Trustees

Sandra Preston – Chair

Sandra is a senior public sector leader with a career spanning 20 years in policy development, strategic leadership, and change implementation. She has led policy change on many of NZ’s most pressing issues such as housing and Treaty settlements.

As an art lover, Sandra has been collecting contemporary NZ art for over a decade. Building an art collection has become a way of life, and Sandra has developed relationships with private galleries and artists across the country. She loves the way art challenges identities, tells powerful stories, and helps us see things differently.

Sandra considers it a special privilege to be able to advocate for art and the Dowse as a Trustee of the Dowse Foundation. She sees her role as helping to promote art as a living expression of our communities, and supporting the vital role public galleries play in facilitating community access to the arts.

Sandra holds a masters in environmental management and policy from Lincoln University.

Sandra Preston

Karl Chitham

Karl Chitham (Ngā Puhi) is the Director of The Dowse Art Museum and Petone Settlers Museum Te Whare Whakaaro o Pito-one. He was previously Curator of Tauranga Art Gallery Toi Tauranga and has held curatorial roles at Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa, University of Waikato, Whakatane Museum & Gallery and Objectspace.

He holds a Master’s Degree in Sculpture from Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland and has been involved in the arts in New Zealand in a variety of roles as an educator, writer, curator and as an artist.

With significant experience as a leader in the arts sector, Chitham is a strong believer in the transformative power of the arts and is proud to be a part of The Dowse Foundation and lead the Dowse team who care for, share and collect the rich visual culture of Aotearoa.

Karl Chitham

Simon Mark

Dr Simon Mark was born in Upper Hutt, and his mother’s family lived in Lower Hutt for many years.
Simon has worked in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors in Aotearoa New Zealand and overseas, most recently at Toi Rauwhārangi College of Creative Arts, Massey University. Previous roles include at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade, as trade commissioner in Fiji, at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, a short stint in the 1990s as director of the Museum Directors’ Federation, and for Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) in Vanuatu.

Simon has a PhD from the University of Auckland, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Arts fromToi Rauwhārangi Massey University College of Creative Arts. He has exhibited in Aotearoa, China, India and Nepal. In 1996 he co-curated, with Ralph Regenvanu, the exhibition Contemporary Art of Vanuatu. Simon is the recipient of the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal, and is currently president of VSA.

Simon Mark

Jhana Millers

Jhana Millers is the owner of Jhana Millers Gallery, Wellington’s newest commercial art gallery, which opened in July 2018 in central Wellington. Jhana Millers Gallery works with emerging and mid-late career artists from around New Zealand and Australia, and recently exhibited at the 2021 Auckland Art Fair.

Jhana holds a Master of Fine Arts from Toi Rauwhārangi Massey University College of Creative Arts, Wellington, and a Bachelor of Applied Arts from Whitireia New Zealand. When working as an artist, Jhana exhibited nationally and internationally, including in Australia, Munich and New York.

Jhana has a range of experience in management, curation and administration of galleries and arts-related projects, and recently helped organise the Face to Face Portrait Festival and Fired Up Festival of Ceramics. Before starting Jhana Millers Gallery, Jhana worked at Toi Rauwhārangi Massey University College of Creative Arts, Wellington, managed the non-profit gallery 30upstairs and worked at the Wellington Sculpture Trust, running projects and events such as Parking Day Wellington. Jhana has been on the Board of Enjoy Gallery and was a founding member of the artist run space, The See Here.

Jhana Millers

Joan Smith

Joan has a special interest in Dowse Art Museum’s collection of ceramics and jewellery. She was delighted to join the Foundation as a trustee not long before the redevelopment of The Dowse. As a trustee Joan supports the continued growth of the collections that are of local and national significance. She strongly supports the goal of the Foundation of making the collections and exhibitions more accessible, especially in online digital form.

Joan comes from a family of talented crafters. Her grandmother was a professional milliner. A passion for ceramics developed during Joan’s childhood growing up in Temuka, the home of Temuka Pottery. As a young adult she was introduced to Len Lye’s work before his work was recognised in New Zealand. This ignited an interest in sculpture and the interface between science and art.

Joan has considerable governance experience of NGOs and philanthropic organisations to contribute to The Dowse Foundation.

Joan Smith

Emma Prestidge

Emma Prestidge is a Business Transformation Consultant at Sysdoc. Previously she was Membership and Professional Standards Manager at the Property Institute of New Zealand.

Emma has an MFA from Elam School of Fine Arts. After graduation, she worked as an artist, private tutor, and Visual Arts Manager at Uxbridge Creative Centre. 

She is passionate about creativity, community, and connection. She loves how art can spark innovation and change in our community. Emma and her husband share a love of supporting creatives and collecting contemporary art. 

Emma is well known as ‘Emma’s Atelier’ where she shares her textiles journey online. She loves to inspire people with her creativity and is excited about fostering a community of like-minded art lovers through The Dowse Foundation.

Emma Prestidge

Wen Chin Powles

Wen was born in Malaysia and came to Aotearoa to study at Victoria University of Wellington where she obtained her Master of Arts degree in Russian Language and Literature. Living in Aotearoa and abroad as a senior New Zealand diplomat, Wen has been able to indulge many aspects of her interests in art and archaeology. The vibrant Aotearoa arts scene has been a constant source of inspiration and pride as she promoted New Zealand's interests abroad. A long-time member of the Muritai-Eastbourne community and fan of the Dowse, Wen regards it as a huge privilege to join the Foundation as a trustee. She brings her diverse experience and skills to support significant expansion plans for the art museum's rich and nationally treasured collection and innovative programming and exhibitions for our local communities.

The excitement of museums and art for Wen included a period at Te Papa Tongarewa where she implemented a strategy in support of the national museum's international profile.  In 2012 Wen led a huge cultural diplomacy project to link Te Papa with the National Museum of China and the Forbidden City Palace Museum in Beijing, as well as significant centres of archaeology in Xian, home of the iconic Terracotta Warriors, and Liangzhu, site of the ancient jade civilisation.  Wen has written about these encounters and their dynamic connections to Māori taonga in essays on the role of museums, art and communities in international relations.

Wen Chin Powles