Meet the team

Our board and management team at Whanganui & Partners is made up of friendly and experienced people who have a passion for seeing the Whanganui district thrive.

Meet our experts

Paul Chaplow

Strategic Lead – Visitor Industries

Paul has years of experience working in the tourism industry in New Zealand and internationally. He works with our tourism operators and regional partners to lift the value of the visitor economy in Whanganui.

Jonathan Sykes

Strategic Lead – Brand and Events

Jonathan has worked in branding for businesses both in New Zealand and abroad. He’s now turning his expertise to building up the Whanganui brand. He also oversees the Whanganui i-SITE and is the go-to person for any questions about event funding and support.

Tim Easton

Business Growth Advisor, Regional Business Partner Network

Tim works directly with local business owners and sole traders to help them achieve their business goals. He advises on new business ideas, staffing, location, product development, markets and more. Get in touch with Tim about any questions or get started with a Business Enquiry Form.

Nilesh Prasad

Strategic Lead – Organisational Planning and Administration

Nilesh is the first person you’ll see when you visit the Innovation Quarter. She makes sure our team is operating efficiently and with focus. Her organisational and administrative skills ensure we get the most impact out of our work.

Colleen Sheldon

Strategic Lead – Agribusiness

Colleen knows the rural sector through experience as both a regional councillor and a dairy farm owner. She works with agribusiness stakeholders to develop strategies and initiatives that will develop our region into a food and fibre powerhouse.

Hannah Kelly

Strategic Lead – International and Capability

Hannah works closely with education providers and industry to make sure that the right training and educational opportunities are available to build up the skills that our economy needs. She also promotes Whanganui as a top destination for international students.

Emma Bugden

Strategic Lead - Creative Industries & Arts

Emma works directly with artists and creative workers to make Whanganui a place where creatives thrive. She has been working in the arts for two decades, as an artist, consultant, curator and advocate. She is deeply involved in the local arts community and has been a member of the Public Art Steering Group for the Whanganui District Council,the Keynote Speaker for the CoLab glass conferencein 2019 and co-founder of the Whanganui Small Publishers Group.

Mark Ward

Chief Executive

Mark holds an MSc in cellular biology and molecular genetics from Auckland University and an MBA from Deakin University in Melbourne. His experience includes Chief Executive roles with the Wellington-based New Zealand Veterinary Association and Crop and Food Research. His career achievements encompass research and development, high level partnerships and financial and business performance improvement.

Nilesh Prasad

Strategic Lead – Organisational Planning and Administration

Nilesh is the first person you’ll see when you visit the Innovation Quarter. She makes sure our team is operating efficiently and with focus. Her organisational and administrative skills ensure we get the most impact out of our work.

Email Nilesh

Paul Chaplow

Strategic Lead – Visitor Industries

Tim Easton

Business Growth Advisor, Regional Business Partner Network

Hannah Kelly

Strategic Lead – International and Capability

Rhonda Morris

Strategic Lead – Manufacturing, Logistics and Commercial

Colleen Sheldon

Strategic Lead – Agribusiness

Jonathan Sykes

Strategic Lead – Brand and Events

Meet our board

Pahia Turia

Chair of Board

Pahia Turia is well known to many in Whanganui and brings a wealth of experience in governance and business management. Currently a consultant to Taipak Development Limited, Pahia continues to work with Appliance Repair Care Ltd, Parliamentary Services, Ngati Rangiwhakaturia, Taumata Haora Trust, and Nga Wairiki-Ngati Apa.

Gaelle Deighton

Board Member

Gaelle has previously been a resident and is relocating back to Whanganui as she has family in the region. Gaelle has an MBA from Southern Cross University, Australia and was previously CE of Manukau City’s economic development agency. She brings with her a wealth of experience in economic development and in-depth knowledge of central and local government processes and policies in economic development, employment, community and business development. Gaelle has strong governance experience and currently holds trustee positions with two community organisations delivering social services to their communities.

Susanne Clay

Board Member

Susanne is a commercial advisor for innovation, growth and strategy consulting and Director of Gecko Advisory Limited.  Susanne has held or holds positions in entrepreneurial management, commercialisation or governance with Wool Industry Research Ltd, NZ Wool Innovation Ltd, Croplogic Ltd, Kahne Limited, Living Cell Technologies Ltd, and internationally Minnesota Biosciences Council, Algos Therapeutics, Inc., and Cargill Inc.

Anne-Marie Broughton

Board Member

Anne-Marie was born and raised in the Whanganui region and has extensive experience in sustainability, innovation, business development, management and growth. An experienced Maori Land Development Consultant, Anne-Marie served on the Ministerial Advisory Panel for the Maori Land Service in 2017. She also served on the Taranaki-Whanganui Conservation Board for six years and was the Kaiwhakahaere (General Manager) of the Ngaa Rauru Kiitahi Post Settlement Governance Entity – Te Kaahui o Rauru for over five years.

Phillip Bedford

Board Member

Phillip Bedford is currently employed as the CEO of the New Zealand International Commercial Pilot Academy. Prior to this he was Commanding Officer at the base headquarters at Ohakea. He has an MBA (with distinction) from Massey University and was involved in the initial working groups relating to the Regional Growth Study, which was then formalised as Accelerate 25, the Manawatu-Whanganui Economic Action Plan. He has held executive level management positions and served in governance roles including as a Trustee of the RNZAF Welfare Fund, Chair Base Leadership Group Ohakea and as a Trustee of the Carncot Independent School.

Stephen Lee

Board Member

Stephen Lee is currently General Manager of Manuka Farming NZ Ltd. Prior to this he held positions in foreign affairs, trade and marketing. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting and Marketing from the University of Canterbury. In his current role he reports to the Board of Directors of Manuka Farming. He has also held the position of Chair of the Shepherd’s Arms Foundation, a charitable trust which runs a children’s home in the Philippines.

Our Partners

We partner with organisations, initiatives and local authorities to help us transform the Whanganui District, driving economic growth for all sectors.

In addition to our Key Iwi Partners, Tūpoho, Tama Ūpoko, Hinengākau, Ngā Rauru, Ngati Apa:

Whanganui Chamber of Commerce
Te Manu Atatu
100% SWEET
CEDA
Whanganui Maori Regional Tourism Organisation
New Zealand Trade & Enterprise
UCOL
Massey University
Tourism New Zealand
Rangitikei District Council
Horowhenua District Council
Mainstreet Whanganui

Get in touch with us.

Accelerate your business in Whanganui.