The Executive Committee

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead

Executive Committee – The Committee is made up of a group of professionals with wide ranging experience in sustainable environmental practices, media, research, policy development, social justice issues and community health advocacy.

Asha Andersen – Northland Te Taitokerau

Passionate about the great outdoors, living close to nature and caring for our earth, Asha is a strong advocate for our environment and wildlife. She is a founding trustee of Flora and Fauna of Aotearoa, a brave new voice in environmental care and advocacy, focused on sustainable, holistic approaches to repairing the earth.

Asha spent time as an intern and was then employed as Campaigns Assistant at Amnesty International New Zealand during the time the U.S. was sending men to Guantanamo Bay to be tortured. She learnt the ins and outs of creative public engagement on human rights issues as well as the important background work required when dealing with governments, and vulnerable and targeted people from around the world. She was privileged to work on a number of high profile campaigns, including The Wellington Declaration, which saw the banning of cluster bombs at an international conference in Wellington in 2008, with more than 70 countries represented for the signing.

Asha is grateful and excited to be part of the People’s Inquiry 2020 with so many intelligent, kind and brave people.

“This Inquiry is an opportunity to bring to light the often hidden harms of chemical poison exposure. It’s my hope that the process of sharing your story will be a healing one, and one that raises awareness among the New Zealand people. It’s time we address these issues together and in a way that brings positive change.”

Dr Ursula Edginton – Waikato District

Dr. Ursula Edgington is a co-Trustee of the Clean Green New Zealand Trust. Ursula is passionate about promoting the transformation possible through lifelong learning. She worked in various commercial-sector jobs in England before undertaking qualifications in education; she therefore has a broad range of life experiences. Ursula moved to New Zealand in 2013 where her work continues to be connected to issues of social justice. A published author of academic and creative writing and a qualified and experienced tertiary teacher, Ursula is active as an independent teacher, writer and researcher.

“I was horrified when I moved to ‘Clean, Green’ New Zealand to discover how prolific the use of toxic chemicals is here, compared to my experiences living in Europe. The time is well overdue for policy makers and those in positions of power, to acknowledge irresponsible actions of the past and to take the protection of public health seriously. This Public Inquiry is a first step towards that goal.”

Stephanie McKee – Coromandel Peninsula Te-Tara-o-te-Ika-a-Māui.

5th Generation New Zealander. Scottish clan ancestry: McKee, Macdonald, MacIntosh. English Irish ancestry: Redding, Bagient, Lynott.

Environmental campaigning is in Stephanie’s DNA dating back to the campaign against nuclear power in New Zealand. In the 1970s, she joined the Friends of the Earth campaign against aerial 245T in the 1970s. Nuclear power was delayed then stopped: Dioxin-containing 245T was banned. Stephanie was a Member of the Steering Committee for the Peoples Inquiry 2006 ( Inquiry into the Impacts and Effects of Foray-48B ) . Stephanie believes in the power of scientific evidence combined with human rights ethics and community values for environmental progress.

After a career in education teaching children, teenagers and adults, Stephanie is currently a free-lance environmental researcher, writer, poet, musician and celebrant.

BA ( Eng. Lit & Psych), Cert. Adult Tchg; G. Dip. Tchg; G.Dip. Education Technology; Cert. Celebrant Studies.

“Many communities have long been calling for the abuse and contamination of our whenua, soils, forests, roadsides, rivers and estuaries from fossil-fuel based chemical toxins to stop. The People’s Inquiry 2020 is an opportunity for the voice of the community to be truly heard and listened to on these issues.  Let us as kaitiaki work together to support positive change  –  towards less harmful, more sustainable, innovative and healthier practices.”

Hira Hunapo-O’Callaghan – Auckland Tamaki Makaurau

Ngati Hine, Ngati Wai (Ngapuhi), Ngati Raukawa, Te Arawa

Taught & mentored by kaumatua & kuia about traditional Maori lore & teachings, Hira learnt about the whakapapa (genealogy) and sacred pure mauri (life force) and primal purpose of nature’s elements. Of Ranginui (Father Cosmos) & Papatuanuku (Mother Earth) and all their tamariki (children). The whenua (soil), nga hua (plants), nga rakau (trees), nga manu (birds), ngangara (insects/micro-organisms), nga kararehe (animals), wai (springs, streams, rivers, lakes), moana (oceans). All the many rongoa plants (medicines) that provides healing. A current member of Flora & Fauna of Aotearoa, Hira has worked in an advisory role to iwi and with several community groups & organisations. She was mentored by and worked alongside the late Del Wihongi involved with the WAI 262 Claim and an uncle, Percy Tipene of Ngati Hine and founder of Te Waka Kai Ora (Hua Parakore- Organics). Hira was the Auckland representative for Te Waka Kai Ora organising community meetings and wananga. Of Ngati Wai whakapapa, Hira is actively involved with supporting the Protect Aotea Great Barrier Island opposition to marine dumping by CRL with its consent approved by the EPA. Hira has studied the HSNO Act and monitored hazardous substance & GE consents approved by the EPA (Previously ERMA – Environmental Risk Management Authority) over the years. Chemicals approved for industrial, retail and public use and chemicals heavily used and dispensed by regional councils and DOC over the years. Attending their meetings and conferences demanding answers and accountability from some of the scientists and executive staff involved in making the decisions and approving consents.

Chemical poisons have absolutely no place within nature or our lives. Yet fatally toxic chemicals, some banned in other countries are being approved here causing serious health issues & deaths for humans, wildlife & our natural environment. That must end. We invite people to come forward and be part of the Peoples Inquiry 2020. Share your experiences of being affected by or witnessing the effects of poisons. Aotearoa needs to hear the truth as part of the journey of justice and healing towards becoming a poison-free Aotearoa “

Hana Blackmore – Waiheke Island

Hana is a community researcher and advocate.  She has worked in a diverse field over the years from family enterprises to paid work that fitted around raising a family, but it is community activism that she has found so rewarding.  She has worked in the health and welfare field on a voluntary basis for nearly forty years.  

Hana was a founder member of the Society Targeting Overuse of Pesticides formed in 1997 in response to the Tussock Moth aerial spraying campaign where she lived in east Auckland.  She co-ordinated and submitted the community’s reports of the adverse effects of the pesticide spraying to Public Health. 

Another pest discovery in 1999 in West Auckland led Hana to help form a coalition to enable community involvement and participation in the planning of the eradication. The failure of Public Health to acknowledge the severity of the effects from the subsequent aerial spraying resulted in Hana publishing a first report of the adverse consequences.  Ultimately, together with eight other groups, she was instrumental in setting up and serving as the Convenor of the first People’s Inquiry in 2006 into the pesticide spray programme.

Since 2010 Hana’s focus has been on the use of toxic chemicals for weed management in public places on roads and parks.  She is a founder member of The Weed Management Advisory with an aim of environmentally sustainable and non-chemical management.

Finding solutions and alternatives to enable us to shift away from harmful practices to non-toxic sustainable ones, is my passion.  I have seen and documented the adverse effects – they are real. Now by bringing together people who offer much needed innovative and restorative solutions, we can bring hope and a new way forward. “

Jo Armstrong – Northland Te Taitokerau

Jo is based in the subtropical Far North of New Zealand and has a varied background in design, visual arts, film and TV production, photography, writing, IT technology, nursing, tourism, aviation and gardening.

Jo is an exploratory artist and maker, a continual seeker of knowledge and growth, and an advocate for the living world, from the micro to the macro. She loves to combine multimedia with natural earth elements, in the mediums of video, audio, photographs, paint, wood, clay and print.
She loves to work with nature, in the garden, and currently exploring the medicinal properties of plants. She has a keen interest in natural medicine and health, with her background as a registered nurse, and has a growing passion for using what is found in nature, organics, biodynamics and more. 

Jo grew up in activism, with an early interest in grassroots socio-politics, conservation and protection of the earth and her inhabitants. She actively participated in protests and support marches, for many causes. From walks for the whales, anti-nuclear protests, reclaim the night marches, animal rights, human rights, pesticides and more. She believes we cannot ignore that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and that we must regard ourselves as just one part of (what should be) a balanced ecosystem.

Jo is currently filming a documentary, with a director friend, in Northland, New Zealand. She enjoys spending time with local kaitiaki planting trees, supporting local marine conservation and also works as a volunteer firefighter, in the Far North.

Jo lends her experience and time to the Inquiry2020 team as a videographer, video editor and IT support/consultant.

“I am appalled and disheartened by the widespread use of harmful, and unnecessary, toxins both locally and throughout New Zealand. We have almost daily interactions with a range of harmful substances, such as pesticides. The apparent unquestioned use of harmful chemicals around gardens, schools, roadsides, lifestyle properties, farms, drains, in lakes, waterways and the coastlines in New Zealand is very damaging. I hope to help bring this information to the forefront and expand people’s knowledge; to have them understand and question the effects of toxic chemicals on our population’s health – both now and into the future.”

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