Teams » Refugees as Survivors (RASNZ)


Hon. Kofi Annan - former United Nations Secretary General
The seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, served from 1997 to 2006 and was the first to emerge from the ranks of United Nations staff.

Board of Trustees

Hon. Aussie Malcolm (Chair)
J.D. Milne
Meng Ly
Dr Tony Wansborough
Ahmad F Zareh

Chief Executive

Dr Ann Hood
Ann is a Clinical Psychologist who has worked as a clinician and manager in both public and private settings. She has been a therapist and Team Leader in a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service and Primary Health Organisation as well as having her own private practice and consultancy. Her work at Refugees as Survivors is motivated by her desire for all people to enjoy the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Her hope for refugees coming to New Zealand is that they have the opportunity to live in an inclusive community where all individuals are valued and respected. Her vision is that by supporting refugees’ emotional, physical and mental wellbeing they will develop a sense of belonging and become actively engaged members of our society.

Tony Cooper, M.Phil (Hons), Dip.Ed.Psych, Dip.Tchg
Operations Manager

Tony has practiced as a psychologist for 30 years, working with adults, children and families. He has managed multi-disciplinary teams of psychologists, therapists, early childhood education personnel, bi-cultural facilitators, interpreters and teachers. Originally from the UK, Tony worked with Inuit people in the Canadian Eastern Arctic before migrating to New Zealand. He has been a teacher, school principal, inspector of schools, evaluation manager with the Education Review Office (ERO) and university examiner. Tony has a strong interest in working cross culturally. He subscribes to a dynamic, holistic approach to mental health, which empowers clients and acknowledges traditional values and practices within a clearly defined clinical framework. Tony is currently chairperson of the Ministerially appointed governance board of the Northern Regional Health School.


Clinical Team

Sue Petrie
Clinical Team Leader & Psychologist

Sue is a Clinical Psychologist who has previously worked in community mental health and alcohol and drug services in NZ. Sue also facilitated self-development through the mediums of challenge, teams, and the outdoors at Outward Bound NZ. Prior to moving to RASNZ Sue enjoyed following her interests for humanitarian aid, diversity, challenge and travel by working with Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF, Doctors without Borders) in Yemen, Jordan/Iraq, Pakistan, post tsunami Japan, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan. The opportunity to work with the RASNZ team at Mangere to support people that have endured humanitarian hardship and now are making NZ their home brings together Sue’s passion and experience for this work, her love of NZ and her interest in making their transition to NZ a positive, healthy and fulfilling one.

Sarah Williams

Sarah has practised as a psychologist since 1999. For 10 years she worked with the Ministry of Education in Auckland supporting children and young people with complex emotional and behavioural needs in the education sector. She was also Regional Lead Practitioner for the Traumatic Incident team for two years and led the Auckland City Traumatic Incident team for six years. She was part of an early intersectoral pilot programme responding to the high and complex needs of children and young people from a refugee background. Her interest in working in this field led her to RASNZ in 2010 initially delivering the Rainbow Programme for Children in Refugee Families in schools (a collaborative school based programme to support children and their families from refugee backgrounds) and then subsequently as a psychologist in the Mangere clinical team. Sarah's role at RASNZ is working with and supporting the children, young people and their families.

Corinne Sutz, MSc in Psychology, PG Dip in Clinical Psychology & Psychopathology (France)
Clinical psychologist

Corinne has been working as a Clinical Psychologist for more than 20 years, in France, French Guyana and Vietnam. She has been practising overseas with culturally and linguistically diverse patients and environments in Psychiatric Hospitals, Welfare services, International Clinics and an orphanage in Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City). Her competence, experience and interest in ethno-psychoanalysis and psychotherapy give her insights in listening to, accompanying and supporting people (children and adults) having experienced traumas and suffering from issues related to exile, displacement and identity.

David Lyon

During the 1980s David worked in several refugee camps in Thailand, including one where he was the United Nations Officer in Charge. He met his Thai wife in Thailand and both his sons were born there. David's M.A. Thesis was on adjustment difficulties of refugee students in N.Z. David has been a psychologist since 1991. He spent 12 years working in South Auckland for the Ministry of Education. This involved a particular focus on children with special needs and children with severe emotional and behavioural difficulties. David also served for many years on the MoE Traumatic Incident Team and for 3 years as Lead Practitioner for psychologists in Manukau GSE. David has a wealth of training and experience as a counsellor of adults and children, including more than 4 years as HoD Guidance & Counselling at Mount Albert Grammar. Due to his professional training and life experiences, David is well-fitted for his work of assessing and counselling refugees.

Christine Powell
Clinical Nurse & Interpreter Coordinator

Christine has a Bachelor of Health Science and works with the two RASNZ Psychiatrists at Mangere. Her nursing experience has covered many facets of Community Work. After working for a bureau and being a practise nurse for various GPs she moved into the public health field for the ADHB, first as s Maternal Child Health Nurse working the poorer areas of East Auckland and continuing into the lower decile schools. From there she joined the Protection Team of the Public Health which involved being the Paediatric TB Liaison Nurse, Leprosy Nurse and contact tracing for Meningococcal Disease and other infectious diseases. Following on she became the screening nurse for the Refugee Medical Centre, then a stint with the university with immunisations and various programmes in the schools which led her back to her present position at RASNZ. She considers it a privilege working with refugees and seeing the huge wealth of experience that they bring to our country. Her blended family keeps her and her husband very busy, spending time at sports, concerts, birthdayparties and holidays with their ten grandchildren She feel very lucky having had such a great career.

Ana Sharpe

Dr Fahima Saeid
Counsellor Advocate

Dr Saeid worked in Afghanistan as a Medical Doctor and Hospital Superintendent for Médecins Sans Frontières in Oruzgan Province. She has worked with RASNZ since 2006 and is the a Counsellor Advocate in Dari and Farsi. She brings a range of skills in healthcare and community development.

Mathew Kalloor, MHSc Hons, PG Diploma Counselling Psychology
Counselling Psychologist

Matthew is a registered Counselling Psychologist and a graduate of AUT. Prior to joining the RASNZ team, Matthew worked in a correctional setting supporting men with complex trauma and behavioural needs. He has experience in conducting psychological assessments, treatment planning, and delivery of individual and group treatment in both community and correctional settings. As a Counselling Psychologist, Matthew is passionate about taking holistic, client-centered approach to facilitating therapeutic change. Matthew's role at RASNZ is working with and supporting refugees and asylum seekers.

Social Workers

Rasheeda James
Sasha Misur

Body Therapy

Claire Duggan
Neuromuscular Therapist

Claire is originally from the South of England. In 1995, following completion of her psychology degree, she migrated to New Zealand. For the next 7 years Claire worked at a private clinic as Director of Counselling in women's reproductive health. This position provided Claire with valuable experience of working with culturally diverse people. Claire's clinical experience in women's reproductive health provided a strong foundation for her subsequent work in the areas of therapeutic massage and neuromuscular therapy (NMT).
Claire is very pleased that her career with Refugees as Survivors New Zealand (RASNZ) is consistent with her passion for working with people through therapeutic massage and neuromuscular therapy. Her expertise and commitment to her work effectively addresses the needs of refugee that she treats, many of whom are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Excited about her future with RASNZ, Claire looks forward to further researching the complex relationship between PTSD and ongoing body pain.

Barry Vautier BHS
Body Therapist

Barry has been in clinical practice as a body therapist for over 30 years and taught massage and health science since 1993. He is in private Practice in Mt Eden, Auckland and is the principal and instructor for the Fascial Kinetics school of Bowen therapy. Barry is also a lecturer in health science at the College of Natural Health and Homeopathy. 5He has a bachelor of health studies in Massage and Neuromuscular therapy and is also a qualified Naturopath.
Barry is part time with RASNZ. His tool box of techniques include therapeutic massage, neuromuscular therapy, myofascial release and Bowen therapy. His passion is the study of Fascia, a connective tissue of the body that supports all other tissues. He is particularly interested in the connection between memory patterns of trauma (PTSD) and how they may be expressed through the connective tissue of the body. By releasing the “issues in the tissues” a state of de-arousal can be achieved to enable a person to be calmly aware of their story and thus learn to reframe it.

Consultant Psychiatrists

RAS engages psychiatrists Dr Grant Galpin, Dr Rhona Sommerville and Tonya Dudson to work with the Clinical Teams to assess and treat the more severe cases of need including major mental health problems and those where specialist medication and monitoring may be required.

Administration Team

Diana Swarbrick
Outreach Coordinator

Diana has worked for RASNZ for since 2001 and was originally our Administration Manager, but because of her love and dedication to helping refugees she was the perfect choice as Outreach Coordinator. She is an experienced professional responsible for cultivating strategic partnerships through her community outreach activities. Her work involves recruiting volunteers, social media, event planning and engaging with donors, schools and a wide variety of communities.

Joyce Liu
Finance Officer

Joyce is a NZ Citizen who came from Taiwan in 1998. She graduated in Bachelor of Technology in Information Technology and Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Auckland. She also has a diploma in Business Administration from MIT. She has worked for RASNZ since 2008. As Finance Officer she is committed to organising and coordinating efficient and effective financial systems that provides RASNZ smooth day-to-day operations and a sound financial foundation for the organisations longer term strategic goals.


Denise Scott
Denise spent 8 years working for Barnardos NZ before joining the team at RASNZ in Admin. She has done quite a bit of travelling and also lived in both Vanuatu & Fiji. Denise loves cooking food from around the world & is enjoying the contact with staff & clients from different backgrounds, cultures and countries.

Kirsty Robson
Kirsty started as a volunteer and now works part time supporting the Admin Staff and helps out in a variety of roles. She especially enjoys interacting with the children in the centre and the diversity of cultures and languages. She has a background in advertising and post-production and is stimulated to work in an environment that is vastly different from her previous roles.

Mobile Clinical Team

Sangita Thakur
Team Leader and Psychologist

Sangita practiced as a Clinical psychologist for more than ten years in India. During that time she worked in hospital settings and private practice. Prior to joining RAS, she worked with clients from Odyssey House and the Government agency, Child Youth and Family (CYF). Sangita has wide experience of working with adults, adolescents and children experiencing a range of emotional and psychological problems. She has worked extensively with clients from a variety of cultural backgrounds and has a strong commitment to supporting refugees in the resettlement process.

Ted Wotherspoon

Dr Fahima Saeid
Counsellor Advocate

Dr Saeid worked in Afghanistan as a Medical Doctor and Hospital Superintendent for Médecins Sans Frontières in Oruzgan Province. She has worked with RASNZ since 2006 and is the a Counsellor Advocate in Dari and Farsi. She brings a range of skills in healthcare and community

Frozan Esmati

Community Health Workers

Priscilla Dawson
Priscilla is an established and respected member of the Burmese community in New Zealand. She was born and attended school in Burma. In 1967, Priscilla's family migrated to New Zealand. Between 1992-1996 Priscilla and her husband returned to work in Burma. Over the years, Priscilla has devoted much of her time and energy to supporting and strengthening the Burmese community in New Zealand. In addition to her advocacy role, Priscilla has worked as a cultural adviser and interpreter for a range of Government agencies, health and education authorities and NGOs. Since joining RAS in 2000, Priscilla has had major input into a range of initiatives to support Burmese refugees and asylum seekers arriving in New Zealand. She has worked as a community facilitator, community health worker, interpreter, advocate and Lifeline counsellor. Priscilla has now completed her Certificate in Social Work.

Ghirmai Misghina
Dr Misghina worked as a General Practitioner in the early years following his graduation from university in Ethiopia. Then he pursued his surgical training and worked in the department of surgery for many years before he settled in New Zealand. In Auckland, he worked with an intersectoral refugee families care centre, ONTRACC, for 4 years as a Community Health Worker and cultural advisor. In addition Ghirmai has worked as health related interpreter for District Health Boards (ADHB, CMDHB & WDHB). Ghirmai joined RASNZ as he was passionate to serve the refugee communities and was attracted by the ongoing humanitarian works conducted by RASNZ.

Marguerite Ntawe
Marguerite is originally from Burundi and worked for UNHCR in Senegal, then for UNDP/ILO as a Junior Programme Officer in the Accounting Department before coming to New Zealand where she worked for Refugee and Migrant services as Office Administrator from until 2007. She then worked as a Freelance Interpreter/Translator and four years ago she joined RASNZ Mobile Team as a Community Health Worker because of her passion to help in the refugee community. She hold an Accounting Diploma, Interpreting/Translation Diploma and a Bicultural Social Work Degree.

Anna Gailani

Body Therapy

Danny Orani
Body Therapist

From the Cook Islands, Danny's father was a healer and introduced him from an early age to the holistic approach to health and wellbeing. His further studies in the field of holistic and natural therapies strengthened an appreciation of the powerful connection between body, mind, emotion and soul. He feels that working with RAS allows him to put his beliefs into practice in a rewarding way.

Tamara Saunders
Body Therapist

Tamara originally began her tertiary studies in Design, then worked extensively in the Hospitality field before acknowledging the pull towards bodywork. Tamara was introduced to giving therapeutic massage at an early age and later went on to qualify in Clinical Therapeutic Massage, Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) and Manual Lymphatic Drainage as well as a diverse range of complementary skills. Tamara has a Maori background where her great grandparents who raised her father were both acknowledged healers. She first thought that she would continue as a sports massage therapist however discovered early in her studies that NMT covered a broader scope and answered many of her ‘why’ questions. She has now been practising for 13 years having worked in corporate, public Maori health, sports and private clinic settings. The RASNZ opportunity has provided a new challenge and she continues to offer her best for each individual, utilising a holistic client centric wellness approach. She is hugely grateful for the continued learning from her clients and strives to continue learning for their betterment.

Consultant Psychiatrist

RAS engages psychiatrist Dr Katie Richie to work with the Clinical Teams to assess and treat the more severe cases of need including major mental health problems and those where specialist medication and monitoring may be required.

Community Team

Dr Arif Saeid, MD, BSc, MBBS
Community Team Manager

Arif served as a medical doctor in Afghanistan for Medecins Sans Frontieres and has led the Community Services Team and worked with RAS since June, 2001. He identifies health and other special needs at the grassroots level within different refugee communities and initiates response. He supports and supervises the Community Facilitators to carry out health promotion, community development, and resettlement education activities in their own communities. He identifies needs for training and capacity-building and links directly with managers and funding providers in developing new resources. He works with refugee communities in employment, health and other initiatives which improve lives and advance resettlement. Arif liaises with Governmental and NGO and community groups, participates in community development and networking.

Community Facilitators

Our Community Facilitators are former refugees who facilitate programmes which promote health and wellbeing, engagement and participation and support positive resettlement outcomes. A vital part of our work involves community consultation and capacity building.
The team aims to:
• Provide refugee communities with a culturally appropriate and safe place to talk about their needs
• Empower refugee communities through increasing their understanding about living and working in NZ society, and building their confidence to access and use the services
  they are entitled to
• Advocate and advise on culturally appropriate physical and mental health support
• Work collaboratively with other community based organisations e.g. police, schools and local health providers to improve outcomes for refugee communities.

RYAN (Refugee Youth Action Network)

Youth Coordinators

Shakir Nesar
Shakir comes from Afghanistan and has been with RYAN since 2010. He is a former World Champion black belt Kung Fu Master, and a very dedicated sportsman. He runs several football, basketball and cricket teams for RYAN, as well as teaching about 70 children martial arts. He has helped many young refugee people into the workforce.

Stephanie Oh
Originally from Fiji, Stephanie and her family migrated to New Zealand in 1990. Most of her education was completed in Wellington however, in 2013, Stephanie made the move up to Auckland to study Bachelor of Health Science majoring in Health Promotion. Since embarking on her degree, she became aware of many social and cultural complexities that exist in society. In particular, the trials and tribulations that migrant, refugee, and asylum seekers face. Stephanie enjoys theatre, sports, photography and music. She is also part of the Governance group at the Glenfield Community Centre. Her love of extra-curricular activities makes Stephanie an ideal candidate for the position as youth coordinator at RYAN.

Youth Leader

Thi Thi Lone