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About COMET Auckland

Trustees

The Trustees serve on a voluntary basis. They meet once a month and the Chairperson is required to submit a report to Auckland Council twice a year. 

Ginnie Denny- Chair

Ginnie Denny has held governance positions in a range of education-related organisations over the past 6 years. As a long-time supporter of COMET, she brings expertise in tertiary and adult education as well as business acumen to the board table. 

Professionally, Ginnie works at the interface of business and education to create sustainable training platforms that meet the needs of both individual learners and their workplaces. She has a special interest in strengthening adult literacy and numeracy provision. 
 
Ginnie has worked for the Tertiary Education Commission, New Zealand Qualifications Authority and various Industry Training Organisations and Private Training Establishments to develop robust systems and processes to improve learner outcomes.
Andrew Abernethy

Andrew is a corporate lawyer specialising in mergers and acquisitions and funds structuring.  He is qualified to practise in New York, England & Wales, Hong Kong and New Zealand.

He attended Victoria University of Wellington, University of Auckland, and the Law School at The University of Chicago.  He has spent most of his career abroad, practising in New York, London, Hong Kong and Dubai and is now based in Auckland, where his three children attend school.
 

 
Caroline (Ligi) Harris

Caroline is the national Pasifika Engagement Advisor for the Industry Training Organisation (ITO) Service IQ.  She works across multiple industries in the service sector to advance Pasifika success outcomes. She is also a member of the Māori and Pasifika forum group at the Industry Training Federation (ITF).  

Caroline has worked in education for over 20 years in various roles as teacher, course developer, education advisor, programme manager and leader of community initiated programmes, using her creative talents to innovate meaningful programmes for diverse people groups.  

Alongside her work, Caroline is a trustee member of the Community and Voluntary Sector Research Centre and is also studying for her Masters in Educational Leadership through Auckland University of Technology (AUT). 

She lives in south Auckland caring for her elderly parent, and is of mixed heritage; Samoan (NZ), Chinese, American with ancestral links to Tonga.  

Tracy Massam

 

Tracy joined our board in 2018. She is Asset Manager for the Tāmaki Regeneration Company.

She previously spent seven years in asset and facilities management for Auckland Council and more than 10 years with the Ministry of Education, including senior adviser roles in property management in the schooling sector and increasing participation in the early childhood education.

Alongside her work, Tracy is a trustee of Global Action Plan Oceania Charitable Trust who are helping create a more sustainable future through the management of various recycling initiatives and educational programmes in schools. Tracy is also the secretariat of the New Zealand chapter of the Asset Management Council. 

Tracy’s whanau are staunch supporters of Tikanga Māori and are prominent in the education sector, particularly Kohanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa Māori. 

Jignasha Patel

Jignasha joined Air New Zealand in 2004, as a Manager of Cargo, she now holds position as the General Manager in the Air New Zealand Aviation Institute. She has led commercial ventures up to $400M in revenue with $200M in consulting for businesses projects within New Zealand, Australia, and USA. Jignasha has gained significant experience in cargo, aviation, media and infrastructure in various roles from General Manager, Consultancy Program Director and as Head of Risk Management.

Originally from Fiji, Jignasha completed her high school and tertiary education in Auckland, graduating with an Auckland University Bachelor of Commerce degree.

Jignasha brings governance expertise in reporting to boards, audit committees, steering groups, executive teams and to the Leadership team at Air New Zealand.  Believing passionately in the philosophy of “giving back”, Jignasha is currently a member of: the ATEED Futures Group Board, the Ministry of Ethnic Affairs Focus on Ethnic Women Leadership, the Service IQ Industry Advisory Board, and on the committee of the JKP Charitable Education Trust supporting education for 4,500 girls in Northern India.

Jannitta Pilisi

Jannitta has extensive experience as a senior executive in the tertiary education sector.  She recently completed a contract with AUT University's South Campus in a community-engagement focussed role, and assisted the newly opened MOE Partnership School "Pacific Advance Senior School" as an Academic Board member.

She also served on the Tertiary Education Commission's Pasifika Working Group, preceded by 11 years of service as a directorate member of a large Private Training Establishment. Jannitta has successfully undertaken a number of local and international consulting projects which include business systems design, governance, advocacy, event management and legal advice. As a proud Kiwi-born Niuean, she also maintains strong connections with Aotearoa New Zealand's rich and diverse communities.

 
Amit Prasad

Amit Prasad joined our board in 2018. He has spent more than two decades in financial and general management, including 12 years in the education sector. He currently works as a Director of Finance for the University of Auckland Business School.

Amit is originally from Fiji and began his career in an export-oriented fashion and textile industry. In his governance roles, Amit is involved with a few non-profits as Trustee, Finance/Audit Committee member and Remuneration Committee member. He is a member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, a Fellow of CPA Australia and holds an MBA from Deakin University, Melbourne.

Outside work he enjoys watching sports, travelling, mostly road trips and enjoys spending time with his partner and son. 

Richard Thornton

  

Richard joined our board in 2018. He is Schools’ Adviser for The Skills Group and has an extensive background in education and business.

He was previously a secondary school principal for 10 years, northern manger with the Education Review Office, and deputy chief executive at NZQA.

He’s also spent 10 years in the import, manufacturing and retail sectors.

Richard has considerable governance experience as director on several boards and is currently an elected member of the Manurewa High School board of trustees.    

Finau Glen Tuala

Finau Glen also joined our board in 2018. He is a director with his wife Ria of Community KIDS Early Learning Centres which has three ECEs in Tāmaki and two in development in south Auckland. He is also managing director of Totara Seed Trust in Tāmaki, a Pasifika-based organisation working towards advocacy and support for social housing.

Previously Glen was senior adviser for Pasifika education at CORE Education and Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (The Correspondence School), and Pasifika education co-ordinator for the Education Ministry. Glen also taught secondary school biology and science in Auckland and the UK.

A New Zealand-born Samoan, Glen has strong ties to Glen Innes where he was the inaugural chair of the Tāmaki Regeneration Company’s community liaison committee.