Our People

The ASST team is a group of professionals and volunteers dedicated to the advocacy and support of all people seeking asylum in New Zealand.


  • Dame Susan Devoy

    Race Relations Commissioner

    New Zealand's Human Rights Commission proudly supports the work of the ASST. Most Kiwis will never know what it's like to flee our home, and put our lives on hold as we wait for another country to offer refuge. Refugees are everyday people who've faced extraordinary challenges. I am always deeply moved when I meet refugee Kiwis and hear their inspiring stories of survival. I also understand that coming to New Zealand isn't the end of their journey but the beginning of a whole new journey and life in a very different country and culture.This is why the work of the ASST is so important. The Council works tirelessly and passionately to support refugees and asylum seekers and to also advocate policy change on their behalf. Above all refugees need a sporting chance, an opportunity to get a fair go and to build a great life for them and their families here in Aotearoa.

Board Members

  • Fiona Taler


    Appointed President in 2012, Fiona's involvement with ASST stems from her concern for the welfare of migrants, and her passionate desire to see asylum seekers settled successfully in New Zealand.Born in Guatemala and educated in El Salvador, England and New Zealand, Fiona holds a Master's Degree from the University of Auckland. She is also currently the President of the Auckland Latin American Community.

  • Laura Fear


    With a post-graduate diploma in Development Studies with a focus on human rights and gender issues, Laura is passionate about advocacy for people without a voice.Employed in the financial services sector for about a decade, Laura currently works for ASB Bank on digital projects.https://www.linkedin.com/pub/laura-fear/1b/1a7/785

  • Tracy Hickman


    Tracy brings to the Board years of experience in commercial governance, strategic planning, and an understanding of not-for-profit fundraising challenges. Previously living in UK and Germany and now a migrant to New Zealand, she has faced some of the issues of settling into a new country. Through her skills and networks, Tracy wants to establish sustainable funding sources to support the Auckland Refugee Council's ongoing work with asylum seekers.

  • Rebecca Holdsworth


    With tertiary qualifications in business and management, Rebecca has worked in service, aviation, and technology industries - and her most recent appointment is to the role of Privacy and Data Governance Officer at Vodafone NZ. She moved to New Zealand from Australia in 2013, and feels fortunate to now call New Zealand home. Through involvement in the Board of ASST Rebecca hopes to achieve more just, compassionate and empathetic treatment to those faced with seeking asylum.

  • Anchali Anandanayagam


    Born in Sri Lanka, Anchali came to New Zealand with her family in 1987. They were refugees sponsored by the Anglican Church, giving her a real understanding of the challenges and opportunities that refugees face. Anchali is a senior commercial lawyer (Principal at Hudson Gavin Martin) specialising in technology, media and telecommunications. Anchali has worked both in-house and in private practice for over 15 years. Anchali has a unique perspective on corporate governance and risk mitigation, and feels it is time to pay forward the assistance her family so gratefully received.

  • Carsten Bockemuehl


    Carsten brings to the Board years of experience in human rights advocacy and humanitarian policy. He currently leads World Vision NZ's advocacy work in support of children affected by poverty, conflict and climate change. He has previously worked as an advocate for Amnesty International, including at UN headquarters in New York. Carsten was born in Germany and holds an MA in Modern History.

  • Sanj Silva


    Sanj was born in Sri Lanka and experienced two civil wars during his childhoold and adult life. Sanj migrated to New Zealand in 1996 and calls NZ his home. He briefly played cricket at professional level in Sri Lanka & NZ. Upon retirement from cricket he worked in banking for 10 years in various roles from retail to private banking. In 2012 Sanj joined the New Zealand Cricket Players Association and currently holds the position of National Personal Development Manager responsible for player welfare. Sanj believes everyone deserves an opportunity to live in a safe environment where they can reach their potential.

  • Sana Basharati


    Sana was born in a refugee camp in Iraq to Kurdish parents fleeing persecution in Iran. She cam to New Zealand a month before her 7th birthday and resettled in Christchurch. Sana completed a Bachelor Arts and a Bachelor of Law at the University of Otageo before moving to work as a lawyer in Auckland. Sana understands the particular struggles of moving to a new country, not out of choice but necessity, and hopes to use her experience to help those going through the same experiences today.

  • Steve Wilson


    A former political operative and elected representative in Australia, Steve has spent the last 20 years in the UK, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and now New Zealand, developing and delivering strategic communications and CSR programmes for high profile clients around the globe. He has a history of developing and empowering small, high-performing teams in cross- and multi-cultural environments and has a strong commitment to social justice. Steve is a Board Member and senior rescue vessel volunteer crew at Auckland Coastguard. He's a keen sailor and often found with a camera in his hand.

  • Helen King


    With post graduate degrees in anthropology and media studies Helen has a passion for human rights and championing for marginalised groups. Her career spans over a decade in broadcast and print journalism and more recently corporate communications. Her interest in the ASST stems from a desire to help create a supportive and inclusive community for those seeking asylum in New Zealand.


  • Bella Munro

    Accommodation Coordinator

    Bella joined ASST in May 2018. She is passionate about working with people from diverse backgrounds and advocating for the human rights and respectful treatment of minority groups. Bella completed a degree in Politics and Indigenous Studies and another in Early Childhood Education. She has worked with refugee families in Melbourne, in a variety of early childhood settings and also with disadvantaged youth at Jamie Oliver's restaurant Fifteen Melbourne. Bella loves her position at ASST and the opportunity to work with those who seek asylum in Aotearoa New Zealand.

  • Andrea Smythe

    Office Manager / Administrator

    Andrea and her family immigrated to New Zealand in 2000. After working with the New Zealand German Business Association, she joined the OSCAR Foundation in 2003, supporting after-school and holiday programmes for children.Andrea spent her formative years in a wide variety of countries, and she has experience working with people from a range of cultures. She loves working with ASST.

  • Freyja Stocker

    Hostel Manager and Social Worker

    Freyja began her journey at Asylum Seeker Support Trust as a volunteer in 2014. In 2016 she took on the role of social worker and hostel manager for ASST. She has a masters in social work from the University of Auckland. Freyja has a long standing passion for human rights and social justice, particularly around refugee and asylum seeker issues. Freyja enjoys the opportunity to work with diverse communities and cultures through ASST.

  • Tim Maurice

    General Manager

    Having started his career as an accountant, Tim's desire to improve the skills and opportunities of others drew him to the not for profit sector over a decade ago. Most recently he was General Manager of Habitat for Humanity Bay of Plenty.Tim has a huge passion for working with asylum seekers and refugees. Whilst he is very aware of the challenges facing both the ASST and the people who rely on our support, he is inspired by the work the organisation does and is looking forward to making a difference in the lives of those who have given up everything seeking protection from persecution in their home country.