Meet our team

Our Taituarā team is made up of some pretty amazing people with great skills, keen to help promote innovation and excellence in local government management enabling local government to better serve their local communities.

Miriam Taris

    Interim Chief Executive

Miriam has recently joined Taituara as Interim CEO. She brings a wealth of local government experience in senior roles, including seven years as previous Chief Executive of Western Bay of Plenty District Council and, more recently, in interim CE roles at both New Plymouth and South Waikato District Councils.

A Chartered Accountant, Miriam began her career with KPMG and then moved to the public sector where she was an Audit Director for several years at Audit New Zealand before moving permanently to the local government sector.

Miriam is open to taking on new challenges and is always looking to add value to the organisations she serves. Much of her career has been spent focussed on the people aspects of organisations, including enhancing communications, culture and relationships.

Raymond Horan

    Chief Advisor

Raymond re-joined Taituarā in June 2014 as Sector Improvement Manager, before commencing his current role as Chief Advisor at Taituarā. He has spent most of the last 20 years in local government related roles, most recently with the Department of Internal Affairs.

He describes his job as two-thirds providing assistance to the local government sector and one-third providing advice to central government on local government matters. His ambition is to help develop a Local Government Act that doesn’t require changes every 18 months. He asks that you wish him well with this task.

Seán Mahoney

    General Manager, Sector Performance

Seán oversees the development, maintenance and dissemination of the knowledge base and the delivery of leadership development across the sector.

Seán is a passionate advocate and believer in the role of local government and the benefits it can bring to our daily lives and wellbeing. He has worked for several local authorities in a wide range of roles and responsibilities. Seán holds a BA Hons in Government, is a qualified accountant with postgraduate qualifications in management and communications, and is a Resource Management Commissioner. Seán recently completed a Masters in Public Policy, researching 'How New Zealand’s Directly Elected Mayors get things done' – a shortened version of which was published in Policy Quarterly.

Outside of work, Seán spends time being second favourite parent to his two dogs, running, reading, and playing squash (all very badly).

Rebecca Moore

    General Manager, Corporate Services

Bex is our General Manager, Corporate Services and brings with her over 12 years of experience working in similar financial and administrative roles.

Her background is in the implementation of financial accounting systems, the development of business processes, and establishing quality business analytics and monthly reporting.

Bex has a passion for facts and figures and enjoys to providing seamless financial support to the Taituarā team.

Kathryn Ross

    General Manager, Strategy and Reform

Kath is a highly experienced local government leader and manager, with 25 years’ experience in local and central government, including regional (Northland), city (Wellington) and district (Masterton and Far North) councils, the Environment Agency (England and Wales) and a stint at LGNZ. She is a passionate, dedicated public servant that has led teams covering the full range of local government responsibilities, including: strategic and district planning and policy; finance, risk, infrastructure and asset management; governance; communications, events and marketing; and community, social and economic development.

Kath holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and a Bachelor of Arts (History and Politics) from Victoria University of Wellington and a Post Graduate Diploma in Environmental Law and Management from the University of Wales.

Sheryl Bryant

    Manager Workforce Leadership

Sheryl joined Taituarā at the start of 2023 bringing over 30 years of experience in local government, with over 18 of those years in as a senior manager leading human resources, governance, planning, policy & strategy, strategic relations, marketing & communications, events, legal, and business assurance.

Sheryl has a strong commitment to local government having been involved in Taituarā over a number of years serving on the executive board, chairing the recruitment & retention working party, and more recently chairing the corporate planning reference group.

Sheryl holds a Bachelor of Education and post-graduate qualifications in planning and human resources. She is also certified as a resource management commissioner.

Ann Thomson

    Manager, Communications and Engagement

Ann oversees Taituarā communications, marketing and partnership activities, as well as our major events, the annual conference and gala dinner.

Ann is a communications, event management and stakeholder engagement professional with broad experience across sectors including tertiary education and the public sector.

In her spare time Ann enjoys spending time with family and friends, good food, films, music, travel and reading.

Susan Haniel

    Senior Advisor, Sector Performance

Susan is a Senior Advisor with nine years’ experience in local government. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Administration from Victoria University of Wellington, and her expertise lies in democracy, governance, and regulation which she has honed through working at Taituarā and Hutt City Council.

Susan is known for being open to new ideas which she uses to provide high quality analysis and advice on issues affecting local communities and local authorities. Currently, she is working in Sector Performance, where she is dedicated to improving elections, democracy, and regulatory matters by providing best practice advice and advocacy to support local government staff.

Susan worked as a Registered Nurse in her previous career which shaped her professional journey for collaborative problem-solving and the ability to draw on a range of expertise to achieve shared goals.

In her free time, Susan enjoys biking and playing her guitar which she finds fun, plus they have the added bonuses of keeping her fitness up and being creative.

Lauren Hourigan

    Advisor, Membership and Events

Lauren joined Taituarā as the Advisor, Membership and Events when she moved from Greater Wellington Regional Council in November 2020.

Previously she worked for Accor Hotels before going on to gain a bachelor’s degree in Management and Human Resource Management & Employment Relations from Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington. Lauren's passionate about productivity and believes that people are at the heart of everything we do.

Outside of work, Lauren loves travelling with friends and family, reading and spending time with her animals.

Victoria Sidaway

    Advisor, Accounts and Systems

Victoria joined us in November 2020 as our Advisor, Accounts and Systems. She is responsible for administrating the LGJobs vacancy board and the Discussion Groups, as well as being a point of call for general accounts queries and monthly reporting.

Victoria’s background is in providing reception duties and administrative support within the financial services industry. She is passionate about providing superb customer service and seamless support to the sector.

In her spare time she loves spending time with friends and family.

Jon Gabites

    Senior Advisor, Strategy and Reform

Nō Wēra me Kotirana oku tīpuna
E tipu ake au ki Te Whanganui-a-Tara
Ko tangata Tiriti ahau
Ko Jon Gabites tōku ingoa

Jon is a Senior Advisor in the Strategy and Reform team. He is passionate about citizenship and active communities, enabling families and communities to thrive and determine their own quality of life outcomes.

Jon has had various roles in a local government context, having worked in the sport and recreation, community development and environmental policy space for over 20 years. More recently he had the privilege of working at Te Arawhiti building Māori-Crown relations capability across the public sector.

His personal interests include spending time with friends and family and connecting with nature. He has an interest in water-based activities and is passionate about promoting water quality and safety in and around Te Whanganui-a-Tara.

Maria Northcott

    Manager, Programmes

Maria joined Taituarā in February 2023 as our Programme Manager. Maria’s role is to assist in the management, development, and delivery of the range of training and educational products delivered by and on behalf of Taituarā.

Maria has previously worked in product management, leadership development, capability development, and vocational training and has a wealth of experience having worked in the tertiary, Private Training Establishment (PTE), Government Training Establishment (GTE), and Industry Training Organisation (ITO) sectors. She has previously worked in the public sector and with council staff in the local government sector.

Maria holds an MA(Hons) and in her spare time can be found painting, printmaking, or watching the latest science fiction film release.

Tom McDonald

    Administrator, PacificTA Programme

Tom joined Taituarā in June 2023 as the administrator for the PacificTA programme.

Tom has worked in a variety of roles and sectors, in recent years focusing on admin and operational positions in not-for-profit spaces.

Tom holds a BA in Political Science and History from Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington.

In the wild, you’ll find Tom at gigs, travelling, cooking up a plant-based storm or patting floofy animals. Up The Wahs!

Frances Sullivan

    Manager PacificTA

Frances joined Taituarā in 2023. Previously Frances worked for LGNZ where she managed the PacificTA programme and held a policy role specialising in building regulation, natural hazards, solid waste, biosecurity, biodiversity, and climate change. In 2016, Frances was a member of the Ministerial Technical Working Group on climate change adaptation.

Downtime is spent outdoors.