Our Team

Our Team

We are a small dedicated team who relies heavily on our volunteers and supporters to help with our work in ending animal experimentation in NZ. 

You can contact the NZAVS Board here.

NZAVS is made up of the following people: 


Bette Overell (1924-2007)

Founder of NZAVS

Bette Overell, who founded NZAVS in 1978, was inspired by the works of Hans Ruesch, a famous Swiss medical historian whose book "Slaughter of the Innocent" and CIVIS publications brought to light the misleading, dangerous and fraudulent practice of animal experiments.

Read more about our Founder here.

Tara Jackson (she/her)

NZAVS Executive Director

Tara Jackson (Kāti Māmoe) is the Executive Director for the New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society. Tara has worked for NZAVS since 2015 and has extensive knowledge of the animal experimentation industry. She has a Bachelor of Science in Zoology and has a strong passion for animal rights, human rights, and environmental protection. The combination of her scientific background, empathy for animals, and a strong dislike for injustice makes her a driven and determined advocate for innovative, animal-free research, testing, and teaching methods.

Tara is also the Founder of the popular online resource, A Guide to Vegan where she spends her spare time promoting vegan-friendly products, recipes, and restaurants to make veganism easier for people living in Aotearoa.

She has experience working with other NGOs, campaigning, and fundraising. Tara has previously worked for and been involved with organisations such as Greenpeace and World Animal Protection.

Contact Tara:

Email: tara@nzavs.org.nz

Phone: 0278161926

Georgette Singer (she/her)

NZAVS General Manager & Cruelty Free NZ Magazine Editor

Georgette Singer (Ngāti Raukawa) is a passionate vegan, an animal rights and human rights advocate, living in Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington).

Working for NZAVS as the General Manager and Cruelty Free NZ Magazine Editor is a dream come true, giving her the opportunity to work behind the scenes every day to help end cruel animal experiments in Aotearoa.

She worked with SAFE as an ambassador in 2016, after she won the title of Miss New Zealand and made it her goal to show that true beauty did not require any nasty animal testing. Using her platform on The Good Morning Show, in Girlfriend and Women’s Day magazines, she used every opportunity to talk about how easy it was to live cruelty-free and without harming animals. Georgette has her own YouTube channel dedicated to finding the best vegan and cruelty-free makeup brands, food and fashion in Aotearoa with product reviews and in-depth tutorials.

As a previous pharmacy technician, she understands the misinformation relayed to the public about using animals for science and knows how important the mahi that NZAVS do, within Aotearoa to change this is.

Contact Georgette:

Email: georgette@nzavs.org.nz

Shanti Ahluwalia (he/him)

NZAVS Campaign Manager

Shanti is a veteran campaigner, having spent his career developing the skills necessary to lead campaigns. He began in 2008 as a volunteer for SAFE. Since then, he has worked for multiple organisations and now works as a Campaign Manager for NZAVS.

His academic background is in economics and political sciences. He chose these subjects to strengthen his ability to leverage change.

In his spare time, he is a passionate bunny-carer. His bunnies, Merlin and Momo, are treasured members of the family.

Contact Shanti:

Email: shanti@nzavs.org.nz

Marik Kardel (they/them)

NZAVS Research Officer

Marik studied Agricultural Science in Germany, finishing with a PhD and becoming vegan in the process. They are passionate about putting their studies to good use. After a year of volunteering with NZAVS, Marik is now part of the team, combining academic skills and experience in agricultural work.

Together with their partner, Marik raises two children bilingually. As a family, they emphasise taking each other seriously and letting kids have a say in their life. In their school of choice, students actively take control of their learning.

Marik enjoys writing, cooking, gaming, watching good and very bad movies. For exercise beyond being a parent, they go bouldering.

Contact Marik:

Email: Marik@nzavs.org.nz

Alice Rose (she/they)

Supporter Engagement Officer

Alice is a dedicated vegan and has been involved in animal rights activism in Te Whanganui ā Tara (Wellington) since 2018. Alongside working for NZAVS, Alice is a voluntary organiser for grassroots intersectional activism group Wellington Vegan Actions (WVA) and for the Wellington chapter of the Animal Save Movement. With WVA, she is also involved in planning the annual Wellington Animal Rights March.

Alice is passionate about music/sound and the arts and has a Bachelor of Commercial Music with Honours. Under the artist name ALXR, their graduate Honours project, sound work in:habit, features an animal rights message.

Contact Alice:

Email: alice@nzavs.org.nz

Annelies Basten (she/her)

NZAVS Development Manager

Annelies’ drive is to make the world a better place for animals. As a child, she was always rescuing animals, and this turned into a purpose-driven career as an adult, advocating for animals in all kinds of ways.

She started working with NZAVS in 2019 as the Funding & Engagement Manager, setting up the supporter database and the different fundraising programs to ensure NZAVS’ sustainability. At the start of 2021, she took a break away from NZAVS, to set up another animal advocacy initiative with her partner. 

Bonobo Café opened in August 2021. The plant-based café is phase one of the goal of introducing people to an animal-friendly way of life and saving lives while doing so. Phase two is opening an animal sanctuary nearby, to re-establish bonds between animals and people, and create a better understanding of the importance of an animal-friendly lifestyle. 

Now that the café is set up and running, she is back with NZAVS to take the fundraising programs to the next level. Annelies has worked in the not-for-profit sector as a fundraiser since 2010 creating award-winning campaigns.

Deidre Sims (she/her)

NZAVS Board Member - Secretary

Deirdre is a communications specialist with a degree in animal welfare science. She is currently involved with grassroots animal rights organisation Direct Animal Action as a volunteer activist and campaigner.

Deirdre has been involved in animal rights activism for 15 years and people power, grassroots activism and direct action are some of Deirdre's biggest passions. She has worked for a number of different NGO's including SAFE, Auckland SPCA, Greenpeace, and Amnesty International. She also worked at the Green Party of New Zealand Aotearoa for 5 years through 2 election cycles.

Deirdre has two very loved furbabies called Poppy and Kowhai and she enjoys running and CrossFit in her spare time.

Avril McIntyre (she/her)

NZAVS Board Member - Chairperson

Avril has been an animal rights activist for almost 10 years. She first got involved volunteering for SAFE in high school. In her first year of university, she co-founded the Auckland University Animal Rights Group (AUARG) and was Co-President for five years. During that time, AUARG campaigned against the use of animals in research, testing and teaching at Auckland University.

Avril is passionate about justice for humans as well as non-humans. Avril is a criminal defence lawyer by occupation. She has also been involved with projects in animal law, including drafting submissions on proposed legislation. She fosters cats and kittens in her spare time.

Roimata Mitchell (she/her)

NZAVS Board Member

Roimata has had a deep love for animals her entire life and derives so much joy from being in the presence of animals. She has served animals in many different capacities throughout her life, including working with seals and the yellow-eyed penguin in conservation, working as a dog walker for the SPCA, working on game reserves doing research and data collection and working with the New Zealand Animal Law Association. She currently serves as a Board Member for NZAVS and is running an animal welfare advocacy project in Egypt.

Roimata is an investment funds and capital markets lawyer by trade and loves hiking, surfing, snowboarding and snorkeling. She has a delightful young horse called Roibos Sunshine who she rescued from the Giza pyramid area.

Helen Fletcher (she/her)

NZAVS Accountant

Helen has been involved with animal rights since 2015 and volunteered for the Vegan Society, SAFE, Direct Animal Action and a number of animal rescue sanctuaries.

She is a Chartered Accountant and has worked in several industries including retail, telecommunication, distribution, and not-for-profit.  Between being a proud mum to two vegan kids and working for a vegan cheese company, Helen supports NZAVS on the financial side to ensure that we are financially compliant.

Helen believes that compassion without action is just observation.  She believes that we all have a responsibility to look after the planet and be kind to those who share the planet with us – not just fellow humans but all species. 

Our Volunteer Coordinators

NZAVS has Volunteer Coordinators in Auckland and Christchurch:


Sylvia Matthews


Auckland FB


Brooke Mooney


Christchurch FB