Director Leanne Wicham


Leanne Wickham

(04) 527 2851


Operations Manager Peter Benner


Peter Benner

(04) 527 2852


Visitor Services Manager Fiona Wright


Fiona Wright

(04) 527 2163


Curator Chriss Doherty Mc Gregor


Chriss Doherty McGregor

(04) 527 2853


Exhibitions and Events Technician David Brennan


David Brennan

(04) 527 2141


Learning Programme Specilists Claire Mepham


Claire Kirkup

(04) 529 0086



Chair: Zoe Juniper

Zoe Juniper has lived in Upper Hutt with her family since immigrating to New Zealand in 2007.  Zoe is a talented crafter, working with wool fibres to make and promote wool fibre crafts in the Wellington region. As a member of the Upper Hutt Spinners and Weavers, Zoe is one of the organisers of the annual Capital FibreFest. Zoe works for the New Zealand Government as a professionally trained Emergency Manager and Geophysicist, with an MSc in Disaster, Risk & Resilience. Zoe brings a range of skills in governance, planning and risk management to support Whirinaki Whare Taonga.

Graeme Talbot, OBE

Graeme served in the Army for 38 years until his retirement as Brigadier in 1997. He then became Chief Executive of the Transqual ITO, developing it over 10 years into an organisation responsible for national qualifications training. In 2007, he became Senior Associate for the business consultancy firm McDonnell Wellington Ltd until his final retirement in 2009. Graeme was a member of the Rotary Club of Heretaunga for 29 years and a trustee on the Board at Te Omanga Hospice for 10 years, including two years as Chair. Graeme is keen to give back to the community, bringing this valuable knowledge and experience to Whirinaki.

Emma Chatterton

Emma Chatterton has lived in Avalon with her husband and four children for the last five years. She is the Strategic Project Lead for ImpactLab, a Wellington-based company that helps to make investment work for communities. Emma is also an Advisory Board member for Women of Worth charity in Lower Hutt.

To the board of Whirinaki, Emma brings the experience of being a professional musician as a pianist and trained teacher; her knowledge of the charitable and philanthropic sector, strategic planning and public relations; and an understanding of business fundamentals. She holds a Master of Arts (Music) from the University of Cambridge (UK), a BA(Hons) in English Literature from Victoria University (Wellington), PGCE in Secondary Teaching from Buckingham University (UK), and CORe qualification in Economics, Business Analytics and Financial Accounting from Harvard Business School Online (USA). Emma is a strong advocate of arts education and has facilitated workshops for Music Education New Zealand (MENZA) as well as regularly volunteering in her children’s schools and ECE centres as a specialist music teacher.

Angele Toomey

Policy thought leader, diversity champion, evaluator, and poet - Angele Toomey joined the Board in July 2022. Angele is experienced in community-led design and people-centered design principles, as well as governance and strategy development. As a poet Angele performs regularly around the Wellington region and on Community Access Radio. Angele's first anthology of original work, Harbour, was published in May 2021.

Tim Thorpe

Tim Thorpe is currently the New Zealand manager for an Australian forestry company, the sector in which he originally trained. He has also worked in or consulted to the film, television and video games sectors over a number of years as well as in music and museums, including a range of government departments and industry associations. Tim is an amateur musician and a former committee member of the Upper Hutt Mainly Acoustic Music Club. He has lived in Upper Hutt for over 20 years.

Stephen Ward

Stephen is proven senior leader with extensive experience in leadership and management across both private and public sectors in New Zealand and the UK. He is currently the Head of Technology Workforce for BNZ, a role where he is passionate about workforce strategy, leadership practice, culture and engagement.

Stephen has had involvement in the arts for over 20 years, finding a passion in performing arts and musical theatre. Stephen has performed in a number of productions across both Dunedin and Wellington, and also contributed off-stage in various capacities, including serving as a board member.

Bringing a wealth of experience in leadership, governance, and strategy, Stephen is pleased to be able to share this with Whirinaki Whare Taonga and make a contribution to the future of arts and culture in Upper Hutt.

Advisory Trustee: Hine Poa

Hine Poa is Orongomai Marae’s representative on the Board of Whirinaki. Hine Poa is of Tūhoe and Ngāti Kahungunu descent and is part of the Kaumatua group at Orongamai Marae. Hine was a founding member of the renowned Kapa Haka group Māwai Hakona and has been institutional in teaching many children throughout the region in te reo and Kapa Haka. She was involved in the Māori Women’s Welfare League and Rimutaka Prison for many years and brings to Whirinaki support and advice in Tikanga Maori and Kaupapa Maori.

Pumpkin Cottage Advisory Trustee: Suzanne Beere

Suzanne Bere is an art consultant with over 25 years’ experience in the art industry. She is the previous owner of Ngaio Fine Arts and has vast experience and knowledge of the Pumpkin Cottage Collection.  Suzanne and her father, Max Beer, bought the Lewis-Paape Gallery in Lower Hutt in the early 1980s, developing it into a reputable quality art gallery representing many of New Zealand’s best traditional and impressionist artists. They specialised in early investment work with clients throughout New Zealand. Suzanne supports Whirinaki with advice and assessment of gifts and bequests of artwork to the Pumpkin Cottage Collection.

Music Advisory Trustee: Sianne Wilkinson