Meet The Team

This group makes up the governance and management function of Cleft New Zealand Inc. as well as delivering our regional services. They provide strategic leadership, stewardship, external relations and board management, following the rules as set down in the organisation’s Constitution.

We are an Incorporated Society which is a ‘membership-driven’ organisation, and as an Incorporated Society we represent the experiences, views and opinions of our members. Our members represent a community of people who are touched in some way by an individual born with a cleft lip and/or palate.

The Cleft New Zealand Board

Andrew Acton –Adams (Chairperson)

Andrew is a Chartered Accountant and father to 2 children. Andrew’s oldest was born with an incomplete bilateral cleft lip and soft palate in 2013. During the early stages Andrew and Nicky were extremely grateful for the support that Cleft NZ provided and is excited to contribute to the Cleft community going forwards. Andrew and Nicky also coordinate the Coffee Groups in Tauranga and the wider Bay of Plenty region. Andrew can be contacting by email at

Allison Brown – Secretary

Allison is a stay at home mum to three children. Allison’s middle child was born with a bi-lateral cleft lip and palate in 2012. Allison has experienced the cleft services in both Auckland and her native Australia, with particular emphasis on speech therapy (and more speech therapy!). Prior to having children Allison worked as a lawyer in both Australia and London, but is very happy to now call New Zealand home with her kiwi husband. Allison is based in Auckland and can be contacted on or 0800 425 338.

Lisa Kennedy

I’m Lisa Kennedy, I was born in the UK with a cleft palate and my three children were also born with cleft palates and Pierre Robins sequence.. We have since been diagnosed with Sticklers Syndrome which affect retina detachments, early onset arthritis, hypermobility, hearing, myopia. I am a DHB midwife and have been teaching midwives and SCBU nurses how to care for cleft babies and how to refer to the Tertiary hospital. I joined the board of Clef tNZ this year and attended Australasian Cleft Lip and Plate conference in Sydney this year, to represent Cleft NZ. I hope Clef tNZ is able to support you and your whanau on your cleft journey.

Helen Mataiti

Helen is mum to three grown children. Her son was born in 1999 with a unilateral incomplete cleft lip and sub-mucous palate. He has had three plastic surgeries as well as dental and orthodontic treatment. As a qualified speech language therapist currently completing doctoral research in early childhood intervention, Helen is interested in the ways families can be involved and empowered in their child’s early years. She is also interested in how non-governmental and governmental organisations can work together to deliver quality and effective services for infants, children and families. Helen’s current role on the board is focused on coordinating the update of our cleft resource book ‘The Blue Book’. She is based in Christchurch and can be contacted on

Jemma Cookson

I’m a stay-at-home mum to two beautiful children who were both born with a cleft lip & palate. I joined the board in 2018 to help network families in the Otago region and also to contribute back to our wonderful cleft community at large. My children were born with a condition called van der Woude syndrome; so I have a particular interest in genetic causes for cleft lip & palate and supporting families through this. I look forward to getting to know some of you at our Dunedin coffee groups, and sharing our stories in the Facebook support group.

Tracy Harlowe – Facebook moderator (non board member)

Hi there, I’m Tracy Harlowe, mother of three children, west Aucklander and stay at home mum. In my previous life before motherhood I was a Pharmacy Technician and Manager of a community pharmacy and also gave a lot of my time volunteering for St John Youth as a Division Manager.

Why do I belong to Cleft NZ? My youngest son Ethan was born with a unilateral right cleft lip & palate and he’s now a bubbly and spontaneous 4 year old. I have a huge passion for Cleft NZ and the support via social media I received from all the families during my new experiences dealing with Ethan’s cleft.

So because of this passion and my love of social media, I’m your point of call for anything relating to social media on Facebook. I will keep up to date with the posts, comments and messages.


If you require any further specific information please email

Related Content

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *