Simon is a diplomat with extensive international background in negotiation and relationship management.
Simon Draper is an experienced diplomat with an extensive international background in negotiation and relationship management.
He joined the Foundation in September 2015, coming from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) where he has worked in various roles since 1991. Most recently he held the role of director United Nations, Human Rights and Commonwealth Division. In this role, he managed New Zealand’s engagement and policy with the United Nations in New York, the Human Rights Council in Geneva, and the Commonwealth in London. A key part of the role was to drive New Zealand's successful campaign for a United Nation's Security Council seat.
Simon has held several other leadership positions within MFAT, including New Zealand’s Consul-General to French Pacific Territories (2008-2011), director of the chief executive' s office (2005-2008) and foreign policy adviser to Rt Hon Simon Upton. Before joining MFAT, he worked in the banking and consultancy sectors. He speaks working level Korean, French and Italian.
Deputy Executive Director
Adele joined the Foundation in a management role and later became deputy executive director.
In Adele’s role as deputy executive director she manages the corporate and governance responsibilities of the Foundation and takes a coordinating role across programmes. She also oversees the Leadership Network and entrepreneurship programme.
Previously, Adele worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, with postings in Moscow, Brussels, New York and Singapore (with accreditation responsibilities to Sri Lanka and the Maldives). Adele has also lived and worked in Hong Kong. During a secondment to Victoria University of Wellington, Adele worked on establishing the New Zealand Centre for Strategic Studies, a think tank responsible for research, teaching and public dialogue on strategic and security issues.
Sunita joined the Foundation in 2007. She has worked in both the private and public sectors.
Sunita joined the Foundation in 2007 in the role of accountant. She has a BCA in commerce from Victoria University of Wellington, and has previously worked in Australia and England across both the private and public sectors.
Paula provides assistance to the executive director and the chairman.
Paula provides assistance to the executive director and the chairman. She has been with the Foundation since 2003. She is a management team member of the Professional Assistants to Chief Executive organisation (www.pace.org.nz).
As an AFS exchange student, Paula spent a year living in Malaysia; an experience that had a significant impact on her life.
Senior Adviser Research and Engagement
James has an academic background in Asian languages, political science, and commerce.
Dr James To has an academic background in Asian languages (Mandarin, Cantonese, and Japanese), political science, and commerce. He has lectured in Northeast Asian foreign policy, and is an active researcher of the overseas Chinese diaspora.
After completing his PhD in international relations at the University of Canterbury, James worked for NZTE at the New Zealand pavilion during the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai. He was a co-chair of the Palmerston North branch of the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, and is currently National Secretary of the New Zealand Chinese Association.
In his spare time, James enjoys spending time with his young family, taking photographs, and developing smartphone apps.
Craig Cooper has worked in the arts sector for almost 20 years in Australia and NZ.
Craig Cooper has worked in the arts sector for almost 20 years in both Australia and New Zealand in a variety of roles.
As a producer and programmer he has worked at Sydney Opera House, Christchurch’s Court Theatre and more recently he headed the arts development programmes at Auckland Live as associate director arts programmes and later as programming manager. He also led the establishment of Auckland Fringe in 2009 where he was a founding board member.
Craig also has extensive experience in the council and funding sector as a cultural development officer, adviser and assessor. During his time with Sydney’s Inner West Council, he established the Newtown Entertainment Precinct and laid the groundwork for Sydney Fringe Festival. He was also senior programme adviser with Creative New Zealand, holding the national theatre portfolio and has been commissioned for a variety of consulting roles, most recently by Ministry for Culture and Heritage to undertake a post-earthquake study of the venue requirements for Christchurch city in 2014.
In 2014 Craig was appointed to the role of festival director of Christchurch Arts Festival for the 2015 and 2017 festivals, events that played a key role in the cultural recovery of the city after the 2011 earthquakes. In 2015 he was appointed by the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust as artistic director of both the International Arts Festival and Right Royal Cabaret Festivals.
Director Communications and Media
Rebecca has been working on media initiatives for the Foundation since 2011.
Rebecca Inoue-Palmer has been working on media initiatives for the Asia New Zealand Foundation since 2011 and was the first manager of the Asia Media Centre when it was established in 2017.
Before joining the Asia New Zealand Foundation, Rebecca worked at The Dominion Post for eight years as a feature writer and a reporter. While at Fairfax NZ, Rebecca undertook work placements at the Asahi Shimbun in Tokyo, Japan, and the Shanghai Daily in China, both supported by the Foundation. She previously worked as a teaching fellow in Chinese at the University of Otago, coordinating papers in film and Chinese language.
Rebecca has a Master of Arts with first-class honours in Chinese and a graduate diploma in journalism.
Yasheeka is a former secondary school teacher.
Yasheeka Bertram is a foodie with a teaching background. She completed a Bachelor of Arts (with honours) in Education from the University of Auckland and has a post-graduate diploma in Teaching. Yasheeka taught at secondary-school level for six years and specialised in teaching Social Sciences and Health. Her interest in Asia began when she started studying Japanese at school and attended a class trip to Japan.
Sean is a former secondary school teacher who joined the Foundation in 2014.
Sean O'Connor joined the team in 2014 after being associated with the Foundation as a participant in the 2013 Business Studies Forum in Shanghai.
A secondary school teacher of economics, business and social studies, he has experience in organising school cultural exchanges in Asia and has been the leader of professional development trips for educators. Sean formerly managed the Foundation’s Educators Network, before taking on the role of Director of the Education programme.
Director Leadership and Entrepreneurship
Adam manages the leadership and entrepreneurship programmes where he equips the next generation of Kiwi leaders and entrepreneurs to thrive in Asia.
Adam McConnochie manages the leadership and entrepreneurship programmes where he equips the next generation of Kiwi leaders and entrepreneurs to thrive in Asia.
Adam has a MA in history from Victoria University, where he specialised in Indian politics. Before joining the Foundation, Adam worked in the public service in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
He is passionate about the development of South and Southeast Asia and is strategic adviser and board member at start-up charity, Just Peoples and a director and health and beauty start-up, Bubble Fabulous.
Director Business, Director Auckland
Felicity joined the Foundation in November 2017. She has over 10 years’ experience in diplomacy.
Felicity Roxburgh joined the Foundation as Director of Business in November 2017.
She has over ten years’ experience in diplomacy, with a focus on advancing political, security and economic outcomes for New Zealand in Asia. She has lived in China and undertaken overseas assignments in Hong Kong and New York through the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
As Acting Consul-General in Hong Kong she worked to develop connections between Hong Kong and New Zealand businesses and to help remove barriers to trade. In New York, Felicity served during New Zealand’s time on the UN Security Council, focusing particularly on peace and security issues affecting the Asia-Pacific region.
Felicity has a Master’s degree in Journalism from AUT University, speaks French and beginner Mandarin.
Receptionist and Accounts
Liz covers the reception at the Foundation as well as accounts payable and receivable and general administration.
Liz covers the reception at the Foundation as well as accounts payable and receivable and general administration. Prior to joining the Foundation in September 2013, Liz worked in secretarial and accounts roles in between bringing up two sons.
Project Coordinator Internships
BB is the Auckland team administrator and helps to run the business internships programme.
Before joining the Foundation, BB had previously worked as a programme coordinator in Korea where she managed volunteer programmes. This included sending domestic students overseas, to mainly Asian countries such as China, India, the Philippines. Prior to this, she had completed a double master’s degree (International development & Public policy). Her degree allowed her to study throughout Asia, Korea (KDI school public policy and Management), China (Tsinghua University) and Japan (National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies).
BB is able to speak Korean, Mandarin and some Japanese. She moved to New Zealand two years ago and says she has loved the experience so far, and hopes to explore more of New Zealand in the future.
Ned joined the Foundation in 2015. He has lived and worked in Taiwan and China.
Ned Wotherspoon joined the Foundation in 2015 after working for a number of years creating website content for the government agency Careers New Zealand. He has previously worked as a journalist, and has lived and worked in Taiwan and China.
Ned has a BA in English Literature from Victoria University of Wellington and a Graduate Dipploma in Journalism from Massey University.
Director Research and Engagement
Suzannah Jessep joined the Foundation in March 2019, after serving as New Zealand’s Deputy High Commissioner to India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Deputy Ambassador to Nepal and as New Zealand’s Deputy …
Suzannah Jessep joined the Foundation in March 2019, after serving as New Zealand’s Deputy High Commissioner to India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Deputy Ambassador to Nepal and as New Zealand’s Deputy High Commissioner to Vanuatu. During her thirteen years in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, she also served in the Ministry’s Australia, Pacific and Europe Divisions, and in the area of Antarctic and security policy. Prior to working in the Foreign Ministry, Suzannah worked briefly in film production and is a section winner in New Zealand’s World of Wearable Arts Awards. She is a honours graduate of International Relations and Art History from Victoria University of Wellington and recipient of the Alan Robinson Memorial Prize awarded to the top International Relations student. Suzannah is passionate about Asia, and in particular building New Zealand’s connections with the fast-growing and dynamic South Asia.
Senior Adviser Research and Engagement
Karen has an academic background in Psychology, Statistics and Public Health.
Karen Schwoerer has an academic background in Psychology, Statistics and Public Health. She joined the Foundation’s research programme in August 2018.
Karen has more than a decade’s experience working in Public Health research and communications, most extensively in Māori health.
Karen is passionate about well conceptualised research, from its conception to the communication of research findings. Karen has an ability to draw people together to work towards a common goal, working easily with people from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Outside of work, Karen enjoys running around the coastlines and hills of Wellington and after her two daughters, travelling and seeking out the perfect flat white.
Tania Te Whenua (Tūhoe, Whakatōhea) is the principal of Te Whenua Law and Consulting.
Tania Te Whenua (Tūhoe, Whakatōhea) is the principal of Te Whenua Law and Consulting, assisting organisations to realise a commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi and to engage confidently with Māori culture, clients and key stakeholders.
Tania also specialises in supporting Māori social and economic development and has specialist legal expertise in Māori Land Law, Waitangi Tribunal and Māori Business. Tania is the current Maori Adviser to Tourism New Zealand and the Asia New Zealand Foundation and provides ongoing Treaty of Waitangi and Maori consulting services to a number of additional public-sector entities, tertiary education institutions and charitable organisations across New Zealand.
She is the former Programme Manager Māori for Victoria University’s Centre for Executive Development and co-wrote the Centre's Māori language resources. Tania also managed and co-wrote the Maori educational programmes for the Peace Foundation Aotearoa. Prior to this Tania held the role of senior researcher Māori at Te Papa Tongarewa, the Museum of New Zealand, where she worked across the curatorial and repatriation teams to support the generation of knowledge on Māori taonga and customary practices.
Emma joined the team at the Foundation in July 2018 as Communications Support.
Emma joined the Asia New Zealand Foundation team in July 2018 as Communications Support, focusing on creating digital content and social media.
She is a recent graduate of Massey University, having completed a Bachelor of Communication (Public Relations and Expressive Arts).
Emma has travelled to Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore and has a keen interest in Asia and New Zealand’s ties to the region.
Ziena is an award-winning international marketing, comms, business development and reputation management strategist.
Ziena is an award-winning international marketing, communications, business development and reputation management strategist. She has advised Ministers, Boards and C-suite executives, and supported New Zealand’s leading businesses grow their reputation and revenue.
Prior to returning to Auckland in 2016, Ziena spent 10 years in Asia, as Regional Director – South & South East Asia for Education New Zealand, New Zealand Trade Commissioner to Singapore, and Head of North Asia Marketing and Communications for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. She has received the Public Affairs Asia Gold Standard for Country/Trade Promotion twice and several other international awards for her work promoting New Zealand trade, investment and education in Asia.
Ziena is an Advisory Board Member for New Zealand Asian Leaders; an Established Member of SUPERdiverse WOMEN; and a Member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors.
Project Coordinator Leadership and Entrepreneurship
Alexis joined the Foundation in September of 2017.
Alexis Allen joined the Foundation in September of 2017 and is now working as part of the Entrepreneurship team. Originally from Taranaki, she moved to Wellington in 2016 and is a part-time student at Victoria University, entering her final year in a Bachelor of Science majoring in Psychology.
Kirsty studied at Lincoln College (way back in the 80’s), then backpacked around the world for four years before returning to settle in Gisborne. As a stay at home mum, she volunteered for many c…
Kirsty studied at Lincoln College (way back in the 80’s), then backpacked around the world for four years before returning to settle in Gisborne.
As a stay at home mum, she volunteered for many community, school and sports groups before taking up a role of community sports adviser at Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti. This role included managing the Tairawhiti Rising Legends, a programme that recognises, supports and develops local talented athletes to compete on the world stage.
After a move to Auckland in 2014, Kirsty took up the role of leverage and legacy manager for the Rugby League World Cup 2017 (NZ).
Kirsty visited Japan for the first time in 2019 as part of the Foundation's Japan Sports Forum, which took ten Kiwi PE teachers to the country to learn about its culture and relationship to sport. She will be returning as one of the expected 400,000 visitors attending the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Kirsty joined the Foundation in November 2018.
Prior to joining the Foundation’s education team in 2019, Mei worked at the Ara Institute of Canterbury as the Auckland engagement manager. Mei brings with her years of experience working in the educa…
Prior to joining the Foundation’s education team in 2019, Mei worked at the Ara Institute of Canterbury as the Auckland engagement manager. Mei brings with her years of experience working in the education sector with a wide range of stakeholders. Originally from Hong Kong, Mei worked in a news agency in there before moving to Christchurch in 2013. New Zealand is a second home to her now. She loves spending time outdoors with family and friends. Mei has a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) from LaTrobe University, Australia and a Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing from Lincoln University. She speaks Mandarin and Cantonese.
Tessa has worked in media and communications since 2002, occasionally side-tracked by other interesting things.Highlights have included writing for and editing youth magazine Tearaway, working adventu…
Tessa has worked in media and communications since 2002, occasionally side-tracked by other interesting things.
Highlights have included writing for and editing youth magazine Tearaway, working adventures in the Solomon Islands and the UK, and reporting for the Wairarapa Times-Age and The Dominion Post. She has a Bachelor of Arts in political science and history, a Diploma in Journalism and has always chased opportunities that keep her learning. When not at work she’s usually chasing her energetic young daughter.
Tessa joined the Foundation in 2019 after a year working as an investigative writer for Consumer NZ, and previously as the communications adviser for Sustainability Trust.
Project Officer Entrepreneurship
Ryan has a passion for community building and comes to the Foundation from the fast-paced entrepreneurial eco-system of his previous role as community and partnerships manager at coworking space BizDo…
Ryan has a passion for community building and comes to the Foundation from the fast-paced entrepreneurial eco-system of his previous role as community and partnerships manager at coworking space BizDojo Christchurch.
Ryan will be working with the Foundation on the entrepreneurship programme, helping expand the Young Business Leaders Initiative into North Asia (China, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea).
Ryan lived and worked in Japan for four years in the snowiest city in the world, Aomori. After this, he volunteered on the Japan based NGO Peace Boat, which circumnavigates the world over three months promoting peace, sustainable use of the environment and grassroots connections.
He is a foodie, amateur potter, 80’s movie aficionado, and loves a good Kiwi onion dip.
Project Officer Leadership
Nicola has a management background in local government as well as international experience working in the UK, Indonesia and China.
Nicola has a management background in local government as well as international experience working in the UK, Indonesia and China. She has recently returned to Wellington after seven years in Beijing where she worked on projects for MFAT and for Kiwi company Highground Brands, as well as setting up her own B2C food & beverage business to promote NZ products in Beijing. Since returning to New Zealand in 2018, she has worked at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise in the G2G team facilitating overseas business and trade visits.
Having lived and worked in Asia for more than ten-years, Nicola is passionate to take the best of what New Zealand has and to connect that with Asia; creating networks, partnerships, shared visions and mutual success. She joined the Foundation in April 2019 working with the Leadership Network to focus on helping the next generation of Kiwi’s to thrive in Asia.