Our Board Members

Leona Smith Board Chair
Leona Smith Board Chair

Leona comes to RDA with an extensive background in community and charitable organisations.

Leona’s work experience includes working at 10 Downing St for the British Government, and Executive Assistant roles for CEO’s, Directors and the Mayors of both Hamilton and Tauranga. She was the founding Branch Manager for the Bay of Plenty Institute of Directors and has been the HR Manager for the Tauranga Electorate for the last two General Elections and Electoral Official for the last five Local Body Elections for the Hamilton City Council.

Leona was a key member of the “tight six” who delivered the annual Tauranga CIB Police Charity Luncheon, establishing and administering the many processes that resulted in the enormous success of the event which in its 20 year history returned $2.4 million back into the community. She has developed a strong network and credible profile among many of the Bay of Plenty business leaders and organisations through this and other community work she is involved in.

Her first involvement with Tauranga RDA was through the Police Luncheon Trust when they donated major sums of money on two occasions to assist with the development of the indoor riding arena.
Married to Graeme and mother to two teenage daughters, Lana and Elle, she describes her passion for helping others as part of the family way of doing things.

She is a well-known figure in many community activities and fund raising efforts and has contributed to local surf life saving, school support groups and sports teams. She has been on the Board of Trustees of the Mt Maunganui Intermediate and was a mentor for the Foundation for Youth Development Project K program.
An active surf lifeguard with Omanu Surf Life Saving Club, her other interests include travel, health and fitness, stand up paddle boarding, and tramping.

Leona says she is honoured to lead the board of Tauranga RDA as she loves what the organisation is about and what it achieves for so many people who have benefited greatly from their involvement with the horses and staff at the RDA.

She is committed to putting her leadership and organisational skills together with her network of people from the local area to help build on the great success that has already been achieved by her predecessors.


Paul Chapman Vice President
Paul Chapman Vice President

Paul has lived in Papamoa since moving to the Bay from the UK in 2007. He is currently the Senior Quantity Surveyor for the Belvedere Group Limited. Married to Carol, he has two daughters who attend local colleges, and a Weimaraner.

It was through Belvedere that Paul became involved with RDA, as the project surveyor for the build of the indoor arena. At the completion of the arena, and having seen the work done by the RDA team he accepted an invitation to join the Board so that he could give something back to the organisation and local community.

Paul has been involved in a number of voluntary positions in England including the Beaconsfield Town Centre Redevelopment Committee and Chalk Hill Pre-School Board of Trustees.

Family is a high priority for Paul and he spends much of his spare time acting as roadie to his two musician daughters.

Ross Jensen Treasurer
Ross Jensen Treasurer

Ross has been a long-time Mount resident and is currently the Commercial Manager for ISO Limited. Married to Margaret, they have an adult daughter who currently lives in the UK.

Ross has not had a lot to do with horses but his late son Michael attended RDA in the 90’s when he was a pupil at Kaka Street Special School and Ross was happy to accept the very important Treasure role to give something back to the organisation that Michael had got so much enjoyment from.

During his career Ross has been involved in a number of voluntary positions including; Treasurer Tauranga Chamber of Commerce Inc., Treasurer Triathlon Tauranga, Race Director Bayfair Triathlon and Chairman of the Kaka Street Special School Board of Trustees. He was made a Life Member of Triathlon Tauranga in 2003.

His other interests include surfing, fishing, travel and gardening. 

Melanie Wakeman Secretary
Melanie Wakeman Secretary

Melanie is an Aucklander and was educated at Diocesan School for Girls. She graduated with a diploma of Graphic Design from Auckland Technical Institute and then worked as an Art director in the Advertising and Marketing Industry in London and Melbourne.

In 2000 she retired and returned to New Zealand and in 2005 moved to the Bay of Plenty. She was involved in the development of a luxury lifestyle property which she sold in 2016. An important focus in her life are her two Havenese dogs, Grimsby and Calvin – Grimsby from England and Calvin from Germany. She is an extremely talented artist and is a member of the Omokoroa artists group. She has been accepted as one of the artists who will be profiled in the 2016 Tauranga Garden And Arts Show. Melanie has used her graphic and art skills to assist Tauranga RDA’s marketing activities providing expertise in the production of our newsletter and helping with our web site. 

Christine Prout Riders Representative
Christine Prout Riders Representative

Chris was born in New Plymouth, as was her husband and their four children. As a family they lived for 15 years in Western Australia, before returning to NZ and making Bay of Plenty their new home.

Chris became involved with Riding for Disabled more than 20 years ago. When her daughter, Aimee started riding at RDA New Plymouth. Since then she has volunteered at several RDA organisations in NZ and WA.
Chris has always had a great appreciation for the help and encouragement she has seen given to Aimee and the value, both physically and socially Aimee has received from her involvement with horses. Aimee is now involved with Para Dressage and Tauranga Dressage and dreams of competing at Paralympics one day. Chris says she has been a huge fan of the RDA ethos and enjoys seeing the results of horse riding used as therapy.

To help "repay she has volunteered time where and whenever she can. She describes it as a privilege to have been asked to be Riders Rep for RDA here in Tauranga She sees her role as providing an easy bridge for communication between riders and their families and the RDA Board and looks forward to meeting many other parents and helping whenever she can.

Louise Cairns Volunteer Representative
Louise Cairns Volunteer Representative

Louise was born on a farm in the sunny BOP and grew up riding ponies, attending pony club, competing at shows and ODE's with her two sisters. She also enjoyed hunting with the BOP and Hawkes Bay Hunt Clubs as a teen.

In 2000 after many moves around the country she moved back to Tauranga with her husband, Mark and their two pre school daughters – now young adults the two girls both attend Otago university.
Louise has been involved with a number of sports clubs and PTA's both as a committee member and chairperson and has also enjoyed being part of teams which have organized a diverse range of events from Art Exhibitions to Half Marathons. Her other interests include boating, fishing, cooking and marathons – (although she has now given up competing in marathons but still enjoys running with friends).

It was her love for horses that brought her to RDA as a volunteer in 2013 and she has been a committed volunteer two days a week ever since. Louise gets huge satisfaction from the gains and achievements that our special riders make each week and enjoys the camaraderie of the volunteer team and strongly believes that each person brings something uniquely valuable to the therapy sessions.

As volunteer representative Louise is happy to discuss matters with other volunteers and be the "voice" for them on the board.

Take a step back, evaluate what is important, and enjoy life - Teri Garr

Rosie Julou Board member
Rosie Julou Board member

Rosie began her connection with RDA in 2008 when she worked as a Coach alongside Sharon Aldersley. 

When she returned to the Bay she was keen to re-establish that link and was thrilled to be asked to join the Board.  Rosie is the General Manger for Exult, a small company providing training and support to non-profit organisations around New Zealand and hopes to use her skills and networks to keep RDA at the forefront of developments in the non-profit sector. 

Rosie also has a passion for Equine –Assisted Therapy and is keen to use her psychology degree and other skills to support the development of the RDA life skills courses and other projects to assist at-risk youth.  She also hopes that her practical experience as a coach means she will bring a down-to- earth and hands on approach to governance.

Rosie lives in Pongakawa with her husband, several dogs and other animals and loves keeping busy on the farm.

Come along for the ride! Give us a call on
07 544 1899

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