Our Staff

Below is a picture of all the team taken at our Team Planning day 31 May 2013.

3 Staff photo outdoor


A Little Bit About Us:

John Coffey, General Manager

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Taranaki te maunga,

Taranaki, Te Atiawa, Ngati Ruanui, Waikato ngā iwi,

Ngati Haupoto te hapu.


John first joined Otara Health Charitable Trust as a member of the Trust Board in November 2011. He later stepped down from the Board to take up the position of General Manager in October 2013 to lead the Trust in its day to day operations.  John is no stranger to Otara with his whanau having moved to the area in the early 1960’s. John while continuing to live in South Auckland has held a variety of management roles across a number of industries. Some of his previous employers include the NZ Post Office, Telecom New Zealand, Housing New Zealand, Immigration New Zealand and recently Auckland Council.

John is also a current trustee for Taranaki Whānui, the post treaty settlement entity in Wellington representing and serving the mana whenua collective in (Port Nicholson) Wellington. 

John’s tertiary qualifications include a Bachelor of Applied Management and an Advanced Trade Certificate in Telecommunications. John’s passion for and experience with community engagement and development means he is well suited to the task of leading Otara Health Charitable Trust.

e-mail: john.coffey@otarahealth.org.nz

Mark Simiona, Operations Manager

Mark Simiona joined the organisation in September 2012. He has a National Certificate in Public Sector Services (Leadership Development – Middle Management) and a National Certificate in First Line Management and comes to us  after working 2 years with the Salvation Army as a Family Store Manager and 14 years working with the Ministry of Social Development for Work and Income.  Mark brings a variety of skills and knowledge to the organisation including his strengths in leadership, people management, technical aptitude and staff development. Born in Hamilton, New Zealand he is from the beautiful island of Aitutaki in the Cook Islands. He is married with four young children.

e-mail: mark@otarahealth.org.nz

Jean Sheppard, Administration Manager

Jean provides leadership of administrative services to support the CEO and the programme and activities of the organisation.  She brings to the organisation experiences from the finance sector and from local health and education organisations. Jean has been with Otara Health since 2008 and has become the organisation’s expert in finance and accounts. As a South Auckland resident, Jean also brings valuable local knowledge to her role with Otara Health.

Jean’s tertiary qualifications include a Bachelor of Applied Management

e-mail: jean@otarahealth.org.nz

Maddi Schmidt, Active Families and Active Futures Team Co-ordinator

Maddi started with the organisation in 2006 and has since held various roles in health promotion and community development.  Initially employed as a Programmes Administrator she has gained and developed credentials with the organisation to support the roles held from leading programmes to project management and wishes to one day complete her Arts degree in Anthropology and Education.  She is passionate about empowering people, particularly Pacific people, in health improvements drawing on peoples strengths to make them feel valued and respected.  Maddi is a Samoan born Kiwi, hailing from the villages of Fa’atoia and Lepea; speaks fluent Samoan and relishes ‘grassroots’ development flourishing.

e-mail: maddi@otarahealth.org.nz

 Carol de Thierry, Reception

Carol joined the organisation in September 2005.  Her role with Otara Health has allowed her to work and coordinate her secretarial skills on the front desk. Carol grew up in Otara attending the local schools and her parents are of Niuean origin. She has worked within the community with organisations that have supported initiatives that she is much a part of today. Carol brings a wealth of community knowledge and has been an asset to those whom she has had the opportunity to work closely with.

She is married, has 3 adult children and 2 grandsons.

e-mail: carol@otarahealth.org.nz

Lama Saga, Active Families Lead

Lama joined Otara Health Charitable Trust in July 2012 as the Physical Activity Lead for the Active Families Programme. Lama is a New Zealand born Samoan. He  speaks fluent Samoan and values his culture. He has a Bachelor in Sports, Majoring in Physical Education and is looking to complete Post Graduate study in Public Health. He is passionate about travelling and was fortunate in 2012 to travel to parts of South America. He is also very passionate about supporting and bringing about positive and healthy change for our Pasifika and Maori peoples. Lama brings an easy going but hardworking attitude which makes him unique and easy to work with.  He has had extensive experience in the health sector working as a health promoter. His skills are highly valued by Otara Health and the community.

e-mail: lama@otarahealth.org.nz

Sherry Elekana, Active Families Administrator

Sherry has recently joined Otara Health Charitable Trust in October 2013 as the Active Families Administrator and Programme Support. Sherry holds a Bachelor of Sport and Recreation, majoring in Exercise Science and Physical Activity and Nutrition. Although fairly new to the health industry, it has always been her passion to work closely with the communities to be able to create and provide the opportunity for healthier lifestyle changes. As an Auckland born Samoan, Sherry enjoys keeping herself active by playing netball, coaching and paddling in a dragon-boat crew and performing in a multicultural Pacific Island dance group. She looks forward to getting out and about in the community and meeting new people.

e-mail: sherry@otarahealth.org.nz

David de Thierry, Neighbourhood Support Co-ordinator

David has just recently joined the organization and comes with skills he desires to pursue with Otara Health. Working within the Otara community has allowed him to coordinate a number of projects both within local and central  government departments. His passion to work with people and empower families comes from a stem of experiences gathered over the years. David is a proud father of 2 sons and 1 daughter and has enjoyed sharing in their education and sporting experiences in this community. His wife is supportive of the work he has undertaken and with 2 grandsons he desires to see that whatever is planned for today is available for their future tomorrow.

e-mail: david@otarahealth.org.nz

Elisapeta Letele, Kaitohutohu Team Member

Elisapeta (Peta) is Samoan and has been with Otara Health for nine years. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Certificate in Community Health Work (Level 4).  Peta enjoys  meeting people in the community, supporting families,  and learning new ways to manage health issues and improve wellbeing.  Paramount in Peta’s work is giving a child the best start in life. She leads our Safe Sleep project and is one of our senior Kaitohutohu members. Peta is fluent in Samoan and English which is an  asset in working with our community. She brings to the organization knowledge and good understanding of Pacific culture and aspirations.

Peta lives in Otara and has 4 children and 7 grandchildren.

e-mail: peta@otarahealth.org.nz

Waimarie Martin, AWHI and Kaitohutohu Team Member

Waimarie (Wai) joined Otara Health in 2008. She studied Te Reo Maori in 1996, received a diploma in Early Childhood Education in 2004, and gained her Community Health Worker level 4 diploma in 2011. Wai is from the Bay of Islands in the Far North of New Zealand. She is passionate about education, safety and health for children and families. She brings to the team excellent knowledge of the community and supports us in integrating with a wide range of services. She lives with her loving and supportive husband and 2 younger children in Otara, with her eldest child living and working in Australia.

e-mail: waimarie@otarahealth.org.nz

Michelle Simiona, Lead Programme Facilitator

Michelle joined Otara Health in 2014 and immediately trained in the Incredible Years programme in Taupo. She is a Community project worker delivering the Incredible Years for Parents programme and helping with other areas. Michelle is married with four children and she is part Niuean, Irish and Maori. Michelle brings a high level of administration, case management and management skills and experience and she is a wonderful addition to the Otara Health team.

e-mail: michelle@otarahealth.org.nz

Alberta Sagala, Progamme Facilitator

Alberta joins us to co- facilitate the delivery of the Incredible Years (IY) for parents programme and the Teen Parents programme. She brings with her experience in delivering the IY programme in her previous vocations.

e-mail: alberta@otarahealth.org.nz

Kirsty Cuthers, Hippy Co-ordinator

Kirsty joined Otara Health as the Hippy Co-ordinator. She is of Cook Island descent and brings with her many years as a Centre Manager for childcare. She is excited about the new role and has a real passion for children and parents learning.

e-mail: hippy@mayfieldauckland.school.nz

 Jessica Suri, Team  Co-ordinator

Jessica joined Otara Health as a Team Co-ordinator and she is excited about the new role and has a real passion for working with the community.

e-mail: mailto:Jessica.Suri@otarahealth.org.nz