Executive Board (Volunteers)

GURDEEP TALWAR : President + Digital Communications

Gurdeep aka GT is a Certified Management Consultant, Justice of the Peace, and pursued his Postgraduate qualification from UK, and ever since has traveled, worked and lived in several countries around the world including Europe and SE Asia, which in turn helped him understand new cultures and engage with a variety of ethnicities.  He is also the President of the Institute of Management Consultants NZ and sits on several boards and advisory panels.

Moved to New Zealand (and West Auckland) in 2009, GT heads the Business Development of a multi-national IT company at its global headquarters. A motivational speaker and a relationship builder by nature, he is a very positive person and believes in giving it back to the community and ‘paying it forward’. GT has brought in a new energy to the Board as an executive member and is willing to help the newcomers achieve their NZ ‘dream’ and be more successful in their initiative. With himself, he brings in several years’ leadership and management experience in a corporate environment and is the mastermind behind the “$64billion contribution by ethnic communities to NZ economy” report.

Email: gurdeep@waitakereethnicboard.org.nz

AYAN SAID : Secretary

Ayan and her family left Mogadishu Somali in 1990, She is currently working as the Regional Refugee Community Health Worker with the Starship Community at the Auckland District Health Board. Her areas of interests include mental health & coping method of former refugee population, nutrition and healthy lifestyle, community development, women’s health resettlement issues for former refugee populations.


Steward is a Process Improvement Professional. By engaging people with respect and trust, he improves business processes to achieve sustainable benefit to employees, company and customers. Born and raised in Hong Kong, he completed a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering and Master of Accountancy there. To embrace the diversity of people, he has traveled to more than 20 countries to understand and experience their cultures.

In 2016, Steward moved to New Zealand and later on settled down in the beautiful Waitakere Ranges. As a migrant, he is willing to share his experience and help other newcomers, migrants or ethnicities to overcome their challenges. He is a positive and calm person, with strong belief in human rights and equality. He is ready to contribute his skills and knowledge to the ethnic communities.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-1.pngMICHELLE MASCOLL

Born in London, of Afro-Caribbean heritage, Michelle has worked as an audio professional for many years. Michelle moved to New Zealand in 2005 and has been active in the Caribbean community and the LGBTTQIA+ Rainbow Community.

OLUFEMI OMISAKIN : Community Liaison Officer

Dr Olufemi Omisakin is an Applied Business Lecturer and a researcher at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, Auckland Campus, New Zealand. He lectures various aspects of business management, entrepreneurship and international business. His areas of research are entrepreneurship, international business, immigrant business activities and experiences, migration decisions and experiences. He is a member of Research Association of New Zealand and The Institute of Management New Zealand. He is also on the Editorial board of Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Entrepreneurship. He is students’ mentor and motivator.


A proud westie living in Auckland since early 2000’s , have always believed in giving back to the community , sharing our skills and expertise to make our society better. Love for interacting with people saw me into hospitality business, further more have finance background trading forex and managing risk for 20 years.

Have management experience working at various levels through the years. Ardent and passionate about building communities that thrive, where we empower people of all nationalities and back ground , to participate, excel , and contribute towards its growth. A firm believer that from diversity springs richness.

A rotary member for over several years, volunteered in various capacities for projects like Meola Creek , peacenic, and supporting food banks. Love spending time with my family and keen sports enthusiast.


Professor Lai-Ming Ching was born in a tiny village in southern China and immigrated with her mother to New Zealand at the age of five. Her schooling was in Papatoetoe where her parents ran their fruitshop. Lai-Ming helped in the fruitshop after school and during the holidays, and began serving customers when she was 9 years old. After high school, Lai-Ming worked in the fruit shop full-time until her father had to retire early due to ill health. After the business was sold, Lai-Ming took the opportunity to resume studying at the University of Auckland, to follow her dream of being an immunologist like Louis Pasteur. She completed a BSc and MSc in Cell Biology, and finally a PhD in Immunology, all from University of Auckland.

After graduation, Lai-Ming furthered her training with a post-doctoral fellowship at the Ontario Cancer Institute, Toronto, Canada studying immune killer T cells that can seek out and destroy cancer cells. She then obtained a faculty position at the School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, USA; teaching medical and dental students and researching into cancer immunotherapy. Lai-Ming returned to New Zealand when her father’s cancer was terminal, and was fortunate to be able to obtain a position at the Cancer Research Laboratory, University of Auckland, where she is now Professor and leads a team specialising in novel approaches that enhance the normal immune cells within the tumour to fight the cancer.

During her career, Lai-Ming has published over 115 original research articles and has an H-index of 33. She is an inventor on 9 patents, and has received over $10 million in grants and contracts for her research. She has mentored nearly 60 post graduate research students to completion; many of whom are now working in top Universities and Pharmaceutical companies in the US, UK and Australia.


Growing up in the Philippines I have familiarity with social inequality and injustice at various levels. Back in my University days, I was involved in a community organisation and I have been exposed to the chronic challenges of the marginalised sector of the society. In 2000, I had a chance to pursue my PhD in New Zealand through Asian Development Bank scholarship programme.  Outside of the academic perimeter, my social interactions with students and migrants in New Zealand cultivated the value of cultural diversity and reinforced the importance of equality. After my graduate school, I went to Seattle, USA in 2004 and I subsequently moved to Melbourne, Australia in 2007 to pursue academic fellowships. Whilst in Australia, my appreciation to foreign films allowed me to be invited as a film critique when during the Latin America film festival. I had several experiences interacting and operating in a varied culture and it vastly changed my perspectives as I continue to appreciate diversity. I went back to the Philippines in 2008 and contributed in the arena of research and teaching.

In 2017, I decided to migrate to New Zealand with my wife and my son. Thankfully, my education and skill sets paved the way to obtain a Research Scientist position at Douglas Pharmaceuticals. When I am not thinking about science, I enjoy listening to wide spectrum of music, from classical to jazz. When time permits, I enjoy writing book reviews and consider myself a voracious reader and would relish topics revolving around insoluble dilemma. After four years of residency here in New Zealand, my community expanded through friends, work colleagues, etc. Being part of the WEB Board, I find this as an excellent opportunity to share and be of service to the community.


Vincent is of Indo- Fijian heritage and Henderson resident since 1989. At present, he is an executive member and Treasurer of Te Atatu Labour Local Electoral Committee and has voluntary role as an advocate in the Disability Sector for people with special needs. In essence, he acts as a resource and support person for diverse range of entities.

He is retired and held numerous positions in Department of Corrections and Ministry of Justice, namely in senior management roles, statutory boards, policy development and service delivery. His primary role has been that of leadership and governance.

Vincent has been part of the machinery of government most of his working life and has also been closely involved with iwi groups, Maori urban groups, community and state agencies.

The diversity of stakeholders in Vincent’s previous and current roles enables him to network with diverse social, cultural and economic groups. He has facilitated and addressed equity, justice, and Treaty issues.

This has endeared him close working relationship with diverse range of people. His informed interest in justice sector, equity and social issues has continued.

Vincent has post graduate qualification in Public and Social Policy.

He is a Justice of Peace.


Ara describes her work as supporting others whose thinking, presence and contributions get overlooked! She champions meaningful engagement and real representation across diverse communities which includes Te Tiriti honouring approaches at its heart. Ara engages her skills as an educator, researcher, professional facilitator, wellbeing practitioner and internationally accredited coach to co-design and collaborate within and across communities on various projects that make a meaningful difference to people. She is currently the Diversity and Engagement Lead for the I Love Avondale trust and a PhD candidate. Her research explores solidarity building as part of the WERO (working to end racial oppression) team. Ara is also the founder of Manawaka Ao, women of colour network that provides opportunities for engaging with Matauranga Māori, well-being and Governance and Leadership learning and experiences.


I came to New Zealand from Republic of Korea Dec 1999, as an international student in Wellington, and moved to Waitakere 2003.

I am a Food Scrap Advisor with EcoMatters Environment Trust, and a Compost Collective Korean facilitator since 2014 (contract with Auckland council).

I have been a member of Korean Women’s Wellness Community Group since Mar 2013(currently Treasurer). This is a small group of mostly health professionals, running Health workshops such as; diabetes, diet, use of CareSense blood glucose test and provides health resources such as Korean brochures relating to women’s health.

I have volunteered at Massey CAB since 2004, been an information officer / facilitator at CAB Language Connect for 10+ years, frequent guest speaker on Korean Catholic Radio, providing information on behalf of several organizations. I served 3 years as “Korean InfoNOW assistant and interpreter” with Hamilton Multicultural Services (HMS) Trust.

I was a Committee Member of Korean Society of Auckland for more than 15 years, involved with various events such as Korean Day and Korean Nights. I was an editor of “Korean Guide Book” (published by Korean Society) – Liaised with other Korean community service providers & gathering useful information for settling in NZ.

View Waitakere Ethnic Board Ethnic Economic Contribution Report