MEET OUR TEAM

CHIEF EXECUTIVE: Graham Oberlin- Brown

Graham started at CRNZ in  May 2023, bringing a comprehensive range of experiences in the NZ high performance sporting environment, as an elite athlete for New Zealand, head coach of a School Rowing Program, and leader of a large not-for-profit organisation; as well as extensive corporate and financial acumen. 

Graham is a dynamic and innovative leader with a proven track record of creating high performing teams with a strong culture. Prior to joining Canoe Racing New Zealand Graham spent eight years at Westpac NZ, where he worked across various leadership roles with the most recent being executing the delivery a large product strategy and technology transformation project. Alongside this, Graham has been Chair of Karapiro Rowing where he developed and implemented a new organisational strategy, contributed to a modernisation of the organisation, and delivered the North Island’s largest rowing events including the Maadi Cup.  

As an athlete, Graham spent six years in the NZ Rowing Program where he achieved three medals at World Championship level. 

FINANCE & BUSINESS OPERATIONS MANAGER: Stacey Plowman

Stacey has been with Canoe Racing since mid 2013, coming from a background in Financial accounting and management as well as owning various businesses.

Stacey is responsible for overseeing the financial aspects of the organisation as well as the overall business operations. 

She lives on the North Shore in Auckland and has three children.

 

GENERAL MANAGER OF PERFORMANCE: Nathan Luce

Nathan has been a member of CRNZ’s High Performance Coaching team since 2017, contributing to a number of outstanding performances highlighted by the hugely successful Tokyo Olympic campaign. 

Following Tokyo, Nathan was appointed to the new role of General Manager – Performance, responsible for leading the Performance team and implementing the Performance pillar of the CRNZ Strategic Plan.

Nathan was a Canadian kayaking representative before beginning full-time coaching . He spent over 20 years coaching in Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand

LEAD COACH- WOMEN: Gordon Walker

Gordon  is one half of  one of sports most success coach-athlete partnerships, as the long-term coach of Lisa Carrington ( 5 gold and 1 bronze Olympic medals). He has won Coach of the Year at the Halberg Awards four times and was named Coach of the Decade (2010-2020).

Gordon was given the role of Intern Coach with CRNZ in early 2010 and has been a part of the High Performance Programme since then. After the 2016 Olympics, Gordy moved into a lead coach role responsible for the NZ womens squad to perform in K1, K2 and K4 boats.

Gordon has a keen interest in many sports and has coached a variety of sports including cycling, running, swimming, kayaking, triathlon, and multisport. He is also a 3-time winner of the Coast to Coast Multisport race.

LEAD COACH- MEN: Craig Mustard

Craig started at CRNZ in 2019 in the role of National Development Coach. He took over as Lead Coach of the NZ Mens Kayak squad in 2023, after working alongside Tim Brabants.

Hailing from South Africa, Craig has built up a vast amount of coaching knowledge working in a range of roles. He has served as a South African team manager for the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships and as head coach for the junior and under-23 Canoe Sprint World Championships.

He was assistant coach to Bridgitte Hartley, the 2012 Rio Olympic K1 500m bronze medallist, at the 2016 Rio Olympics and guided Jean Van der Westhuyzen to the junior men’s K1 1000m bronze medal at the 2016 World Championships.

Craig is a keen paddler himself having represented South Africa in his earlier years and loves exploring the kiwi great outdoors.

PERFORMANCE COACH: Tim Brabants

Tim, a fully qualified doctor, joined the CRNZ coaching team in January 2020 to lead the NZ Mens Kayak team. At the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, Tim oversaw his young charges Max Brown and Kurtis Imrie paddle their way to an outstanding 5th place in the MK2 1000m.

In 2023, he made a return to a profession in medicine, but remains in a part-time Performance Coach role based at Lake Karapiro

Tim was the first British athlete to win an Olympic canoe title when striking K1 1000m gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, as well as winning two Olympic bronze medals (in the K1 500m in Beijing and in the K1 1000m at the 2000 Sydney Games). 

From 2016 he served for two years as British Canoeing’s Chief Medical Officer before in early 2018 taking up a role working with the elite paddlers as Podium Technical Coach at British Canoeing. He currently is the chair of the ICF Medical board.

 

PERFORMANCE COACH: Chris Mehak

Chris joined the CRNZ High Performance team  in 2023 as Performance coach based in Auckland, his primary role being to assist Gordon Walker and the NZ Womens squad as they continue to build toward Paris Olympics and beyond.

Chris came to us from Toronto, where he was Head Coach at Balmy Beach Canoe Club, one of the larger and more successful clubs in Canada. During his coaching career so far, he has had some really strong performances and results at World Championships by the athletes he has worked with.

Chris was a National team athlete for Canada, competing at ICF World Championships in 2010 and 2011, specializing in the K4 1000 and K1 500 events. He loves getting outdoors either on foot or water, especially with his dog Gilmour. 

 

NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT COACH: Emily Willock

Emily came onboard as a performance coach in 2022, before taking over as the National Development Coach in 2023 leading the CRNZ  Development Pathway.

Emily was a NZ-rep paddler at Junior and U23 level. She then started coaching at Poverty Bay Kayak Club, while working as a teacher. Always seeking to improve her skills and ability to better support her paddlers, Emily was involved in CRNZ pathway coaching and was appointed as one of the coaches of the 2021 Junior Worlds team.

In 2022, she was selected to join the High Performance Sport NZ Te Hāpaitanga programme, an 18-month holistic coach development initiative designed to enable more women to pursue and maintain a career in high performance coaching in Aotearoa-New Zealand.

 

PARTICIPATION LEAD: Danika Mowlem

Danika started at Canoe Racing NZ  in 2021, after 6 years in the Participation and Development department at Yachting NZ. Prior to joining the team, she was involved in the development of new paddling participation initiatives with CRNZ.

Danika is responsible for leading the Participation and Engagement strategic pillars, to help grow and develop paddling in New Zealand. She is hugely passionate about helping get more people out on the water for fun, wellbeing and competition.

Based in Auckland, she is a keen paddler, predominantly in ocean ski, and regularly competes in paddling and multisport events. 

PROJECT MANAGER: Aaron Osborne

Aaron joined CRNZ in 2019 after several years at Canoe Slalom New Zealand, serving many roles including CSNZ High Performance Manager and High Performance Coach. 

With a passion for both participation and performance, Aaron’s current role straddles both as he leads various projects to develop systems and programmes to ensure long term success and sustainability of the sport. His current focuses include the Sport NZ Strengthen & Adapt Project, Disability Inclusion and Coach Development.

Aaron was an international-level slalom paddler. Nowadays, he loves getting out for a downwind with mates on his oceanski.

 

EVENTS MANAGER: Karen Simpson- Warren

Karen is the longest serving member of the CRNZ team, joining back in 2009. Throughout she has held various different roles but her passion for developing the organisations events has seen her settle in her current role as Events Manager. 

Karen is qualified as an ICF Canoe Sprint and SUP International Technical Official and has held official roles at World Cups, Junior World Championships and the Paralympics. She also is responsible for recruiting, training and coordinating officials in NZ.

Prior to CRNZ, Karen spent 16 years in the FMCG industry, initially in Sales and Sales Management, and then as Managing Director of a merchandising, demonstration and importing business.

PERFORMANCE PROGRAM MANAGER: Maree Kaati

Maree came to CRNZ in early 2022 from Triathlon NZ, where she spent eight years as Operations Manager.

Maree supports Nathan in running the operations and logistics for the CRNZ Performance Program (including the Performance Pathway), and helps our team implement the new CRNZ Picture of Performance and Holistic Performance Framework. She is based at the CRNZ High Performance Centre in Karapiro.

Of Tainui and Maniapoto whakapapa, Maree is also a former elite rower, having spent 11 years rowing as a junior, U23 and Elite NZ representative.

MEET THE BOARD

CHAIR: Jan Shearer

Jan is a three time Olympian winning a silver medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in the 470 yachting class, she is also a world match racing womens champion.

Immersed in high performance sport for many years, she married Murray Jones, the six-time America’s Cup-winning sailor and designer. They have two children,  their daughter Gemma Jones competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics finishing fourth and their son Matthew also represented NZ in yachting.

Dunedin-born Jan, worked for much of her adult life as an engineer in Dunedin and Auckland, she lived overseas for five years and returned in 2010 taking up roles in sports governance and administration.  She  served four years on the Tennis NZ Board, four years on the Snow Sports NZ Board, and three years on the Melanoma NZ Board.   She was recruited to the role of Head of Performance at Tennis NZ (2012 to 2017) .  She was appointed to the role of CEO at Snow Sports NZ (2017-2020), living in Wanaka.

Currently Jan works for Team NZ and TVNZ and was involved in the recent Americas Cup Yachting event in Auckland.

Jan joined the CRNZ Board in 2017.

DEPUTY CHAIR: Hamish Reid

Hamish is the Operations Manager for Dominion Salt limited with over 20 years experience working in chemical & manufacturing organisations. Hamish has a bachelors of science degree in chemistry with extensive experience in continuous improvement within complex operations.

Along with his extensive operational and business experience Hamish brings 25 years of voluntary experience in both canoe racing & surf lifesaving where he has been involved in everything from coaching to club administration and is currently the president of both Eastern Bay Canoe Racing Club and Whakatane SLSC.

On a personal side Hamish is married to Jan and together they have three children. Sport is a family affair with the whole family involved in Canoe Racing. Hamish himself has been mucking around in kayaks since 1984, hence he brings to the board an absolute passion for our sport. 

Simone Spencer

Simone Spencer

Simone has worked in sports management for more than 10 years.  Currently, as Portfolio Manager at Aktive, she is the strategic lead for the organisation’s work across the following areas: Women and Girls, Active Recreation, Coach Development and Good Sports®. Prior to this, she was the Sport Manager at Surf Life Saving Northern Region for six years.

Simone has also been a business owner and was a Constable in the NZ Police for five years and, as a result, has operational, strategic and governance experience.

Simone is still actively involved in Surf Life Saving and is a member of Mairangi Bay Surf Life Saving Club.  Her involvement has included everything from coaching and officiating to team management, and she was appointed to the International Life Saving Federation (ILS) Sport Commission in March 2021.

Simone is passionate about seeing young people have quality sport experiences and committed to seeing women and girls realise their potential through sport and active recreation.

Stu Clark

Stuart is a proud Cantabrian who loves the outdoor environment we are blessed with in New Zealand.  His professional experience in engineering and manufacturing has shaped a disciplined, measured approach to developing organisational capacity through cooperation, collaboration and big picture perspective.

Introduction to competitive kayaking came through multi-sport, followed by supporting kids in Surf Live Saving and Canoe Sprint.  As current President of the Arawa Canoe Club, enabling others to develop and share a passion for our sport, competitively or recreationally has become a focus as personal sporting activity becomes more socially focused than competitive. Providing opportunity for people develop as athletes and individuals and reach their potential is a key motivator to involvement in sports administration.

Volunteering as an official for CRNZ provides another perspective to the sport and the work that goes on behind the scenes organising events and their importance to the athletes competing in them. Favourite outdoor activities relate to a love for water – kayaking, fishing, boating but also include cycling and tennis.

Feeonaa Clifton

Feeonaa Clifton (nee Wall) has three children who are all active in canoe sprint and surf lifesaving as athletes.

She has volunteered at club and regional level helping with water safety, team managing, event organising, and officiating. She has also served as a school Board trustee member and been involved in various organising committees in sport, bilingual education and the arts.

Feeonaa is an artist and a long- time member of Pacific Sisters arts collective. History, identity, wellbeing, indigenous practices, and environmental concerns are some of the themes explored in her work, which includes body adornment, performance and activations.

Her costumes are held in Te Papa Tongarewa/Museum of New Zealand and Auckland Museum’s permanent collections. She holds a Bachelor of Performing Arts (Pacific) and a Diploma in Arts Administration from the University of Auckland.

 

Greg Adlam

Greg joined the CRNZ board in 2021 as a club delegate through his involvement with the Mana Kayak Club since 2007. Moving from paddling into coaching, Greg later became involved in the CRNZ development programme. He has managed NZ Junior and U23 teams at regattas in NZ, Australia and Europe. 
 
Greg’s work life is based in financial markets and for the last 15 years he has run his own consulting business focused in the areas of climate change, electricity and other commodities. Greg is a member of the CRNZ Audit and Risk committee.

Anne Rodda

Anne is a highly respected For Purpose leader. She has headed several of Aotearoa New Zealand’s high-profile cultural organisations such as the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, educational organisations such as Cognition Education Trust (formerly Multi-Serve), has consulted to local government and charitable organisations, lectured in arts industry management and served on granting committees, government and Not-for-Profit boards.  Her recent projects have been with local government bodies in the Hawke’s Bay and Taranki regions and, for JBWere Philanthropic Services; she is currently the Project Manager of the Dilworth Response.

Anne has delivered some of New Zealand’s iconic programmes and events including the Michael Hill International Violin Competition since 2001, the Auckland Writers & Readers Festival and the 2020 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards; she is the co-author of Tomorrow’s Board Diversity: The Role of Creatives.  

She was appointed to CRNZ Board in 2022.