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Executive Team and Trust Board

Executive management team

Dr David Gaimster - Director

David Gaimster is an experienced museum director and academic with extensive knowledge in the museum and cultural heritage sectors. His career spans more than 25 years in senior roles in national museums, most recently as Director of The Hunterian, Scotland’s largest university museum service and the oldest museum in Scotland.

He has also worked in central government policy making on cultural property, and as the CEO of a national Learned Society and conservation charity.

He has organised several major exhibitions that have toured internationally, and has published extensively on medieval to early modern European archaeology and material culture, museology and on international cultural property policy. He also has experience leading major capital projects in London and Glasgow. 

Heather Harris - Chief Operating Officer

Heather HarrisHeather Harris joined Auckland War Memorial Museum in November 2015 to lead the operational functions of the Museum on its journey of change and development as part of the Future Museum strategy. Heather is responsible for delivering major capital and infrastructure projects, safety and security, and Museum wide technical services and technologies.

Heather brings a strong background of experience to the role of Chief Operating Officer having worked as a diplomat and an environmental lawyer in earlier years, before taking up a series of senior management positions in central and local government. This included working on the amalgamation of eight councils in Auckland and leading Resource Consenting and regulatory compliance at Auckland Council.

Les Fleming – Director Corporate Services and Chief Financial Officer

Les Fleming – Director Corporate Services and Chief Financial OfficerLes Fleming is a Chartered Accountant with more than 30 years experience in the financial, manufacturing and operations sector. Originally from the South Island, Les received his Bachelor of Commerce from Otago University, and has worked for a number of New Zealand'’s major companies. He has international experience in finance and operations, and joined Auckland Museum in 2005.

Megan McSweeney – Director Business, External Affairs and Tourism

Megan McSweeney – Director External Affairs, Tourism and SalesWith an extensive background in marketing and communications, Megan has held senior executive positions in a number of New Zealand's major companies including SkyCity Entertainment Group and NZ Bus (Infratil).

Having worked across a diverse range of customer facing industries including education, tourism, utilities, entertainment and logistics, Megan brings to Auckland Museum expertise in marketing, brand, customer experience and communications. Megan has a BA from Auckland University and a post graduate diploma in business from Auckland University's Business School. She is on the board of the Tourism Industry Association of NZ. Megan McSweeney joined Auckland Museum in 2011.

Linnae Pohatu – Tumuaki Director, Māori Projects and Development

Linnae Pohatu – Tumuaki Director, Maori Projects & DevelopmentLinnae Pohatu joined the Museum in the newly created role of Tumuaki Director, a position designed to enhance the Museum's relationships with Māori and to help extend the range of services the Museum offers to the public.

Linnae's background includes working within the Government as a Parliamentary Officer in the House of Representatives, as Private Secretary to the minister in charge of Treaty Settlements and an Analyst in Policy and Negotiations for Treaty Settlements. Following her time in Government, Linnae spent three years at Te Papa Tongarewa as their Bicultural Policy Analyst. Linnae graduated from Massey University with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Māori Studies, followed by an Honours degree.

David Reeves – Director Collections and Research

David Reeves – Director Collections and ResearchDavid Reeves joined the Museum in January 2011 after a time at the Alexander Turnbull Library as Associate Chief Librarian, Research Access. David's career also includes roles at the Auckland Art Gallery and at Te Papa managing logistics, storage and documentation of collections.

David brings a range of perspectives on the activities of Libraries, Museums, Galleries and Archives, with a particular interest in how they are responding to and utilising the digital environment. David is also experienced in Museum building design and has been involved in a number of building re-developments and collection relocation projects. He holds a Bachelor of Building Science from Victoria University of Wellington and Diplomas in Professional Photography and Museum Studies.

Catherine Smith – Director People and Organisation

Catherine Smith – Head of People and Organisation.With a background in social work, operational management and more than a decade in Human Resources, Catherine brings wide-ranging experience to Auckland Museum. She is committed to creating a sustainable, high performance workplace where people experience enriching work and are inspired to innovate. 

Catherine previously worked at the NZ Human Rights Commission and spent a number of years with the Counties Manukau District Health Board, where she held many people-focused roles. With a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business: Human Resource Management, Catherine is now working on her Master's Degree in Human Resources and Organisational Development.

Tim Hart - Director Public Experience


Tim was Director of Public Engagement at Museums Victoria for six years before joining Auckland Museum in 2017 as Director, Public Experience. He holds a degree in Architecture and Archaeology and has 29 years’ experience in Museums, including in collection management, policy development, information technology and multimedia development.

Tim’s previous roles include National Project Manager of Australian Museums On Line, and Chief Information Officer at Australia’s Powerhouse Museum and he has been an active member of Museums Australia for the last 20 years. Tim is passionate about the positive role technology can play in driving change and innovation in museums. He believes it will re-shape our museums and redefine their role within the community.


Auckland Museum Trust Board

The following people are involved in the governance of Auckland War Memorial Museum:

Dr William Randall MNZM – Chairman

Dr William Randall – ChairmanWith Masters and PhD degrees in biology as well as an MBA in business/finance, William Randall has spent 15 years in banking and finance where he managed the treasury function for a large US investment company (Fidelity Investments) and was the managing director of New Zealand stockbroking company ANZ Securities NZ Limited. Currently a director of Capstone Partners, William'’s primary interest lies in helping the country to develop its biotechnological capabilities in science.

Orchid Atimalala

Orchid AtimalalaOrchid Atimalala has an extensive background working with local government organisations including the North Shore City Council and Auckland Regional Council. She has a Bachelor of Planning degree and is a full member of the New Zealand Planning Institute as well as being a Certified Independent Hearings Commissioner. Orchid works for two independent consultancies and specialises in community and stakeholder consultation as well as relationship management with local and central government. She has held positions on a number of boards including being deputy chair of the Pacific Peoples Advisory Panel and a member of the In2it Youth Development Trust Board. Orchid is a fluent speaker of Sāmoan and a mentor for the Beatrice Faumuina Leadership Trust.

Jo Brosnahan QSO - Deputy Chairperson

Jo BrosnahanJo Brosnahan is presently Chair of Hunter Downs Development Company and Northpower Fibre and was the founding Chair of Leadership New Zealand. She was the CEO of the former Auckland Regional Council from 1996 till 2004. In 1995-96 she received a Harkness Fellowship in Leadership to study at Duke University in the USA and is also a Commander of the Queens Service Order (QSO).

Brian Corban CNZM, QSO

Brian CorbanBrian Corban was awarded the Queen's Service Order in 1993 for his services to broadcasting in New Zealand and was made a Companion of the NZ Order of Merit in April 2009 for services to the community. Admitted to the Waitakere Business Hall of Fame in 2005, Brian has served on the boards of a wide range of companies and community organisations at a local, regional and national level. He is a former chairman of Genesis Power and Radio New Zealand, and has successfully led companies through restructuring and deregulatory changes in the television, telecommunications, transport and electricity sectors. Brian was appointed a Fellow of the Institute of Directors in New Zealand in 2000, and the following year was appointed a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Management. He holds an MA (Hons) and LLB.

Tarun Kanji

Tarun Kanji Tarun Kanji has 25 years corporate and consulting experience internationally and in New Zealand comprising time spent with international accounting firms spanning corporate advisory, valuation, finance, litigation support, and recovery and audit disciplines. He currently holds two publically listed company directorships and a range of private and public sector governance roles and was chairman of Bank of India in New Zealand.

Mr Kanji is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand as well as a member of the NZ Institute of Directors and NZ Asian Leaders.

Martin Mariassouce

Martin MariassouceHe honore he kororia ki te Atua, he maungarongo ki te whenua, he whakaaro pai ki nga tangata katoa. Tamaki Paenga Hira is a repository of knowledge, endeavour and the industry of people. It provides insights to the past, stands in the present, and offers pathways to the future. Martin Mariassouce was chairperson of the museum's Māori advisory committee, the Taumata-ā-Iwi, from 2007 to 2013. In October 2013 he joined the Trust Board as the Taumata's representative. As an avid student of 'te reo me ona tikanga' he contributes keenly to the Māori dimension established in the museum’s bicultural and 'He Kōrahi Māori' foundation adding value to museum practice. Martin currently works with Māori micro-enterprises and small businesses to increase productivity and business capability.

Dr Sarah Sandley


Dr Sarah SandleyDr Sarah Sandley serves as Advisory Chair for the Katherine Mansfield Society, and is on the Auckland Branch Committee of the Institute of Directors. She is a former Chair of the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival Trust, and was previously CEO of APN Magazine Group. Sarah holds a PHD in English Literature on the work of New Zealand author Katherine Mansfield.

Sir Pita Sharples KNZM CBE

Sir Pita SharplesSir Pita Sharples is a respected Māori academic and politician, who was a co-leader of the Māori Party, and a minister outside Cabinet in the National Party-led government. Pita has a doctorate in Anthropology/Linguistics and was formerly a Professor of Education at The University of Auckland. Pita is of Ngāti Kahungunu decent, and his father a second generation New Zealander whose family came from Bolton, United Kingdom.

In 1990 Pita was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday list of honours for his services to Māori and has been recognised for his involvement in a great number of initiatives aimed at Māori development. In the 2015 Queen's Birthday Honours he was appointed a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services as a Member of Parliament and to Māori.

Jo-anne Wilkinson MNZM

Jo-anne WilkinsonJo-anne Wilkinson is the co-founder and former Executive Director of the Foundation for Youth Development (formerly Project K Trust). The organisation began in 1995 and has grown today to reach 20,000 young people each year through its programmes - Project K, Stars, Kiwi Can, Career Navigator and MYND. Jo-anne remains on the FYD board. With her legal background and through building FYD Jo-anne has gained experience in licensing, research and evaluation, community development, programme development, quality assurance, organisational change, governance and the interface between government, business and the social sector.

Karen Avery

Jo-anne Wilkinson

Karen Avery has been involved with not-for-profit community organisations in a variety of roles for over 30 years. She has served on the boards of a wide range of these organisations, the most recent being Second Nature Charitable Trust, which owns and operates the Vodafone Events Centre and Wero Whitewater Park in Manukau.

Karen’s background is in management and finance primarily in the advertising and book publishing industries. She is also a Justice of the Peace.