Keynote Speakers

The GPS2020 Organising Committee are proud to present the Keynote Speakers below.


Professor Richie Poulton

Professor Richie Poulton, CNZM FRSNZ, MSc PGDipClPs (Otago) PhD (NSW) was one of only four New Zealanders to be named as a Highly Cited Researcher in 2014 by Thomson Reuters and was listed in their 2014 World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds. He currently holds the part-time prestigious position of Chief Science Advisor for the Ministry of Social Development. Concurrently, he is also the Director of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit at the University of Otago, which conducts the Dunedin Longitudinal Study - one of the most detailed studies of human health and development ever undertaken.

He has published over 200 peer-reviewed scientific papers, with many appearing in leading international journals. His research interests include but are not limited to; mental health, gene and environment prediction of complex disorders, and psychosocial determinants of chronic physical disease.

In 2004, he was awarded the New Zealand Association of Scientist’s Research Medal and the Health Research Council of New Zealand’s (inaugural) Liley Medal for Excellence in Health Research. In 2005, he was awarded the University of Otago’s Rowheath Trust Award and Carl Smith Medal for Outstanding Early Career Achievement, and also received the Dunedin School of Medicine Distinguished Research Award. In 2010, he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and was the joint recipient of the RSNZ Dame Joan Metge Medal for  "excellence and building relationships in the social science research community". In 2014, he was awarded the Dunedin School of Medicine Dean’s Medal for Research Excellence.

In 2014, he was named as a Highly Cited Researcher by Thomson-Reuters (one of only four New Zealanders so designated) and again in 2015, 2016 and 2017. He was also listed in 2014 and 2015 World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds, Thomson-Reuters.

In 2016, he was the recipient of the Health Research Council of New Zealand's Research Excellence Award. The Dunedin Study was the recipient for the University of Otago's Research Group Award in 2016. 

The Prime Minister's Science Prize in 2016 was awarded to the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development team, led by Professor Richie Poulton.

He was appointed Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM), in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in 2017.

Julia Arnott-Neenee

Julia Arnott-Neenee is a hyper-curious strategist and vivacious learner, with global experience in the technology industry, and a passion for digital inclusion across Pacific communities. For Julia, understanding human behaviour, and shaping the future for good, is a constant source of meaning and purpose. 

Julia graduated from the University of Canterbury in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts (Political Science) and Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing/Media and Communications).

In the years that followed, Julia worked in Auckland, Sydney, London and in San Diego for technology company HP (Hewlett-Packard) as former Global Social Strategy Lead, involving the uncovering of insights, solving business problems and influencing strategic decisions with Digital Intelligence. 

From humble beginnings in Grey Lynn, Auckland, Julia was raised by a hard-working single mother who pushed her to grasp every opportunity to succeed. During her childhood, Julia’s connection to her Samoan culture instilled the values of service, respect, discipline, and love. 

These values, and the challenges Julia has overcome in life, have kept Julia deeply grounded. Throughout her career, Julia has dedicated herself to volunteer work with a specific focus on the Pacific community. Most recently, Julia was a mentor and contributor for Pasifika in IT. 

Moving into the future, Julia aims to continue her contributions to the Pacific community, providing value and a long-term positive impact. Julia’s dream is to build a social enterprise that is focused on digital inclusion, and a modern-day Community Centre that creates a safe place for people to come together to learn, find belonging, create and grow. ___________________________________________________________________

Ali’imuamua Sandra Alofivae

Ali’imuamua Sandra Alofivae MNZM, LLB (Auckland), Commissioner for the Royal Commission of Inquiry of abuse in care.

Of Samoan heritage, Ms Alofivae was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in December 1989 after completing a law degree at Auckland University. She has practised as a lawyer in the Auckland region with a particular emphasis in South Auckland for the last 20 years, representing children, young people and their families.  In 2016 she graduated with an MBA from Massey University.

Sandra believes that strong communities are built by families and whānau being able to flourish in their surroundings. She has stood by this belief when serving in various leadership roles including as a Families Commissioner and key board positions in health, housing, social welfare and not-for-profit social service.

In October 2012 she was appointed Chair of the Community Response Model Auckland South Forum.  Ms Alofivae was a ministerial appointment to the Counties Manukau District Health Board in December 2010 for two terms. She is a member of the Fonua Ola Board which is a Pacific social service provider network and the current chair of Affirming Works Limited, a not-for-profit social enterprise.  Ms Alofivae is also the Independent Chair of the South Auckland Social Well-Being Board (SASWB) a government agency-led PBI with 13 government agency members focused on improving outcomes for at-risk children and their whānau by shifting collective decision-making and discretion from the national level to the local level.

In 2016 she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to the Pacific community and youth, improving the lives of Aucklanders. In 2018 she was awarded a Blake Leader Award, presented by the Sir Peter Blake Trust. She also has an honorific title bestowed to her by her family in the village of Sa'anapu, Samoa.

Carla na Nagara

A New Zealander of Thai and Pākehā heritage, Carla studied sociology, Māori studies and law at Victoria University of Wellington. She worked primarily in research, lecturing and policy analysis before practising law from 2000. After being appointed a coroner in 2007, Carla developed a particular interest in the social, cultural and familial backgrounds of young people who took their lives by suicide as she saw this as being directly relevant to establishing the circumstances of the deaths.

In the context of these inquiries, Carla explored ways to work with young people's families to identify ways to reduce deaths by suicide. On 21 October 2019, Carla took up the appointment of Director of the Ministry of Health’s Suicide Prevention Office. Outside of this work, her spare time is largely divided between her family, being Chairperson of the Manawatu Cricket Association, and cricket scoring.

Dr Monique Faleafa

Dr Monique Faleafa, DClinPsy MNZM is the founding Chief Executive of Le Va, a national NGO focused on Pacific people’s wellbeing. Le Va specialises in Pacific approaches to suicide prevention, mental health and addiction workforce development, violence prevention, disability support services, public health, cultural competency training and holistic wellbeing.

Monique is also a clinical psychologist and has served her Pacific communities in the not-for-profit sector, district health boards, academia and social services for over 25 years as a clinician, and as an advocate for improving equity in health and social outcomes for Pacific and disadvantaged communities. She also contributes to her communities at governance levels, currently serving on two crown entities as Deputy Chair of the Health Promotion Agency, and the Health Research Council of New Zealand. She also serves on the ‘A Better Start’ MBIE Science Challenge Board,   a research panel for The Royal Society, and has served on Regulatory Authority, the New Zealand Psychologists' Board for 10 years.

In 2016, Monique was awarded as a Member of the NZ Order of Merit and a finalist in the Westpac Women of Influence awards. Internationally she is a mental health advisor to Australia’s National Rugby League, is an Alumni of the commonwealth Emerging Pacific Leaders Dialogue, and one of two Pacific Associate Members of Global Women.

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