Skip to content

CTU People



Richard Wagstaff was elected NZCTU President in 2015. He was previously NZCTU Vice President and National Secretary of the NZ Public Service Association.

Richard is currently a member of the ILO Governing Body

Richard began working as a full-time paid union official in 1988 as a researcher. Later he became an organiser, working in Auckland in the health and disability sectors. In 1997 Richard was appointed as PSA National Operations manager, responsible for PSA members throughout the country in the health and community sectors. He then took up the position as a National Secretary of the PSA in 2000 which he held until becoming CTU President in 2015. The PSA is New Zealand’s largest trade union and as national secretary Richard was responsible for overseeing the implementation of the PSA’s industrial and political strategies.



Melissa Ansell-Bridges was elected CTU Secretary in October 2019. She is currently on parental leave.

She was previously the Director of Equity New Zealand where she had worked since 2016. She has a particular interest in the rights of contractors and has been a member of the Better Protections for Contractors Tripartite Working Group and the Film Industry Working Group where she has successfully advocated to secure the right for contractors in the screen industry to be able to collectively bargain for minimum terms and conditions.

She is also keenly interested in progressing Gender and Ethnic Pay Equity and is a member of the National Advisory Council on the Employment of Women to the Minister for Women. She is a trustee of UnionAID, member of the International Trade Union Confederation – Asia Pacific General Council, honorary executive member of the Pacific Island Council of Trade Unions and holds a BA/LLB(Hons) with majors in Politics and Sociology.


Acting Secretary

Erin Polaczuk was elected Acting Secretary in 2024 to cover for Melissa Ansell-Bridges.

Erin has worked in and alongside unions in the private and public sector over the last 20 years, and served more than seven years as a National Secretary for PSA Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi, following time as a Deputy General Secretary for PPTA. She has worked in organising, education, campaigning, policy and leadership roles.

She has a particular passion for the rights of workers, unions and collective bargaining, pay equity and economic justice, and just transition through union and community. She believes that strong unions are fundamental to a democratic society and the most powerful organising vehicle for social justice.

Erin has held a number of governance roles and is currently on the Unimed board, chairs Birthright Kāpiti Trust, and is a member of the Greenpeace voting assembly.

Syd Keepa

Vice-President Maori

Syd Keepa was elected Vice President Maori in October 2010. He has tribal affiliations with Ngati Awa, Ngati Maru, and Ngai Tuhoe and a long history of active involvement in the union movement.

Syd has worked in forestry, and the pulp and paper sector and also as a truck driver. He has been a member of the Timber Workers Union, Northern Drivers Union, Pulp and Paper Workers Union and the Wood Industries Union. He was a delegate with the Northern Drivers Union (1979) and the Pulp & Paper Workers Union (1982) and went on to become Branch President of the Pulp & Paper Workers Union. When the Timber Workers Union and the Pulp & Paper Workers Union amalgamated it became the Wood Industries Union. Syd was Auckland Branch President for the Wood Industries Union, then National President of the Wood Industries Union.

He commenced working with the National Distribution Union in 1999 as Apiha Maori and Wood Sector Organiser in Auckland.

Rachel Mackintosh


Rachel was elected Vice-President of the CTU in October 2015 and re-elected in 2019. She is the National Secretary at E tū, the largest private sector union in the country.

Rachel’s involvement in the union movement began when she was working as a copy-editor in the publishing industry and became site delegate for the EPMU. She started as an EPMU official in 2003. As an organiser, she worked across media and manufacturing industries. She coordinated the EPMUs plastics industry strategy for several years, before moving into union leadership.

As Vice-President of the CTU, Rachel works with members of Te Runanga and members of the National Affiliates Council, to foster te Tiriti relationships across the union movement. She has worked with the largest public sector unions to negotiate Gender Pay Principles for the broad public service. She was a key worker representative at the International Labour Organisation for the negotiation of a major international convention, the Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No190). Rachel works with the CTU President as a member of the tripartite Future of Work Forum.

For media enquiries, contact Jack McDonald (027 759 1680)

For requests for pamphlets, click here.

Craig Renney
Policy Director | Economist

Gayaal Iddamalgoda
Legal Advisor

Cory Bourne
Policy Team Lead

Jack Foster
Policy Analyst

Ross Teppett
Director Union Development

Jeremiah Boniface
Digital Lead

Jack McDonald
Communications and Campaigns Advisor

Belinda Heffron
Operations Manager

Sue Windsor
Operations Manager | Finance

Tim Onnes
Operations Coordinator

Nive Kennach
Executive Assistant | Administration