Directorate and Operations Group

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Professor David Baxter - Director

Professor David Baxter is the Director of Ageing Well National Science Challenge and the Dean of the Graduate Research School at the University of Otago, New Zealand.

David previously led the University’s School of Physiotherapy as Dean (2005-2015) and was Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Health Sciences. He has been with Ageing Well in some capacity during its decade in operation and also serves as Co-Director of the New Zealand-China Research Collaborating Centre. David is a Visiting Professor at the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland, and Ulster University (UK), where he completed his undergraduate and doctoral training; he also holds an MBA from the Institute of Education at University College London.

David’s research expertise encompasses laser medicine, musculoskeletal pain, including low back pain; physical activity and health; men’s health; and complementary and alternative medicine. His current research projects include an evaluation of photobiomodulation for breast cancer-related lymphoedema, health and wellbeing in older men, and ageing well with chronic pain.

Professor Baxter has authored or co-authored over 270 research papers in peer-reviewed journals and contributed to various textbooks including DeLisa’s Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He is the Editor in Chief of Physical Therapy Reviews, and a member of the Editorial Boards of several other international peer-reviewed journals. He has presented multiple platform or poster presentations and educational workshops at national and international meetings.

David has been recognised for his research as a Fellow of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland, the International Academy of Lasers in Medicine and Surgery, and the American Society for Lasers in Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS). He received a Presidential citation from ASLMS in 2015, and the Society’s Horace Furumoto Award for research in 2018. David is also an honorary life member of the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists.

Associate Professor Diane Ruwhiu - Co-Director

Associate Professor Diane Ruwhiu (Ngāpuhi) is the Co-Director of Ageing Well National Science Challenge and the Dean of the University of Otago Graduate Research School. She is an Associate Professor at the Otago Business School and was appointed to the New Zealand Productivity Commission Te Kōmihana Whai Hua o Aotearoa in 2022 and served until it was disestablished in 2024.

Associate Professor Ruwhiu completed her Bachelor and Master of Commerce studies at the University of Otago, and joined the Department of Management, Otago Business School in 2000. She lectured full-time in the department whilst completing her PhD part-time, and this saw Associate Professor Ruwhiu transition her research and teaching into a kaupapa Māori frame.

Today, Associate Professor Ruwhiu’s teaching portfolio integrates her research on Māori development and more traditional areas of management and organisation that reflects, with integrity, the Māori world, cultural values, and perspectives. Her teaching was recognised as a recipient of the 2021 Ako Aotearoa National Teaching Excellence Award and an Otago Teaching Excellence Award – both in the Kaupapa Māori category.

The research of Associate Professor Ruwhiu focuses on issues of relevance for Māori development (in particular the Māori economy and business), contributing to the increasingly prominent field of Indigenous studies in management and organisation, specifically in relation to research methodologies, understanding features of success for the Māori economy and enterprise, building Māori business capability, and Indigenising Management education. She is also a member of Otago Work Futures research team that has explored aspects of the future of work in Dunedin (2013), for the ICT industry in Dunedin (2018), and New Zealand High Value Manufacturing (2019). More recently, the team has conducted a small pilot study to examine older workers perceptions of ageing and work.

Hata Temo - Kaumātua

Te iti aa Tuhoe

E kata te po


Ko Maataatua te Waka

Ko Maunga Pohatu te Maunga

Ko Hinemataroa te Awa

Ko Tuhoe te Iwi

Ko Ngati Tawhaki, Ngati Rongo me Te Mahurehure  na Hapuu

Ko te Hata Temo taku inoa.

Andrew Lonie

Andrew Lonie comes to Ageing Well from the University of Otago Graduate Research School, where he was Manager, supporting research students and their academic supervisors.

He studied at Otago (Mathematics, English Literature, Languages) and later at Massey University (Geographic Information Systems). In a professional capacity, Andrew has worked for Consumer magazine, Terralink, Department of Conservation and at the Dunedin City Council.

Andrew is a Trustee at Landscape Connections Trust, which is responsible for administering the Halo Project – Predator Free and ecosystem restoration efforts north and west of Dunedin City, and he was a formerly on the Board of Trustees at Logan Park High School.

Outside work, he enjoys the outdoors – running, cycling, tramping, yoga, as well as doing home DIY / garden projects – and is looking forward to a new Challenge at Ageing Well.

Rebecca Richardson

Rebecca Richardson is an experienced communications advisor and has been working in the field for almost two decades.

Prior to relocating to Aotearoa, Rebecca worked for Australian Associated Press and as Communications Manager at the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office in Oakland, California.

For all media-related enquiries, please contact Rebecca at:


Sarah Benwell

Sarah Benwell is our Business Support Coordinator and joined the Ageing Well team in May 2020. She has exceptional organisational skills, a knack for being able to juggle a large number of complex tasks, and posseses an encyclopedic knowledge of how to organise well-supported events.

Sarah has extensive and diverse experience in the fields of administration, health care, and hospitality.  Previously, Sarah’s roles at the University of Otago have included executive support for the Dean of the School of Medicine, and the Dean of the faculty of Dentistry. She worked for a number of years in finance at Otago Museum Trust Board, and prior to that worked in the Operating Theatres at Southern District Health Board.

Sarah is knowledgeable about all things Ageing Well-related and is looking forward to supporting the ongoing development of the Challenge’s work. She can be reached at