The NZARH is run by a Council consisting of up to nine members who are elected at the Association's Annual General Meeting. The Council meets monthly to conduct the Association's administrative affairs.
President: John Murphy
John has been a member of the NZARH since 1992. He is passionate about science, and physics in particular. John is interested in debunking many religious and pseudo-science interpretations of quantum theory, and was once labelled "a Jesuit for science" by a frustrated proponent of "spiritual implications" in quantum theory.
Vice President: Shabbir Wasiullah
Shabbir was originally from Dhaka, Bangladesh. He lived and studied in Kentucky, USA for 7 years. After graduating with a degree in Economics from the University of Kentucky he moved to NZ in 1999 with his wife. He washed his hands of religion around 2005 and now a proud father of 3 young rationalists.
Secretary: Judith de Leeuwe
Judith joined the Association in 1999. Rationalism, humanism, and atheism were some of the first words she understood in her early childhood as both parents were active members for many years. Judith has worked for over 20 years in the motor industry. Her interests include running, tramping, motorsport, and motorcycling.
Treasurer: Nathan Grange
Nathan is a part-time Skeptic, Podcaster, Magician and Lighting Guy and in his spare time holds down a full-time job teaching computers. (A particularly difficult profession, as computers are inanimate objects and, for the most part, notoriously incapable of learning anything.)
Born at an early age, Nathan was raised in a Christian home and was, until recently, a full-on Fundy Nutjob and Young Earth Creationist.
In the early 2000s, a friend introduced him to Penn & Teller's Bullshit, which he enjoyed immensely - with the exception of the episodes "Creationism" and "End of the World". In the episode about predicting the future he heard about James Randi and, in 2005, he found his way to the James Randi Educational Foundation Forums.
He introduced himself in the Welcome to the Forum thread, and was immediately encouraged to join the religion and philosophy forum, as "...Xians who can type with two hands and without using all caps..." were a rarity.
Over the course of the next 12 months, being exposed for the first time to people with opposing points of view, Nathan went from Fundy Nutjob YEC to Hardcore Militant Atheist.
It was this year (the first working for Waitakere Libraries) that Nathan also discovered the NZ Skeptics - through a cold email advertising the conference (and a competition for students).
Nathan attended this conference and, after volunteering to help with setup, computers, sound and packout, suddenly found himself on the committee.
Since then he has organised 2 conferences; founded (and is the driving force behind) The Completely Unnecessary Skeptical Podcast; co-organises the Auckland Skeptics in the Pub; co-organised the Rebecca Watson and George Hrab tours in 2010; been on TV 3 times (and the radio twice); and has become something of a minor celebrity in the Skeptical Movement (especially in NZ).
His involvement in "Organised" Skepticism lead naturally to Atheism and eventually to joining the NZARH and then yet again being asked to join a committee.
Peter joined the Association in 2009 seeking other rationalists. Peter founded the New Zealand Open Source Society in 2002, and was President of the Society until 2007. Peter wants to be active in promoting a secular New Zealand, and to promote open, rational and objective policy in Government. In joining the NZARH Council he brings his skills, knowledge and values to the Association to further this objective.
Max Wallace was a former student at the University of Auckland and the University of Waikato where he graduated with a Masters Honours degree in 1976. Family circumstances caused him to return to Australia. He completed a PhD at Macquarie University. Thereafter he taught sociology and politics in Canberra for twenty years. He joined the NZARH in 2003. In 2007 he published The Purple Economy: supernatural charities, tax and the state. In 2008 he helped organise conferences in Sydney and Wellington around the question of whether Australia and New Zealand could be characterised as 'Christian nations'. The papers from that conference were published in 2010 as Realising Secularism. The book was launched by MP Keith Locke in the New Zealand parliament. He helped bring a 2011 case to the Australian High Court to question the $400M federal funding of religious chaplains in state schools. He argues Australia and New Zealand should be republics with constitutional separation of church and state, and that charity law which facilitates the use of taxpayers' money to subsidise what citizens believe, is inappropriate in the 21stC. In 2008 NZARH awarded Max the Charles Southwell prize for his activism.
Born 8 June 1957 in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, into a family that didn't really do religion. I was forced to go to Sunday school for a while and was in the cubs and scouts where there was a monthly church parade. After a grammar school education up to age 16, I joined the Royal Air Force in 1974 where we were all obliged to go to a weekly Church Parade during our initial training.
My first posting was to the famous RAF Scampton, where the Dam Busters squadron (617) was based during the war. I was rooming with a guy who was a born again Christian and it was he who 'converted' me. I was pretty active in a local church until I was posted to Germany in 1979 after which I didn't have much time for religion. It stayed that way for a number of years, until 1989 when I was posted to a small unit in Wales. By that time I was married (to Dawn in 1982) and had 2 children (Amy (1984) and Gemma (1986)) and we got involved with the local evangelical church. It was during that time that I was baptized (in the sea) and I spent most of my time at church or doing things for the church. I was extremely active in witnessing to the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons. It got to the point where I was crossed off the JW's list and didn't see another one until we left Wales to go to our next posting.
From about 1993 onwards I started to challenge my beliefs through reading the bible and, more recently, the works of the 'New Atheists'. About 5 years ago I finally decided that all religion existed on a continuum of delusion, since when I've learnt a great deal more about belief, the bible and about religion in general and reinforced my belief that it's all just nonsense.
I came to New Zealand about 3 years ago, am now a permanent resident and intend to apply for citizenship as soon as my 5 years is up. I can't see myself going back to the UK at all - or at least not any time soon.
I joined the NZARH a couple of years ago now, primarily because I saw the Association as a support group for my atheistic worldview. I've been disappointed with the Association's lack of presence in New Zealand, but particularly the lack of support I received in Wellington. I joined the council to try and do something about that. My view is that the average age of the Association needs to come down by 20 or so years. There are a great many young people who hold either an atheistic worldview or consider themselves to have 'no religion' and I believe that it's these people at whom we should be targeting the Association.
I was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1952. I graduated from the University of Keele in England in 1974 with joint honours in Latin and Greek. Immediately after graduation I moved to New Zealand and spent the next 30 years working in the IT industry, mostly in Wellington. After a small stroke in 2006 I retired and now live in Tauranga with my wife Susan.
It was when a pre-school teacher was trying to indoctrinate my daughter into Christianity that I first sought out the local branch of the Humanist Society of New Zealand (HSNZ). I have been involved in organised Humanism in one way or another ever since. At various times I was national and local president of HSNZ, editor of the New Zealand Humanist and presenter of Humanist Outlook on Access Radio. After I left HSNZ (at the time of the merger with NZARH) I founded the NZ Humanist Charitable Trust and, less successfully, the NZ chapter of the Brights.
I have joined the Council because I would like to help NZARH promote the ideals of an open mind and an open society. Unfortunately one of our biggest obstacles is organised religion, which enjoys a privileged position in NZ, e.g. churches pay no tax simply because they promote religion. For this reason I would like to see NZARH adopt a programme of secularist campaigns over the next few years. We already have a number of embryonic campaigns underway and I would like to see the Council coordinate these and make them the focus of our Association for the next few years. As well as having worthwhile goals, these campaigns would raise our profile in the community.
Board of Trustees
The Trustees have the responsibility of safeguarding the interests of the Association in the event of the Council becoming unable to carry out its normal duties.