The Team

Our team has over 20 years of local experience. Specialising in community engagement, we recognise that this is an area which is often overlooked, but crucial for project and organisational success.

Jennifer Pearson


Jennifer has over 30 years experience working with communities, businesses and organisations, most of it in the Bay of Plenty. Her favourite roles focus on building relationships, using creativity, facilitation skills, strong communication skills, to encourage those with disparate views to a compromise that works for everyone. She works where she is passionate about the mahi and has the ability to energise others.

Jennifer has worked in sustainability, economic development, project management and has a strong industry and community knowledge throughout the Bay of Plenty.

Mariken de Vries

Communications and Engagement Advisor

Born and bred in the Netherlands, Mariken has worked in the UK, Ireland and the US, and settled in New Zealand in 2007.

A communicator by nature, she's spent the best part of her professional life working in the IT and Telecommunications Sectors, driving communications across B-2-B, change management, self service and customer experience projects.

Most recently, she's worked as a communications advisor in local government, managing comms and media relations for the waters portfolio.

Mariken is a pragmatic team player and creative problem solver, who enjoys travel, live music and adventures with her son and husband.

Mary-Jane Du Toit

Community Engagement Advisor

Mary-Jane is a change management expert and has worked with several large organisations in various roles associated with change and/or training in both New Zealand and South Africa.

With a degree in Psychology, MJ brings a wealth of experience in helping people to strive for more and is quick to understand organization needs and priorities.

Monique Gray

Community Engagement Advisor

Monique is a confident and approachable team player who prides herself in delivering quality and clear communications. Her interpersonal skills allow her to create opportunities for engagement and develop relationships with stakeholders.

A quick and creative problem solver, Monique has a clear commitment to completing all tasks to the highest of her ability with integrity.

Paula Simmonds

Community Engagement Advisor

Paula has 12 years of consulting and training experience working with a variety of business sectors to identify business process improvements and elicit requirements of software to assist business practices.  

While raising her children Paula has also successfully run two small hobby businesses, one that had a team of 17 independent consultants to manage, along with temporarily marketing and managing a busy co-working space.

Her professional and positive attitude alongside her strengths in communication and facilitation enables her to identify a strong, proactive approach to community engagement - supporting community discussions through to project completion.

Tania McCluskey

Community Liaison

Tania brings 14 years’ experience in customer service, sales, hospitality and education to the Zest team.

Tania is also an active member of the Te Puke Primary School’s Board of Trustees. She has performed a number of voluntary positions for my community while being a stay at home mother, including as Secretary of the Te Puke Toy Library, and Social Coordinator for the Te Puke Playcentre.