Our team of experienced veterinarians, veterinary nurses and support staff are as passionate about your animals as you are. We pride ourselves on our professional approach to their health care and are committed to continuing education so we can offer you and your pet the very best treatments, whether it’s on the farm, lifestyle block or in one of our clinics.

Tauranga Vets Team

David McDonnell

David McDonnell is the Managing Director of Tauranga Veterinary Services Ltd. A practising veterinarian, David has a farming background in the South Waikato and practised there for many years, gaining a post-graduate qualification in Dairy Cattle Medicine.

Since then, David has embarked on a veterinary management career after gaining a post-graduate qualification in Business Studies endorsed in accounting. He was based in Te Awamutu as a veterinary manager for a large practice before joining a pharmaceutical company in Tauranga as a business unit manager, providing technical and marketing support.

David and his family, including Michelle, a well-known local landscape designer, and their children Christopher, Timothy and Emma, all call Tauranga their home. They spend their leisure time with friends and family in the Bay of Plenty and enjoy having the Mount and Pacific Ocean as a stunning backdrop to their activities.

Kate Heller

Kate is one of our experienced veterinarians who works predominantly in our Cameron Road clinic.

She graduated from Massey University at the end of 2007 and started practising in mid-Canterbury before heading over to the UK for two years to work as a locum vet and travel around Europe. She has worked at Tauranga Vets as a mixed practitioner since returning home in 2012.

Outside of work, Kate spends most of her time on her new lifestyle block, managing a small flock of sheep, 2 calves, a crazy dog Tori, & Leo the cat. Kate also enjoys spending time in the outdoors kayaking, biking and trail running & calls herself a “retired multisporter” now after completing the Coast to Coast race 3 times. Kate enjoys all aspects of veterinary medicine but has developed a particular interest in tricky eye cases, ultra-sonography and small animal internal medicine. She strives to provide the best possible care for your pets and treats them as if they were her own.

Tony Austwick

Tony completed his veterinary degree at Massey University and graduated in 1995.

He settled in Tauranga to work as a mixed practice vet. Over the years, he has worked mostly with companion animals but he still enjoys getting out on the farm to support the practice’s farming and lifestyle clients.

His veterinary interests include medicine, surgery – both general and orthopaedic – and dermatology.

Tony lives on a small lifestyle property with his wife, four daughters, five cats, one dog, two rabbits, three parrots, sheep, 6 budgies, a range of ducks and chickens and numerous tropical fish.

Sonia McCawe

Sonia joined Tauranga Veterinary Services Ltd in 2015 after relocating to the beautiful Bay of plenty from Wellington. She graduated from Massey University in 1998 and since then has worked as small animal vet in NZ, Singapore and the UK.

Sonia has a special interest in ultrasonography. She loves everything about it, especially the fact that it is non invasive and such a valuable diagnostic tool to diagnose everything from lumps and bumps, heart disease to a peach pip blocking a loop of bowel.

Sonia enjoys a good cup of coffee, keeping fit and spending time with friends and family. She loves going adventuring with her husband Peter, their two children Max and Matilda, and Barry, their adorable puppy dog. They also have a snuggly kitty cat name Louie. If you are looking for him, he can usually be found under the duvet snoozing the day away.

Elisia Jones

Elisia was born in Plymouth, England and moved to Canada with her family in 2001. She completed her B.Sc. in Agriculture with a major in Animal Systems at the University of Manitoba before attending veterinary school at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon, SK, Canada.

She graduated veterinary school in 2019 and moved to the Okanagan in British Columbia where she practiced at a small animal emergency and referral practice for 2 years.

Elisia is a passionate mountain biker and loves to get outdoors. She is looking forward to getting to know the local trails, trying her hand at surfing, and exploring the wonderful Aotearoa wilderness and Kiwi lifestyle!

Veterinary Nurses






Support Staff





Te Puna Vets Team

Phil Rennie

After graduating in 1995 with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc), from Massey University in Palmerston North, Phil spent the first part of his career gaining valuable clinical experience with both companion animals and livestock in New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Diverse roles included being a vet investigator during the 2001 UK foot and mouth outbreak and as a sole charge clinician in a number of small animal clinics.

The following period of time he worked as a veterinary adviser for the multi-national pharmaceutical company Pfizer and kept up with clinical practice through regular locums and continuing education. This service with Pfizer culminated in him being the national technical lead for livestock and equine pharmaceuticals. During this time he gained membership with the ANZ College of Veterinary Scientists in Pharmacology and also trained as a Dairy NZ In Calf Adviser for advancing NZ dairy herd fertility.

Since returning to clinical practice in 2012 with Tauranga Vets, Phil has enjoyed his involvement with both companion and large animal patients primarily based out of the Tauranga and Te Puna branches. Outside of work Phil enjoys time with family and friends, as well as keeping fit and relishing the great outdoors that the BoP coast and bush has to offer.

Katherine Hansen

Katherine joined Tauranga Vets in 2015. She originally trained at Massey University in 2003 and has gone on to work in mixed veterinary practices caring for small animals and horses. She has worked both in New Zealand and England. She complete an Equine internship at Cambridge University in England and done further training in Dermatology (skin conditions) in small animals.

Katherine lives on a lifestyle block in Te Puna with her husband, two children and a growing number of pets. Zoe a cross breed dog, a couple of fluff ball cats, they rescued as kittens, chickens, a pair of very opinionated ducks, and a number of ex Ag day lambs that never leave.

Max Clout

Max joined us as a new graduate in 2016 after graduating from Massey University with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science. He has also just completed his Masters in Veterinary Medicine endorsed with Surgery.

Max worked with us for two years as a mixed vet before taking off and spending two years working in the UK. He has since come back to work for us full time and occasionally locums at an emergency afterhours clinic in Auckland. Max appreciates the variety that mixed practice offers and loves getting out on farm as much as he enjoys being in clinic. His special interests include neurology, emergency medicine and all things surgery!

In his spare time, Max enjoys the outdoors and being overly competitive in many social sports. He also enjoys a good BBQ with his mates and spending time with his family.

Dave O’Brien

Dr Dave O’Brien comes to us with a wealth of knowledge and experience in both large and small animal fields. Dave graduated from Massey University 2003 with a Double Major Bachelor of Animal Science and Zoology. After graduating, Dave worked for Massey University Equine Research for three years, conducting research into protecting horses from bone related causes of lameness. He went on to begin Vet School in 2006.

Dave also has a Certification in Bovine Artificial Insemination and has collaborated on a number of published equine research papers. Outside of work, Dave has a young family including daughter Ella, son Harry and dog Abby.

Sarah McTiernan

Sarah graduated from University College Dublin in Ireland in 2020. She spent her first year in practice working alongside her father in their family run practice back home in Ireland. Her fondness for travel and the great outdoors has brought her here to Tauranga.

Growing up in a veterinary family, animals have always been a constant in Sarah’s life. Her Dalmatian Buster, cat Lizzy and horse Bella hold a particularly special place in her heart. Sarah has a love of all creatures great and small and has a particular interest in small and large animal surgery.

In her spare time she can be found outdoors and enjoys swimming, cycling, horse riding and hiking. She is also fond of a good book and playing the piano.

Veterinary Nurses





Katikati Vets Team

Len Paki

Len Paki completed his Veterinary degree at Massey University, graduating in 1985.

He worked mainly as a mixed practice vet in Gisborne for 16 years before moving to the Waikato in 2001. Len worked in the Waikato until 2003 when he and his wife, Mandy, moved to the UK. In the UK, Len practised in a small Village for nearly 12 years, increasing his knowledge on cardiology, ultrasonography, and orthopaedics.

Deciding to return to NZ, Len and Mandy moved to the south of France, where they lived for 2 years, before making it back home in January of 2017. Len’s interest is mainly Companion Animal medicine and surgery, although he still likes to keep in touch with the Farming side of things! Outside of work Len enjoys reading and accompanying his wife on walks in the countryside. Len and Mandy are looking forward to exploring the Bay.

Nina Bos

Nina completed her veterinary degree at Massey University in 2020. She is originally from semi-rural Northwest Auckland, where she grew up on a lifestyle block with goats, alpacas, horses, cats, chickens, guinea pigs, and a pet sheep.

Before getting into veterinary school, Nina worked for two and a half years as a veterinary nurse at a small animal clinic in Auckland. Nina is looking forward to meeting new clients and working with a range of species.

In her spare time, she enjoys ballroom and Latin American dancing, sewing, walking on the beach and in the bush, and spending time with her 22-year-old horse, Peter Rabbit.

Veterinary Nurses





Papamoa Village Vets Team

Melani Kuhler

Melani graduated from the University of Pretoria, South Africa in 2009, where she had the privilege to work with creatures great and small, from kittens to elephants and everything in between for the first 10 years of her career.

Her big love lies with dogs and cats – which she still enjoys working with every single day. She recently started studying towards a post graduate certificate in Feline Practice which she says she is enjoying tremendously. Melani says she believe in kindness and treating all patients with compassion and empathy.

When not at work you will find Melani spending time with her husband and three children, often in nature – she says they are enjoying the adventure of discovering this beautiful country.

Madi Lowen

Madi is a 2020 Massey University graduate who has just moved to Tauranga from Palmerston North after finishing her degree.

She grew up in rural Christchurch on a large lifestyle block with over 90 alpacas, sheep and a menagerie of pets, including 2 turtles along with multiple cats and a dog. During this time, she gained an appreciation for lifestyle work, as well as wildlife and exotic animals at the zoo where she volunteered. Over her time in Palmerston North, she worked as a relief milker and gained further experience in a wide variety of veterinary practice, including companion animal, lifestyle, dairy, birds and wildlife.

Outside of work, she is looking forward to living by the beach, heading out to spot wildlife, hiking, photography, and relaxing with friends and her young cat named Archie.

Veterinary Nurses