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The Locals Community is run by a small team made up of the Manager, Deputy Manager, and the volunteer Leaders. The student volunteer leaders are the heart and soul of Locals.

Locals is a student-centered service – everything we do is driven by the volunteer leaders, and suggestions and feedback from our first-year students

Group photo of Locals 2024 leadership team.

Head of Locals

Maya Pitcon 2023 imageMaya Pitcon (she/her)

Kia ora. I'm Maya and I am the Head of Locals. As the Head, I oversee all aspects of Locals. I started off in the Locals Programme as a first-year student in 2013. As well as being a first year in the programme I have done every role in Locals so have a unique understanding of all aspects of Locals. I think I may have the best job ever; every day is different, and I get to spend my time getting to know our local students helping them navigate their first year at university and learning the best way to support them. I work beside the volunteer leaders to organise and run all of our fun locals events, and with the wider university community to organise academic support. I am passionate about ensuring that our first-year locals are supported and have the best experience possible at Otago.

I graduated in 2016 with an Honours degree in Anthropology (with a focus on Biological Anthropology and the ethics of introducing new technologies) after finishing my undergrad in Anthropology and Archaeology in 2015. I am proud to have been born and live in amazing Dunedin! As a past local student myself I understand some of the challenges you may face in your first year and am here to help you through them. I'm looking forward to meeting all of the new locals students and can't wait to get stuck into the amazing year we at Locals have planned for you!

I love meeting locals students and talking to staff about how they can support the locals community and locals students, so please email or call me if you ever want to talk or need support.

Mob +64 21 949 653

Volunteer Leaders

The Locals volunteer leaders were all Locals students in their first-year. These students sign up to help other students through their first year at Otago.

The leaders come up with ideas for events and then, help organise and run them, working with the Locals Leadership team. They provide feedback on all aspects of Locals and help to make sure we are incorporating student voice into everything we do.

You will find the leaders in Locals HQ where they help to make the room and safe, warm and welcoming environment for every Locals student.

Alex van der VlietAlex van der Vliet (he/him)

Hi! I am Alex (he/him), and a Locals leader for 2024. I am a 19-year-old second year student. I am from right here in Dunedin! I study Law and Politics. I am really looking forward to meeting you all!

Annika HoultAnnika Hoult (she/her)

Hi, I’m Annika. As a Dunedin local, I understand the excitement and challenges of starting university. I’m currently pursuing a degree in Information Science at Otago University. In 2024 I will be Locals Volunteer Co-ordinator, helping first-year students connect with opportunities to give back to our community. I look forward to assisting you and making your university experience as smooth and enjoyable as possible. Feel free to reach out with any questions you may have!

Ben HawkeBen Hawke (he/him)

Kia ora! My name is Ben Hawke and I study a conjoint Bachelor of Arts and Laws. I have lived in Dunedin my whole life, so living at home during first year felt like the natural choice. I’m super excited to get to know this year’s Locals, and assist with your transition to university however I can!

Bryn LoughranBryn Loughran (he/him)

Hello, my name is Bryn. I am a second-year majoring in Forensics, and minoring in Psych. I went to Logan Park High School and have lived in Dunedin my whole life. I’m looking forward to chatting about Nintendo stuff and challenging people to board games.

Ela KosEla Kos (she/her)

Hello! I am a third year transfer student from Australia. I’m currently studying a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences with majors in French and Chemistry. In my spare time I DJ at Radio 1, watercolour, and watch copious amounts of B-rate cinema. I’m looking forward to helping make Locals a warm, inclusive and vibrant space where everyone is welcome.

Enrique GarciaEnrique Garcia (he/him)

Hey everyone! My name is Enrique. I was born in Dunedin and have lived here my whole life, so I’m a local born and bred. I am currently in my third year of studying Medicine and have been involved with locals as both a leader and a student in my past two years at uni. One of my concerns going into my first year and not being in a hall was missing out on the social aspect of university life, however, as soon as I joined locals this all went away. The fun social community that locals creates was one of the highlights of my first year and I cannot wait to share that with you all this year. See you all soon!

Feyre RockliffFeyre Rockliff (she/her)

Kia ora I’m Feyre. Im studying a BSc, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Criminology. I was living locally in Dunedin during my first year of study and was part of the Locals community, and since then I’ve been part of the team, giving back all the amazing support that I was provided during my transition into university life. I hope to see you around next year!

Hannah AldersonHannah Alderson (she/her)

Hello! I’m Hannah and I’m a locals leader in 2024. I am a 20 year old third-year student. I am majoring in Forensic Analytical Science and minoring in Criminology. I was a Locals first year in 2022 and I have been boarding since then but I am from Palmerston North. I like meeting new people and introducing them to the great board games we have in Locals HQ. This is my second year as a leader and am looking forward to meeting you all!

Isabel McMillanIsabel McMillan (she/her)

I’m Isabel, a third year student majoring in Microbiology and Marine Science. I was born in the UK but I’ve lived in Dunedin for 10 years now and love the beaches, native bush, people and wildlife here.

I flatted my first year which was a big transition from living at home but having Locals to provide academic support and a place to make friends made it a lot easier. In 2024 I’m excited to run events with the team, read and get back out on the sea.

James DowningJames Downing (he/him)

Hello, I’m James, a passionate BA student with a double major in Film, Media, and Communications. Having lived in various parts of the country, I recently relocated to Dunedin from Palmerston North in early 2023. I am thrilled to be a locals leader as I will meet so many new people!

Jimmy GallagherJimmy Gallagher (he/him)

Kia ora! Im a third year physiology student while also studying some anatomy papers. I’m from Dunedin and decided to stay with my parents in first year which is why I came to locals and then a leader. For 2024 I am looking forward to the community and food related events the most.

Krish ThattarKrish Thattar (she/her)

Hello, my name is Krish, I am a third year BSc Physics and Neuroscience student. My family lives out in Auckland and I have come all the way to Dunedin just to attend University of Otago! I am very excited to be part of the Locals team again this year to help new students get the most out of their first year at uni.

Liam KnottsLiam Knotts (he/him)

Kia ora, my name is Liam, and I study a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts and Science with English and Psychology majors and a Māori Studies minor. I've grown up in Dunedin since I was nine months old, and I still live at home with my family. I’m really excited to meet all of the new first years in 2024.

Lucy DobsonLucy Dobson (she/her)

Hi! I’m Lucy, a second-year student and first year of being a Locals Leader! I was born in 2005 and I’ve lived in Dunedin my entire life, the furthest I’ve left is Wellington so still in New Zealand. I am very excited to be a Locals Leader as Locals was a very comfortable and inviting place for me and so I would love to be able to do that for 2024’s first years!

Masyn HarrexMasyn Harrex (she/her)

Hi everyone! This will be my second year at university, and I am studying psychology and criminology. I am originally from across the ditch but moved to NZ when I was around ten. I have been living in Dunedin for seven years now. I decided to stay home my first year and having a space specifically for Dunedinites was really great. I am super excited to get to know as many of you as I can and hopefully help make the Uni transition a little easier – and a whole lot of fun!

Mickle Manavalan JoseMickle Manavalan Jose (he/him)

Kia ora, I’m Mickle. I am studying a Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences majoring in the Molecular Basis of Health and Disease. I went to high school in Dunedin, and decided to stay home with my family in first year. This is my second year of being a Leader and I am excited to meet all of the new Locals.

Oe HaywardOe Hayward (he/him)

I am studying a major in Sport and Exercise Science, with a minor in Statistics. I am also taking a Human Nutrition paper. I have always lived in Dunedin, went to St Leonards primary school, Dunedin North Intermediate and Logan Park High school. I live out by Port Chalmers in Sawyers Bay but possibly flatting next year.

Next year I am looking forward to playing A grade basketball, continuing my SPEX major, traveling overseas with my bagpiping and being a Locals leader.

Olivia GoldsmithOlivia Goldsmith (she/they)

Kia ora! I am a second year student majoring in Physics and English, with a minor in Mathematics. I have lived here in Ōtepoti all my life, and I’m really excited to be part of the Locals team in 2024.

Siris AllottSiris Allott (he/they)

Hi! My name is Siris, and I’m a third-year student studying a BASc, majoring in Theatre Studies and Statistics, minoring in Māori Studies. I enjoy being in theatre productions, and playing board games. I’m looking forward to meeting you all!

Victoria DeardenVictoria Dearden (she/her)

Hi. I’m Victoria. I’m in my second year of a BA in English, Classics and Dance. I’m a “local” Southern girl as I was born and raised in our uni city. I am thrilled to be a 2024 Locals Leader as I am excited to help the local “freshers” in their first steps into uni life, and to share with them the knowledge, advice and support I was given by the leaders in 2023.

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