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Champions for Change

14 July 2023

From Nick Loosley and Dr Sina Tait to Adrian Palmer and Dame Ann Ballin, learn about the Champions for Change UC is showcasing to celebrate our 150th anniversary.

Nick Loosley
Nick Loosley

BCom 2008 

Nick Loosley is the founder of the multi-award-winning charity, Everybody Eats. With three goals, Everybody Eats aims to reduce food waste, food poverty, and social isolation in Aotearoa. Almost exclusively using surplus food and run by volunteers, customers pay whatever they can afford. In recognition of his enormous contribution to his community, Nick was awarded The KiwiBank New Zealand Local Hero of the Year award in 2020. Nick is also the owner of restaurants The Gables and Hone’s Garden, and co-founder of WITHWILD, a closed-loop conservation start-up that sources wild meat from Te Waipounamu.

Dr Sina Cotter Tait

BE (Hons) 2001, MBA 2015, PhD 2022 

With over 20 years of experience in consulting engineering, Sina is a leader in her field. Through her consultancy Collective Success, she provides engineering services to organisations who share her values. She is also a professional director, and has earned an MBA and PhD at the University of Canterbury in construction management. Sina is passionate about creating leadership pathways for rangatahi, especially Māori and Pasifika youth in infrastructure. She is a two-time recipient of the Engineering New Zealand Fulton-Downer Gold Medal for her contribution to the profession and, in 2022, she was elected a Fellow of Engineering New Zealand. 

Julia Arnott-Neenee

BCom, BA 2015 

A champion for digital equity and representation of Pacific Peoples in tech, Julia Arnott-Neenee carved out an international career working with HP in the UK, Ireland and California. Upon returning home in 2020, Julia co-founded Fibre Fale, a youth and purpose-led social enterprise. It has a mission to create pathways for more Pacific people to embark into technology through education, facilitation and advocacy – with major philanthropic leaders Perpetual Guardian, Spark Foundation, and Fisher & Paykel getting on board to support her vision. Julia is also a member of several boards and councils that work towards digital inclusion and the Kiwi tech industry. 

Zoe Hector
Zoë Hector

MAud (Dist) 2018

Zoë Hector didn’t realise the impact growing up with a deaf sibling had on her until she started studying child development and psycholinguistics. During study, Zoë worked as a teacher aid for deaf children at a mainstream school, where she witnessed the impact of communication breakdown between students – both socially and academically. This was the inspiration for founding Talk Town, a digital game and social enterprise, supported by the UC Centre for Entrepreneurship, aimed at improving outcomes for deaf kids. Zoë also works as a clinical audiologist, using both technology and counselling skills to make dramatic improvements to people’s quality of life.

Hannah Hardy-Jones

BA 2005, GDipHRM 2005

A passionate mental health advocate, Hannah Hardy-Jones is the CEO and founder of The Kite Program, a tech platform that creates apps for specific organisations, occupational groups, and mental health causes.  Starting Kite as a result of her own journey with bipolar disorder, which was triggered by childbirth nine years ago, Hannah now works with clients around the world and shares her story to help bring about change. Since it’s conception, Kite has evolved to now provide app-based support to businesses, HR professionals, the veterinary industry, individuals with eating disorders, Covid19 programs, and mum of all stages.

Adrian Palmer
Adrian Palmer

BSc 2001

Born and bred in Ōtautahi, Adrian Palmer’s claim to fame is being the drummer of Kiwi band Zed. Forming in high school, he squeezed in university studies before the band took off and toured the world. Now Adrian is the General Manager of the Addington Coffee Co-op, Common Good Coffee, and Joyya, a collection of social enterprises formed around the values of fair and ethical business practices. Opened in 2008, the cafe is iconic in the local hospitality scene and its profits help realise the mission of sparking good in places of extreme poverty and modern slavery.

Lexie Matheson ONZM

Christchurch Teachers College 1964

Influential transgender activist, academic, event manager, teacher, and performing artist, Lexie Matheson is known internationally for her contribution to the rights of the queer community. She has campaigned relentlessly to ensure transgender athletes can compete in all levels in sport and was the first transgender woman to compete at the World Goju Ry Karate Federation Championships in 2017. Lexie has held several governance positions in the LGBTQIA+ space and as an acknowledgement of her tireless work and dedication, Lexie was honoured by being made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2016 for her services to the performing arts, education, and LGBTQIA+ rights.

Suli Tuitaupe

BHSc 2015, MHealSc 2018 

After returning to Aotearoa from a stint overseas, Suli Tuitaupe noticed a billboard advertising UC's new Bachelor of Health Sciences. After graduating, he continued his studies to become a registered nurse in order to pursue his passion for empowering Pacific communities and his desire to help others. In 2021, Suli founded 'Moana Vā', with the intention of creating a safe space for Pacific Rainbow+ individuals and their families to connect as well as provide advocacy and support. In 2022, Suli was awarded a clinical fellowship by the Health Research Council (HRC) to advance his research on "Understanding the worldview of health from a Samoan New Zealander's perspective."

Dame Ann Ballin ONZ DBE

BA 1960, MA 1965, LittD 2001

Born in Hamilton, Dame Ann Ballin suffered from a neurological condition in her teens that attacked her spinal column, confining her to a wheelchair for the remainder of her life. Determined, Ann became a psychologist and used her experiences to help others, including working as a Student Counsellor at UC. Chairing the Victims’ Task Force in 1988, she pioneered changes in the criminal justice system to improve justice for victims of crime. In her lifetime, she was awarded New Year Honours, appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire and a year before her death in 2003, Ann was appointed membership of the Order of New Zealand for her contribution to community.

Nina Oberg Humphries
Nina Oberg Humphries

BFA 2019

A second-generation Aotearoa-born Cook Islander, Nina is a multimedia artist whose work explores her dual Pacific and Western heritage. She has exhibited throughout New Zealand and has been the recipient of both UC’s Macmillan Brown Artist in Residence and Creative New Zealand’s Mana Moana Trust scholarship. Nina’s commitment is to a future where Pacific peoples are valued, have equitable access to all things and are uplifted to achieve anything. To realise this vision, Nina founded Tagata Moana Trust, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the advancement of Pacific peoples in Aotearoa. In 2022, Nina opened Fibre Gallery, a first of its kind space in Te Waipounamu, the South Island, facilitating Pacific artists and education.

UC graduate Josiah Tualamali’i
Josiah Tualamali'i

BA 2019

Josiah Tualamali’i is a health and social justice youth advocate. In 2016 he received a Christchurch Civic Award and Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Award for leadership in the Pacific community, and for his youth and student leadership work. When only 22 years old he became the youngest person appointed to a Government Inquiry - Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction – which has set the direction for mental health and addictions wellbeing in Aotearoa. While still a student, Josiah co-led campaigns of community support for action; including stopping the New Zealand Police being routinely armed, support for the 2021 Government Dawn Raids apology, and Christchurch City Council wiping library fines in 2022.

Bariz Shah
Bariz Shah

BE (Hons) 2021, DipGlobalHumanEng 2021

Arriving in Aotearoa as a refugee in 2001, fleeing a war-torn Afghanistan, Bariz Shah had an embattled youth, finding his way to prison at just 18. While in his cell, he decided to change his life and study at university. During his time at UC, Bariz was elected President of the UCMUSA, and after the Christchurch Mosque attacks on 15 March 2019, he and his wife Saba fundraised $20,000 and traveled to Afghanistan to establish 51 micro-businesses as a tribute to those who died. For this contribution to the Afghan community, Bariz has won multiple awards, including Christchurch Civic Award. His hope is for youth and first-time offenders who are lacking hope or self-esteem to see what’s possible when they start believing in themselves again.

Erin Gough

BA 2015, LLB (Hons) 2015

Erin is a proud disabled, queer person committed to challenging and dismantling ableism and other forms of oppression, and always learning from others working in social justice, both in Aotearoa and around the world. Born in South Africa, Erin spent their high school and university years in Christchurch before graduating with a LLB (Hons)(First Class) and BA (Sociology) from UC and moving to Wellington in 2015. Their career has so far spanned legal, policy and advocacy roles, having worked at Community Law Canterbury, the Human Rights Commission, Ministry of Education, Office of the Children’s Commissioner and currently the Ministry of Social Development as a principal policy analyst.

Sam Johnson
Sam Johnson

BA 2015 

Sam received global recognition in 2010 when he founded the Student Volunteer Army (SVA), a social movement focused on volunteerism and crisis response in the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes. His energy and ability to mobilise thousands of people to create a positive force in the community has been acknowledged with numerous awards, including Young New Zealander of the Year and Communicator of the Year. SVA has grown to be active in 250 secondary schools across Aotearoa as well as several Australian states, continuing its work in responding to disasters. Sam is now using his entrepreneurial experience and passion to support business and community projects across Aotearoa.

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