Meet the team

We’re a small team, passionate about defending all Kiwi’s speech rights. With a range of experience and skills and backed by your support, we punch above our weight.

team members

Jonathan Ayling

Chief Executive

Jonathan has worked in Wellington for 8 years across roles as a Beehive staffer, senior political advisor, and in the NGO sector. In addition to leading the work at the Free Speech Union, he and his wife own a vineyard in the Wairarapa (which is almost as stressful as politics!).

Grace Watling

Engagement Manager

With previous experience working in media and politics, Grace is a ‘make things happen’ kind of woman, who keeps us all in line. In addition to working as a District Councillor, and raising a young family, Grace has the great job of being the face of the union to our many fantastic supporters.

Dr. Paula Martin

Policy Director

Paula has held many senior roles in the public service, including with the Ministry of Health, the Office of the Auditor-General, and the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction. With a doctorate in public policy, and experience in policy, research, strategy and governance, Paula is a major asset to our team, connecting our emphasis on accessible, public-facing work with substance and rigour.

Adam Young

Legal Drafting and Research

A fifth-year law student, Adam puts his skills to work as the powerhouse behind many of the letters, OIAs, submissions, reports, and emails that we produce. At the back-end of the FSU, Adam does a lot of the leg work- the team wouldn’t function without him.

Nathan Seiuli

Outreach and Events Coordinator

Nathan has a background working with youth in community outreach, so is an ideal fit for our work of convincing another generation that free speech is worth defending.

Nadia Braddon-Parsons

Communications and Marketing Manager

With a Bachelor of Communication, Nadia has a passion for using words constructively and meaningfully to defend Kiwis’ rights.

William McGimpsey

Legal Drafting and Research 

With a range of experience inside and outside parliament as a policy analyst and economist, William is well-equipped to handle our submissions and cases. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science, a master’s degree in international relations, and is a proud New Zealander.

Our council members

The governing Council of the Free Speech Union is made up of a group of New Zealanders from across the political spectrum who believe that free speech is a value worth defending.


Dr. David Cumin – Academic

Dr. Melissa Derby – Academic

Stephen Franks – Lawyer

Ani O’Brien – Writer and Political Commentator

Chris Trotter – Political Commentator

Jordan Williams – Lawyer

Dr. Roderick Mulgan – Barrister and GP

Steve O'Hagan – Information Management Specialist