Our People

At OTNZ - WNA, our strength lies in our diverse and dedicated community. Our people, including occupational therapists, professionals, students, and passionate advocates, are the driving force behind our mission to empower lives through occupation. Together, we form a vibrant and collaborative network committed to promoting excellence in occupational therapy practice, advocating for the profession, and supporting one another in making a positive impact in the lives of individuals across Aotearoa. Explore the stories, experiences, and expertise of our community members as they contribute to the heart and soul of Occupational Therapy New Zealand.

Renaldo Christians, Executive Director


I believe my primary role is to make sure that our current and future occupational therapists can deliver their critical health service by removing barriers and providing enabling supporting services for their professional as well as personal lives. 

Using my experience in other health professions as well as a strong understanding of government I I'm able to represent the association in the most effective manner across Aotearoa. 

Allie Silcock, Relationship Manager


I often get asked what do I get out of belonging to the association? And the answer is simple. You get whatever you are willing to put in yourself.  

The association holds opportunities for you to grow through developing skills on committees, excelling yourself to become a leader by being on council and serving the term to see the association grow. It offers you a chance to network not only with peers in Aotearoa but also the world and with potential new employers. It gives you a chance to get out of your comfort zone and have a voice in the industry that you have trained in.

Grace O’Sullivan, Editor NZ Journal of Occupational Therapy and OT Insight Magazine.


It gives me a sense of satisfaction to know that the work I do not only supports the association, but it also upholds the profile of the profession. I have been a member of Occupational Therapy New Zealand-Whakaora Ngangahau Aotearoa for many years because I consider it to be an asset to the profession. The association ensures occupational therapy holds its place in the health field on a local, national, and global level. In other words, the association promotes the interests of occupational therapists through advocacy at a political level, as well as offering benefits such as: Indemnity insurance, learning opportunities, collegiality and community. I found that access to opportunities for networking and interacting with others through special interest groups and conferences to be very valuable as a practicing clinician. 

 I am a great believer in the power of stories, they are one of the best ways to facilitate understanding of how to apply learning in practice. I tend to think that being a good communicator is one of the most powerful skills in the world. So, on behalf of the association, I believe it is the editor's responsibility to maintain the reputation of occupational therapists in New Zealand by ensuring that the articles published in the NZJOT and OT Insight are easy to read and understand, come from a trusted source, and have utility and value for the profession. I am always looking to publish stories that unleash the power of occupational therapy. Do you have a story to share? Your contributions as authors and critical readers are essential to the continued success of the publications so manuscripts, feedback, and comments are all welcome

Janine Appleby, Interim Tangata Tiriti President

Council Member

As an OTNZ-WNA Tangata Tiriti Council Member I am privileged to have the opportunity to meet occupational therapists from all walks of life. I am keen to hear their experiences, learn about the diversity of their skills, and what motivates and inspires them. We have such a diverse range of skills and vocational roles across the whole profession, belonging to the association is a great way to showcase all of these. In my current employed role as a Dementia Advisor with Dementia New Zealand I work outside some of the traditional boundaries of being an "occupational therapist kaiwhakaora ngangahau", so I see the association as sustaining my connection with the profession and core values within occupational therapy. It is not until you step out of the traditional roles that you truly realise what value you bring to health and social care services. I am also particularly passionate about the delivery of services rurally in Aotearoa, and our contribution as Allied Health professionals, can be key to that meaningful and effective delivery. Be brave, be courageous because what we do adds value to the lives of whanau engaging with our services.

Dan Johnson, WFOT Tangata Tiriti Delegate

Council Member

For me, belonging to the association for the past 3 years has meant many things. Here are some of the things that spring to mind and are not in any particular order:

- accessing opportunities to learn about governance and strategic decision-making,

- getting the opportunity to learn about co-governance through different perspectives

- having a 'voice at the table' when discussing the future of the profession

- creating new opportunities for learning and development for members


There have been so many diverse and varied learning opportunities as a council member and perhaps one of the greatest benefits to date has been the ability to meet new people and make new relationships with a range of different people. Having the opportunity to represent members at both national and international levels was an absolute honour.

Christine Guttenbeil, Tangata Whenua Council Member

Council Member
I am privileged to have the opportunity to be a member of the OTNZWNA. It’s a great opportunity to share knowledge, ideas, and passion with likeminded people, in hopes to positivity impact our profession and the wider community as well as developing a range of skills along the way.

Nicola Merrilees, Tangata Tiriti Council Member and Local Organising Committee Chair

Council Member

Belonging to the association means having a say in how the Occupational Therapy profession is represented in our healthcare system. It means having a voice to promote Occupational Therapy and to affirm our place as valuable contributors to the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders. 

Pamela Mitchell, Tangata Tiriti Council Member, A&F Chair and HASANZ Representative

Council Member

It is a privilege to serve on the OTNZ - WNA Council to represent the interests of members and bring my skills to the table to support the Governance of the Council including being the Chair of the Audit and Finance Committee.