Community Reference Groups

Just a few of the diverse group of volunteers who represent the community on council reference groups.

Council has 3 community reference groups: the Disability Reference Group, Pasifika Reference Group, and Seniors' Reference Group.

Groups give opportunities for engagement

Community reference groups give us a direct channel to hear the voices of those with lived experience in a community or demographic. They provide a dedicated opportunity for specific parts of the community to give feedback on Council activities, including what should be considered in planning, developing or delivering services and programmes.

They help build stronger relationships between Council and the community, and give Council a better understanding of community needs and perspectives.

The Disability Reference Group was formed in 2018, with a Pasifika Reference Group and a Seniors Reference Group following in 2022. Each group has 8 to 15 volunteers.

Group members need to:

  • live within Palmerston North city boundaries at the time of selection
  • be available to regularly attend (either online or in person) and contribute to scheduled meetings

Group members need to have:

  • lived experience relevant to the purpose and/or demographic of the group
  • a broad knowledge of issues relevant to the group
  • good relationships and networks with relevant communities
  • the ability to work effectively in a team
  • an understanding of Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Meetings are held four times per year (or more, if the group wants to meet more frequently), and are supported by a Council officer and a liaison Councillor.

Disability Reference Group

The Disability Reference Group ensures the needs of people with disabilities are appropriately considered in the context of Palmerston North City Council’s roles and priorities. It does this by:

  • Representing to Council the interests, perspectives and expertise of people within our community living with impairments.
  • Building strong relationships and establishing channels of communication between Council and disabled people living in Palmerston North.
  • Providing guidance, advice, and support to inform Council’s planning and decision-making processes at a strategic level, as well as identifying actual and potential operational gaps in Council’s activities.

Council is guided in its work with the group by the Enabling Good Lives principles 

The group is also guided by the New Zealand Disability Strategy 2016-2026

Group membership

  • Aleesha Kostyrko-Jones
  • Denise Bethell
  • Dion Ponga
  • Erin McLean
  • Helen Sutherland
  • Hugh O’Connell (Co-chair)
  • Janine Morrah
  • Jennifer Brown
  • Lisa McEvoy
  • Maide Hoani
  • Marilou Ward
  • Nat McLean (Co-chair)
  • Nicola Ross
  • Sara Georgeson

Supported by:

  • Councillor Karen Naylor
  • PNCC Community Development Advisor Martin Brady

Pasifika Reference Group

The Pasifika Reference Group connects Council with Palmy’s growing number of Pasifika people and communities.

At the 2018 Census, 5.3% of Palmy's population identified as Pasifika, including 1.8% born in the Pacific Islands. At least 11 Pacific Island origin languages are spoken, with Samoan being the fourth most spoken language in the city.

Council and Palmy’s Pasifika community organisations have a longstanding relationship. We are one of the few councils in the country to have a dedicated officer for Pasifika community development. In 2020, Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry for Pacific Peoples dedicated to supporting and empowering Pasifika communities.

The Pasifika Reference Group is growing from these foundations by strengthening relationships and enhancing Council’s strategic and operational activities towards a shared goal of thriving Pacific peoples. The Pasifika Reference Group selection process aims to achieve a variety of members, with people from a range of backgrounds and experiences.

Group membership

  • Ana Tu’imana
  • Andrew Jamieson
  • Courtney Manu
  • Epe Faaiuaso
  • Helen Talamaivao
  • Hickson Lome
  • Jenny Sowman 
  • Leilani Faaiuaso
  • Leith Teipo
  • Lupe Kelekolio
  • Maggie Leota
  • Nailasikau Halatuituia
  • Sa’ane Mau
  • Sonny Liuvaie
  • Situe Fata

Supported by:

  • Councillor Kaydee Zabelin
  • PNCC Community Development Advisor Salome Faaiuaso

Seniors' Reference Group

The Seniors' Reference Group connects Council with Palmy’s growing community of older citizens.

Our over-60 population is about 19% according to the 2018 Census. In line with global trends, long-term projections for Palmy show this cohort will increase as a proportion of the population faster than any other age group. This shift has implications for areas such as housing, health, employment, financial and social issues.

While we’ve worked alongside organisations who work for or with seniors for many years, the Seniors Reference Group provides a dedicated regular platform for older people’s voices to be heard and considered by Council. The group will help us respond to current and future opportunities to create a city that works for everyone.

Group membership

  • Averil Nasario
  • Beverly Page
  • Esmee Rowden
  • Graham Brandreth-Wills
  • Janet Kelly
  • Jim Jefferies
  • Joan Spencer
  • Louise Folster
  • Luisa Taufa
  • Marianne Tremaine
  • Mario Garcia
  • Russell Hallam
  • Sinive Nasario

Supported by:

  • Councillor Lew Findlay
  • PNCC Community Development Advisor Martin Brady