Strategic Advisory Group

  • Professor Debra Waters


    Professor Debra Waters is the Director of Gerontology Research at the University of Otago, which an role split between the Department Medicine in the Dunedin School of Medicine, and School of Physiotherapy. She has been conducting gerontology research since 1996 and is an internationally recognized expert in the loss of skeletal muscle mass and function with ageing (sarcopenia), frailty, and falls prevention. She collaborates with colleagues in France, the US, Canada, Australia, and Asia and is a regular key note speaker at sarcopenia and frailty conferences. She also hold an adjunct research appointment at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in the US where she was the Associate Director of the Aging and Genetic Epidemiology Division and the New Mexico Aging Process study before coming to New Zealand in 2005.

    She is the Vice President for the New Zealand Association of Gerontology, an executive council member of the Australia New Zealand Society of Sarcopenia and Frailty and serves on the task force for the International Conf of Frailty and Sarcopenia based in Europe. She was the founder and former Director of the Collaboration of Ageing Research Excellence Research Theme at the University of Otago, which is part of the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics Global Aging Research Network.  She is also serves on the Southern Falls and Fractures Prevention Steering Group, which is a cross-sectorial group that provides leadership and advice for an integrated, sustainable, evidence-based model of care to reduce the risk of injury from falls and fractures in older adults.

  • Associate Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie

    Co-Director, Māori

    Associate Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie (Ngāti Maniapoto me Te Arawa) joined the Department of Anatomy at the University of Otago in 2010. Louise completed her undergraduate and doctoral training at the University of Otago, and was appointed as a Postdoctoral and Research Fellows (2003-2007) at the National Institutes of Health in the United States. Her internationally recognised expertise is understanding how brain cell activity controls movement and characterising changes associated with Parkinson’s disease. She is working with bioengineers to develop a light-based brain stimulation technology that may be used in the future to treat Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders. Louise has recently extended her research programme to examine anatomical and physiological changes in the brain associated with chronic pain and to investigate Māori community perspectives of neurosurgical approaches to treat neurological disorders and traumatic brain injury. Louise has been an invited speaker at prestigious conferences in the United States, such as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (Janelia) and Gordon Research Conferences. She is on the Māori Advisory Board for Brain Research New Zealand – Roro Rangahau Aotearoa Centre of Research Excellence, is the Secretary of the International Basal Ganglia Society Council and has been on the Executive Committee for Te Poutama, the University of Otago’s Māori Academic Staff Caucus.

  • Sarah Clark

    Sarah Clark is currently the Chief Executive of the Social Workers Registration Board. Prior to this she has held a number of roles across government with an emphasis on building effective relationships, connecting and facilitating between research and policy, and promoting clear and easy ways of sharing information. She developed a passion for issues relating to ageing when Director of the Office for Seniors, one of the population offices within the Ministry of Social Development based in Wellington. Sarah has also held a number of research roles including a period of time spent at Parliament and with the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

  • Associate Professor Elana Curtis

    Associate Professor Elana Taipapaki Curtis (Ngāti Rongomai, Ngāti Pikiao, Te Arawa) is a Public Health Physician currently working as Senior Lecturer Medical at Te Kūpenga Hauora Māori, University of Auckland. She is Director Vision 20:20 at Te Kūpenga Hauora Māori – Department of Māori Health that has leadership responsibility for the Whakapiki Ake Project (Māori recruitment, the CertHSc – a pre-degree programme aimed at increasing the number of Māori and Pacific students entering into Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing and Health Sciences), and MAPAS (Māori and Pacific Admission Scheme). In 2004 – 2005, Elana was a Harkness Fellow in Healthcare Policy based at the University of California (San Francisco) – investigating ethnic disparities in breast cancer mortality and survival. Prior to this, Elana worked at the National Screening Unit, Ministry of Health in Wellington where she investigated Māori:non-Māori disparities in breast cancer epidemiology, and at Te Ropu Rangahau Hauora a Eru Pōmare – Māori Health Research Centre at the University of Otago investigating ethnic disparities in access to invasive cardiovascular procedures/caesarean sections and the relationship between disparities and deprivation. Her research interests include investigating ethnic inequalities in health using a Kaupapa Māori Research framework in order to eliminate existing disparities. She has more recently focused on education and health workforce research exploring what helps and hinders Māori student success within tertiary health professional study. She has recently completed her MD and is kept busy by Iritekura (6 years), Taipapaki (9 years) and Breezy (17 years).

  • Dr Ofa Dewes

    Ofa Dewes is an Associate Investigator of the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery, a national Centre of Research Excellence hosted by the University of Auckland. She is also a Research Fellow at the University’s Department of Molecular Medicine & Pathology, and School of Nursing. Ofa holds a doctoral degree in health science and a master’s in business administration. She has worked extensively in the public, private and international sectors. Strong connections with Pacific countries and peoples have influenced the direction of her research in ethnic-specific studies across the life-span especially in metabolic diseases, family caring, and the church’s role in promoting health and wellbeing. Ofa is Chair of the NZ Health Research Council’s Pacific Research Committee and board member of the Tongan Health Society and a women’s refuge. She also serves on the advisory panels to the Ageing Well and Healthier Lives National Science Challenges, Edgar Diabetes and Obesity Research Board at the University of Otago, and Unitec Technical Institute’s Fono Faufautua. Ofa is Fiji-born of Rotuman, Tongan, and Tuvaluan ethnicity, with affiliation to Ngāti Porou.

  • Professor Nancy Longnecker

    Nancy Longnecker is Professor of Science Communication at the University of Otago. She has considerable experience obtaining research funding, conducting research, reporting and publishing results, supervising, mentoring, networking with industry, working collaboratively, developing curriculum and teaching. In 2016, she and her students worked with researchers at New Zealand’s Ageing Well National Science Challenge and the Museum Design team to put on an interactive exhibition, Well Balanced. Well Balanced subsequently travelled around NZ, in collaboration with the Accident Compensation Commission. In 2017, she and her class worked with Te Koronga, the University of Otago’s Māori Science Research Theme to deliver an exhibition exploring the value of integrating a mātauranga Māori viewpoint and western research approach. Nancy’s research program is helping to develop an evidence base to determine impact and effectiveness of science engagement. She leads a strong international team of researchers, including PhD and MSciComm students. Nancy has also published work aimed at improved teaching and learning of science communication. Profile:

  • Dr Tia Neha

    Dr Tia Neha (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau Ā Apanui me Ngā Puhi) is the Māori and Indigenous Lecturer in Psychology at Victoria University of Wellington. She is the team leader and primary investigator of the Whānau Lab in the School of Psychology. Her current research interests include four key areas, broadly linked and over-arched by relationships within Māori and Indigenous Psychology. These areas include indigenous and developmental psychology between whānau and their children’s learning; autobiographical memory with whānau across the lifespan; language research and Māori paediatric health. Tia also collaborates with people in Indigenous and Cultural Psychology from local and international universities such as Canterbury, Limerick, Amsterdam and Denver. She is currently on Victoria University of Wellington’s Masters of Health Psychology Working Committee and a member of the Toihuarewa Māori Academic network.

  • Professor Stephen Neville

    Professor Stephen Neville is the Head of Nursing and responsible for the strategic, academic and operational leadership and management of the discipline at Auckland University of Technology. He has extensive experience as an academic and researcher in nursing and gerontology, and has held senior academic positions in a variety of tertiary education institutions in New Zealand. Stephen has a strong clinical background in gerontology and has taught at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, as well as supervising graduate students undertaking masterate and doctoral theses.

    Stephen’s research interests relate to the health and well-being of communities, particularly marginalised populations’ encompassing sexual minority groups and older citizens, as well as health workforce development. He is the Co-Director of the AUT Centre for Active Ageing. The dissemination of research outputs are in quality assured forums including refereed journals and conferences. He is the current President of the New Zealand Association of Gerontology, Fellow and life member of the College of Nurses Aotearoa (NZ) and Editor of the Journal of Clinical Nursing.


    Twitter: @Stephen_Neville

  • Professor Les Oxley

    Les Oxley is Professor in Economics, University of Waikato; Adjunct Professor, Curtin University; Affiliate at Motu; Research Associate, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis (CAMA); and Research Affiliate, Centre for Economic History (CEH), ANU. He is an Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand (RSNZ) and his research interests include time series econometrics; economic history; the economics of innovation; health economics; energy economics; environmental economics and economic well-being. He was Chair of the Business and Economics Panel of the 2018 PBRF research assessment exercise. He is Co-Editor in Chief and joint Founding Editor of the Journal of Economic Surveys and a Board Member of the New Zealand Institute for Economic Research (NZIER). He has published on a wide range of topics and won six Marsden Funded research projects.

  • Professor Matthew Parsons PhD MSc BSc (Hons) RGN NZRN

    Professor Parsons holds the position of clinical chair in gerontology, a joint appointment between Waikato District Health Board and the University of Waikato. His role focuses on service development around older person health and the training of health professionals in the Midlands region.  He has spent his career researching and implementing new health services to improve the lives of older people and people with disabilities.

    His particular area of interest concerns the development of new models of health funding to change health service behaviour and improve quality of service delivery.

  • Dr Phil Wood

    Dr Phil Wood is a Geriatrician (Waitemata DHB), with roles in the Northern Region as a Clinical Leader, the Ministry of Health as Chief Advisor for Healthy Ageing and Co-Director Director of BRNZ’s Dementia Prevention Research Clinics.

    Dr Wood’s clinical work particularly focuses on the Memory Clinic at North Shore Hospital and the Regional leadership role involves exploring, advising and promoting new model of Care for Older People. He also in private practice on Auckland’s North Shore.