Otago Polytechnic

Executive Leadership Team


Phil Ker
Chief Executive

Phil is a successful tertiary manager and teacher with expertise in curriculum development, assessment of student learning and leadership. He has had a lengthy teaching career including teaching economics, accounting, management and tertiary teaching practice; and has had a career-long interest in leadership and leadership development, and in the professional development of tertiary educators.

Phil is a member of the following Boards:

  • Director - TANZ (Tertiary Accord of New Zealand)
  • Director – Ako Aotearoa
  • Director – Malcam Trust


  • Management and Leadership in Education, Harvard University, 2001
  • MEd (Administration) - First Class Honours, Massey University,1995 
  • Bachelor of Commerce, The University of Auckland, 1973 
  • Trained Teachers Diploma, Auckland College of Education, 1973


Janine Kapa
Deputy Chief Executive: Māori Development/Kaitohutohu
Portfolios: Māori Student Success 

Janine has been passionately involved in Māori education for over 25 years; in the compulsory and tertiary sectors, from the classroom to the board room, both regionally and nationally. With a background also in social research, project management, communications and strategic development, Janine co-founded a bicultural communications consultancy in Wellington in 1999 and from then until 2003 worked in a number of central Government agencies, e.g.: ETSA (now the TEC), the Ministry of Health, Te Puni Kōkiri and NZQA. On returning to Te Waipounamu (the South Island) in 2003, Janine has worked for her iwi as the Ngāi Tahu Education Manager (2003-2005), and more recently, held leadership roles at the University of Otago (2007-2017), firstly as Acting Director then Deputy Director of Māori Development, and more latterly, as the Associate Dean Māori in the Otago Business School.

Janine is a member of the following Boards:

  • Director – A3Kaitiaki Ltd
  • Director – Otago Youth Wellness Trust 
  • Director – Te Kupeka Umaka Māori ki Araiteuru (KUMA), the Southern Māori Business Network 
  • Director – Te Tapuae o Rehua


  • Bachelor of Education, University of Otago, 1993 
  • Diploma in Teaching, Dunedin Teachers’ College, 1992


Philip Cullen
Deputy Chief Executive/Chief Operating Officer
Portfolios: Corporate Services, Business Services, Campus Services, Commercial Operations, Childcare, Capital Planning, Special Projects, Information Systems and Support

Philip is an experienced leader in financial and business management. Prior to joining Otago Polytechnic Philip worked at The Ministry of Agriculture, the University of Otago and Presbyterian Support. Philip is the Chair of City College and a member of the Synod Otago Grants Committee.


  • Bachelor of Arts, University of Otago
  • Bachelor of Commerce, University of Otago



Oonagh McGirr
Deputy Chief Executive: Learning and Teaching Services 
Portfolios: Quality Services, Learning and Teaching Development, Internationalisation, Research and Postgraduate Studies, Secondary – Tertiary Provision, Professoriate.

Oonagh is an experienced leader in pedagogy for higher education. She has experience in learning and teaching in an international setting across several disciplines and in undergraduate and postgraduate education. A research-active academic, Oonagh is well-informed in matters of pedagogic innovation – notably assessment, teaching methodologies, quality enhancement, widening participation, professional development, employability and e-learning, sustainability and diversity for higher education. Her field of research is higher education teacher identity in practice. An accomplished linguist, Oonagh is fluent in several languages. In 2018 Oonagh completed Leadership Training at CICAN Leadership Institute, Quebec.

Oonagh is a member of the following Boards / organisations:

  • Director Malcam Trust
  • Director, Dunedin Fringe Arts Trust
  • Director – Trelic Education Services
  • Director – Open Education Foundation
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts


  • Master’s Degree in Higher Education, London South Bank University, 2011
  • Diploma Adult and Continuing Education and Teaching, University of Cambridge, 1998
  • Certificate of Language Teaching to Adults, University of Cambridge, 1996
  • BA Hons Modern Languages, University of the West of England, 1990


Chris Morland
Deputy Chief Executive: Learner Experience
Portfolios: Learner Services, Schools and Colleges

Chris is a successful tertiary sector leader with expertise leading others in curriculum development, learning support and facility development and management. He has had lengthy leadership roles at a senior level and has a career-long interest in inclusive and accessible tertiary education for all. 

Chris is a member of the following Board:

  • Director – SIGNAL (South Island ICT Graduate School)


  • Tutor Training Certificate, Christchurch Polytechnic, 1991
  • Master of Education, University of Western Australia, 1981
  • Master of Physical Education, University of Western Australia, 1980
  • Diploma in Teaching, Christchurch Teachers College, 1976
  • Diploma Physical Education, University of Otago, 1975


Megan Gibbons
Deputy Chief Executive: People and Performance
Portfolios: People and Culture, Sustainability, Capable NZ

Megan is a successful educator who won the Ako Aotearoa National Award in Excellence in Tertiary Teaching in 2016. Prior to her current role she was the Head of College for Occupational Therapy, Sport, Adventure and Massage Therapy. Megan has expertise in academic leadership, with strengths in curriculum development and leadership development. She is a New Zealand Athletics coach, and well recognised within Otago Sport. She is a judge for the annual Otago Sports Awards.

Megan is a member of the following Boards:

  • Athletics Otago
  • Otago Boys Sports Council
  • Wildlife Hospital
  • Startup Dunedin


  • Ph.D. (Biomedical Sciences), The University of Auckland, 2014
  • GCTLT, Otago Polytechnic, 2009
  • M.Sc. (1st class Hons) (Nutrtitional Science), Massey University, 2003
  • PG.Dip.Diet. (Distinc), The University of Otago, 1996
  • B.App.S (Human Nutrition), The University of Otago, 1994