The MAS Foundation will invest in health initiatives in New Zealand, and its success will depend on getting it off to the best possible start. After an extensive search, we have appointed five trustees and two Heads of Foundation who will help us do just that.
MAS Foundation tackles implicit bias in the health sector
Dr Julie Wharewera-Mika and Ms Mafi Funaki-Tahifote have been appointed joint Heads of Foundation for the MAS Foundation, the philanthropic arm of insurance and investment provider MAS.
Jennifer Gill ONZM
With more than 35 years’ experience in New Zealand philanthropy, Jennifer Gill was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to philanthropy and was the inaugural winner of the Perpetual Guardian Lifetime Achievement in Philanthropy Award.
“The chance to be on the board of a new foundation and be a part of shaping it from the ground up is a very unique and exciting opportunity. It’s so encouraging to see an organisation like MAS saying, ‘Listen, we can add value here and take care of the wider New Zealand public as well as our Members.’"
“I started working in philanthropy in 1984 and have been part of funding numerous initiatives into the health sector, so I’ll be able to provide a counterbalance to my fellow trustees with medical experience. I’ll be dependent on them for their sector knowledge, and they can draw on my extensive philanthropy knowledge.”
Sharon Shea MNZM
Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Haua, Ngāti Hine and Ngāti Hako
Recently awarded an MNZM for services to Māori health and development, Sharon Shea chairs the Māori Expert Advisory Group for the Health and Disability System Review and is currently Deputy Chair of the Bay of Plenty District Health Board. “What intrigued me about the MAS Foundation was the intent to make a noticeable difference for our communities – whānau, hapū and iwi."
“We have the opportunity to be a gamechanger in our philanthropic approach to investing in concepts like advancing Treaty of Waitangi relationships in this country. New Zealand has always been a nation that prides itself on its values around equity and respect – MAS is acting proactively on those values. With the board’s ethnic diversity and experience combined, we have the chance to invest really strategically and create long-term sustainable change.”
Dr Carrie Bryers
Dr Carrie Bryers is the youngest of the trustees, yet has an impressive, diverse background in Māori health, nursing and medicine. She recently completed a Master of Public Health (First Class Honours), with a dissertation focusing on Māori health inequities.
“I’m excited to create an overall vision for the MAS Foundation together with my fellow trustees and hopefully bring some valuable public health experience with me. For me, it’s about critiquing the bigger picture."
"My background is in medicine, working with patients, but I’ve always wanted to work in a broader sense, sparking systemic change and looking at the impacts at a community and population level. I’m very passionate about paying attention to equity too, ensuring what we do is inclusive of the commitments we have to the Tiriti o Waitangi and doing that with integrity.”
Professor Boyd Swinburn
Currently a Professor of Population Nutrition and Global Health at the University of Auckland, Professor Boyd Swinburn is an internationally recognised public health physician and has more than 30 years’ experience in health research. “I’ve been a MAS Member for all of my career, and when this idea came up, I thought it was a stroke of genius. MAS wants to be different and find a niche that other funding agencies are not fulfilling yet."
“A lot of businesses want to be good corporate citizens, but most are tied up in the existing systems where they need profit for shareholders. MAS has always operated on a different formula. This isn’t just a single page in a company report – this is serious."
“The government hasn’t been strong enough on prevention research and evaluation, so there’s an opportunity to be a catalyst with strategic research programmes.”
Folasaitu Dr Julia Ioane
Folasaitu Dr Julia Ioane is a bilingual New Zealand-born Samoan with a Matai title from the village of Fasitoouta, Samoa. A senior lecturer in psychology at AUT and a registered clinical psychologist, Julia works to promote research that has a meaningful impact on all the diverse communities in Aotearoa. “This foundation will provide another funding avenue for research that promotes health and has the potential to impact and influence our diverse communities in Aotearoa."
“My background as a clinical psychologist working directly with our children and their families is something I will bring to the table. I work with our most high-need Māori and Pasifika communities where I know there isn’t enough research nor genuine opportunity to promote health that is clearly understood by all."
“More importantly, my background as a Samoan is something I will draw on. I can bring in that voice of our Pasifika community, which often doesn’t get representation. “It’s about early intervention, education and thinking about the ‘so what?’ behind everything we do to ensure we have a plan for sustaining any positive change we make.”
Chairperson, MAS Board; Interim MAS Board Representative
Harley is a General Practitioner in Otara, South Auckland. He has been involved in several projects with the local District Health Board to research and improve health for the local community, integrating care, and trying new models of care. He is currently Chairman of ProCare Health Limited.