Our Board


Elected Member

Michele's career in the recreation industry began 20 years ago when she was at Lincoln University and working as a park ranger's assistant while studying. Over the years she has developed her experience in both the local government and private sector settings.

Today Michele is a Director for Liveable Communities at Gisborne District Council. In addition to Michele's extensive industry experience, she has been on the Recreation Aotearoa Board for the past 6 years, prior to that she played a leading role in building links between young recreation professionals and the broader recreation industry particularly through her involvement with the Generate Network, which she chaired from 2011-2014.

An active member of Recreation Aotearoa, she is excited about the future as reflected through Te Whai Oranga, and what lies ahead for the recreation industry and our future generations. 


Appointed Member

Bobbi, a descendant of Tainui (Ngāti Korokī-Kahukura, Ngāti Te Wehi) is an advocate for supporting Māori communities to a healthier and active lifestyle. She resides in Kirikiroa with her family and is actively involved in community sport.

With a passion for IT systems and cultural capabilities, in recent years her expertise have been utilised within the Sport and Māori business sectors.

In her spare time, she enjoys Netball, Touch and Waka Ama.

In the words of Princes Te Puia "Mahia te mahi, hei painga mo te iwi" (Do the work for the betterment of the people) - where possible Bobbi endeavours to activate this call to action from a prominent Waikato tipuna.


Appointed Member

Watene is a descendent of Ngāti Kahungunu ki te Wairoa, but raised in the heart of Te Mahunua – The McKenzie country. He is currently based in Ōtautahi were he works for New Zealand Māori Golf and Golf New Zealand. Watene has also spent 7 years in the recreation sector across both local government and regional sport trusts and as a member of the Generate NZ network. Watene is a strong advocate for recreation and physical activity, and ensuring everyone has an opportunity to access recreational opportunities when and how they want to.

He is excited by the journey Recreation Aotearoa is on to bring to life, Te Whai Oranga – and looks forward to contributing at a governance level to a sector that gives so much to it’s local communities.


Elected Member

Vanessa has been actively involved in the not-for profit sector for over 12 years, showing a genuine commitment to crafting a career that benefits community causes. 

Since taking on a Regional Management role for the Graeme Dingle Foundation in 2009 Vanessa has continued to contribute her leadership to a range of organisations. As the General Manager of Sport Southland for 6 years, Vanessa led the team through strategy and implementation of key contracts including Sport NZ Community Sport investment. Now in 2021, Vanessa has cemented herself into the role of CEO for YMCA South and has been paramount in ensuring the organisation continues to meet the needs of the ever-evolving Southland society. Alongside these roles, Vanessa has been a board member of Tennis Southland, Volleyball Southland, Koha Kai and remains an active member of the Southland Sharks Board. 

Vanessa’s strategic leadership skills and analytical approach make her a true asset to the Southland Community.


Elected Member

With approximately 20 years of experience in the aquatics and recreation industry and over 12 years as a Recreation Aotearoa member, Kirsty Knowles is an experienced industry professional, with a passion for supporting Recreation Aotearoa and our sector.

As a Director of Community Leisure Management (CLM) and Trustee of Community Leisure Charitable Trust, a delivery partner of Aktive’s in the Counties Manukau Region and AROORA programming in Te Tai Tokerau, Kirsty is directly involved in business development, governance and strategic planning. Furthermore, Kirsty has a strong skill set specialising in operations, health and safety, human resources, aquatics and facility management.  

Her contribution to the sector involves involvement in PoolSafe, an advisory support for the operation of the Parakiore Recreation and Sports Centre in Christchurch, and the COVID-19 response group.

As a contemporary thinker and a leader Kirsty has demonstrated excellence for over a decade by winning both the Recreation Aotearoa Emerging Leader award in 2010 and the Paul Stuart Memorial Award in 2019.

Kirsty is an advocate for Recreation in New Zealand and works tirelessly to empower, represent and support our industry making her a strong candidate for the New Zealand Recreation Board.


Elected Member
Amanda has a wealth of experience in recreation and leisure, beginning as a Park Ranger in 1996 and progressing through various operational and council roles.

Currently serving as the Manager for Spaces and Places Project Outcomes at Tauranga City Council, Amanda is responsible for a substantial capital program of approximately $66 million for FY24, the city's largest investment in community amenity in years. Her diverse project portfolio ranges from neighborhood reserves to major community amenity investments, showcasing her extensive industry knowledge and understanding of various organizational perspectives. 

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