RMC Team

Dr. Margriet Theron ONZM, President

Dr Margriet Theron has been the President of the Rotorua Multicultural Council since June 2016 after serving as a member of the Committee for 15 years. She came to Rotorua in 1978. After retiring from a career in science management at the NZ Forest Research Institute and the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology and as Dean of Forestry at Waiariki Institute of Technology, she took on governance roles at the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club of Rotorua, Rotorua Social Services Council, Speech New Zealand, Geyser Community Foundation, Community Foundations of NZ and Student Pulse. She was Project Manager for the fundraising and building of the Turangi Community Health Centre, and a member of the Rotorua District Council’s BrightEconomy Advisory Board and the East Coast Bay of Plenty Conservation Board. She has taught a Professional Speaking for Migrants course for the Rotorua Multicultural Council for the past eleven years, and mentors teachers and organisations around New Zealand offering or planning this course. She believes that the strength of the Rotorua Multicultural Council lies in the strong collaborative networks that it has developed with many organisations and individuals who serve Rotorua’s migrant and international student communities.

Executive Committee

Hasmukh (Hari) CHHAGAN, QSM, JP, Vice-President

Hari was born in Surat, Gujarat, India. He came to New Zealand in 1979. He is employed by the Rotorua Lakes Council. Hari is a Justice of Peace.
Hari was involved with the establishment of the Rotorua Ethnic Council in 1998 (now known as Rotorua Multicultural Council). Hari served the Council as Treasurer for nine years and three years as Vice President. He is now serving as Executive member of the Council. He has been continuously serving the Council for over twenty years.
Hari is still widely involved in many community organisations including BOP (Rotorua) Indian Association, New Zealand Indian Central Association, Public Service Association, Justice of the Peace Association, Rotorua Creative Community. BOP Indian Sports Club. He is a life member of the BOP (Rotorua) Indian Association
In 2003 Hari was awarded the Rotorua Community Award and again in 2008 He was honoured with the prestigious Queens Service Medal (QSM) for his services to many communities and organisations.

Cong (Eric) Geng, Treasurer

Eric was born and raised in China. He came to New Zealand as an international student in 2000, and achieved New Zealand qualifications from English language study to Master degree.

Eric is a highly skilled and experienced sales and marketing professional, he has worked in various type of organisations include Global 500 and State-owned Enterprise in Airline and Tourism Industry in China and New Zealand for over 10 years. He came to Rotorua in 2018, and works as Marketing Officer at New Zealand Supreme Natural Foods & Supreme Deer Centre since then.

Eric is passionate about making contribution to local ethnic communities, promoting Rotorua and New Zealand, his competitive combination of solid educational background and practical working experience has prepared him to better support local community.

Lily Joy Al Omari, Secretary

Lily Joy Al Omari BSN
Graduated at Toi Ohomai
Post Graduate in Health Management
From Negros Occidental , Philippines
Worked in Saudi Arabia for 24 Years

Emire Khan-Malak

Emire is the past elected President for Student Pulse and the Manager for Student Pulse. Emire is tanagta whenua from Rotorua and Te Puke. She has a strong passion for supporting migrants and people of various cultures. Emire has worked in various service roles including administration.
Emire involvement in the community is member of Rotorua Multicultural Council, revert Muslim now 12 years, Maori Land Trustee in three Maori Land Trusts, graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Applied Business Management. Student Pulse is a member of Tauranga Multicultural Council, joint member with Rotorua Multicultural Council, Rotorua Rotary North Club.
“I enjoy working with all cultures within the community and within the Toi Ohomai Polytechnic. I am very community orientated and love working with all people.”

Ashley Perera

I am Ashley Perera, a Sri Lankan who chose NZ as my home in 1989. I am passionate about working with people and organisations contributing to community development and achieving good social outcomes. I am keen on contributing my skills and experience to those organisations that are committed to promoting social well-being in their communities.

I am a chartered management accountant by profession and have worked in commercial and not-for-profit organisations.

I moved to NZ in 1989 and have been a resident of Rotorua and Auckland. I am semi-retired and chose to reside in Rotorua as a change to my lifestyle. Since moving to Rotorua, I have gradually become involved with various charity and community organisations. Currently, I hold several charity governance positions including Grief Support Services (Tauranga) and Pakuranga Howick Budget Advisory Services (Auckland).


Yumiko Kawano, Executive Officer

Yumiko was born and raised in Japan. She and her family moved to Rotorua, NZ from Japan in 1996. She has worked in the Tourism Industry and the International Education sector. Yumiko is involved in sister city relations between Rotorua and Beppu city in Japan. Committee member of community organization “Kai Rotorua” and Utuhina Badminton club.

Appointed as an Executive Officer since January 2019. 

Leidy Monsalves, Administrator

Leidy was appointed as an Administrator in March 2020. Leidy is from Chile. She has a Kiwi husband and three energetic boys. She likes to spend time in the forest, running, walking, or biking. Leidy also likes cooking and photography.
In Chile she had a career in business management, running own small business. She came to New Zealand eleven years ago to study English. Then she moved from Auckland to Rotorua in 2016 with her family and now she’s got a wide circle of friends from many different cultures and backgrounds. Once her youngest son was at school, she enrolled in a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Management at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology. Completing this qualification gave her the confidence to move back into the workforce.
“As a migrant myself I comprehend some of the challenges people face when moving to a new country. We have to adjust to doing things in different ways while keeping our own traditions and customs. Rotorua is my new home; it is where I feel comfortable and safe. The sense of community here is important; I like how people connect with and support each other. We are lucky to have many organisations that we can trust and a beautiful backyard where we can relax. I am happy to have the opportunity to work for the Rotorua Multicultural Council, supporting different ethnicities and cultures. I hope to help to break down the barriers which migrants encounter, living far away from our own homes.”, says Leidy.

Valeria Liaskovskaia, Administrative Support

Born and raised in Moscow, Russia. Worked as a journalist for more than 15 years, 8 years as a TV journalist. Came to New Zealand in 2018 with her husband and a son. In 2019 was appointed as an Administrator at the Rotorua Multicultural Council. Was a coordinator of two ten-week Women’s Wellbeing programmes which have been developed by Victoria University of Wellington to help migrant women to settle in New Zealand. In 2020 moved to Auckland and stayed with the RMC as an Online Administrative Support.

Ex-Members of the Executive Committee

Faustinah Ndlovu

Faustinah Ndlovu ( BAppSocScie ) Bachelor of Applied Social Science.
Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Faustinah Ndlovu has worked in the New Zealand Health and Disability sector for 16 years. She is a Volunteer Co-ordinator for Achilles Rotorua and Taupo and guide for Achilles International New Zealand, a Zimbabwean Rural School Library Trust Ambassador, Tariro Project Zimbabwe founder.

Faustinah Ndlovu had led the committee and is running of Africa Day Festivals
and of the African Fashion Show and had successfully launched the Ubuntu Bay of
Plenty African Society.

Leonardo Hernandez

Member of Executive Committee from September 2019 to early 2022. Born and educated in Laz Paz, Mexico and moved to New Zealand in 2017, eventually settling here in Rotorua during 2018. Employed as an Architectural Draughtsman. Hobbies include photography, mountain biking and playing tennis.

Alexis LewGor

Alexis was born in Fiji and is of Chinese, German and Samoan ancestry. She was instrumental in the establishment of the Rotorua Ethnic Council in the late 90s, (now Multicultural Rotorua) and stepped down after 10 years as President. She is currently the Treasurer. She is also the Immediate Past National President of Multicultural New Zealand and has been on the national executive committee for 10 years. She was also a key player in the establishment of the Rotorua Pacific Islands Development Charitable Trust where she is currently Chairperson.
She is a recipient of the Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award, Rotorua District Community Award, was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International and was a finalist in the Westpac Business Excellence Awards for her services to community, purely as an avid volunteer.
Alexis has worked for several forestry companies and currently is employed at Fire and Emergency New Zealand, in Rotorua as Business Services Coordinator.

Alexis LewGor who had served on the Executive Committee of the Rotorua Ethnic
Council and then the Rotorua Multicultural Council since the 1990s. She had been the
President of both the Rotorua Multicultural Council and of the NZ Federation of
Multicultural Councils.

Daniel Perese

Daniel was born in New Zealand and is half Samoan and half European. He graduated John Paul College and aspires to go to university to study Communications. He was a Prefect and Pacifica Islander Captain at his school. Daniel has only been a member of RMC for 1 year but has learnt so much about the rich cultures in Rotorua and New Zealand.

Yezsa Pagtolon-an

Yezsa is currently the Environmental Prefect Captain of RLHS. She was born in the Philippines and moved to New Zealand almost six years ago. She became a member of the Executive Committee as the new Youth Representative of the RMC in December 2020. She looks forward to working with everyone. ‘To me being surrounded by many people of different cultures is like traveling the world and befriending their locals at one spot.’