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.

Karen Thomas

    Chief Executive

Karen has been our Chief Executive since September 2011 and has responsibility for fulfilling Taituarā vision to promote and support professional excellence in local government. Over this time she has introduced leadership development for the sector, grown the membership and ensured that guidance and practice advice is updated regularly. Karen has established extensive local government networks overseas and regularly utilises these contacts to the benefit of the New Zealand local government sector.

Karen’s previous roles have included Chief Executive at the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners and Regional Assistant Commissioner at the State Services Commission where she led the development of the proposal to establish the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG), a world-leading educational institution.

Karen is a Chartered Member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors. She has been on several boards including Refugee Trauma Recovery, AFS Intercultural Programmes where she was the Deputy Chair and she chaired Capital Swim Club Board for four years. She is a Swimming NZ qualified referee, and her other interests include reading and genealogy research.

Lisa Rountree

    Executive Assistant

Lisa joined Taituarā in July 2022 as the Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive. Lisa’s role is to provide support to the Chief Executive, General Manager System Capability and General Manager Strategy & Reform.

Previously she worked in central government with her last roles at the Ministry of Education and as Executive Assistant to the first Chief Executive of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

Outside of work, Lisa likes to spend time with her family and animals, reading and spending as much time at the beach as possible.

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.

Kate Macnaught

    General Manager, Sector Projects

Kate is our General Manager, Sector Projects. Kate is responsible for developing the Well-beings Indicator Project and overseeing the Vote 2019 project as well as other developments in the sector Improvement area for Taituarā.

Kate’s previous roles have included Policy Manager at LGNZ where she worked on Better Local Government Reforms, the Productivity Review on Regulation, as well as other policy areas. Prior to that she was Strategy and Policy Manager at New Plymouth District Council.

Kate came to New Zealand fourteen years ago where she was Regional Head of Business and Enterprise in the Regional Development Agency for the North East of England and Chief Executive of the Northern Business Forum.

Kate has been a Director on several Boards in the UK and set up Excellence North East to run the Business Excellence Assessment Programme using the EFQM Excellence Model.

In her spare time Kate enjoys music, reading and good food.

Rebecca Moore

    Chief Financial Officer

Bex is our Chief Financial Officer 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.

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).

Susan Haniel

    Senior Advisor, Sector Improvement

Susan is the Senior Advisor for the Sector Improvement team. Her passion is to encourage and promote quality local government practices and to see communities flourish.

Susan has a bachelor’s degree in commerce and administration and has completed resource management law study at Victoria University of Wellington. Since graduating she has spent six years in committee advisory roles, most recently in Democratic Services at Hutt City Council. Before pursuing her degree, she worked in the health sector as a registered comprehensive nurse and as Team Leader in a coronary care unit.

Her personal interests include trapping pests with her local 'Predator Free' group, playing the guitar and travelling to interesting destinations.

Annie Bond

    Events Manager

Annie joined the communications team at Taituarā in February 2022.

Annie has previously worked in membership, communications, events, and training roles. She is excited to learn about a new industry and put her passion for organising to good use. She prides herself on working hard, while keeping energy levels high, and values learning and development for all. She is putting in the mahi to improve her use of te reo Māori.

Annie enjoys running (trails are her favourite), mountain biking, live music (and having a dance), road trips, beautiful skies, reading thrillers, bourbon(!), and adventures with friends.

Benjamin Swale

    Advisor, Brand and Channels Management

Ben joined Taituarā in November 2020 and is responsible for maintaining our website and social media as well as compiling email newsletters and other publications.

Ben has previously worked in language education, tourism and cultural events management. He is currently studying public sector communication in his spare time and has been excited to discover just how much of a difference local government makes to the lives of all New Zealanders.

His interests include doing conservation work, classical music, China, exploring new places, keeping fit and spending time in the outdoors.

Lauren Hourigan

    Administrator, Membership and Events

Lauren joined Taituarā as the Administrator, 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.

Jen Coatham

    Advisor, Strategy and Reform

Jen is an Advisor in the Strategy and Reform team. Jen’s role focuses on the upcoming reforms to the local government sector, particularly in the resource management space. Jen’s interests include climate change, good governance, and community wellbeing.

Before moving to Taituarā, Jen worked at Dunedin City Council in the sustainable transport space. Prior to that Jen completed a BA/LLB at Otago University and spent five years advocating for climate solutions with Generation Zero.

In her spare time, Jen enjoys longboarding, baking, and trying all the wonderful eateries Wellington has to offer.

Wendy Moore

    Principal Advisor

Kia ora koutou, ko Ngāti Rangiwewehi a Rangitāne ki Manawatū taku iwi, ko Wendy Moore taku ingoa, kei Te Awa Kairangi ki Tai taku kainga.

Wendy leads the Strategy and Planning team at Hutt City Council leading policy and strategy development including the LTP and Annual Plan, policy advice and research and evaluation. Before that she worked in central government in a variety of roles.

Wendy was thrilled to be offered a secondment to Taituarā and an opportunity to contribute to the work on the Future for Local Government. She says "Never has there been a more important time for local governance than now. All our communities have seen inequity and deprivation grow over the last two decades. Councils are struggling to work with their communities to address this and provide good basic infrastructure while under increasing government and community pressure to improve outcomes, deliver value for money and do more with less."

"There are some amazing examples of true local governance in action in every one of our cities and districts. Sadly, too often their success depends on working outside the 'system' as it is seen as a barrier to success. Iwi Māori are faced with a complex system of co-governance arrangements, memorandums of understanding and consultation demands. Their representative entities are not resourced to respond to this high demand 'system'. This is our 'system' they are talking about."

She believes the sector has the ability, nous, and collective power to work successfully with iwi Māori to build a new, equitable and enduring system with our communities.