Naomi Cowan was awarded an MNZM (Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit) in the 2020 New Year’s Honours, for her services to the community and mental health. 

Naomi is currently CEO of Equip Mental Health Services, which is a ministry of Windsor Park Baptist Church that supports people who experience mental well-being issues. Equip employs around 80 staff and holds contracts with the three Auckland Metro District Health Boards. It provides a range of services to support people to move forward in their lives.

Naomi says she has always felt a sense of call from God to serve people. She has spent her entire working life serving the communities where she has lived. In the early years she undertook leadership roles at Youth for Christ, where she became their first female director, Boys’ Brigade, fostering, and various ministries in the churches in which she has been involved.  

In more recent years she has chaired the Sir Peter Blake Marine Education & Recreation Centre, and presented parenting and relationship seminars with her husband John. She has chaired several regional and national mental health NGO peak bodies and is currently the chair of Platform Trust. She led the NGO team that fought for pay equity for community support workers, and currently leads the Global Leadership Network in New Zealand.

In receiving this award, Naomi recognises all those who have served alongside her and acknowledges that the award honours their efforts as well.