Board of Trustees

The Autism New Zealand Board of Trustees are passionate about empowering the autistic and autism communities. The Board members have a wide range of backgrounds and expertise with a personal and/or professional connection with autism.

James Le Marquand (Chairperson)

James is currently a practicing Music Specialist Teacher working closely with a range of students on the autism spectrum. He has held several significant educational leadership positions in specialist education and has been a leader in this area for over 30 years. He is a past president of the New Zealand Specialist School Principal’s Association and continues to work hard in the national educational and professional learning environments to bring challenge, positive change, and creative solutions.

Also, as an ex principal of a specialist school James had developed his schools expertise in providing quality support, teaching and learning for many students on the autism spectrum including provision of outreach services into mainstream schools. James believes strongly in the need for a continuum of provision to meet the unique needs of our community. He has been a long term advocate for our students and families within the education and health and disability sectors.

Hamish Fletcher

Hamish is the Partner of Hamish Fletcher Lawyers in Nelson. He has an extensive track record in all areas of law including, commercial and company law, conveyancing, fisheries and maritime.

Hamish is well respected in the Nelson region when it comes to property matters, horticulture, viticulture and commercial real estate.

He has served on the Nelson College Old Boys Association, the Kahurangi Employment Trust Board, Nelson Softball Association Board and the National League Soccer Board with Nelson United.

Hamish is married and has two children, one of which is on the autism spectrum.

Joanne Dacombe

Joanne was diagnosed as autistic later in life and also has an autistic adult son. This gives her lived experience and familiarity with many issues around autism.

Joanne spent 21 years working for the Reserve Bank of New Zealand in the area of monetary policy. In more recent years she has worked part-time in office admin for a primary school before moving on to work more in the disability sector as an advocate and consultant in several roles including working with the Ministry of Health Disability Support Services Consumer Consortium, the Ministry of Social Development, and the Ministry of Education. She advocates as part of disability led organisations while also recognising the role many whānau have, particularly in advocating for their children.

Joanne joined our board in 2015 and is passionate about the difference Autism New Zealand can make for many families and autistics in terms of support and education.

Wendy Duff

Wendy was re-elected on to the Autism NZ Board in 2020. She was previously a Board Member (2000 -2012) including two terms as President and on the local branch committee of the Auckland Branch for 18 years.

Wendy has an adult autistic son who is living a very content and happy life in a Residential Village in Auckland. He returns home twice a month for a couple of nights, and as parents they are still actively involved in his day to day life. Wendy is on the Parents Committee and they fund for expenses relating to a Beach House which provides holidays for the clients, and advocates for residents.

Wendy was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Autism in the New Years’ Honours in January 2013.

She is also involved in an Auckland autism/intellectual disability working group of professionals and two parents seeking to establish a pathway for dealing with severe crisis management in teenagers with autism and/or intellectual disability.

Wendy wishes to be more proactive in being part of the growth of both Autism New Zealand and the way it can support families, whānau, and autistic individuals of all ages.

Adam Jennings

Adam brings a wealth of experience and expertise from the public service. He has held various senior leadership roles in both the operations and strategic delivery spaces, where he has demonstrated his ability to lead and manage complex and diverse projects and teams.

Adam is passionate about activating communities, the business sector and government to collaborate effectively together to achieve shared outcomes that enable everyone to thrive. He believes that by working together, we can create more opportunities and support for autistic individuals and their whanau and support networks.

Adam holds an Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) from the Victoria University of Wellington. He joined our board in 2024 and is committed to supporting Autism New Zealand to continue to deliver improved outcomes and services to our community.

Elisa Slaat

Elisa is an internship supervisor for White Cloud Internships that enables international university students to experience an internship in the disability and education sector in New Zealand. She has a strong connection to families that live with autistic family members and developed programmes and supported the autism community at the Children’s Autism Foundation in Auckland. After having her three children she joined their Board of Trustees. Ing 2021 the Children’s Autism Foundation merged with Autism NZ. 

As a board member of Autism NZ she will continue to strive for inclusiveness of services and ensuring all voices of the autism community are heard.

In her own time, Elisa runs a boutique children’s clothing company, teaches Dutch language and culture to children and explores the outdoors with her family.

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