Meet the Organic Development Team


Real people with real experiences.

Ben Bio Photo.jpg

Ben James

Ben’s leadership philosophy is to enable others to be a better version of themselves and to pursue excellence within their own life. This is driven by his own desire to challenge himself and test his own skill set regularly.

Originally from the Manawatu Ben was first introduced to leadership as a boarder at PNBHS College House and in his senior years, the 1st XV. Joining the NZ Army immediately from school, Ben has 17 years of experience in leadership roles within the Defence Force in various positions, in various environments. Having served overseas on 3 operational deployments in leadership roles with the NZ Army, Ben has participated actively within leadership, resilience and effective teams in unstable and stressful environments.

In addition to his military organic learnings of leadership, resilience and team development, Ben is a qualified tradesman and has a diploma in project management and is currently studying a diploma in health and wellness. In his spare time Ben is an avid follower of rugby and after spending many years playing in the premier grades he is currently coaching men’s premier grade club rugby and U19 representative rugby in the Manawatu. As well as his love for the bass guitar and all things sport, Ben is fortunate enough to have a loving and caring family in his life.

Ben is passionate to lead and make an impact on Australasia so that NZ’ers can succeed by influencing as many people as he can and that they too can empower others to win in their own lives.

thumbnail_image001 (2).jpg

Eugene Hepi

From an early age Eugene has always been that tenacious, vibrant and self-disciplined person, who always sees the glass as half full. He started his career with the New Zealand Defence Force which spanned 16 years including 3 overseas operational tours of duty. These experiences alone have enabled Eugene to develop experiential expertise in leadership; managing daily operations, working under pressure as a team player or by taking the lead using flexibility, diplomacy and vision. During his time with the NZ Defence Force, he qualified with a level four group fitness training certificate and is progressing towards a Bachelor’s Degree.

Representative honors include Manawatu Rugby and NZ Open Mens Touch, including two World Cups. He is also heavily involved in coaching and development. Eugene is active in community programs such as boot camps and is an experienced instructor of group fitness classes at Ludus Magnus School of Training, Auckland, F45 Training Palmerston North West and as a Physical Training Instructor with the NZARMY.

Eugene is a firm believer in the Maori proverb “Naku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai te iwi”. With your basket and mine, the people will flourish.

Ngā mihinui, Eugene

thumbnail_image001 (1).jpg

Leah Moana-Mataira

Leah is an enthusiastic, disciplined competitor who strives for excellence in all areas of life. As a mother Leah believes that you can achieve whatever you set your mind to regardless of life’s circumstances. 

Leah believes that a true leader develops others to also find the leader in themselves. 

Leah comes from a background within the fitness industry with robust experience in the training sector. 

Graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Performance, Leah has developed her skills by being involved in both professional and community projects in an ongoing basis. 

Working and building a profile in the fitness industry has allowed Leah to work with diverse people ranging from athletes, youth, and general population. 

With a history as competitive athlete herself, Leah has competed in Crossfit at a national level in various competitions. Leah has also represented in other sports such as basketball and is an avid believer in pushing yourself to the next level physically and mentally. 

Currently , Leah is the head coach at a local F45 gym in Palmerston where she works alongside a team of trainers and management staff to encourage, educate and enhance the fitness community in the Manawatu. 

Leah is still active in community work and is looking forward to what the future looks like for health and wellness. 


Api Taipa

Api firmly believes in an overall view of development, holistically, physically and mentally. With that in mind he tries to stretch and grow himself in many different ways.

After making the move from the bustling metropolis of Gisborne to the slightly more bustling metropolis of Palmerston north Api began study at Massey University. After five years Api has a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Businesses Psychology and Post graduate diploma endorsed in industrial organisational psychology and has recently completed his Masters of Arts.

As well as focus on leadership, Api’s research interests lie around stress, resilience, motivation and selection. During his time as a student Api has been fortunate enough to receive several opportunities such as presenting his research at nationwide conferences, networking with other psychologists and growing his knowledge through unique opportunities. This includes the opportunity to travel to Papua New Guinea to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference integrate with world leaders.

As well as study Api has run his own mentoring program with 8 mentors and over a hundred mentees.

Education is only one of Api’s focus and during his time at University he has tried to grow himself physically playing many different sports including competing and placing in local powerlifting competitions.

Api firmly believes in overall development and learning from every opportunity that you can. Api’s aim is not just to teach and help grow individuals but also draw from their knowledge, skills and experience to be a better person.

Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei

Seek the treasure you value most dearly: if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain


Hamiora Thomas

Hamiora is originally from Porirua and moved to Palmerston North when he enlisted into the NZ Army. Hamiora has exceeded in his military career achieving top student honours for a number of promotional courses. These courses included coaching development and physical training instruction, as well as delivery of military training. He has focussed his learning on developing individual resilience and team leadership. Hamiora has a level 4 certificate in group fitness and is currently studying towards a Bachelor in Sport and Exercise through Massey University and has gained qualifications in management and mentorship through military study. He conducts regular training with military soldiers and is a trainer at F45 Palmerston north.

Hami’s representative honours include Manawatu Turbos (ITM cup champions 2014), New Zealand tag20 (Pacific cup champions 2013), Manawatu women’s sevens manager (National sevens champions 2015), Manawatu open men’s sevens training squad and Manawatu Open men’s touch. These have enabled him to achieve a better understanding of what it takes to become an athlete, working with athletes and living the life of a professional athlete. Hamiora wishes to utilise the knowledge and winning formulas from champion teams and share it with the community.

Hami lives with his partner in their Palmerston North home. Together they encourage a holistic and minimalist living ideal, reinforcing the principle of simplicity. They incorporate meditation, yoga, journaling, physical exercise and nutrition into their everyday life, in the effort of providing an organic and universal environment that focuses on growing the mind, body and wairua (spirit).

Hami’s philosophy on life is that each person should behave in accordance with their values that will assist them in their journey of life – that the journey become the true experience, and the destination be the many checkpoints of success, health and fulfilment along the road.