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Meet Our Board


Rachel Ralph
Founder and Trustee

Rachel grew up on a beef stud farm with 8 siblings and lots of animals. With a Pony Club background, her first jobs were on thoroughbred stud farms and later as a riding coach for beginners. She has travelled and lived overseas including the UK and Melbourne for over 20 years. 

For about 5 years, Rachel and her husband opened their home to teenagers and young adults in need. They were foster parents with Open Home Foundation for about 3 years which had a profound impact on the way Hope Rising Farm was formed.


Rachel loves walking and enjoying the great outdoors, drawing, vegetable gardening, a wide range of music, live theatre and a good film!

“I love young people and have a powerful desire to see them grow and to become all they can be. I love seeing a change in their thinking about what’s possible and to see ‘the lights go on’ in an area of their lives."

Rachel was awarded 'Volunteer of the Year' in the 2022 Volunteer Excellence Awards!


Steven Senn

Steven has a diverse background in business ownership, start-ups, sales and management; with a sincere desire to raise outcomes and the value of organizations.

This has led Steven into numerous roles as consultant, advisor and managing director for small and large organizations.

The Hope Rising mission statement resonates with Steven’s values and heart for reaching youth and making positive changes in the lives of people and the community at large.

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Astra Patmore

Growing up in Ngaruawahia and the local community, Astra’s upbringing included a lot of fresh air, adventures living on a farm and spending most of her holidays volunteering at the local youth camps.

An entrepreneur at heart, she is a creative thinker and passionate about seeing dreams and ideas come to life in their fullness. After seeing an incredible need in the community but not being able to do anything about it, she sold her hospitality business and moved into Social Services and began developing programs for mentoring families.


Astra is now the GM of that organization and is purposed to building stronger whanau and community. 

“My heart is to see people have a safe space where they can be supported, find hope and transition into a new chapter. Where their past experiences, don’t have to dictate their future. I believe in the vision of Hope Rising and the change it can bring to every person who engages with it.”

We have a passionate Board of Trustees. They bring a wealth of experience as business professionals,
business advisors and consultants, an ex-youth worker, parents, ex-foster parents, managers, farmers,
and ‘horsey people’ that are excited about giving hope and life skills to youth and women.

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David Whyte

Fifteen years ago, David and his whanau moved from Hamilton City to Huntly. A few years later he met Andy and Rachel and their relationship was cemented through a love of trees, faith and people. Trinity, their second child, was enamored by horses and was a keen student of Rachel and the team in her early teenage years. 

David has had a varied career including studying physics, biochemistry, developing technology for farmers, project management, and teaching at the University of Waikato. More recently he has been the head of the Huntly Community Board and in 2022 elected as Huntly Ward Councilor for the Waikato District Council.


David and his wife live on a lifestyle block with approximately 500 trees. If you can grow fruit on it, David has either had it or has killed it. They produce approximately 2 tons of citrus a year which is sold up into Auckland. David is also the national president of NZ Tree Crops Association.


David is pleased to be able to help Hope Rising Farm at the board level and looks forward to helping the team bless others through their hard mahi. 


Leah Crawford

Drawing upon two decades of grassroots work and government department collaborations, Leah has forged partnerships with crucial stakeholders to elevate the well-being, prosperity, and resilience of the most vulnerable youth that she has worked with across the Waikato.


Leah's vision centres on nurturing vibrant communities where a strong sense of identity thrives. Leah's unwavering dedication is to empower individuals, enabling them to reach their full potential and experience positive transformations.


She firmly holds that collaboration is the cornerstone of innovation and lasting change, with diverse perspectives enhancing our ideas. Her ultimate aim is to generate tangible, measurable positive impacts, all firmly aligned with the principles of social responsibility, while nurturing an inclusive and supportive environment within Hope Rising Farm Trust.


Andy Ralph

Andy trained as a Youth Worker and initially worked in this field for about 12 years with a number of youth employment organisations, ranging from local councils, churches, and community groups.


He has had experience working with unemployed young people, people struggling with substance abuse, and low-income families.


Andy transitioned to computer training in large organisations for a while and returned to youth work to establish and coordinate a series of youth unemployment projects. He is currently in a role where he is able to invest in troubled young lives.

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