GURDEEP TALWAR : President + Digital Communications
Gurdeep aka GT is a Certified Management Consultant, 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 National Secretary of the Institute of Management Consultants NZ and sits on one of the Advisory Panels of Waitemata District Health Board.
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 helping the Waitakere Ethnic Board in enhancing their social media presence and visibility, and is also the man behind the brand new logo and new website of the Board.
DEON WALLACE : Vice President
Moved to West Auckland 17yrs ago from Cape Town South Africa
Photography, Music, watch sport and entertainment events for the South African and wider New Zealand community all grab my attention when I’m not busy working as an IT professional.
Family life is rich and busy with a wife and 2 daughters
Working and running the community radio slot South Africa NZ Live Radio is what gets me going.
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.
NAVEEN PRAKASH : Immediate Past President & Treasurer
Born and raised in Fiji, as a Foundation Member and Trustee of Waitakere Indian Association he has served on the board as President and also Treasurer. The current focus for his community work is mentoring youth members to actively take part and contribute to their communities.
RAJ MAHARJAN – Events Officer
A Westie since 2009, Raj moved to New Zealand from Kathmandu, Nepal in 2005. He has a wide range of community involvement experience, including that in leadership and advisory roles. Town Planner by profession, Raj has nine years of experience with Auckland Council in planning and advisory roles. He is currently self-employed as director of a planning consulting firm. Raj has a young family with two school-age children.
He is a fervent believer in inclusiveness, excellence and fair go. Raj feels strongly about the constructive role of institutions such as the WEB to enhance social cohesion and to facilitate “cross-pollination” of ideas among the growing number of ethnicities in West Auckland and in the wider New Zealand demographics.
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.
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
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.
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.