Meet the team

Our Staff

  • Chief Executive

    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 2001 – 2020 Juliet was General Manager of Vic Books & Café based at Victoria University of Wellington’s Kelburn and Pipitea campuses. Along with the Vic Books & Café Board of Directors, Juliet implemented a programme of change. By establishing cafes (one licensed) in each of their sites, they turned the traditional model of bookselling on its head, creating a community for students, staff and the wider community, driving engagement and growing their business outside of traditional channels.

    Juliet sits 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. juliet@read-nz.org

  • Programmes Manager

    Kathryn Carmody

    Kathryn’s first job out of school was as a bookseller, and despite a slight change in career path where she thought she was going to be an accountant, has been working with bookish organisations ever since.

    Most recently, Kathryn has completed a decade with the New Zealand Festival looking after their biennial Writers Week programme. When she’s not working she enjoys… reading. kathryn@read-nz.org

  • Communication and Engagement Manager

    Melissa Wastney

    Born and raised in Whakatū Nelson, Melissa has worked as a journalist and writer for a number of years and has a background in the arts and music. She has an arts degree from Victoria University Te Herenga Waka and a Diploma in Journalism from Whitireia. Melissa has a keen interest in books of all kinds, especially those relating to textile crafts and art, but also memoir and children's books.

    She teaches workshops in the textile arts and creativity, and is passionate about the importance of accessible arts education for all children and adults. melissa@read-nz.org

  • Finance Administrator

    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. rachael@read-nz.org

  • Fundraising Manager

    Leonie Exel

    Born in Ōtepoti Dunedin, Leo has run or fundraised for non-profits in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, and Bermuda. After a few years working for an oil company and studying part-time for her degree in Melbourne, she leapt gladly into the non-profit world by helping people with work injuries to find new jobs. She has assisted people who have disabilities (particularly psychiatric) into employment, helped to improve the health and education of children and mums in Nepal and Uganda, and worked in the justice system in Te Tai Tokerau Northland.

    Now settled in the Bay of Islands, in her spare time Leo advocates for animal welfare, and raises money to save pound dogs. Leo has a lifelong love of children’s books, in part inspired by listening to Margaret Mahy speak at Wellington Teachers’ College in the 1980s. leonie@read-nz.org

Our Board

  • Chair / Elected 2021

    Willow Sainsbury

    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 is currently completing her doctorate in educational psychology with Victoria University. 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.

  • Chair Emeritus (Elected to the board in 2010)

    Peter Biggs, CNZM

    PETER BIGGS CNZM

    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.

  • Elected 2018

    Peter Vial

    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.

  • Elected 2019

    Nadine Anne Hura

    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 and is a member of Te Ataarangi ki Te Upoko o Te Ika.

  • Elected 2021

    Jordan Hamel

    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 co-editor of a forthcoming NZ Climate Change Poetry Anthology from Auckland University Press.

    He was awarded a 2021 Michael King Writer's Residency and has taught poetry and performance across Aotearoa.

  • Elected 2021

    Catriona Ferguson

    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.

  • Elected 2022

    Anahera Gildea

    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. She 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.

  • Elected 2022

    Rachael Niao

    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.

  • Elected 2022

    Dahlia Malaeulu

    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.

  • Elected 2022

    Darryn Joseph

    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.

  • Elected 2022

    Gail Thomason

    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.