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Board members & staff

Meet the Skateboarding New Zealand board members and staff.

Board members

Sonia Griffin

She is passionate about creating opportunities and pathways for our young talent to grow their skills on the regional, national and international stages.

Sonia joined SBNZ in mid-2019 as a committee member, moving in the role of Secretary in January 2021. She now works on special projects for SBNZ. 

She comes armed with a wealth of experience in developing business structure, project management, research and reporting assignments.

Skateboarding is well ingrained in the Griffin family with husband “Griff” and son “Flea” who skate competitively and daughter Hollie who competes nationally in Canoe Polo. Travelling around New Zealand in the summer season for skateboarding and canoe polo comps has become part of the fabric of their lives.

Sonia is passionate about contributing to the development of our skateboarding culture in New Zealand and in particular the development of junior pathways.

Paul Newman

Paul began his career as a trainee chartered accountant in the City of London. After a time in banking and corporate Treasury with a UK FTSE-100 company, he joined PwC’s financial advisory team in London in 2001, transferring to Australia in 2007. He joined Queensland Treasury Corporation in 2013 focused on funding, financing and governance of high-value, high risk projects. After moving to New Zealand with his family Paul joined Deloitte’s Corporate Finance team in Wellington as a Director in 2022. Paul is married to Naomi; they have two children and their son Louis is a committed park and vert skater.

Izy Duncombe

Izy has been skateboarding since 2000. She skated competitively from 2004-2019 in New Zealand, Australia and USA. She began coaching skateboarding in 2010.

She is focused on increasing opportunities for New Zealand skateboarders, and inspiring and educating the next generations so they can achieve. She’d like to see that “athletes” are properly represented by their governing body, and growth and development at on all levels and platforms ie. Improved parks and facilities, accessibility for skaters that want to follow some sort of high performance plan.

Chris Curran
Board Member

Chris was Secretary prior to becoming President at the end of 2020. As president until Oct 2022, Chris influenced most aspects of Skateboarding New Zealand’s development. He continues to provide his expertise in the high-performance space. 

Outside of skateboarding, Chris is an IT consultant working in architecture, design, and implementation. He has a focus on security and business strategy. Previous roles range from working in the Government and Education sectors to the Logistics industry.

Chris is heavily involved in Skateboarding on a national level. He also enjoys snowboarding and mountain biking. He is a Trustee of The Upper Clutha Sports Community Trust and was on the committee of the Wanaka Skate Club. Chris is a new dad. In his spare time, he runs Rad Skate School with his partner Anna, enabling the local community to get into skateboarding.

Amber Clyde
Board Member

Amber is an avid sponsored skateboarder who has been skateboarding for over 10 years and is deeply passionate about skateboarding, particularly female skateboarding in New Zealand and its growing culture. She is the founder of Girls Skate NZ, an all-female skate school created to provide a space for younger girls to learn how to skateboard and grow and further their skills. She is focused on the outcomes, voice and participation for female skateboarding.

Bowman Hansen
Board Member

Taupō native, Bowman Hansen, has continued to turn heads since he started competitive skateboarding over 15 years ago. Since then, Bowman has honed his powerful and fluid style and combined it with bold technical tricks to become one of Aotearoa, New Zealand’s finest skateboard exports of recent times. Bowman has competed nationally and internationally alongside the world’s best skateboard talent, including solid performances at Vans Park Series Oceania Regionals in Sydney in 2019 and winning numerous Bowl skateboarding championships and events in Aotearoa. He is highly respected amongst his peers. 

As a coach, he is channelling his onboard wisdom and experience into the future of our next generation of skateboarders. 

He is a champion for the voice of skateboarders.

Ed Leigh
Board Member

Ed Leigh started skateboarding in 1985 and is still as passionate today as he was when he first saw an ollie aged ten. Embarrassingly though he’s still only a tiny bit better. Ed was slightly less bad at snowboarding and became a mediocre pro in the early 90’s. An unfortunate, but given his penchant for flat landings, inevitable knee injury saw him change careers.

For the last 25 years Ed has been working as a broadcaster and journalist specialising in action sports. In that time he has worked as a magazine editor for White Lines, a presenter and commentator for the world’s biggest action sports events including 8 Olympics, X Games, Simple Session, The World Surf League, Crankworx and Natural Selection amongst many others. Ed’s success in this role comes from balancing a core understanding of the culture of these sports with the need to faithfully translate those values to the mainstream.

Junior Pene
Board Member

Junior has been involved in skateboarding for over 30 years. He has valuable experience in skateboard governance and advocacy in Australia. 

Junior grew up in Levin/Palmerston North and became addicted to skateboarding after receiving a board for Christmas in 1986. Junior progressed to eventually compete in World Cup Skateboarding events after relocating to Australia in 2000. Having travelled to numerous countries with skateboard in hand, he has strong links to the international skateboarding community and has been involved in both the organisational, and competition side of pro skateboarding events. Junior still competes in the masters division of Australian skateboarding events. He was the 2016 Victorian Masters Bowl Skateboarding Champion and placed 3rd in the 2018 Australian Masters Championships of Vert.

Junior is Maori and of Tuhoe/Ngati Raukawa descent. As former Chairman of the Palmerston North Skate Syndicate, he was part of the original group which lobbied to build the formidable Palmerston North City Skatepark.

Junior is currently a Consultant in the motoring industry and has experience in project management, complex process analysis/development, and nationwide process implementation. Junior lives and breathes skateboarding. He is committed to improving grassroots events, lifting the profile of New Zealand skateboarding, and developing those wishing to reach the Olympic podium.

Simon Thorp
Board Member

Simon has over 26 years of skateboarding experience. In 2017, he was awarded the NZ Skater of the Year title. In 2010, he founded the Auckland-based Young Guns Skate School. Under his watch, the skate school has run over 4500 classes with over 76,000 students in attendance since its inception. Simon has a long and varied involvement in competitive skateboarding, having run, organised, MC’d or judged over 160 skate competitions and events around the North Island. He is currently partaking in the High Performance Sport NZ Core Knowledge programme. Simon holds a Bachelor of Arts (Majoring in Psychology).

He supports growing the culture of skateboarding in New Zealand while maintaining a focus on the core values we bring and represent each day as skateboarders. Simon would like skateboarding to be more accessible and to help achieve this across New Zealand.


Ian Neely
Pathway Development Manager

Ian has spent most of his career working with and developing high-performance athletes in Yachting. He began coaching professionally in 1995. He has been a coach and manager of high-performance programmes since 2003. He has a track record of building pathways towards success, but he makes sure to have a heap of fun along the way. 

Ian’s role is to help build the capability for the organisation and shape its performance frameworks with an emphasis on supporting both coach and athlete development.

David Read
Admin Support

David has over 25 years of experience in design, content and media, working in a range of industries, including action sports, youth culture, arts, home appliances and education.

David co-founded Manual and Staple magazines and published Spoke magazine. As a key creative for Manual Magazine, he has vast experience in developing engaging content for various outlets and audiences.

David is deeply passionate about skateboard culture. He is committed to seeing co-design, skateboarder-voice, and shared knowledge shaping Aotearoa, New Zealand’s skateboarding and its spaces in a positive way.