Our people

Veterinarians

Emma Hawkins

Emma is originally from New Plymouth and has been with Vetora Reporoa since September 2019 after making the switch from mixed practice to full time dairy. Her main interest is preventive herd health advisory work, especially in the areas of nutrition and calf medicine. Emma is qualified in DairyNZ Feed-Right, BCS accredited, an Incalf advisor and a Fonterra Mastitis Investigator. 

Verena Kwoka

Verena graduated as a vet in Germany in 2013 before meeting a Kiwi dairy farmer while travelling South America. This brought her to Rotorua where she worked as a veterinary technician for Vetora while going through the examination process to get her degree recognised in NZ. To get some large animal experience and utilise her degree, she returned to Germany to work for 1.5 years. 

Danielle Herrmann

Dani joined the team in 2021 as a mixed animal vet after graduating from Massey University at the end of 2020. Born in Zimbabwe, Dani grew up on a small lifestyle block just outside Cambridge. She enjoys learning from her Vetora colleagues and farmers and listening to their stories. Her passion is working with lifestyle animals on small blocks and tending to their individual medical needs, but values the variety each day brings. Working and living the Bay of Plenty means Dani can indulge in her passion for hiking, skiing and sailing in her spare time. 

Mark Anderson

Mark holds the position of senior dairy vet and vet consultant with Vetora BOP. He has more than 20 years of dairy experience having previously worked in Taranaki, Levin and overseas before joining us in 2008. Mark’s primary interests lie in herd mastitis and lameness investigations, but he continues to keep a regular clinical case load. Outside of work he is a keen mountain biker and enjoys spending time with his family. Mark can also be seen plodding around his ‘not so hobby’ lifestyle block.

Rowan Skentelbery

Rowan joined Vetora BOP in 2020 as a new graduate vet at the Galatea clinic. She grew up in Tauranga before moving to Palmerston North to study at Massey. During university holidays she worked on a small dairy farm in Tauranga, which helped to develop her passion for working in this area. She is particularly interested in reproduction and herd fertility and is a certified BCS assessor. Rowan has an enthusiasm for both small and large animal work, enjoying the variety mixed animal practice in Galatea offers.

Andrew Spence

Andrew started his veterinary career in Galatea after graduating from Massey University. He subsequently spent many years in mixed practice on both the West Coast and inland Otago. He worked predominantly with dairy, but also with some deer, horse, alpaca, wildlife, and companion animals. Along the way he developed an interest in small animal orthopaedic surgery. Prior to 2020, Andrew and his family spent the best part of 7 years in Mongolia. Here they worked with an NGO providing training for Mongolian vets and vet students, while also working with remote communities. 

Mathew Fisken

Mathew is a dairy farmer through and through. Born and raised on a Waikite Valley dairy farm, he started with us in 2002 as a new graduate. Since then, he has split his time between managing the family farm and helping us out at Vetora BOP. We don’t always see a lot of Mat in the spring, but he is an integral part of our veterinary team by providing back up as needed, as well as being our practice’s senior deer vet.

Jess Johnson

Jess came to us as a Massey new graduate in 2016. She spends most of her time doing dairy cattle work out of the Taupo and Reporoa clinics, but does spend some time in the companion animal department if time allows. Jess enjoys all aspects of veterinary medicine but has a keen interest in cattle reproduction and animal welfare. Outside of work she loves taking her dog, Zoe, for runs and keeping fit.

Katy Jones

Katy started with Vetora BOP in 2018 coming to us from one of the Vetora Waikato clinics in Putaruru (South Waikato). Katy brings to her clients a strong interest in dairy medicine. She is a Fonterra-accredited mastitis investigator and is studying towards further qualifications in epidemiology. Katy has hands-on dairy farming experience having been sharemilking on a 280-cow farm in Rotorua. She was also part of a partnership that won the NZ Dairy Industry Awards Central Plateau Share Farmer of the Year Award in 2020. Outside of work Katy enjoys tramping and skiing.

Greg Spiers

Greg grew up in Taranaki and has a BVSc from Massey University. He worked in mixed practice for 3 years in Taupo before joining the Vetora team where he is now focused on large/production animal work. Based in the Rotorua clinic, Greg has a passion for dairy cattle health and medicine. He enjoys working with a dedicated and supportive veterinary team with a wide range of experience. They tackle problems together to get the best outcomes for their members and clients. Greg makes the most of the lifestyle opportunities that Rotorua provides, including mountain biking, wakeboarding, snowboarding, tramping, and exploring the local lakes.

Linka van Heerden

Born near Cape Town, Linka worked in South Africa for a year completing her compulsory community service working as a mixed animal vet for government in a rural practice. She moved to NZ in 2019 where she worked as a mixed animal vet in Paeroa and then in Tauranga. She traded the beach for Rotorua’s beautiful lakes in 2021. 

Linka has a Bachelor of Veterinary Science from the University of Pretoria (SA) and has a special interest in cytology/microscope work. She enjoys the variety and interesting case load at Vetora BOP, along with the team she works with and being part of a vet club. Living in Rotorua gives Linka the opportunity to enjoy a range of outdoor activities from lakes and geothermal activities to the beach and hiking – something tourists only dream of doing. 

Laura Gallagher

Laura is the lead companion animal vet at our Rotorua clinic. She graduated in 2000 from the Royal (Dick) Veterinary School of Veterinary Studies. She worked as a small animal vet in the UK for 5 years before moving to Wellington. A love of the forest brought Laura, her partner, and their son to Rotorua in 2021. She loves biking, particularly cycling in Waikite Valley and mountain biking in the forest.
 
Working with dogs, cats and rabbits is Laura’s happy place. She enjoys getting to know their families and helping with everything from preventative healthcare and medical issues to soft tissue surgery and some orthopaedics. Laura thrives on the team spirit at Vetora and being part of a team of like-minded professionals. She has border terrier called Storm and a cat called Thunder.

Rebecca Newth

Rebecca graduated from Massey University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science. She worked for five years in a busy mixed practice in Napier before moving to Rotorua for a brief period covering maternity leave. She also graduated with a Masters of Veterinary Medicine in 2014, studying as she worked over five years and wrote a dissertation on Traumatic Brain Injury. Rebecca and her husband Mark moved to Taupo in 2013 to have their first daughter and have since had another in 2015. Rebecca especially enjoys ophthalmology, neurology and soft tissue surgery. 

She is an avid supporter of regional and international rugby union and league and enjoys playing netball and getting outside and enjoying what Taupo has to offer. She has an 11 year old boxer at home called Gin.

Isobel Hammond

Born and bred in Rotorua, Isobel returned home after university and a year’s practical experience in the Wairarapa, where she worked as a mixed animal vet, predominantly with sheep and beef. 

Isobel enjoys lifestyle block medicine and building on her dairy experience. She is also passionate about working dogs, in particular rehoming and later life care. Isobel has her own retired heading dog, South, who comes to work with her every day and has been an instant hit at the clinic. 

Isobel is currently studying towards her postgraduate diploma. She has a BVSc from Massey university and is studying towards her post-graduate diploma. Vetora’s supportive team culture is one of the things Isobel loves most about her job.

April Birchall

April grew up in the UK but emigrated to NZ when she was 18 in time to begin her Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc) at Massey university. After several years working as a vet, including time with Vetora BOP in Galatea, April married a dairy farmer and went contract milking in the South Waikato and Bay of Plenty. 

Her hands on dairy farming experience and part-time role as a farm consultant enables April to bring a whole farm systems approach to veterinary medicine. She is also a dairy tutor for the Primary Industry Training Organisation (ITO). April is a DairyNZ In-calf advisor, Body Condition Score-certified and has a Certificate in Sustainable Nutrient Management from Massey University.

She loves working with a great team of supportive vets and being part of the Galatea community where her farming clients are part of her extended family.

Tal Schneider

Tal is of Israeli heritage, but trained in South Africa. He has been working in New Zealand for 11 years, firstly in Canterbury and Marlborough before coming to join Vetora BOP in Reporoa. Tal brings a good mix of dairy, sheep, beef and deer experience as well as helping our companion animal service when needed. He also has primary responsibility for overseeing our southern farm team. 

Veterinary Nurses

Karen Oldfield

Karen qualified as a vet nurse in 2016 after spending 40 years as a human nurse. During her career as a human nurse Karen spent time in intensive care/coronary care, the bone marrow transplant unit in Christchurch and the last 20 years of her nursing in elderly care.

Karen has been in Taupo since 2002 and lives on a lifestyle block with an animal menagerie including seven chickens, nine sheep, two cats, two birds and her husband Peter. Karen is a proud mum of her daughter, currently in her last year of a Masters degree in Ecology and Biodiversity. 

At Vetora Taupo, you'll often find Karen caring for the surgical patients, monitoring their anaesthetics and recoveries and sneaking out to the cat ward for cuddles with the cats. Karen is a very dedicated, reliable nurse who has vast amounts of knowledge and you will find is an absolute pleasure to deal with.

Simone Groosman

Simone started at Vetora Taupo in 2016 after finishing her nursing certificate while living in Christchurch in 2015. She is quite often the friendly voice on the end of the phone or behind the front counter.
 
Simone has a special interest in dog behaviour, always having an affinity for dogs and training them. She spent time in the racing industry and enjoys riding and caring for horses. Simone lives in Taupo with her young family and loves the town’s community feel and outdoor activities. She has a cat Rocky and dog Nala. 

Aimee Clark

Aimee has a background in sports and leisure and administration, but recently completed her NZ Diploma in Veterinary Nursing. Originally from Auckland, Aimee and her husband Andrew moved to Taupo 10 years ago. They have a daughter. She particularly loves working with Vetora’s surgical and hospital patients and is also working towards her Fear Free certification to better support stressed and anxious patients. She will complete her Bachelor in Veterinary Nursing over the next few years. Aimee loves the animal-loving, team environment at Vetora Taupo and enjoys working with its wonderful, compassionate vets. 

Selina (Siheng) Sun

Before joining Vetora BOP, Selina worked as a vet nurse in Levin, where she gained extensive experience in orthopaedic rehabilitation and physiotherapy. She has a National Diploma in Veterinary Nursing from Otago Polytechnic and an accountancy degree from Massey University. 

Selina has excellent surgical nursing skills and enjoys assisting with orthopaedic surgery, managing post-operative patient care and rehabilitation during the recovery period. She is also experienced in feline nursing and has a passion for emergency and critical care nursing (ECC). Selina is Chinese and a native Mandarin speaker. She enjoys the ongoing support she receives from the Vetora family and the opportunity she’s had to grow into a senior vet nurse. 

Kate Richards

Kate is a fully qualified diploma vet nurse – a path she knew she wanted to take from an early age. She takes pride in nursing patients that have been hospitalised, watching them progress, forming a bond, and the privilege of offering comfort when it’s time to say goodbye. She is also passionate about the weight loss clinics she runs.
 
Born and bred in Cambridge (NZ), Kate worked at a boarding kennel/cattery while she finished her studies. From there she became a vet nursing assistant before starting her diploma nursing. 
 
Kate values the family culture at Vetora, the jokes and humour, and the support everyone gives each other. 

Lisette Duijnmayer

Lisette is an experienced vet nurse, with particular skills and knowledge in emergency care, anaesthesia, weight loss, animal behaviour and animal care. She has New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Level 5) and a New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (Level 6) from Otago Polytechnic. 

Before joining Vetora, she worked casually for Anexa Vets in the Waikato across most of its clinics. She also gained valuable work experience during her studies in many different vet clinics in Otago and the Waikato.

Lisette is of Dutch origin, but calls Hamilton home. She loves the Vetora team and values the priority they all give animal welfare. 

Tayla Vanner

Born and bred in Rotorua, Tayla worked in hospitality before deciding to pursue a career in vet nursing. She has a Level 5 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing from Otago Polytechnic and is currently studying towards Level 6. Tayla has a thirst for learning and is particularly passionate about canine medicine, especially working with larger dogs. She thrives on the interaction she has with her colleagues and clients, and is dedicated to giving animals a voice and making a difference to their quality of life. 

Paulette White

Originally from Auckland, Paulette grew up on a lifestyle block and has always loved animals. After completing her vet nursing study, she worked in Herne Bay before heading to the UK where she travelled and worked for 6 years. A desire to be closer to her family brought her to Vetora in Rotorua in 2007. Paulette balances her vet nursing with a front of house customer service role, where she enjoys the contact she has with Vetora clients. Paulette is a great multi-tasker with the ability to prioritise jobs to make the day run efficiently. She enjoys Vetora’s team culture and sharing her wealth of knowledge and expertise with her younger nursing colleagues. 

Grace Elliott

Grace has had a wide variety of experience with animals, including working at a wildlife park with Kiwis and being a tour guide at the world renown Rainbow Springs Wildlife Park in her hometown of Rotorua. Grace has NZ Certificate in Animal Technology (Level 5) (Veterinary Nursing Assistant), a NZ Certificate in Animal Care (Companion Animals) (Level 3) and is currently studying towards her NZ Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (Level 6). 
 
Grace has a passion for providing extra love and comfort to Vetora BOP’s recovering patients and making them extra comfortable. She also enjoys interacting with clients and making a big fuss of their animals. From the admin team to the vets and nurses, Grace thrives in Vetora BOP’s supportive team culture. She loves that all the Club’s vets strive to provide the best care and would have no qualms about entrusting her own fur babies to them.