Ethnic Reference Group

Abann Yor

Abann is originally from South Sudan and arrived in New Zealand in 2005. He is Chair of the Auckland Refugee Community Coalition (ARCC) and a member of the New Zealand National Refugee Network (NZNRN). He also works as an employment coordinator and education advisor at the Refugee Youth Action Network (RYAN).

Abann is heavily involved with Auckland's South Sudanese Community, including serving as community leader between 2006 and 2012. He worked with the Ministry of Social

Development to manage the South Sudanese Positive Parenting project until 2011 and has held leadership roles in many other community programmes.

Among his many qualifications, Abann has a postgraduate certificate in social practice, a graduate diploma in not-for-profit management and leadership, and a national certificate for youth work.

Dr Grace Wong

Grace is a fourth generation Chinese New Zealander. She has a longstanding interest in supporting the role families play in health promotion.

Her doctoral studies focused on how Asian families protect their children from smoking. She is a Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Migrant and Refugee Research, and lectures in Family Assessment and Primary Health Care at the Faculty of Health and Environmental Studies at Auckland University of Technology.

Grace was a public health nurse in South Auckland for many years. She has worked as a policy analyst and researcher at Action on Smoking and Health and directs Smokefree Nurses Aotearoa New Zealand.

Matilde Tayawa-Figuracion

Matilde worked for 12 years in the Senate of the Philippines before coming to New Zealand in 2005. Since then, she has held various leadership roles in the Filipino and Southeast Asian communities and in women’s groups.

Matilde is the country’s youngest Filipino community leader, a Justice of the Peace and has led projects to promote cultural diversity. She publishes the only Filipino news magazine in Wellington. Matilde is Director of a family-owned food business and an import and export business, and works as a Senior Analyst at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Prior to that, she worked as a Senior Advisor at Te Puni Kōkiri for nine years mainly working in the evaluation space.

Matilde has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Master’s in Public Administration and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Social Sector Evaluation Research. Her area of expertise is in research and evaluation, including research and evaluation design and methodologies.

Samuel Cho

Samuel has lived in New Zealand for 20 years and enjoys working with diverse communities, to support members so they are aware of challenges and how to cope with them.

Samuel has a very supportive wife and two grown children – one from Korea and the other born in New Zealand – and believes a family is the most valuable component of a healthy and strong community. He feels privileged to share his experiences with other people, the community and service providers, especially in healthcare and social service, so they can be more confident when dealing with cultural issues.

Selva Ramasami

Selva is of New Zealand, Malaysian, Tamil and Hindu identity with a focus on issues of identity, culture and religious values. He migrated to New Zealand in 2002 with his wife and three children.

Selva is co-ordinator of the Wellington Hindu community to the Law Commission review of the Burial and Cremation Act 1964 and is a Justice of the Peace. He earned the Ministry of Justice Chief Executive's Award for Excellence in 2013 and was a delegate for New Zealand at the Regional Interfaith Dialogue in Indonesia 2012. Selva is a past president of the Wellington Mutamizh Sangam and New Zealand Malaysian Society.

Selva is passionate about the social wellbeing of ethnic communities in New Zealand. As a member of Ethnic Reference Group, Selva, with his legal and finance background, believes he can contribute to the social policies that will reflect the aspirations of ethnic communities in New Zealand.

Dr Pushpa Wood

Pushpa is Director of Westpac and Massey University’s Financial Education and Research Centre and a leading academic in financial literacy.

She has worked across the school, tertiary and industry sectors to improve adult literacy and financial literacy, and has contributed to the New Zealand Qualifications Authority’s project to develop literacy and numeracy standards. Pushpa’s research interests include financial literacy, women’s empowerment through financial independence, and culturally appropriate responses to violence at home. She specialises in Hindi language and literature.

Pushpa is a pioneer in the interfaith movement in New Zealand, a Hindi language teacher, acts as an assessor for Hindi and Punjabi interpreters, and is an expert witness for the Crown in Indian culture, customs and beliefs. She has extensive community networks and has also worked with Maori and Pacific communities.

Last update: 21 Jul 2017