

Gene Watene
Gene Watene is an advocate with a particular passion for family centric water safety and lowering the drowning rate of under five year olds.

Gene brings extensive co-ordination and leadership skills from his long careers in both the construction and roading industries, particularly from his current role as shift manager for Fonterra Takanini. Growing up in West Auckland, Gene fostered a life-long connection to water, from kai gathering with his family as a child to teaching himself to surf at the age of 19. This led to work as a surfing instructor/coach at Muriwai Surf School. His local beach is now Okahu Bay in East Auckland where he and his family swim and participate in waka ama and stand-up paddle boarding.

Part of Gene’s role on the Drowning Prevention Auckland board will be representing the Tāmaki Makaurau iwi Ngāti Whātua from his father as well as Ngāti Porou iwi from Tolaga Bay on the East Coast, on his mother’s side. His vision for Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland is to see more families enjoying the water around them while safely building their children’s water confidence and competence. He taught his own sons to swim at a young age and has always encouraged friends and family to do the same.

Dr Sapna Samant

Sapna Samant

Dr Sapna Samant is a medical professional, company director and creative head. After practising as a GP in India for nine years, Sapna requalified in New Zealand by 2012. She has a particular interest in the health of migrants and refugees, youth, and Māori and Pasifika communities.

With a Master’s degree in Film, Television and Media Studies from the University of Auckland, Sapna is also a creative. She worked as a freelance producer for Radio New Zealand from 2002 to 2009 and started her own media company in 2006. Her background includes writing and producing radio shows, short films and documentaries, predominantly telling stories about ethnic migrants and refugees. Sapna’s work has been nominated for and won awards, and her first short film as a writer-director was screened at five film festivals across the world.

Sapna is passionate about creating community and promoting representation. She has volunteered for Refugees As Survivors NZ, and worked on projects with the Auckland City Council. In 2018, Sapna established the Ruru Charitable Trust for the purpose of empowering and enabling ethnic creatives within the arts sector in New Zealand.

Outside work, Sapna enjoys spending time outdoors, practising yoga and meditation, reading, travelling and photography.

Jo Fagan

Jo Fagan

BSc (Hons) Accounting and Modern Languages, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA)

Jo is the Finance and Shared Services Director for Amnesty International Aotearoa. She has over 25 years of finance experience working with not-for-profit and corporates in the UK and NZ. During this time she has led, managed and mentored teams in other business areas like HR, governance, legal and fundraising.

She has ten years board experience having served as a board member and treasurer for ME Support (Auckland), former board chair at Northcote Intermediate and a board member for Birkenhead Primary.

Describing herself as a life-long learner, Jo enjoys upskilling and the opportunity to mentor and pass on her knowledge. She also has a personal and professional interest in employment law, neurodiversity, equality, human rights and helping people in need.

The ability to cut through detail and provide concise advice is something Joanne prides herself on. Her peers say she is pragmatic, optimistic, authentic and collaborative.

Health and safety and team wellness have been strong priorities for Jo throughout her career. She is also a fluent French speaker.

Kate Holtmeier

Kate Holtmeier

MBA International Business, BA Communications and Marketing

Kate is an Executive Consultant at KH Consulting. She works with executive teams to develop customer strategy. Her role includes identifying customer pain points and analysing opportunities for improving the customer’s journey with the organisation.

Moving from the US to NZ in 2007, she has spent over 15 years in customer experience and strategy roles with companies like IAG, Air New Zealand and Vodafone New Zealand.

Kate describes herself as having an energised communication style and is passionate about creating and sustaining an engaged and empowered culture.

As a member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors, Kate is experienced in being a committed and responsive board member.

In her leisure time, Kate loves to keep active. She grew up in Minnesota, where she was a successful swimmer – setting her first national age group record at age 10. This swimming ability secured her a full swimming scholarship for her undergraduate degree. Kate and her husband are keen members of North Harbour Triathlon Club.

Richard Pamatatau

Richard Pamatatau

(BA (Auckland); Cert Tertiary Teaching)

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.

Ireen Rahiman-Manuel
Ireen Rahiman-Manuel is an International Development Consultant, strategist and trusted advisor. She is the founder and director of Impactdev360, as well as family-led construction business Rapid Builders and Renovators in Auckland. With a strong background in project management and leadership, Ireen oversees a specialist development policy and planning team. She has managed programmes in various areas including health, education, environment, tourism and agriculture, and continues to work alongside leading agencies in Europe, New Zealand, Australia and across the Pacific.

Ireen completed a Masters of International Development, Sustainability Studies and Change Management from Massey University, and holds a Certification in Improvement and Change Management from Te Whatu Ora (Counties Manukau). She has also received several awards, including the Le Tautua Pasifika Leadership Programme Award, and a scholarship from the Women in Advanced Leadership Programme.

Ireen was previously elected to Auckland Council, where she co-chaired the Climate Change Working Group and sat on the Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel. Ireen has served many other organisations as an advisor and consultant, which included her role as CEO of the Pacific Society for Reproductive Health in 2018.

Melino Maka

Melino Maka

Melino Maka is the Managing Director of Pasefika Solutions, with a strong background in business management and policy development. He is a leader within the Pacific community, which has involved advising New Zealand Parliament and non-governmental organisations on fostering bilateral relationships with Tonga.

With qualifications in Business Administration and Management, Melino has provided guidance to numerous Boards and Councils in the past. From 2001 to 2004, Melino was the Chair of Tonga Cyclone Relief, and was a member of the Ha’apai Cyclone Relief Committee in 2014. Melino has served as the Cultural Advisor to the NZ Rugby League and continues to serve as an Advisor to the Tonga National Rugby League Board.

Melino currently holds several positions, including Chair of the Tongan Advisory Council Charitable Trust, the President of Huelo Alzheimer’s Tonga, and he is a life member of the New Zealand Pacific Business Council.

Outside of these commitments, Melino enjoys sports, gardening and spending time with family.

Behishta Najibi

Behishta Najibi

Bachelor of Law and Politics (LLB)

Behishta is of Afghan descent, and is now proud to call Aotearoa, New Zealand home.

Before her move to NZ, Behishta spent her early career in procurement roles for the US Embassy and the US Agency for International Development. Her roles at USAID were in teams with an agriculture and livestock focus. These organisations support vulnerable farm communities to overcome global supply challenges and increase local food production. Her procurement positions have given her good levels of people and admin organisation, an analytical focus and a team spirit.
Since arriving in NZ, Behishta’s roles have had a strong people focus. Her work with English Language Partners involved preparing lessons and giving support to youth and families learning English as a second language. More recently Behishta has worked with New Settlers Family & Community Trust supporting refugees as they settle into their new lives.

Behishta is experienced in event management; she has also enjoyed time as a relationship coach for young people and led youth sports and recreational activities. She feels passionate about being a key part of positive change and equity in her community.

Outside work, Behishta is interested in creative pursuits, having completed courses in animation and music, and photography and storytelling.

Hannah Ross

Hannah Ross

BA (hons) Politics, PgDip Communication Studies (majoring in PR), IAP2 Certificate in Community Engagement

Hannah manages communication and engagement for Eke Panuku Development Auckland – the Auckland Council-controlled organisation responsible for delivering urban regeneration in Tāmaki Makaurau.

Throughout her career Hannah has delivered creative outside-the-box campaigns for companies in the corporate, consumer, government and not-for-profit sectors, leveraging her skills in media relations, community engagement, strategic planning and marketing communications. A number of campaigns have caught the eye of judges here and abroad, landing nine award wins so far including a highly commended in the Sally Logan-Milne Young Practitioner of the Year at the 2018 Public Relations Institute of NZ Awards.

Hannah brings her sought-after skills and personality – strategic thinking, planning, resilience, flexibility and adaptability – to every team and project she is engaged in.

She joins the board permanently after spending a year as a board intern and health, culture and wellbeing committee member with DPA from September 2020.