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Council Members

Ben Vanderkolk (Chair) - Ministerial Appointment

UCOL Council Chair Ben Vanderkolk 

Ben Vanderkolk has been Crown Solicitor in Palmerston North since 1987 and practises in criminal and private and commercial litigation. Ben has been a member of the Law Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal and of the Faculty of the NZ Law Society Litigation Skills Programme. Ben has served as Chairman of the NZ Netherlands Foundation and is Chairman of the Te Awahou-Nieuwe Stroom Trust. Since its incorporation, Ben has served as Chairman of the Manfeild Park Trust. He is a member of the BCC Trust, and is also on the Council of Massey University. Ben has lived in Palmerston North since 1983.


Leanne Southey (Deputy Chair)

Leanne Southey - Ministerial Appointment 

Leanne Southey is a Chartered Accountant and is a Director of Southey Sayer Limited, a public accountancy practice based in Masterton. Leanne is Deputy Chair of the Wairarapa DHB, Chair of Masterton Trust Lands Trust and a committee member of a number of Wairarapa organisations. Leanne lives in Masterton and has two children in the education system.


Leonie Hapeta - Council Appointment

UCOL Council Member Leonie Hapeta 

Leonie Hapeta is a Palmerston North City Councillor with strong networks across the local business community. Leonie and her husband own and operate the Aberdeen Restaurant on Broadway. Prior to that Leonie and Brendan owned and operated Hotel Coachman. Leonie spent about a decade at Massey University in a series of project planning and change management roles. Leonie also is a JP and commits some of her time to local charity organisations. Leonie has a Masters qualification in Human Resources and dispute resolution.


Verne Atmore - Council Appointment

Verne Atmore - Council Appointment 

Verne Atmore has a successful career in agritech business development and marketing, with a BAgCom (Marketing and Economics) and Darden Business School executive training. Verne is General Manager for Tru-Test Group's New Zealand business. Prior to joining Tru-Test, Verne held a number of senior executive roles including Group Marketing Manager for the Gallagher Group, and CEO of Farmworks Precision Farming Systems. Verne has Ngai Tahu and Ngati Kahungunu links.


Lynette Bradnam - Iwi Appointment

Lynette Bradnam - Iwi Appointment 

Lynette Bradnam has thirty years of educational experience including Head of School, Te Kura Maori, at Wellington College of Education at Victoria University; lecturer/School Support Services adviser at Wellington College of Education at Victoria University; six years in the Ministry of Education working in the Schooling group and Group Maori Policy team; six years as an Assistant Principal and head of a bilingual unit in the multicultural community of Porirua.


Annette Main - Ministerial Appointment

Annette Main 

Annette Main served two terms as Mayor of Whanganui. She chaired the collaborative group that established the Māori and Pasifika Trades Training initiative. Annette has served on the Horizons Regional Council, created an award winning Whanganui River Valley tourism venture and worked collaboratively to promote tourism on the Whanganui River. She created and still manages the popular River Traders Market. Annette was made an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit in 2017, is an elected Health Board member and Chairs Whanganui District Council Holdings.


Lyal French-Wright - Ministerial Appointment

Annette Main 

Lyal was CE of a large regional law firm (Govett Quilliam), from 2012 to 2018 where his focus was on strategic vision, meeting the demands of a quickly changing legal landscape, growth and development. Prior to this Lyal has been dedicated to education, activities and organisations that support the concept of vibrant, sustainable and active communities. Lyal has been a senior school administrator, was Headmaster of New Plymouth Boys’ High School and an Executive Principal of Al Khor International School, one of the largest private schools in the Middle East based in Qatar. Lyal has been a Ministerial appointment to the WITT Council since 2016. Lyal also gets great pleasure from his association with sporting bodies, presently Chairman of NPOB Rugby Club and Vice President of the Taranaki RFU.