Chairperson– Geoff Mason
Geoff Mason has a degree in chemical and materials engineering with a graduate diploma in business management and is a member of the Institute of Directors. Geoff has 31 years experience since graduation including one and half years with Solid Energy and five years with Thames Water Asia/Pacific Pty Ltd in Melbourne Australia. During that time, he was responsible for managing the engineering procurement and construction of water and wastewater projects in Australia and Asia. He worked at North Shore City Council for nine years and was General Manager of Water Services responsible for 220 staff.
Trustee – Bill Thomas
MSc, BSc (Hons)
Mr Thomas is an IT professional working in the industry for 36 years in various roles in New Zealand and England, most recently as a network consultant. Originally based in Wellington, Bill has lived on Auckland’s North Shore since 1992. Bill joined the Auckland Astronomical Society, the largest in New Zealand in the year 2000 and was elected to the role of President in 2014. Bill has been keenly interested in astronomy since a young age and wrote his master’s thesis on the Sun’s magnetic cycle. Bill is also a Stardome volunteer, one of those that operate the Edith Winstone Blackwell Zeiss telescope for public viewing sessions.
Trustee – Conor Roberts
Conor Roberts has a background in public affairs and communications in both the public and private sectors. He is currently Head of Public Affairs at Spark New Zealand after working for Todd Property Group. Prior to that, Conor served as Chief Political Advisor and Campaign Manager for the Mayor of Auckland during the establishment years of the Auckland Council. He has strong relationships across central and local government, industry and community groups and with the media and has experience in using innovative communications to promote and support the activities of the entities he is involved with.
Trustee – Diana Patchett
Diana Patchett brings to the board extensive experience as an educator and has held senior roles at schools in Australia and New Zealand. Since 2013 she has been Principal of Kristin Junior School. She has a Masters of Educational Studies, University of Queensland (2010), a Post Graduate Diploma of Education, University of New England (1996) and a Bachelor of Science (Cell Biology, Zoology), University of British Columbia (1987). Diana has had numerous professional works published internationally and delivered conference presentations on science and values education. Diana’s research and practice in education have been recognised with a number of national awards, fellowships and grants.
Trustee – Carol Gernhoefer
Carol is a Chartered Accountant with international experience working for large firms in New Zealand, the UK, and Japan. At governance level, she has held Board positions for not-for-profit organisations including Independent Living Service and the Auckland War Memorial Museum. She has over twenty years of financial management, valuation, auditing, commercial accounting and governance experience. She is also the creator of the ‘Auckland for Kids’ website and enjoys spending time with her young family, the arts, and travelling.
Trustee – Richard Sorrenson
Richard has long had an interest in the history of astronomy and obtained his PhD in the history of science from Princeton University. He is the author of Perfect Mechanics: Instrument Makers at the Royal Society of London in the Eighteenth Century (Docent Press, Boston Mass., 2013) and manages the University of Auckland Foundation and its endowment fund.
Trustee – Wendy Youens
Wendy is a media accessibility professional with a decade of experience in the New Zealand media industry. Wendy is Chief Executive of Able, a not-for-profit organisation providing captioning and audio description services to New Zealand broadcasters. Previously Wendy was TVNZ’s Access Services manager, and from late 2013, when Able launched as an independent organisation, Wendy has led the team to increase accessibility on New Zealand screens, and works closely with government, broadcasters and sector organisations to grow media accessibility. Wendy is a keen tramper and kayaker and is passionate about helping others to enjoy the great outdoors. In her spare time, Wendy volunteers with an organisation that helps equip young people with outdoors skills.
Trustee – Niven Brown
PhD, BE Mech (Hons)
Dr Niven Brown is a director of an automation business, kanDO Innovation, that specialises in robotics and vision systems. With a degree and PhD in mechanical engineering, he has a mix of academic and business experience including five years working at Universities in France and the UK. He has been the Auckland Astronomical Society’s outreach and special events coordinator for the past two years and is now its Treasurer. His interest in astronomy and cosmology is coupled to his passion for education and public outreach and he enjoys sharing that passion with children and adults alike.
Trustee – James Hawes
James Hawes is a barrister and solicitor and is a partner in the leading New Zealand commercial law firm Simpson Grierson. He has a wealth of experience in corporate and commercial law in New Zealand and the United Kingdom and has significant experience in acting for trusts and unincorporated societies. James graduated with a BA in Modern History from Sommerville College, Oxford University and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Law from Oxford Brookes University. He is also a keen amateur astronomer, making him a great fit for the board.
Honorary Secretary – Kevin Murphy
Mr Murphy has been the Board Secretary since 1991. He was most recently employed as a Telecommunications Network Designer with Visionstream’s Ultra Fast Broadband team. Prior to this he served 10 years as an Engineering Consultant with Kordia and 26 years with the Airways Corporation of New Zealand and has a professional background in communications/broadcast facilities management and design and project management.