Strategic Advisory 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 is the former Director of New Zealand’s National Science Challenge for Ageing Well, and 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.

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.

Dr Ofa Dewes

Dr 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, and Research Fellow at the University’s Centre of Methods and Policy Application in the Social Sciences. Ofa holds a doctoral degree in health science and a masters 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 long-term chronic diseases, self-management support, family caring, and the church’s role in promoting health and well-being.

Ofa is a member of the NZ Health Research Council’s Pacific Research Committee, the NZ Council of Christian Social Services Older People’s Policy Group, Unitec Technical Institute Fono Faufautua, and board member of the Tongan Health Society Inc and a women’s refuge. She also serves on the advisory panels to the Ministry for Business, Innovation & Employment’s Ageing Well and Healthier Lives National Science Challenges, and the Edgar Diabetes and Obesity Research Board at the University of Otago.

Ofa is Fiji-born of Rotuman/Tongan/Tuvaluan/Tokelauan ethnicity with affiliation to Ngāti Porou.

Professor Nancy Longnecker

Professor Nancy Longnecker is Professor of Science Communication at the University of Otago, with decades of experience practicing, teaching and researching science communication.

She has curated dozens of exhibitions and displays that have been seen by hundreds of thousands of visitors in New Zealand and Australia. Many of these exhibitions have included input from her science communication students, including Ageing Well’s Well Balanced exhibition.

In 2016, Nancy and her students created Well Balanced in collaboration with researchers at Ageing Well National Science Challenge and the Otago Museum Design team. Initially displayed at the Museum, Well Balancedwas repurposed as a travelling exhibition which has now been seen by over 10,000 people.

She and her students have also 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 enjoys creating interactive displays and exhibitions that help people engage with research findings and new information. View Professor Nancy Longnecker’s 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 past 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.

View Professor Neville’s profile.
Twitter: @Stephen_Neville

Professor Matthew Parsons

Professor Matthew 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.

View Professor Matthew Parsons’ profile.

Dr Phil Wood

Dr Phil Wood is a Geriatrician (Waitemata DHB), with roles in the Northern Region as a Clinical Leader, in 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 a new model of Care for Older People. He is also in private practice on Auckland’s North Shore.

Amber Clarke

E hoka tāku manu ki te tihi o Maukatere
te maunga whakahī tū mai rā!
Whātaretare ana te titiro ki te awa o Rakahuri e rere rā
Kō Te Makawhiua te waka e teretere ana i te awa
Makawhiua ki tai ki uta e.
Tau ana tāku manu ki te tumu kuku
Te pā harakeke
Ko Tuahiwi te marae|
Kō Maahanui te tuarua te whare whakaruruhau
Ko Ngāi Tūāhuriri te hapū
Ko Ngāi Tahu te iwi
Tihei Mauri Ora

Amber Clarke is the current Kaiārahi Hauora, Strategic Manager for Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. She locates herself as a descendent of the hapū of Ngāi Tūāhuriri and acknowledges the long line of Kāi Tahu who mentored her generation in service of their communities.

For the past two decades Amber has translated between worlds, as an inter-cultural navigator within various institutions and rōpū, both māori and mainstream in the areas of hauora, research and education.

She believes that Kaumātua hold an integral place in the generational transfer of knowledge within whānau and communities and is humbled to be a part of the Challenge where the interface between research and community can transform outcomes for those who taught the generation before.

Associate Professor Clive Aspin

Associate Professor Clive Aspin (Ngāti Maru, Ngāti Whanaunga, Ngāti Tamaterā) is a public health researcher who grew up on his ancestral land of Hauraki and teaches in the Faculty of Health at Victoria University of Wellington. He is the inaugural Associate Dean Māori in the Faculty of Health.

His work and interests focus on the health and social wellbeing of Māori and indigenous peoples, with a particular focus on HIV, chronic conditions, health services, and more recently, mental health and suicide.

His work is underpinned by international relationships and collaborations that include Australia, Canada and Cambodia.

Dr Joanna Hikaka

Dr Jo Hikaka (Ngāruahine) is a pharmacist and health researcher based at Waipapa Tauamata Rau – University of Auckland. She worked as a pharmacist at Waitematā DHB for almost two decades where she held pharmacy leadership positions in older adult medicine, lectured at AUT, and has been responsible for mentoring, training and assessing intern pharmacists.

She completed her PhD in 2021 on the quality use of medicines in Māori older adults and developing a culturally safe service model for community-dwelling Māori older adults. Her current research focuses on equitable access to medicines for Māori, iwi-driven injury prevention and rehabilitatin for older Māori, and Māori experiences and expectations of kaumātua care.

Dr Hikaka is a founding member and past President of Ngā Kaitiaki o Te Puna Rongoā o Aotearoa – The Māori Pharmacists’ Association, and in 2019 received the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand’s Pharmacist of the Year Award.

In 2021, she was awarded a Fulbright Science and Innovation Graduate Award and has chosen to research the development of pro-equity healthcare interventions for older adults at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, USA.