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  • Our staff

  • Email Juliet Blyth
    Bookselling claimed Juliet in her early 20s when she took a part-time role at Bennetts Government Bookshop in Bowen House, Wellington. From 2011-2020 Juliet was GM of Vic Books based at Victoria University Wellington - Te Herenga Waka's Kelburn and Pipitea campuses. In her current role as Chief Executive of Read NZ Te Pou Muramura Juliet helps spread the word about the importance of reading for pleasure. She has served previously on the Booksellers Aotearoa NZ board and was Board Chair from 2017-2021. Juliet is currently deputy Chair on The Coalition for Books board. She has been a reader all her life and one of her most treasured possessions is a letter written to her by the late Noel Streatfield, her favourite childhood author. Juliet has a degree in English Literature from the University of Canterbury.
  • Email Simie Simpson
    Simie (Te Āti Awa) was raised in Te Wai Pounamu, and has flirted with living in Tāmaki Makaurau and the Kaipara but is firmly ensconced back in Te Whanganui-a-Tara. She has worked in bookselling, publishing, and libraries for over two decades, as well as being a reviewer and editor for The Sapling and a judge in the NZ Children’s Book Awards. She is the current Chair of the Samesame but Different board, an LGBTQI+ literary festival held during Auckland Pride. When she isn’t reading or doing other book things, she is walking her dogs on Petone beach.
  • Email Sarah Dillon
    Sarah holds a Master of Arts in Media Studies from Massey University and is passionate about working with words and images in any form, as well as seeing others come to love reading as much as she does.

    Sarah was previously the Communications Manager for Project Crimson Trust/Trees That Count. Based on her work with Trees That Count, she was a finalist for the national TVNZ Young Marketer of the Year award in 2021.

    When she's not reading or writing poetry, Sarah loves animals of all shapes and sizes and walks around the hills and native bush in her home suburb of Karori. She's also a keen flute player and secretary of Wellington Symphonic Bands.
  • Email Rachael Hearne
    Rachael hails from the beautiful state of Montana in the US but is now very happy to call Wellington home. She has worked in a variety of roles from whitewater raft guide to English teacher to baker to café manager to accounts administrator.

    A self-confessed data enthusiast, Rachael is constantly searching for the most effective ways to demonstrate the extensive reach of Read NZ’s many activities and campaigns. Rachael has always been an avid reader and loves reading with her son. She hopes to foster her same love of books in him and all children in Aotearoa.
  • Email Natalya Newman
    Having been an enthusiastic reader and writer for as long as she can remember, it is no surprise that Natalya was drawn to Te Whanganui-a-Tara, where she now studies Screen Arts and Game Development at Massey University. Natalya has worked on book reviews (including many through the Hooked on NZ Books programme) and editing, but her passion has always been novel writing. Her debut novel, Second Star to the Right, was published in 2023 - a dark, psychological reimagining of Peter Pan with LGBTQIA+ representation. Natalya is passionate about telling stories that people can emotionally connect to and see themselves in, as evidenced by the tears of her beta-readers.
  • Our board

  • Dr Willow Sainsbury worked as an educational psychologist in Naenae, Taita and Stokes Valley for four years. She was first based at Avalon Intermediate with the Resource Teachers for Learning and Behaviour, before moving to the Severe Behaviour team at the Ministry of Education in Lower Hutt. Willow has a number of degrees from different fields from both national and international universities. She has recently completed her PhD in educational psychology with Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington. Her interests include dyslexia and co-occurring diagnoses that tamariki and whānau face in Aotearoa.

    Willow holds board positions in a range of sectors, specialising in community engagement, education, strategic planning, art curatorship, and philanthropy. Willow has carried out research across multiple disciplines including public health, psychology, and museum ethnography. She has lived and worked in Princeton, USA, Oxford, UK, Melbourne, Australia, Vicenza, Italy, and Ōtepoti Dunedin, before moving to Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington in 2016.
  • Peter Biggs is currently supporting our board Chair Willow Sainsbury in a 'Chair Emeritus' role.

    He is currently the CEO of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Until 2020, he was the national CEO of leading advertising and innovation agency, Assignment Group. With his wife, Mary, he is a significant supporter of the arts in New Zealand – particularly of literature, theatre and music.

    They have funded the Biggs Family Prize in Poetry at Victoria University of Wellington’s International Institute of Modern Letters since 2006, along with the Alex Scobie Research Prize in Classical Studies, Latin and Greek. They have been consistent supporters of the International Festival of the Arts, the Auckland Writers Festival, Wellington’s Circa Theatre, the New Zealand Arts Foundation (Peter is a Trustee), Featherston Booktown (Peter is Chair and Mary is a Board member), the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (Peter is a Board member), the Featherston Sculpture Trust and the Kokomai Arts Festival in the Wairarapa.

    Peter was Chair of Creative New Zealand from 1999 - 2006. He led the Cultural Philanthropy Taskforce in 2010 and the New Zealand Professional Orchestra Sector Review in 2012. Peter was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for arts governance and philanthropy in 2013.

    Peter was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) in 2013 for services to philanthropy and arts governance. He has a first class honours degree in English Literature and Latin from Victoria University of Wellington.
  • Peter Vial is the New Zealand Country Head of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ). He is a chartered accountant and lawyer. Prior to joining CAANZ he was a director at PwC and an Associate Professor in the University of Auckland's Business School. Peter teaches on the University's Masters of Taxation Studies programme and is a contributing author to two leading tax textbooks.

    In the 1990s he worked for Trade NZ for six years, including a three-year stint as New Zealand’s Trade Commissioner to Germany. He has a Masters in Law from the University of Bonn, Germany. Peter is a trustee for the Mātātuhi Foundation.
  • Nadine Anne Hura (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine) is a creative non-fiction writer and poet based in Porirua. Her essays have appeared in e-Tangata, The Spinoff, Pantograph Punch and in print in a number of collections including Ora Nui, Sport, Huia Short Stories, We Are Here, and The Best of E-Tangata. Nadine’s manuscript of essays was selected by the Māori Literature Trust for the Te Papa Tupu mentorship programme in 2018, and the same year she was awarded a Michael King Writer’s Residency. She is a member of the board of Te Hā Māori Writers’ collective and is a passionate advocate for new and emerging Māori writers. Nadine joined the Board of Te Muramura in 2018 enthusiastic to support the ongoing work to grow and nurture a nation of readers. Nadine has three children
  • Jordan Hamel is a Pōneke-based writer, performer and public servant. He was the 2018 New Zealand Poetry Slam champion and represented NZ at the World Poetry Slam Championships in the US in 2019. He is the co-editor of Stasis Journal and of a climate change poetry anthology from Auckland University Press. In 2022, his debut collection of work was published by Dead Bird Books.

    He was awarded a 2021 Michael King Writer's Residency and has taught poetry and performance across Aotearoa and is currently a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Michigan, where he will complete a two-year Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing.
  • Catriona Ferguson is the Director of the Publishers Association of New Zealand Te Rau o Tākupu representing book, educational and digital publishers. Catriona moved to Aotearoa in 2003 having worked in a number of book related roles, including as a bookseller, a literature development officer and Literature Officer with the British Council. Here in Aotearoa, Catriona has also worked in the literature sector, including as Chief Executive of the NZ Book Council and Literature Adviser for Creative New Zealand.

    Catriona is a Board member of the Coalition for Books, an enthusiastic reader and a regular book reviewer on RNZ’s Nine to Noon book slot. She is also a passionate advocate for the power of books and reading to change lives.
  • Anahera Gildea (Ngāti Tukorehe) is a poet, short story writer, essayist and performing ‘artivist’. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Cordite, The Spinoff, Newsroom, Sport, Landfall, Takahe, and JAAM. Her first book Poroporoaki to the Lord My God: Weaving the Via Dolorosa was published by Seraph Press (2016) and her collection, Sedition was published by Taraheke (2022). She is the co-editor of Te Whē, a bilingual literary journal and is the co-chair of Te Hā o Ngā Pou Kaituhi Māori.

    Anahera has a Masters of Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters, as well as Graduate Diplomas in Psychology and Teaching, and is currently completing doctoral research at Te Herenga Waka │Victoria University of Wellington, developing a critical literary theory based on Māori intellectual traditions. She lives in Te Whanganui-a-Tara with her partner and son.
  • Rachael Niao (Ngāti Awa, Te Arawa, Ngāti Porou, Tuhoe) is a technology architect and digital strategist whose experience spans more than 20 years and over numerous markets across Europe, Asia, and Australia. As an IT consultant, Rachael has worked with organisations both small and large, including IBM, Accenture and EY. Now a Technology Partner at KPMG, Rachael works with clients to address difficult business challenges.

    Born in Whakatane, Rachael has a Bachelor of Science, Computer Science and Physics from the University of Waikato and is passionate about technology and in particular, digital transformation, inclusion and diversity. She enjoys the outdoors and travelling with her whānau.
  • Dahlia Malaeulu is a Samoan New Zealander with connections to the villages of Sinamoga and Vaivase tai in Samoa. She is an award-winning author, publisher and creator of Mila’s Books – Pasifika children’s books that help tamaiti to be seen, heard and valued as Pasifika.

    As the first Pasifika author to have authored stories that have been published across all schooling levels, Dahlia also created the Mila’s My Aganu‘u Series, the first Pasifika children’s picture books in the world written, edited, illustrated, designed and published by an all-Pasifika team.

    Dahlia is a passionate educator at heart and reading advocate, driven by enabling tamaiti to confidently succeed as Pasifika. She visits schools regularly on behalf of Storylines and Read NZ Te Pou Muramura’s Writers in Schools programme.
  • Dr Darryn Joseph (Ngāti Maniapoto) is an Associate Professor at Massey University, Māori language consultant, translator, editor and award-winning author who has taught tertiary students the Māori language since 1996.

    Darryn earned his PhD in 2008 with his thesis ‘He Kete Momo Kīpeha: Māori Text-types and Figures of Speech.’ He has been writing and publishing in Māori since the early 2000s and has authored over 23 books, mainly textbooks and chapter books for Māori immersion education but also children’s picture books and novels and short stories.

    A passionate advocate for reading, Darryn serves the literary community as a language consultant, translator and book awards judge, and has visited schools as part of Storylines tours and Read NZ Te Pou Muramura Writers in Schools programme.
  • Gail Thomason has been a strategic planning and governance consultant for almost 20 years, focused on non-profit entities and membership associations.

    She is a US-licensed and trained lawyer who has practiced in the fields of commercial finance, health care and business operations. Gail has served on, and chaired, several boards focused on civic engagement, political action and education.

    A Washington, DC native and mother of two grown daughters, she and her husband have also lived in Chicago and now Wellington. She considers her primary school librarian to be one of the most influential people in her life.