Occupational Therapy New Zealand Whakaora Ngangahau Aotearoa - Council Profiles - Occupational Therapy New Zealand Whakaora Ngangahau Aotearoa

Council Profiles


Penny NgaheuPresident, Tangata Whenua

Ka ora te wairua, Ka ora te hinengaro, Ka ora te tinana, Ti hei mauri ora, Ki te taha o toku papa, Ko Mataatua te waka, Ko Pūtauaki te maunga, Ko Rangitaiki te awa, Ko Ngāti Awa te iwi, Ko Te Pahipoto te hapu, Ko Kokohinau te marae, Ko Hinerana Ngaheu ahau. I completed a Bachelor of Health Science Degree in Occupational Therapy at Auckland University of Technology and graduated in 2005. Since graduating I’ve worked for community based, private practice providing assessment and rehabilitation services, and have assisted clients to regain their independence, maximise their function and return to their everyday life roles. Becoming a health professional has been a life changing career move that has taken me on an exciting and rewarding journey. It’s extremely satisfying, knowing that you’ve made a difference in someone’s life. I look forward to the next part of my journey and taking my career to yet another level. Ka nui te mihi ki a koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa. Ehara tōku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini My strength is not the strength of one, but the strength of many.


Dr. Gilbert AzuelaPresident, Tangata Tiriti

I am a specialist in the area of occupational therapy practice with extensive professional experiences as a clinician, leader, coordinator, advisor, facilitator, and educator. I have a strong interest in occupational therapy. I have worked in different health and disability sectors both government and non-government organisations where I developed resilience and increased capacity to sustain good judgement and decision making even in a most challenging situations in providing advice and directions to various stakeholders. I have been involved in leading and facilitating local and national projects to support mental health and addiction workforce development such as smoking cessation, sensory modulation, talking therapies, motivational interviewing, intentional practice model, least restrictive practice, mental health and reintegration services. As a trained educator, I have remained passionate working with people to support them to achieve their full potential by providing clinical supervision, coaching and mentoring. I use holistic, client-family centric, rehabilitative and community-oriented approaches using contemporary, outcome-focused and evidence-based methods. I am passionate about the use of sensory based interventions to assist people in managing mental distress. My passion for working with people and supporting them to achieve their potential has been the focus of my career. This has included initiation, development, implementation and evaluation of sensory modulation for mental health service users and staff. My research interests include least restrictive practice, sensory modulation, process and outcome evaluation and talking and doing therapies. I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Perpetual Help and a post-graduate certificate in Health Professions Education from the University of the Philippines. I have a master’s degree endorsed with merit in Occupational Therapy from the Otago Polytechnic and a Doctor of Philosophy (Clinical Health Science) with a focus on the implementation and impact of sensory modulation in acute mental health care from the Auckland University of Technology.


Isla Emery-WhittingtonWorld Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) Delegate, Tangata Whenua

Ko Tainui te waka Ko Kakepuku o Kahurere te maunga Ko Waipa te awa Ko Te Kopua te marae Ko Ngāti Unu, Ngāti Kahupungapunga ngā hapu Ko Ngāti Maniapoto te iwi Ko Isla Emery-Whittington tenei e mihi atu. E nga tini waka, tena tatou katoa. Our whānau lives in Manurewa, South Auckland near where I grew up. I have worked primarily in mental health and addictions sector in District Health Boards, Non-Government Organisations and iwi health organisations across Auckland and in the United Kingdom. My doctoral research, which is about Decolonising Occupation is based at SHORE Whariki Research Centre, Massey University. The study is a theoretical and philosophical journey exploring a Kaupapa Māori theory of mahi. My governance skills and experience have developed on council (prior to adoption of new governance structure) and in education, hāpu, community organisations and committees. Experience in audit and accreditation in the tertiary education sector and health organisations will contribute to those aspects of the WFOT roles.


Dan JohnsonWorld Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) Delegate, Tangata Tiriti

Kia ora. I live in Wellington with my wife and two boys, and have been in NZ since 2012. I bring a variety of clinical experience from a number of different countries, cultures and settings from around the world. My clinical experiences include, Mental Health, Vocational Rehabilitation, Emergency Care, Neurology, General medicine, Corporate advisory role & Veteran advisor role.My global OT footprint and teaching credits include working and liaison with Occupational Therapy practitioners and Occupational Therapy Schools in the UK, Vietnam, NZ, Colombia. Chile, Argentina, Australia and Japan. These experiences include engaging and presenting at the 2010 & 2014 WFOT congresses and presenting at the very first OT24hr Virtual Exchange in 2010. Unsurprisingly, my areas of expertise (and research interests) include global Occupational Therapy development, Cross-Cultural Practice, Entrepreneurial Approaches in OT and the treatment of PTSD & Moral injury. I have a passion for conversation of about how our profession can expand into global directives and causes as have been evidenced in recent times through in the areas of disaster management, social justice, occupational equity and supporting displaced communities. I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of the history of this association and help New Zealand remain connected and share learnings with our global OT friends and colleagues, throughout the WFOT role.


Andrea DempseyCouncil member, Tangata Tiriti

Ko Manaia te maunga Ko Hauraki te moana Nō Whangarei ahau Ki Tamaki Makarau e noho ana inaianei Ko Ngati Pākeha te iwi Ko Andrea Dempsey tōku ingoa Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa Since graduating from AUT in 2004, I have developed my skills and knowledge of occupational therapy in working with people who have experience of significant mental distress. This led me to completing my masters in 2016, and moving into leadership roles both within the service and at a national level. Recently I have moved from being the Specialist Mental Health and Addictions Occupational Therapy Professional Lead at Waitematā DHB into a Service Clinical Leadership role. The COVID pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to all areas of the health system, and our communities are facing more unemployment, housing shortages, and fiscal tightening. As a profession we must continue to ensure high quality services for people experiencing health adversity that are informed by and contribute to current literature and government directives. My focus is on the contribution that Occupational Therapy makes to improving health outcomes and I enact change through clear vision and values based leadership. I am an inclusive and collaborative communicator who is known for being authentic, reflective and compassionate, as well as direct and articulate. I strongly value Maori perspectives and enact biculturalism in all relationships. I am confident and capable in having hard discussions to improve performance to meet future health and disability workforce needs.


Linda BowdenCouncil Member, Tangata Tiriti

Ko El Tucuche te maunga Ko Caroni te moana Ko Ngati Carib te iwi No Trinidad ahau Ki Tamaki Makarau au e noho ana inaianei Ko Linda Bowden tōku ingoa. Following graduation in 2006, I have accumulated a broad range of Occupational Therapy experiences and expertise; ranging from front line clinical work, line management and leadership across mental health and paediatrics. I am particularly focused on systems change, research and addressing inequities across health. These experiences have been invaluable in developing my interest in ensuring occupational therapy as a profession continues to evolve and solidify its contribution to the health and wellbeing of the world. I have worked in both traditional and non-traditional occupational therapy roles and see our profession as agents of change that can continue to emphasise our contribution and our values. I believe I can offer the council creative ideas and responsive strategies that will enable occupational therapists to achieve their aspirations and become the practitioners who they aim to be through my values based practice of hauora, equity, whānau, aroha, inclusiveness, and manaakitanga.