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New Executive Director For The Survivor Experiences Service

Polly Martin with two of her mokopuna (Photo supplied)

The Survivor Experiences Service, for people who experienced abuse in care, has appointed a new fixed-term Executive Director, Polly Martin.

“We are thrilled to announce Polly as our new Executive Director. Her experience, passion, understanding of the challenges that survivors face, and dedication to ensuring that survivors’ voices are heard and inform decision-making were key qualities in her appointment,” says Board Co-Chair Eugene Ryder.

Polly joins the Service from the Crown Response Unit, where she held the role of Survivor Voice & Insights Principal Engagement Advisor since September 2023.

“She is highly regarded by the Crown Response Unit and stakeholders and has invested significantly in herself while in this role. We are grateful that she will be joining the team as Executive Director.”

In her previous role, Polly has overseen the Crown Response Unit’s engagement with survivors of abuse in care from Māori, Pacific, disabled and Deaf communities. She has also been responsible for survivor insights to inform the design of the future redress system.

“I’m looking forward to working with the Service to build on the good work that has already taken place and ensure that it remains safe and accessible to all survivors,” says Polly.

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“This role brings an opportunity to further enhance connections with survivor communities and ensure their experiences are heard and inform the future redress system.”

Board Co-Chair Frances Tagaloa says Polly will be an asset to the team.

“The work that Polly has been doing at the Crown Response Unit makes her a perfect fit for this role. She knows survivors well and understands how best to tailor our services to meet their unique needs,” says Frances.

“Polly also played a fundamental role in the design and development of the current Survivor Experiences Service, so she has a good understanding of why we are here and what we need to do to ensure survivors get the most out of the Service.”

The Survivor Experiences Service Board offer their deepest thanks to Karl McDiarmid who has been in the role as Acting Executive Director for the last year.

“Karl has played a critical role in setting up a successful service, onboarding staff, establishing core support functions, and stewarding the service while consideration was given to the longer fixed-term recruitment. It goes without saying, that we are thankful for all that he has contributed to making the Service successful,” says Eugene.

Polly starts with the Service in July.


The Executive Director oversees the strategic and operational delivery of the Survivor Experiences Service. The role is strategically responsible to the Survivor Experiences Service Board.

The recruitment process was jointly led by the Department of Internal Affairs – where the Service is hosted – and the Survivor Experiences Service Board.

The role is fixed term to the end of June 2025, which aligns with the timeframe set for the introduction of a new, independent redress system.

There has been an (Acting) Executive Director in the role since the Service began in July 2023. The current (Acting) Executive Director was seconded into the role to stand-up the Service and to provide continuity while consideration was given to the longer fixed-term recruitment.

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