Board members

The Foundation is governed by a Board of Trustees—a group of graduates and friends of the University who bring a wide range of expertise and experience.

Trustees have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure all donated funds are correctly managed, invested, and disbursed.

Dame Kerry Prendergast, Chair

Dame Kerry Prendergast

Dame Kerry has had a long and successful life in politics. She was first elected as a Tawa Borough Councillor in 1986. She was elected to Wellington City Council in 1989, spent six years as Deputy Mayor of Wellington, and in 2001 was elected Mayor of Wellington, a position she held for three terms until 2010.

During that time, she took a great interest in promoting the interests of Wellington’s tourism and commercial businesses. Before her mayoralty she was an independent midwife for 25 years, having originally trained as a registered general and obstetrics nurse.

Dame Kerry gained an MBA from Victoria University of Wellington in 2003, during her mayoralty. She is a Victoria University of Wellington Distinguished Alumna and was awarded a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) in 2011 for her services to local government, and a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (DNZM) in the 2019 New Year's honours list.

Dame Kerry is currently Chair of Wellington Free Ambulance, The Royal New Zealand Ballet, and Wellington Opera. She is also a member of several other boards, including Oceania Healthcare, Fishserve, Wellington International Arts Foundation, Capital Kiwi and New Zealand Community Trust. She is a past member of the Advisory Board for the Victoria University of Wellington MBA programme and is a patron of various charitable organisations including Wellington High Performance Aquatic, Alzheimers NZ, and Mary Potter Hospice

John Allen (ex-officio as Chancellor)

John Allen

John Allen assumed the Chancellorship of Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington on 1 January 2022. He is Chief Executive of WellingtonNZ.

Mr Allen chairs the University’s Audit & Risk Committee and is a Te Papa Foundation trustee.  He was previously the Chief Executive of the Racing Industry Transition Board and the former Chief Executive and Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Prior to joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, John was Chief Executive of New Zealand Post. He held a number of senior positions at New Zealand Post before his appointment as its Chief Executive in 2003.

A former partner of Rudd Watts & Stone, specialising in commercial and public policy issues, John is a graduate of Victoria University of Wellington and was a visiting lecturer in Law at the University. He received a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2006. John is an experienced company director and was co-chair of the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum until April 2011.

Professor Gregor Coster

Gregor Coster

Gregor was Professor of Health Policy and the inaugural Dean of the Faculty of Health until retiring in 2020. He graduated from Victoria University of Wellington with a Master’s of Science with Honours (1970) and a PhD in Health Policy (2004), and in Medicine from the University of Otago in 1975, becoming the Elaine Gurr Professor of General Practice at the University of Auckland in 1995. He later became Dean of Graduate Studies there for a period of six years until his retirement in 2012.

Gregor helped to establish the University’s Faculty of Health in 2017 which brought together researchers from across the University to focus on subjects such as health promotion, health psychology, health policy and health service delivery, health leadership and management, workplace health and safety, health informatics, women’s health research, and health services research alongside postgraduate programmes for nurses and midwives.

Gregor is Chair of the Parochial District of Makara and Karori West Trust, and is on the Board of the Mary Potter Hospice. Gregor has previously held roles as Chair of WorkSafe New Zealand, Counties Manukau District Health Board, West Coast District Health Board, the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners and Deputy Chair of PHARMAC and Health Workforce New Zealand. He has also served as a Board Member of ACC and UNICEF New Zealand.

In his spare time, Gregor has regularly competed in marathons and triathlons, including the World Age Group Championships, and the World Masters Games where he won gold in his category in 2017.

Souella Cumming FCA, ONZM

Souella Cumming

Souella is a partner at KPMG and leads KPMG New Zealand's Infrastructure, Government and Healthcare (IGH) Industry. She has over 40 years’ experience in providing risk management, internal audit, project advisory, and governance services to a range of public and private sector clients in New Zealand and overseas. She is a Fellow Chartered Accountant.

Souella is also actively involved with a wide range of community-based organisations. She is currently on the international board of Zonta International and the Zonta Foundation for Women, a global women’s empowerment and advocacy group, a member of the St John New Zealand and St John International Audit and Risk Committee, a director of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, and chair of the Special Olympics New Zealand Foundation.

In addition to her non-profit roles, Souella is involved in a range of professional organisations such as the Institute of Internal Auditors, Risk New Zealand, the International Association of Privacy Professionals, and Global Women.

Souella graduated from Victoria University of Wellington with a BCA in Accountancy in 1981.

Chris Finlayson

Chris Finlayson

Hon Chris Finlayson KC is a lawyer and former Member of Parliament. He has previously been Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Attorney-General and Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations. Chris retired from Parliament in 2019 and currently practises law in arbitration, the Treaty of Waitangi, and Māori trusts at Bankside Chambers.

A keen supporter of the arts, he is currently a board member of New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the Norman Kirk Trust. Chris is also Patron of the Auckland Youth Orchestra.

Chris studied Latin, French, and Law at Victoria University of Wellington, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 1980 and a Master of Laws in 1985.

Since graduating, he has continued a strong relationship with the University as a donor to a number of arts funds, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Law in 2020, is a current Ambassador of the Living Pā project and has been a long-time trustee of major University supporters, the Adam Foundation, since 2004.

Steven Fyfe

Stephen Fyfe

Steven graduated from Victoria University of Wellington with a BCA in 1974. As a chartered accountant, he worked in New York, London, and Wellington before spending most of his executive career in banking in New Zealand.

Steven was Chief Financial Officer of the National Bank for eight years and was Deputy Chief Executive of ANZ National Bank. Steven is currently Chair of Chubb Life Insurance NZ, is involved in governance at the Ministry of Primary Industries and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and acts as a business adviser to several commercial and not-for-profit entities.

Steven is currently Chair of the Foundation’s Finance Risk and Investment Committee (FRIC).

Professor Nic Smith (ex-officio as Vice-Chancellor)

Nic Smith in front of a dark window.

Professor Nic Smith joined the University as Vice-Chancellor in January 2023. He is the chair of the Senior Leadership Team.

Prior to this appointment, Professor Smith held professorial appointments as the Provost at Queensland University of Technology, Dean of Engineering at the University of Auckland, Head of Biomedical Engineering at King's College London, and Professor of Computational Physiology at the University of Oxford.

In all these roles he has continued an active teaching and research practice. This work has focused on the development of unique computational models that have been integrated with patient images and applied in hospitals to improve the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease. He has authored more than 170 peer reviewed journal publications and 350 conference publications. He is also the lead-author on several patent applications for the development of physiological models for specific clinical applications. He is a fellow of the Royal Society Te Apārangi and Engineering New Zealand.

Raphael Hilbron

Raphael Hilbron

Raphael is Managing Partner of SenateSHJ New Zealand—a communications consultancy. He is also the Deputy Chair of the Wellington Pasifika Business Network.

Raphael helps various organisations to manage their reputations, including Beach Energy, Contact Energy, CentrePort, and T&G Global.

Before joining SenateSHJ in 2008, Raphael was head of corporate responsibility at Vodafone NZ and was seconded to Vodafone Group in the UK for two years.

In the early 90s, Raphael worked as a reporter on The Dominion newspaper and as a press secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister.

Raphael holds Law and Arts degrees from Victoria University of Wellington and a New Zealand Certificate in Journalism.

Alan Judge

Portrait of Alan Judge.

Alan was a partner in consulting firm EY for 29 years and left the practice in 2017 as Chair of the New Zealand firm and a member of the EY Asia Pacific Advisory Board.

Alan is a Fellow of the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ) and a member of the Institute of Directors.

Alan is the Chair of Habit Health and a director of a number of other private companies. He is a trustee of the Dame Malvina Major Foundation and chairs the finance committee of Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington. Alan was previously a trustee and chair of the City Gallery Wellington Foundation.

Alan lives in and is passionate about Wellington and the arts.

Tricia Walbridge

Tricia was appointed as the first Executive Director of the Victoria University of Wellington Foundation in 1990. She had worked in the not-for-profit sector in New Zealand since moving from her native UK in 1981. During her time at the Foundation, Tricia was instrumental in leading fundraising efforts to establish some of the University’s most iconic institutions such as the International Institute of Modern Letters and the Adam Art Gallery. Her work also enabled the First Light Solar Decathlon project, partnership Chairs at the Wellington School of Business and Government, and numerous student scholarships and prizes, many of which are still offered today. In 2018, Tricia was awarded a Hunter Fellowship by the University Council for her many years of service.

Tricia is now an Adviser and Secretary to the Board of the Te Mana o Kupe Trust, supporting disadvantaged youth and families in Porirua by providing devices to children in decile 1 schools with the aim of making digital technology accessible and affordable.

Tricia has been supporting the funding efforts for the Living Pā as part of the fundraising Steering Group and has been appointed as an Ambassador for the project.

Sir Maarten Wevers

Jessica VUWSA student representative 2023

Sir Maarten served as Chief Executive of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet from 2004 until 2012. He was formerly Ambassador to Japan and High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea. He chaired the Senior Officials' Meeting during New Zealand's year as APEC host in 1999.

He is Deputy Chair of the Fred Hollows Foundation New Zealand, Chair of the Aspen Institute New Zealand, Patron of the Wairarapa Dark Sky Reserve, and Registrar of Pecuniary and other Specified Interests of Members of Parliament.

Sir Maarten graduated from Victoria University of Wellington with a BSc (1973)  and BA(Hons) in Economics (1976).

Jessica Ye—VUWSA Student Representative

Jessica Ye

Jessica Ye is the VUWSA—Te Aka Taurā President for 2023. She is responsible for supporting the VUWSA team to act effectively, working with Ngāi Tauira and student representative groups, and forming positive relationships with university and political leaders to ensure students' needs are met. Jessica is also VUWSA’s main media spokesperson.

As President, Jessica will make sure that VUWSA strongly engages with the student body and campaigns for the issues that students care about most. Alongside student representative groups, building collective student action, getting students voting, and strengthening communities are the way forward for students to see the transformation they need in barrier-free education, housing affordability, climate change, pastoral care, and more. Lastly, Jessica is always keen to hear students' suggestions on what VUWSA can do to make being a student easier.