Society patrons and executive committee

Profiling the University of Auckland Society’s distinguished patrons and experienced executive committee.


Dame Catherine Tizard

Catherine Tizard spent the first twenty years of her adult life as an MP’s wife, housewife, and mother of four. After studying and teaching zoology at the University, she was elected to the Auckland City Council in 1971, and the Auckland Regional Authority in 1980. She became Mayor of Auckland in 1983, and was appointed Governor General of New Zealand in 1990 - the first woman to achieve either position.

Since retirement, Dame Tizard has remained active in Community affairs, is on the Auckland Board of Conservation, chairs the Sir Edmund Hillary Trust, is Deputy-Chairman of the Kiri te Kanawa Trust, and a patron of Hospice New Zealand and the Variety Club Children’s Charity.

Sir Anand Satyanand

Sir Anand Satyanand joined Dame Catherine Tizard as a patron of the University of Auckland Society in 2017. Sir Anand is a former lawyer, judge, and ombudsman, and was the 19th Governor-General of New Zealand from 2006-2011. From 2013-2016, he served as Chair of the Commonwealth Foundation, the people’s organisation counterpart of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Since graduating from the University with an LLB in 1971, Sir Satyanand has maintained a continuing association with the institution. He was awarded an LLD (honoris causa) by the University in 2006, and is at the Law School regularly as a Visiting Fellow. There, he supports endeavours of faculty and students, such as classes, mooting, and debating.

In the community, Sir Anand is active with a number of organisations, including the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, Rotary, the Asia New Zealand Foundation, and Transparency International.

Sir Anand has received a number of awards and commendations, including a knighthood in 2009, and awards from the University of Auckland, Rotary International and the New Zealand Government. In 2011, he received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award from the President of India, and was made a Member of the Royal Order of the Crown by the King of Tonga later that year.

Executive committee

President: Janet Copsey

Janet was elected President of the University of Auckland Society in 2016, having previously served as the University of Auckland’s University Librarian and Director of Libraries and Learning Services. At the completion of her tenure, Janet was awarded the title University Librarian Emeritus by the University Council.

Janet has contributed to library initiatives both nationally and internationally. In 1996, she was awarded a Fellowship of the NZ Library and Information Association for her leadership in the introduction and management of information technology in New Zealand libraries. From 2006-2009, she was a government appointee to the NZ Library and Information Advisory Commission.  

Janet was also one seven initial members of the OCLC Asia-Pacific Regional Council. From 2008-2010, she was also appointed a delegate to the OCLC Global Council. From 2013-2015, she chaired the Pacific Rim Research Libraries Alliance.

Vice-President: Richard Northey

A former MP and Auckland City Councillor, Richard Northey has been Vice President of the University of Auckland Society since 2005. He is a University of Auckland graduate, with undergraduate degrees in science and arts, and a Master of Arts with first-class honours in political studies. Richard has also lectured in political studies and planning at the University.

Richard chairs the Auckland Community Housing Trust, the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand, and the Auckland Inner City Network Steering Group. He is an elected member of the Waitemata Local Board, and is on the Labour Party's New Zealand Council.

Richard is also a board member of the Auckland Observatory and Planetarium, and is patron of the Peace Foundation.

Treasurer: Karen Thompson

Karen joined the Society’s Executive Committee in 2015 upon becoming the Alumni Relations Manager for the University, having worked as the Events Manager for Alumni Relations and Development team since 2008.

Appointed as Associate Director, Communications and Alumni Relations in March 2018, Karen has also taken on the role as treasurer for the Society.

Amy Malcolm

Amy was President of the Society for four years before standing down at the end of 2016. She previously served as Vice-President from 2010 to 2012.
Amy has worked in the tertiary education sector for many years in marketing, communication, recruitment, and community engagement roles. She is passionate about providing opportunities for alumni to benefit from engaging with various parts of the University.

Renee Liang

Renee is a poet, playwright, doctor, and fiction writer. A graduate and researcher at the University, she is involved in organising community arts events, is a regular contributor to the digital arts publication The Big Idea, and has had productions of her plays performed around the North Island and in a number of festivals.

Outside of her creative output, Renee works as a locum consultant paediatrician. As a scientist, Renee is part of the core group of researchers for landmark longitudinal study Growing Up In New Zealand. For her activities in arts, medicine and science, Renee was named a Sir Peter Blake Emerging Leader in 2010.

Jennie Oakley

Born and educated in Hawke’s Bay, Jennie completed training in General Nursing in Christchurch before moving to Auckland with her husband in 1961. Following diverse work experiences in industries such as healthcare and furniture, she completed a Bachelor of Arts in 2005, an Honours degree in 2006 (extramurally from Western Australia), and a Master of Arts in 2009.  

Jennie's interests are widespread, however her current priorities encompass family, friends, books, art, classical music and Rotary are her priorities.

Eva Tollemache

Eva joined the Executive Committee in 2007. An Occupational Therapist who had previously worked in both London and California, Eva is currently working at Ranfurly Veteran’s Care, where she supervises staff, teaches students, engages with the community, and carries out cognitive assessments for residents.

A trained newsreader with broadcasting experience, Eva plays both the piano and flute, and uses music as a therapeutic medium in her occupational therapy practice. In 1994 Eva completed her BA degree, majoring in English. She also studied Italian, Art History, Acoustics and Politics. She’s also a qualified Modified Tai Chi instructor.

Rachel Yang

Rachel has been an Executive Committee member since 2011. The founder of the Auckland University Chinese Alumni Club, which today boasts thousands of Chinese graduate members, Rachel maintains a strong connection with Auckland’s young Chinese populace.

Rachel graduated from the University of Auckland Law School with a Master of Legal Studies. Her career began at Inland Revenue, where she worked in the areas of insolvency and investigation. A fully qualified Chartered Accountant, she now works for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Paul Gilberd

Paul joined the Executive Committee in 2014. A native aucklander, he studied history at the University of Auckland then lived and worked in Europe for twelve years. After obtaining an MBA in London, Paul returned home to work in a variety of development roles for the University of Auckland and in the private sector. He’s now the General Manager of Strategy and Development for the New Zealand Housing Foundation, helping to fight poverty through the provision of affordable housing.

A passionate supporter of the University, Paul previously served on the Executive Committee in the 1990s, when he was a student representative.