Tō Mātou Poari

Our Board

Ako Aotearoa’s governance board is a nine-person board, representing leaders in Aotearoa New Zealand’s fields of tertiary sector teaching and learning, research, and Māori education.

They guide our organisation, providing strategic leadership and performance monitoring.

AKO Staff Profiles graeme benny

Dr Graeme Benny, appointed 2017-2022

Board Chair

Board chair, Dr Graeme Benny, is the General Manager of the Health Group at the Institute of Environmental Science and Research Ltd.

He is a Massey University graduate with a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and microbiology and a Master of Science (Hon) in biochemistry. In addition, Graeme has a doctorate in clinical biochemistry from Auckland University.

Graeme has enjoyed a global career, working for United States-based biotechnology company Invitrogen, a New Zealand-based animal pharmaceuticals and therapeutics supplier, Counties-Manukau District Health Board, Auckland District Health Board, Metlifecare, the New Zealand Blood Service and the New Zealand Defence Force.

More recently, Graeme was Chief Executive for Careers New Zealand and Director of Health Workforce New Zealand.

Alisor Kuiper staff photo

Dr Alison Kuiper, 2017-2023


Board member Dr Alison Kuiper is an independent consultant and researcher, with a strong commitment to improving educational quality for learners and teachers.

She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and an Honorary Senior Principal Research Fellow of The University of Sydney, Sydney School of Education and Social Work.

She has served as a board member for the New Zealand Universities Academic Audit Agency and the New Zealand National Advisory Council on the Employment of Women.

She has a bachelor's and master's degree (Hons) from the University of Canterbury, a doctorate from Lincoln University and is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Alison has held lecturing and management positions at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (now Ara Institute of Technology), Lincoln University and The University of Sydney.

AKO staff profile Amanda torr

Dr Amanda Torr, 2018-2021

Board Member

Dr Amanda Torr is a pharmacist and an educator who has worked in a range of roles in New Zealand, Cambodia and Australia.

She holds a PhD from Victoria University of Wellington (research topic Professional Competence), a Masters degree in Pharmacy Practice (Otago University) and a Graduate Certificate in Executive Management Skills (UTS).

Amanda has held a wide range of teaching, management and governance roles in both education and pharmacy including with Open Polytechnic, WelTec, Polytechnic West (Western Australia), Waiariki Institute of Technology, Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, Te Kaiawhina Ahumahi – the Social Services ITO, New Zealand Pharmaceutical Society, New Zealand College of Pharmacists and Pharmacy Council of New Zealand. She also headed up the Secretariat for the review of tertiary education in NZ (TEAC) in 2000/01 and assisted the Cambodian government to implement pharmaceutical supply reform in 2005-07.

While in Australia (alongside her role with Polytechnic West), she was a member of the development and delivery group for an AUSAID Leadership for Development programme and worked with the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council developing an indigenous leadership programme. She was also a member of the TEQSA data analysis and use working party.

She is currently working with Te Rūnanganui o Te Āti Awa to support its strategic development and integrated health services/whanau ora delivery, and is an education contractor.

AKO Staff Profiles lee cooper

Dr Lee Cooper, 2021-2024

Board member


Lee represents Te Tira Whakahaere of Te Toi Tauira mō Te Matariki on the Rūnanga where he’s been a member since 2015 and Deputy Chair from 2018. He has been on Te Manu Mātauranga organising kōmiti since the 2010 inaugural Tuia Te Ako conference and chaired from 2011.

He has almost 20 years’ experience in academic and educational administration from the compulsory education sector to tertiary. Lee previously managed the Equity fund for Māori and Pasifika students at Auckland University and is presently Te Pou Tuarā for TEU Te Hautū Kahurangi.

Lee is passionate about working with Māori and Pākehā to develop and advance the Tiriti relationship, and is concerned with social justice and equity for all.

Analiese Robertson Caucus Member ACE Representative

Analiese Robertson, 2020-2023

Board member

Kūki ‘Airani / Te Au o Tonga / Puaikura 

Analiese is the Professional Development and Networks Manager for Adult and Community Education (ACE) Aotearoa, with an extensive background in adult literacy, community development and education.

Qualified in adult learning, not-for-profit management and governance, Analiese has contributed to the development of ACE policy and strategies in tertiary education, and providing a voice for the sector both nationally and internationally.

She is also actively involved with a number of community organisations with a focus on capability building. She manages the annual Māori and Pasifika Hui Fono that has reached over 1000 Māori and Pasifika educators, and was instrumental in leading the only research on reconceptualising Pasifika literacy, and the development of the ACE Quality Assurance framework, Learner Pathways and Teaching Standards. 

Ako staff profile Damian Lodge

Damian Lodge, 2020-2023

Board member

Board Member Damian Lodge is the Dean, Academic at Massey University and is responsible for learning and teaching, curriculum development and academic quality. Damian has almost 30 years experience working in universities across New Zealand and Australia. He is a leader in online education, digital learning environments and developing academic staff to be quality teachers.

Damian is an experienced board member and board chair with qualifications in business and information science.