Executive governance team

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Dr Diana Sarfati. Dr Diana Sarfati: Director-General of Health and Chief Executive

Dr Diana Sarfati was appointed to the role of Director-General of Health and Chief Executive of the Ministry of Health in November 2022 having acted in the role since July 2022. 

Diana is a public health physician, cancer epidemiologist and health services researcher, and she has a PhD from the University of Otago.

Diana was previously Tumuaki, Chief Executive and National Director of Te Aho o Te Kahu – Cancer Control Agency and prior to that she was National Director of Cancer Control at the Ministry of Health where she oversaw the implementation of the agency. From 2015 to 2019, Diana was the co-head and then head of the Department of Public Health and the Director of the Cancer and Chronic Conditions (C3) research group at University of Otago, Wellington.

Diana is a former member of the National Cancer Programme Leadership Board, the National Screening Advisory Group, the National Ethics Advisory Committee, the Bowel Cancer Taskforce and the National Bowel Cancer Screening Advisory Committee.

She is currently a Lancet Commissioner for the Health Systems and Cancer Lancet Commission, and a member of the International Advisory Committee to Lancet Oncology, the Advisory Committee to International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) Pacific cancer hub, IARC’s international expert group on social inequalities in cancer, and the Board of the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership. 

She also led a Lancet Oncology series on cancer in small island developing states.

Robyn Shearer: Deputy Director-General, Clinical, Community and Mental Health | Te Pou Whakakaha, and Deputy Chief ExecutiveRobyn Shearer.

Robyn has worked in the health sector for over 30 years. She comes from a clinical background, beginning her experience with nursing and has worked in frontline mental health services and leadership roles in District Health Boards.

Robyn came to Manatū Hauora with a vast range of sector experience having been the CEO for Te Pou o te Whakaaro nui for ten years. During this time, she grew Te Pou to be internationally recognised for evidence-based workforce and information/research programmes in mental health, addiction and disability and she created strong sector partnerships to enhance people’s lives through service improvement. Prior to this, Robyn worked for the Health Research Council and in the Ministry of Health in workforce development, policy and leading the Mental Health Group.

Within Manatū Hauora, Robyn established the Mental Health and Addiction Directorate team and led the DHB Performance Programme which established an intensive support programme to support DHBs with performance challenges. From mid-2020, Robyn was Acting Deputy Chief Executive and supported the Director General with areas such as workforce development, COVID response and cross agency relationships.

Celia Wellington. Celia Wellington: Deputy Director-General, Corporate Services | Te Pou Tiaki

Celia has extensive experience in people strategy, policy development and implementation of organisation-wide initiatives, along with strong technical expertise in organisational and capability development, culture change and employee engagement.

Celia has a background as an organisational psychologist, with over 12 years delivering organisational development consultancy services across the public and private sectors. She went on to hold senior leadership roles within ACC, and then in ESR as General Manager People and Communications, before joining Manatū Hauora as the Group Manager People and Capability.

Dean Rutherford. Dean Rutherford: Deputy Director-General, Evidence Research and Innovation | Te Pou Whakamārama

Dean has spent more than 25 years working in a range of roles across the public sector, with a focus on data, reporting and analytics. He joined Manatū Hauora in 2019 in the role of GM of Health and Disability Intelligence where he led the analytics and health surveys teams, as well as a growing the health research function. Dean has led the analytics function across the Ministry, focusing on growing capability and standardising the way in which analytics and analysis are created and used.

As Deputy Director General, Dean and his teams are working with colleagues across the health system to ensure evidence, research and innovation are embedded in the way we collectively deliver our work.

Sarah Turner. Sarah Turner: Deputy Director-General, Government and Executive Services | Te Pou Whakatere Kāwanatanga

Sarah’s management career has included policy, service delivery and operations, as well as leading and embedding organisational change. Over her career, she has led teams and business units ranging in size from nine to 900 people.

Sarah joined Manatū Hauora in early 2019 from the Ministry of Justice, where she spent eight years in group management and deputy secretary roles, with her work including service design and improvement, service commissioning, and implementing legislative change. 

Her role at Manatū Hauora has involved looking after the machinery of government and integrity processes associated with supporting Ministers, the Director-General and the Executive Team. Sarah’s current responsibilities include the operating model for the Ministry in the new system and the organisational design required to support it.

John Whaanga. John Whaanga: Deputy Director-General, Māori Health | Te Pou Hauora Māori

John is affiliated to Ngāti Rākaipaaka, Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Rongomaiwahine. In 2018, he was acknowledged in parliament for his work in successfully negotiating a $100 million Treaty of Waitangi settlement for Ngā Iwi me Ngā Hapū o Te Rohe o Te Wairoa – this was the culmination of over 30 years work. 

John began his career in the Department of Conservation in 1989 (working on Treaty of Waitangi policy and negotiations), before moving on to the Ministry of Education (Māori Education Group) in 1991. 

John originally joined the Ministry of Health in 1993, as a foundation member of the then newly established Māori Health Directorate, Te Kete Hauora. He then spent six years working in the Ministry, culminating in management roles in both public health and Māori health (as Manager, Te Kete Hauora). Following that, John worked for KPMG Consulting for 2 years and then for over 10 years he ran his own management consulting company, Kaipuke Consultants Limited.

John then undertook a number of significant roles in tertiary education, including as: Chief Advisor Wānanga, Tertiary Education Commission; Deputy Chief Executive, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa; and Chief Operating Officer, Taratahi Institute of Agriculture. He returned to the Ministry of Health and took up his current position in 2019.

Dr Andrew Old. Dr Andrew Old: Deputy Director-General, Public Health Agency | Te Pou Hauora Tūmatanui

Andrew is a public health physician and previously held positions as Associate Chief Medical Officer for Waitematā District Health Board (DHB), and as Clinical Director, Health Gain for Auckland and Waitematā DHBs. From January 2020 he was seconded to the COVID-19 response for the Northern Region of New Zealand, becoming the Chief Clinical Officer in February 2022.

Andrew was a 2018/19 Commonwealth Fund Harkness Fellow, and was based between the Clinical Excellence Research Center at Stanford University and the Social Interventions Research Evaluation Network at UC San Francisco.

Andrew received his medical and public health degrees from the University of Auckland and is a Fellow of both the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine and of the New Zealand College of Public Health Medicine. He was awarded Fellowship of the New Zealand Medical Association in 2011 for services to the profession and the public.

Simon MedcalfSimon Medcalf: Deputy Director-General, Regulation and Monitoring | Te Pou Whakamaru

Simon came to Manatū Hauora – the Ministry of Health with extensive experience in the United Kingdom which included 15 years as a senior civil servant in a range of roles in the Department of Health, Cabinet Office and NHS England. During his time in the UK, he led on many different national policy programmes, including work on a multi-year plan and funding for the NHS in England, and designing the reform of the adult social care system.

After joining Manatū Hauora in early 2020, Simon supported the early Covid response and was then seconded to the Transition Unit in DPMC to lead policy and legislation for the Government's health reforms - culminating in the Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Act that came into effect in July 2022. Subsequently, as Group Manager – Strategy, within Strategy Policy and Legislation | Te Pou Rataki, he led the development of the suite of six new health strategies published in July 2022. 

As Deputy Director-General for Regulation and Monitoring | Te Pou Whakamaru, Simon now oversees the delivery of high-quality and safe services.

Maree Roberts. Maree Roberts: Deputy Director-General, Strategy Policy and Legislation | Te Pou Rautaki

Maree has had a wide range of experience in the public service, primarily in social sector policy relating to children, young people, families and communities.

Maree held several senior roles in the Ministry for Social Development in Policy and Service Delivery and in the Ministry for Children. She managed large government programmes such as the White Paper for Vulnerable Children and the development of the Vulnerable Children Act. She also led several change programmes relating to Child, Youth and Family, Vulnerable Children and the Ministerial Work Programme on Family and Sexual Violence.

Over her career, Maree has had a variety of roles including as a Private Secretary, managing employment and skills policy in the Department of Labour, and working for the Ministry of Education in Christchurch following the earthquakes. She also contributed to the set-up of the Children’s Ministry.

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