Grassroots – A Club like No Udder

Grassroots is the University of Auckland Rural Health Club.

If you’re a Nursing, Medicine, Optometry or Pharmacy student at UoA, you can join us!

We are all about promoting rural health and rural health careers. We put on awesome educational, sporting and social events which showcase what rural life has to offer those in the health field.

Our events are geared not just towards rural students – everyone is encouraged to get a taste of what rural healthcare entails.  So get involved and go hard. Rural Health. Hard.

Make sure to like us on Facebook – Grassroots Rural Health Club


Meet the team:

Don Laing


Kia Ora Whanau. My name is Don Laing and I am this year’s President of Grassroots Rural Health Club. Currently, I am studying in Whangarei as I have been lucky enough to be selected to participate in medicines fifth-year Pukawakawa programme. I became involved in Grassroots for a number of reasons but what continues to drive me is the fact that rural communities are being forgotten from a health standpoint. There is currently a shortage of rural doctors which is only going to worsen with the impending retirement of forty-percent of general practitioners by 2025. With this will come worse health outcomes and increased need in rural communities. I want to be on the forefront of helping find a resolution for this problem while also empowering others to help in ways that they feel possible. Nga Mihi, Don Laing.


Vanamali Joseph


Vanamali is the treasuser of Grassroots. That means he’s in charge of everything involving money. Flights for our members who are going to the rural health conference? Easy! Subsidising our members going to visit the Mighty Waikato to see the Hospitals? No sweat! Getting multiple thousands dollars funding from FMHS and DHBs so our members can have wider perspective on the world through our focus on rural health? Mate, who do you think we’re dealing with here! With a supportive executive to sort out his (sometimes FTP-able) behaviour, Vanamali will suss out everything $$$ related. When’s he’s not balancing books and beggin on his knees for money, he’s driving responsibly in his 2006 Blue Mazda Demio and playing music at a responsible volume at his very professional student flat.

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Victoria Murphy

Communications Officer

Hi, I’m Victoria, your Grassroots Comms Officer for 2019!  I’m a 3rd year MBChB student born and raised in the city of Auckland – but I’m also super passionate about rural health.  My vision for Grassroots is to challenge the stereotypes of rural practice, and welcome more students who are from both rural and urban backgrounds to experience the joys of the rural life!


Liam Quinlan & Emilie Agnew

Social Reps

Kia Ora I’m Emilie and I’m proud to be one of your Grassroots Social Reps for 2019. I’m a small town girl, born and raised down in South Island’s Timaru and currently in my third year of medicine. I am part of the grassroots exec as I am passionate about raising awareness about disparities in rural health, as well as wanting to organise some wild activities to shine a bit of ruralness into ya!

Kia Ora! My name is Liam and I am stoked to be one of your grassroots social reps for 2019. I am a third year medical student and as part of the committee this year I hope to spread awareness of rural health, and the issues surrounding it, whilst also getting individuals excited about rural health all through organizing some awesome social events for everyone to get amongst.


Sarah Cowan

TI Rep
Born and raised in the beautiful Hawkes Bay, I am a regional girl at heart! I am currently placed as a TI in The Bay of Plenty after completing the Taranaki Rural programme as a fifth year student. I have enjoyed being an active member of grassroots since first entering medical school as RRAS rep, president, site rep and now TI rep! My passion within Grassroots involves promoting regional and rural placements for all medical students so that hopefully exposure turns into a love for rural health. Rural medicine provides an exciting challenge and rewarding career opportunities for all – this is the essence of Grassroots!

Amy Yip

Pharmacy Reps


Grace McLeod & Meg Leuty

Nursing Reps

Hiya! My name is Grace McLeod and I am one of the nursing reps for grassroots in 2019, and am in my second year of a Bachelor of Nursing. I am part of Grassroots because I have want to raise awareness of the importance of rural health, growing up in the small town of Hahei on the Coromandel Peninsula I have a strong passion for promoting rural health. I hope to encourage the UoA Nurses to consider possible futures working in rural health, and to have a fun year working with the Grassroots team!


Hannah Pitman-Bell

Pukawakawa Rep

Kia ora! My name is Hannah Pitman-Bell, 5th year Medical student and I’m the 2019 Pukawakawa Site Representative for Grassroots. Pukawakawa is the rural-regional 5th year program that is based at Whangarei Hospital but encompasses satellite Northland sites. It’s Auckland University’s longest running rural-regional program with a huge community, rural and Maori/Pacific focus. Being a part of both Pukawakawa and Grassroots is a huge privilege and we’re doing our best to encourage culturally competent practice that reaches our high-needs rural communities in Northland. Your support is much appreciated. Kia kaha.


Rural Schools Visit

Phoebe Anderson


Kia ora! Ko Phoebe tôku ingoa. I am a fourth-year medical student from an urban background, and I am Grassroots Rural Health Club’s 2019 Vice President. I’ve been sporting Grassroots singlets for two years now, and this year’ll be no different. Through Grassroots, I discovered my passion for Rural Medicine: with the exciting medical challenges and unique relationship with the community that Rural Medicine presents, I can see myself loving work as a rural doctor. As part of the 2019 Exec, I hope to help ensure that Grassroots continues to provide awesome opportunities for you: the future of Rural Medicine!


Claudia Muller


Hey guys! I’m Claudia, I was born and bred in the beautiful Eltham, where my childhood involved playing on hay bails and taking my pet pig for walks around the farm. When I’m not flitting in and out of Grafton, you’ll find me hiking or biking with my 2 border collies. Moving to the city was a massive change for me, so I am all about supporting students to get out of the city back to smaller communities, as well as highlighting to everyone how amazing rural living is. Despite the hardships that come with it, rural New Zealand really is the place to be!


Rebekah Doherty


Kia ora e te whānau! Ko Rebekah Doherty tōku ingoa. I am the MAPAS Rep for 2019! I was very privileged to grow up in a small township called Gisborne, on the East Coast of the North Island. Like every rural kid, I loved my childhood and I love my community. However, as I got older I started to see and understand hidden aspects of my community that were not so visible to me as a child; The East Coast is one of the most deprived regions in New Zealand, it also has the highest regional population of Māori in the country; my community suffers with many issues such as domestic violence, drug abuse and alcoholism – these sad truths are what drive my passion for both Rural Health AND Māori Health. Therefore my goal as MAPAS Rep for 2019 is to unit two very important kaupapa – Rural Health and Māori Health, as more often than not they are one of the same; “Nāu te rourou nāku te rourou ka ora ai te iwi”.

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Isaac Teng & Francis Bradley

Education Reps

Isaac: Born in Singapore, my childhood memories of NZ are one of vast fields dotted with maggots (sheep) in the distant hillside. Growing up in the mighty Manawatu, I’ve come to appreciate the concept of “less (traffic) is more”. My passion for rural health advocacy and education has grown over the years and I hope to bring it to the Grassroots community. Outside of uni, you’ll find me exploring the countryside on my motorcycle or in the foothills with my tramping boots.

Francis: Kia ora e te whānau,

I’m humbled to be one of your Education Reps. Born and raised in Kaitāia, it’s easy to see the beauty of living rurally. It also exposes you to the hardships people face, one being equitable outcomes in healthcare. Through advocacy, education and exposure to rural health, we can challenge and strive for equitable outcomes for all. When I’m not studying, I’m probably having a mean feed, talking to someone in the corridor, or jamming some uncle Bob. Come say kia ora if you see us around! Mauri Ora.

We’re here to represent you! Don’t be afraid to approach us if you have any concerns, ideas or just want to kōrero.


Josh Speight & Blair Lowry


Hey there! My name is Josh Speight and I am one of the RRAS reps for 2019. I am a 3rd year medical student here at the University of Auckland. Before this I spent 3 years in Otago where I completed a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Neuroscience. I made the EASY decision to want to be apart of the Grassroots team for 2019 as I feel it is a duty of mine to help spread the word on the rural health sector. During my time in this role I hope to develop some optimistic thinkers regarding rural communities and the health care within them!


Jasmine Feng

Optometry Rep

Hey guys. My name is Jasmine and I am the grassroots optometry rep and am currently in part 4 optometry. Being part of grassroots, I hope I can bring more awareness/experience of rural health into health professional programs, particularly optometry, whilst also helping out the rural communities.


Connor McRae & Braedon Epps

Welfare and Sports Reps

Connor: Kia Ora everyone, I amcurrently in my 3rd year of studying the MBChB. This year my colleague Brae and I are the Sports and Welfare Representatives for Grassroots Rural Health Club, if you ever spot us around campus don’t be afraid to say hi!! I grew up on a lifestyle block in Rotorua and I absolutely loved it. I jumped at the opportunity to become a Grassroots rep as I would be able to help bring some rural culture to the Faculty of Medical and Health Science’s. Hope you are all as excited for this year as me, see you all around!!


Siska Falconer

Bay of Plenty Rep

Kia Ora! I am stoked to be the BOP representative for Grassroots this year! Currently I am in my fifth year of medicine and have been very lucky to be placed in the beautiful Tauranga/ Whakatane cohort. Growing up in the rural Waikato has meant I have a passion for rural health and overcoming inequities, so I am very excited to be a part of Grassroots this year. As rep I am keen to encourage more connectedness between the year groups and also help establish a closer relationship between the students and the community.

Lauren Moorby

Taranaki Rep