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Consumer Council

About the Consumer Council

The Consumer Council was established in 2014 as a way for consumers to have a strong voice in planning, designing and delivering services on the West Coast.

The Consumer Council is invited to participate in, and comment on, many of the West Coast DHB initiatives to enhance a patient’s experience.

The council is made up of a range of people, with diverse backgrounds and areas of interest. Their brief includes:

  • Enhancing the collection and use of feedback from a service user’s perspective
  • Assisting to improve the organisation’s information sharing responsibilities with service users
  • Contributing to the design or re-design of services and/or facilities by the DHB
  • Working in partnership with the DHB to improve the quality of the patient journey
  • Working to remove barriers for consumers whilst enhancing safe service provision

The Consumer Council meets approximately two-monthly in Greymouth, generally for around two hours. Council members are appointed for two years, and need to have a general understanding of West Coast health issues.

Consumer Council Members

The council is made up of a range of people with diverse ethnic backgrounds and areas of interest that include Māori health, Pacific health, mental health, people with long term conditions, people with physical, intellectual and sensory disabilities, older people, youth, men, women, rural communities, people with visual and hearing impairment and people with alcohol and other drug addictions.

If you are interested in vacancies, or in finding out more about becoming a member of the Consumer Council, please complete the below form.

Expression of Interest Form (New Members)

Consumer Council Information Sheet

Originally from the UK with a Scottish heritage, moving to New Zealand 11 years ago seemed a natural thing to do!  

My UK work was with public and private enterprises, primarily in the NHS fields of HR, Organisational Development and Project Management.  Prior to moving to NZ, I had my own business as an External Auditor contracted to the UK Security Industry Authority. Now a NZ citizen and settled on the Coast at Nelson Creek for 3 years, I work part time for the National Brain Injury Association of NZ.  I am involved in community groups; Secretary on the Nelson Creek Community Committee and Treasurer for the Kowhai Project.  

My interest in serving on the WCDHB Consumer Council is focused primarily on the patient journey, and how the disconnect between necessary organisational policies and procedures can get in the way of communication patient focus and community needs. I have my own health issues (heart problems) which have necessitated inpatient stays in Greymouth Hospital and in Christchurch hospitals, experiencing the issues of “being in the system” to “rural discharge” first hand.  

We do most things well, but we could do a few things better. My aim during my tenure on the Consumer Council is to bring a patient view to the processes, and ensure that by working in partnership with the DHB we can continue the good work by previous Consumer Councils both in DHB and Community engagement.


Having lived in NZ for coming up to 30 years, I think of myself as being a refugee from the private health system in my country of birth… the USA.  I’ve contributed to NZ’s health system at a policy level (Women’s and Children’s Health Policy Manager for the Southern Regional Health Authority); at a provider level (Health Promoter for Community and Public Health); and now as a member of the West Coast DHB’s Consumer Council.   

I have had a few consumer journeys of my own through our health system.  Living rurally in Buller for 22 years (with hearing loss) has given me insight into the challenges rural people face when it comes to accessing the right care, at the right time, with the right health professional/s.  It can be particularly challenging for people with chronic conditions and/ or disabilities.  My work as a health promoter means I will invariably bring a focus on wellbeing to the table.  

I am especially excited about the opportunities that exist for consumers, through participation the Council, to work in partnership with the West Coast DHB.  It’s a powerful and creative model, one I am pleased to be a part of.  My networking skills will serve people in Buller, the partnership and the aims of the Consumer Council well.  

Over the past 30 years I have lived, worked, made friends and community connections, and raised my family on the West Coast, the region I consider to be home.  I live and work with my family on our farm at Haupiri, a reasonably remote and very rural community.


I have held a lifelong interest in health, fostered through my personal and family health experiences and from having worked in health care.  I have a Bachelor of Nursing degree and worked for several years in Greymouth in primary and secondary care settings, and in health promotion working on community health projects. 

Living with a physical disability since birth and developing an ongoing inflammatory arthritis as an adult, have given me lived experiences and insight into the impact that an individual’s health circumstances and the quality of their relationships with health care services can have on the whole of a person’s life and their family.  In addition to my own health experiences, I have been privileged through my work and community and farming links to have listened to and gathered a broad and diverse range of people’s health stories and perspectives.

I appreciate the opportunity that being a member of the Consumer Council gives to contribute with others these shared consumer perspectives, our community knowledge, our disappointments and our understandings of a job well done.  I value being able to work alongside the DHB at a table where the consumer voice has a say to enhance our experience as consumers of the West Coast DHB and to influence the organisation of these health services around the needs and contexts of our West Coast people.

My name is Gail Cossar and I live in Westport.  I am originally from Canterbury but I have lived on the stunning West Coast for 20 years.  I love the lifestyle and the sense of belonging that living here brings.

Having lived experience of mental health, addiction issues and recovery, I am passionate about the “consumer movement” in this and other areas of health.  I have many networks and contacts far and wide around NZ, and I am very lucky to work in this field as a Community Support Worker for Emerge Aotearoa’s West Coast Activity and Living Skills Service.

My aim on the Consumer Council is to be a strong advocate for the community as we navigate the challenges of a rural health system while living in such an isolated rugged environment which we call home.

I have lived on the West Coast for 27 years, based in Hokitika.  I live with my husband and 3 children on a lifestyle block.

I am interested in being part of Consumer Council as I’m passionate about the West Coast and would like to make the Coast a better, safer place to live.

I work in education, working with children that have a learning or behaviour difference.  Alongside supporting their school and family, using health providers are a big part of our student’s journey.

I have a son with Downs Syndrome who was born here, and has successfully been through the health and education system on the Coast.

I have been involved in many committees over the years from CCS to rugby league.  I am currently involved in establishing a Special Olympics club on the West Coast that caters for all ages.  The aims are keeping people active, participating in community events and enjoying friendships of other athletes.

On the Consumer Council I see my role as being a strong advocate for families as they negotiate the tricky health system so that living in an isolated area has no negative effects of our health and well-being.

Jenny Green

Born, raised and educated in the US, I came to NZ on a working holiday in 1974. While traveling NZ, I met my husband to be and got married, we settled in Reefton and then moved to Hokitika in 1978. We have two adult daughters born, raised and educated in Hokitika and who returned, after tertiary education and travel, to live here as well. We all choose to live here because it allows us a quality of life we enjoy in an amazing environment.

I have been involved in many organizations over the years. Play Centre committee, Kindy Committee, Hokitika Primary School Board, Girl Guides Treasurer, Heritage Hokitika and Enterprise Hokitika, WC Tourism Council. As well as raising my children, my working life in NZ began as a Family Planning administrator, later Director of our local Museum and then Take Note Hokitika which we owned and operated for 20 years. My husband and I have been very involved in the restoration of prime community buildings, it is our belief that having venues for arts, culture and theatre is really important for the wellbeing of any community.

Having been a front line worker in the shop, I have learned to appreciate what is important for the health and wellbeing of people living here. We all want employment, education, a safe place to live and raise our families. We want access to good health care and support, enough food, warm and dry housing and a clean environment. The West Coast has most of this but we need to ensure that our families have enough support to raise their children with dignity and hope for the future. Health care impacts all of us and it should be a certainty for any age.
My goal being on this Council is to ensure we all have the opportunity to thrive and be able to access Health and wellbeing services. I would like to find solutions so our communities can be assured that any individual or family can access timely help when required.

I have been an Elder Abuse and Neglect Clinician for the past 23 years, working for the past 5 years for Age Concern Canterbury.  I have lived in the Buller Region for over 40 years and have seen a great change within the community.  I have been involved with many community groups over the years, plus 19 years in the New Zealand Fire Service.  I am a trustee for Buller Art and Recreation Trust, which helped with funding the Sports Complex in Westport plus the New Movie Theatre.

My interest in serving on the Consumer Council is to help the community get a better understanding of the health system and help them through this, and to hopefully help get a better system that elderly can access themselves and feel comfortable doing so.  Being there for the community to listen to concerns and advocating for patients to help feel that they are being listened to and well looked after.

I moved to Franz Josef in 1983 while finishing my last two years of high school and went straight into tourism.  Married to my wife Kim for 30 years with one son, Shane who is now 28 and living in Rangiora.  I have been in Management for over 20 years with a local well established helicopter company, General Manager for the last 4 years.  The company operates a fleet of 13 helicopters, currently downsized to 7 in full time operation due to Covid-19.  We have been one of the first helicopter companies in New Zealand to gain SMS (Safety Management System) accreditation with the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority, March 2019. My background with the company has been heavily focused on Marketing and Human Resources.

In 1987 I began to have difficulties ascending stairs and was eventually diagnosed with Becker Muscular Dystrophy.  This is a slow, progressive muscle wasting disease that has seen me walking unaided into my late 30’s, advancing to walking aids through my early 40’s to now being in a wheelchair.  I have been on several local community boards, including currently a Franz Josef Civil Defence team co-ordinator, Glacier Country Tourism Group Management Committee member and am in the process of re-forming the Canterbury/West Coast/ Tasman/Marlborough branch of the Muscular Dystrophy Association while still full time employed as General Manager for HeliServices NZ.

I have always been a fiercely independent and resilient individual with my wife and family supporting me. It has been during the latter years I have needed the services and resources of the West Coast DHB for my disability and through my experience in gaining assistance I can see there are still gaps in this support network that need to be filled. I look forward to having the opportunity to share my experience/s with the Consumer Council and to advocate for my fellow disabled persons.

Kia ora, I live at Carters Beach in Buller after moving here from Canterbury over 12 years ago for a West Coast lifestyle change.  I have a work background in both education and social services, working mainly with youth and young people but have worked with all ages and different capabilities.

Over the last 10 years I have been employed at Buller REAP as the Youth Service Provider and an ACE (Adult Community Education) facilitator.  I have had experience on various boards; the most recent being the Staff representative for REAP.  My years working in these roles mean I have had the chance to supply advocacy and support as requested and hope to be able to carry on in the future through our local communities.

Debbie Peters

I have a medical degree from Glasgow University and a health management diploma from Massey university.  I have worked in a wide variety of roles, GP and Health Researcher in Scotland before coming to New Zealand in1976.  With my family I have lived outside Reefton, in Greymouth and at Barrytown moving back to Greymouth when my husband died three years ago.  Apart from clinical roles (including GP in Reefton briefly and Medical Officer for the then Health Department) I have been involved in the DHB and its predecessors as a manager and as Deputy Chair of the Board.  I was also a ministerial appointment to the Southern Regional Ethics Committee.  Currently I work on contract for the Ministry of Health, Audit and Compliance Unit, travelling throughout New Zealand auditing GPs and hospital specialists.

I have always been passionate about Public Health medicine (Health Promotion and Health Protection) and working in that field has exposed me to many of the issues related to health outside hospital settings especially in rural areas.

My experience as a consumer has been fairly limited but with my husband dying of bowel cancer and a daughter with MS (she lives in Austria) I have been exposed personally to the positives and negatives of being a consumer and believe I can bring both a professional and personal perspective to the role of the Consumer Council.

Originally from Nelson, as a semi-retirement initiative Robyn and myself moved to Rapahoe after purchasing Rapahoe Motels as a lifestyle business.  Prior to this move I was employed for most of my working life by the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board and its previous iterations commencing as a Hospital Aide at Braemar Hospital. This hospital was a residential facility for people who have disabilities. I then trained as an Enrolled Nurse followed by registering as a comprehensive Registered Nurse.  I am also an accredited mediator.

However, the most valuable education I have received in my life so far came from the people who lived at Braemar and Ngawhatu hospital.  The majority of the people living at Braemar had significant disabilities, they caused me to look at myself and adjust my view of the world and the way society hid people who were different, inadvertently denying them what others took for granted.  I was project leader of a very competent team for the closure of both Braemar and Ngawhatu and establishing community living and the redevelopment of the mental health services.

Over the years I was employed in a number of senior management roles, including area director of mental health services, culminating in the role of Chief Operating Officer.

I am passionate about the provision of quality health and disability support services for the people of our community.  I wish to contribute my extensive knowledge and experience to the DHB staff and the consumers of health services through my membership of the Consumer Council.  Maintaining a strong connection with our communities is the way forward for the provision of relevant health services for them.

Agenda and Minutes

The links below will take you to a listing of Consumer Council Meeting Documents



Contact us

You’re invited to send a message to a Consumer Council representative via the form below.  Please provide a valid email so we can get back to you, and so you will receive a confirmation of receipt of the email generated by this form.

Page last updated: 22 February 2021

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