As the former anchor of TVNZ’s flagship 1 News, Wendy Petrie is a highly recognisable and popular face of New Zealand television.
Viewers and audiences love Wendy’s down to earth, professional approach. With a vast experience of covering big events, Wendy has earnt respect and high praise for the way she connects with the people she interviews for news stories and as an MC she brings this same warmth and humour to the role. For any hosting job she dedicates time to researching the event to ensure she’s fully prepared and makes sure it runs smoothly and to time!
After losing her job very publicly in the wake of the Covid-19 Pandemic, Wendy has been called on to host or chair motivational summits that focus on building resilience and adaptability.
For fourteen years, Wendy anchored the most watched television news bulletin in New Zealand, TVNZ’s 1News at 6pm. Now she fills in at the network on a variety of shows from Breakfast, Seven Sharp and Tonight enjoying more freedom to show more of her personality.
She is an experienced journalist who has travelled to big events to deliver news stories such as Gallipoli to cover the one hundred year commemorations of World War One. One of her favourite assignments was the Royal Wedding in London of Prince William and Duchess Kate.
Back home, Wendy travelled to Christchurch following the devastating Christchurch earthquake anchoring the coverage and filing stories on the rescue and recovery operation.
She has experience in radio news, filling in for the Mike Hosking Breakfast on Newstalk ZB.
Before taking over the reins of One News, Wendy worked in Toronto, Canada as an anchor for CTV, on a national 24 hour news channel. As a correspondent for New Zealand in Canada, Wendy travelled to New York when terror struck on September 11, reporting live in the hours following the collapse of the Twin Towers.
Wendy is a passionate advocate for South Auckland, growing up in Manurewa. She sits on the board of the Field of Dreams Foundation, created by Sir John Walker helping to support young people in Auckland’s areas of greatest need.
For a challenge, Wendy has completed two marathons and can often be seen pounding the pavement. She says running is for her mind and loves the feeling of achievement and pushing herself.
To raise money for leukaemia, Wendy joined 850 firefighters in climbing the Sky Tower in full firefighting gear, weighing 25kgs!
As the mum of three children heavily involved in the sport of rowing and swimming, she is passionate about athletes and helping kids achieve their best in sport.
Former Future Generations Commissioner for Wales
Sophie is the world’s only future generations commissioner. Very recently retired, Sophie’s been described as “the world’s first minister of the unborn”, her role was to provide advice to the government and public sector in Wales on delivering social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being for current and future generations.
Prior to this, she was the first deputy police and crime commissioner for South Wales, where she led programmes to tackle violent crime and reformed programmes on substance misuse. She also served as a County councillor in Cardiff – having been elected at the age of 21 she became the youngest Councillor in Wales.
Sophie has been an international speaker and TED presenter, represented Wales at the UN and the OECD, and chaired the Network of Institutions for Future Generations.
Sophie has been described by the Big Issue Magazine as one of the UK’s leading changemakers and was listed at No 5 in the BBC Women’s Power List 2020.
She holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, an ILM coaching qualification, and a degree in law and politics, and is a fellow at Cardiff University Business School and Swansea University.
Abbas Nazari is a former Afghan refugee who fled the Taliban in 2001.
Abbas was one of more than 400 asylum seekers who were rescued by the Norwegian container ship, the MV Tampa, in the Indian Ocean as they sought asylum in Australia in 2001. After being denied asylum in Australia and held offshore for weeks by Australian special forces, Abbas and his family were eventually resettled in New Zealand.
Having arrived as an eight-year-old with no English, Abbas went on to place third in the New Zealand Spelling Bee a few years later, play representative rugby, and graduated from the University of Canterbury with a Bachelors in Diplomacy and International Relations.
In 2019 he was awarded a Fulbright scholarship where he has just completed a Master's at Georgetown University in Washington DC. While in the United States, Abbas wrote and published his family memoir, After The Tampa: From Afghanistan to New Zealand which has received critical acclaim and become a number 1 New Zealand bestseller.
As a speaker, Abbas shares his journey, his experiences of thriving in a foreign country, and some lessons learned along the way.
Principal Consultant, Water Technology
Jamie Simmonds is a US-born Australian living in Brisbane and an international expert in the field of managed retreat and community relocation.
In 2011, Jamie directed the relocation of the town of Grantham, Australia following devastating flash flooding that took the lives of 19 people. Within 12 months, over 100 families were moving into new homes in a new estate surrounding Grantham on higher ground. The relocation of Grantham is regarded by some as one of the most successful examples of managed retreat in the world.
In 2020, Jamie published a book about the experience and has since been contacted regularly by communities, media organisations, academic institutions, and government agencies from around the world struggling to understand how to rebuild communities in a safer way.
Jamie continues to support reconstruction efforts in the Asia-Pacific region. He is currently working with the Lismore community in the Northern Rivers of NSW on a vital community relocation programme following their devastating region-wide flooding in 2022.
Jamie’s experience and story shows that with the right leadership, commitment from the community and most of all hope, local governments are capable of incredible things.
Founder & CEO The Mind Lab, Tech Futures Lab, Earth Futures Lab & academyEX.com
Frances Valintine CNZM is a passionate educator and technologist who is focused on developing education opportunities that connect professionals to the knowledge they need to be successful in today’s rapidly advancing world. For 25 years she has been dedicated to shifting education and business practice to develop the capabilities, knowledge and mindset needed to respond to the future of work, changing societal expectations and the protection of the planet.
In her day-to-day role, she is the Chief Executive of academyEX, a post-graduate institute focused on professional development and knowledge in the fields of technological advancement, education, sustainability and leadership.
In 2013 she founded The Mind Lab, a unique offering designed to empower students and educators to develop applied digital knowledge and capability. Over the past ten years The Mind Lab has enabled an entire generation of teachers and educators to upskill and develop their confidence in emerging digital technologies, and to rethink the model of learning and education and support school-aged children to foster these critical skills. The immediate impact of The Mind Lab has earned the organisation the title of Best Start-Up in Asia Pacific as judged by Steve Wozniak and Sir Richard Branson in 2014.
A Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her lifetime contribution to education and technology (2018), Frances has received numerous awards recognising her passion and commitment to supporting the young and more mature to seek opportunities and reach their potential. In 2022, Frances was inducted into the New Zealand Hall of Fame for Women Entrepreneurs and in 2020 Frances received the lifetime award for her Outstanding Contribution to Technology and Business at the CIO Awards.
Frances is the author of Future You, a book dedicated to shifting perceptions about learning as an adult and promoting the need to stay connected, relevant and informed throughout our life. Frances holds a Master of Education Management from the University of Melbourne.
Jamie Arbuckle is a Marlborough District Councillor of five terms; he is a RMA Hearings Commissioner and Chair of the Economic, Finance and Community Committee. He has been the New Zealand First candidate for Kaikoura since 2017, is on the New Zealand First Board, and represents the Local Government Portfolio.
Bonita Bigham (Ngāruahine, Te Atiawa)
Bonita is serving her fifth term as an elected member, this term as Taranaki Regional Council’s first Māori ward councillor. She was previously a three-term South Taranaki district councillor and one-term community board member. Bonita has chaired Te Maruata for eight years and has seen its membership and influence significantly grow within the local government sector. She currently sits on LGNZ’s National Council as Te Maruata’s co-chair with Cr Iaean Cranwell from Environment Canterbury. During her time in the sector Bonita has been member of numerous national working groups and committees, including the Community Board Executive Committee (CBEC) and she is a current EQUIP director. She was LGNZ’s nominee to Te Pou Taunaha NZ Geographic Board for the past three years and has been a Local Government Commissioner since 2021.
Outside local government Bonita chairs the Lotteries funding committee Oranga Marae, she sits on Taumata Arowai’s Māori advisory committee Te Puna and Creative New Zealand’s Arts Council as a board member and co-chair of its Kōmiti Māori. She is an artist and passionate community arts advocate and is currently pursuing her PhD through Toi Rauwhārangi, Massey University’s College of Creative Arts.
Senior Principal - Community Shaping, Beca
Robert is a Senior Principal at Beca specialising in spatial planning, business case and investment policy for a range of central and local government clients.
He has 25 years of experience working at the interface between central and local government on issues involving natural and physical resource allocation, infrastructure planning and investment and stakeholder engagement and sustainable development. Robert is an expert in building and leading collaborative processes involving multiple partners and stakeholders; workshop facilitation, public policy development, business case leadership and development as well as strategic and spatial planning.
He is currently the Implementation Advisor for the FutureProof Urban Growth Partnership of Waikato Tainui, local authorities around Hamilton and central government agencies.
National Change Lead for Localities, Te Whatu Ora
Sharlaine Chee is currently the National Change Lead for Localities -Te Whatu Ora | Health New Zealand. She was also an Iwi Māori Relationship Boards Relationship Lead within the health reforms supporting the stand-up and establishment of these boards. Prior to this she was the Principal Advisor in the Office of the Deputy Director General, Population Health and Prevention, Ministry of Health. Sharlaine has led strategic projects, change initiatives for quality improvement.
Sharlaine facilitates strategic planning, change transition and strategic issues engagements.
Ross Copland is the Chief Executive Officer of the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission (Te Waihanga).
Prior to joining the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission, Ross had a career in construction and tourism infrastructure development. He is passionate about renewables and sustainable building and has taken part in development engineering and disaster relief assignments across the Pacific. Ross has degrees in civil engineering, commerce, and an MBA.
Founder and CEO, Height Project Management
Warner is the founder and CEO of Height. Warner leads a values-driven business operating within the infrastructure sector’s bidding and procurement space. A thought leader, Warner influences the way government buyers operationalise broader outcomes and engage with Māori and he works with Māori and Pasifika businesses, preparing them to successfully bid and deliver government contracts.
Bringing extensive expertise gained in leadership roles for infrastructure providers in New Zealand and abroad, Warner has built Height into a highly regarded and sought-after consultancy, well known for living its values and making tangible impacts across the scope of the procurement process.
Ngāi Tahu Councillor, Environment Canterbury
Iaean is of Kāti Irakehu, Kāti Kurī and Kāti Makō descent. He returned to Environment Canterbury in 2022, after previously serving as an appointed Councillor representing Ngāi Tahu from 2016-2019, and then as one of two Tumu Taiao mana whenua experts from October 2020 to October 2022.
Iaean has a Bachelor of Science in Biological Science, and post-graduate qualifications in Information Science.
He has built strong relationships with his hapū, papatipu rūnanga, communities, and environmental organisations throughout his career. He also has experience as a director, chair, and member on a variety of commercial, community and charitable organisations.
Susan leads LGNZ in pursuit of the most active and inclusive local democracy in the world. She’s passionate about the power of local democracy – and about engaging more people in it. She believes that when local government is strong our communities thrive, and so does Aotearoa New Zealand.
Susan was previously Chief Executive of Engineering New Zealand, and Chief Executive of the Broadcasting Standards Authority. She’s also held leadership positions at the Human Rights Commission. She has practised law and mediation in both New Zealand and the United Kingdom and sees them both informing her leadership style. Susan is also on the boards of Vital and Tāwhiri, the creative force behind the New Zealand Festival of the Arts.
CEO, Tauranga City Council
Marty joined Tauranga City Council in September 2018, after leading Whakatane District Council for seven years. He has over 40 years of public service experience.
For Marty, local government is all about working alongside and serving the community. He thrives on the challenge of leading and developing teams of dedicated professionals who are committed to delivering improved outcomes for the organisation and the people it serves. In Tauranga, that means creating and facilitating opportunities for residents, businesses and visitors to enjoy and benefit from the special qualities of the city.
He and the Executive team are committed to creating a high performing organisation that works together with, and understands the community, provides decision-makers with high quality information and provides strong leadership of its people.
Managing Director, HTK Group
Renata Hakiwai is the Managing Director of HTK Group, established in 2015 to meet the growing demand for a Māori and Indigenous Professional Services organisation that is purpose-driven. Renata has more than 13 years of experience in senior executive and leadership positions alongside being a successful investor and dual exit entrepreneur. Renata sits on several Boards on a range of organisations which include crown, commercial, iwi, post settlement entities, not-for-profit, and startup entities. These include, Co-Chairperson of Hanga Aro Rau Workforce Development Council and Chairperson of Heretaunga Tamatea Pou Tahua Investment Holdings Limited, alongside being a Director on Tatau Tatau Commercial Investment LP, and a Trustee on the Heretaunga Tamatea Settlement Trust. Renata has extensive experience and a diverse range of skills working across the public and private sector, and has a major passion for economic development with a focus on Māori and indigenous business, innovation and enterprise, workforce development and the Future of work. Renata has deep connections into the communities in which he serves and sees himself as an enabler of people, an accelerator for Māori and indigenous, and a servant of his people.
Rt Hon Chris Hipkins
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins passionately believes that every New Zealander deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential in life. He is a staunch advocate for and defender of our public education system. Chris believes that a free, quality education is the right of every child.
Born in 1978, Chris has worked in both the public and private sectors. Chris is passionate about the Hutt Valley, his home, a place that he believes is “bursting with energy and potential”. An outdoor enthusiast, Chris is particularly keen on mountain biking, tramping and swimming. Chris currently lives in Upper Hutt.
He attended Waterloo Primary School, Hutt Intermediate and Hutt Valley Memorial College (later known as Petone College), where he was the Head Boy in 1996. He went on to complete a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Politics and Criminology at Victoria University.
After completing his study, Chris worked in the industry training sector. Before becoming an MP he also worked at parliament, first as Senior Advisor to two Education Ministers and later in the office of the then-Prime Minister Helen Clark.
Chris entered Parliament in 2008 and became the Spokesperson for Education at the beginning of 2013. As well as Prime Minister, he is the MP for Remutaka, the Minister for National Security and Intelligence, and the Minister Responsible for Ministerial Services.
He places a strong emphasis on social justice and believes that every New Zealander should have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Research and Insights Lead, Sport New Zealand
Loren Howson is the Research and Insights Lead at Sport New Zealand, Ihi Aotearoa. She manages a team that provides evidence to support programmes and policy through providing a view of the physical activity participation landscape in NZ in addition to bringing an enhanced understanding of the participant experience into the organisation. The research team at Sport New Zealand deliver Active NZ (a national participation survey) and a voice of customer programme which includes voice of rangatahi (exploring the physical activity experience of students within secondary schools) and voice of participant (partnering with National Sporting Organisations to explore the experience of club members). Loren has several years’ experience in managing large scale research projects in a wide range of industries. She lives in Wellington and has two teenage daughters.
Penny Hulse MNZM
Local Government Specialist
Until recently Penny was a member of the Review of Local Government panel who have just released their report focussing on strengthening and supporting the vital role of local government. She is hugely committed to local government serving as a councillor and deputy mayor for 27 years, stepping down from Auckland Council in 2019.
She an advocate for climate change resilience and sustainability and believes councils are key to solving the complex problems we face as a nation.
Penny is a board member of a number of boards and community organisations and lives in Auckland. She is a grandmother to 4 wonderful grandchildren which is why the future matters so much to her.
Before co-founding Newsroom in 2017, Mark had a long career in Broadcasting.
He was TV reporter in Australia and NZ for 15 years and then spent 22 years as Head of News for TV3.
General Manager Iwi Relations – Te Aka Whai Ora
Nō Tainui, Kuki Airani. Teei Kaiaruna is the newly appointed General Manager (GM) of Iwi Māori Relationships in the Mātauranga Māori Directorate at Te Aka Whai Ora – Māori Health Authority. Starting her health reform journey at the interim Māori Health Authority in February 2023, Teei is also the Principal Advisor – Design, in the National Localities Team at Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand. Prior to the reform, she called former Counties Manukau District Health Board home and her time was largely spent advocating for Māori and Pacific Health equity. This advocacy extended into the Covid-19 testing and vaccination response for Māori and Pacific in the Northern Region where she contributed in both a clinical and commissioning capacity. Teei holds a current APC, locuming when required at Middlemore Hospital in the outpatient pharmacy and is working towards completing a Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Pharmacy in Prescribing this year.
Prior to becoming GM of Iwi Māori Relationships, Teei played a significant role in the establishment of the Iwi Māori partnership boards (IMPBs) as the interim National Senior Advisor and, later as the Principal Advisor (Design) for Te Whatu Ora National Localities team, as well as the Integrated Contracts Lead (Commissioning) for Te Whatu Ora Pacific Health team.
General Manager, Corporate, Local Government Risk Practice, Aon
Stephen has 30 years of construction risk and insurance experience both in London and New Zealand. He leads Aon’s National Corporate team and previously Aon’s Construction team. Part of Stephen’s role is Head of Aon’s Local Government Risk Practice Group, and he has been the lead on the Auckland Council account for the past few years. He has acted for all major UK and NZ contractors and has experience in large infrastructure and building projects.
CEO, Auckland Transport
Dean is the Auckland Transport CEO, appointed in April 2023. Prior to this he has held a range of executive roles including Tuhura Partners – an advisory business to infrastructure owners and government, Chief Operating Officer for Auckland Council, and prior to that Managing Director for AECOM NZ.
Alongside these executive roles he has held a number of governance positions including independent board member for the NZ Upgrade Programme, independent chair of the Eastern Busway Alliance, independent chair of the western Bay of Plenty Transport System Programme, independent chair for Auckland Councils response to the Americas Cup 36th defence, President of Engineering NZ, former board member of Infrastructure NZ and the trustee for the Parenting Place charity.
Sales Consultant - Digital Products, Beca
Maggie is an experienced industry advisor passionate about enhancing community engagement outcomes. With a deep understanding of the market, current technologies, and unique customer challenges, she is laser-focused on delivering tailored solutions.
Additionally, Maggie holds an architecture and urban planning degree, giving her a unique perspective and expertise in developing innovative and sustainable communities.
Maggie is known for building and maintaining trusting relationships with her clients and her commitment to developing long-term partnerships that drive success.
Loveable Leader, GHD
Michala is an experienced strategic planner and specialises in the planning and development of social and community infrastructure. She is passionate about working with the community and stakeholders to design and develop places that work for them.
Michala and her team developed the Loveable Cities Framework, which is an approach to urbanisation that puts people at the centre of Urban Planning. This framework was developed as part of the Social Infrastructure Strategy for the Western Sydney Aerotropolis, it is now being developed across the globe to establish its applicability across different scales of projects and cultural contexts.
National Party Leader
Christopher Luxon is a businessman, father and proud New Zealander with extensive experience at the highest levels of global corporate leadership.
He was born in Christchurch and raised in Howick, Auckland, attending local Botany schools including Cockle Bay Primary and Howick College. He holds a Bachelor and Master of Commerce (Business Administration) from the University of Canterbury, which he attended between 1989 and 1992.
Upon graduating, Mr Luxon commenced a successful 18 year career at Unilever, working in New Zealand and around the globe, concluding his time with the company based in Toronto as President and CEO of Unilever Canada.
In 2011, he returned home upon being appointed CEO of Air New Zealand. Under his leadership, it returned record profits, saw all time customer satisfaction scores, and the highest levels of staff engagement.
Christopher has won numerous business awards, including the Peter Blake Leader Award and the Deloitte CEO of the Year. Outside his corporate roles, he has served as Chair of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council and is a Vice Chair and Trustee of the international aid organisation Tearfund New Zealand.
Christopher is married to Amanda and together they live in Auckland with their two children.
National Client Relationship Manager, Local Government Risk Practice, Aon
Deanna has been with Aon since 2016, and part of the Local Government Risk Practice Group for over five years, focusing on the delivery and relationships with Aon’s local government clients. Deanna is passionate about business improvement and driving a holistic approach to business wellbeing.
Her role encompasses the link between risk consulting and broking and provides operational oversight to Aon’s local government team.
Director, Kalimena Advisory
Linda established Kalimena after a career spanning over a decade respectively at Deloitte and PwC, including time spent in London, Geneva and Wellington. Up until 2020 she was lead partner in New Zealand for Deloitte Access Economics, and the partner in charge of the Infrastructure, Economics and Business Modelling team.
Linda’s areas of expertise are in designing and applying investment systems and processes, tailored to the type of infrastructure, the sector, and the desired outcomes.
Linda specialises in social infrastructure (education, health, housing) and transport. She is most interested in projects where there is a clear understanding of the desired outcomes for people and communities in New Zealand, working mostly with public sector clients.
General Manager Participation Pathways at Sport Canterbury
Jason oversees Sport Canterbury’s contracts with Territorial Authorities where we support communities to be active and utilise physical activity to improve wellbeing. In addition, he is responsible for agreed upon outcomes with Sport NZ in the areas of Play, Active Recreation, Sport, Tū Manawa Active Aotearoa and Spaces and Places.
Managing Editor, Newsroom Pro
As managing editor of Newsroom Pro, Jonathan Milne has been a close observer of local democracy, funding and infrastructure challenges, who’s consistently set the agenda on news around Three Waters, the Future for Local Government review, and the relationship between central and local government.
Milne has previously worked at the Sunday Times and Times Educational Supplement in London, and edited publications including New Zealand’s Sunday Star-Times, Sunday News, Stuff Sundays, and the Cook Islands News. He is well-known to many leaders in local government.
Managing Director - Rākau Tautoko, Tāmaki Regeneration Company
Tara Moala has whakapapa to Waikato-Tainui, China, and Pakeha. She has worked alongside the community for more than 20 years, ranging from youth and social work through to programme development and service & system design.
Tara founded an Auckland based Social Enterprise - Rākau Tautoko, supporting Community Development Practitioners to work alongside communities to build engagement and empowerment.
Tara is also the Community Outcomes Manager at Tāmaki Regeneration Company, working to build equitable outcomes for the community of Tāmaki through growing Mana Motuhake.
Tara just completed last year a Masters of Leadership in Social Change with a focus on Indigenous knowledge through The University of Melbourne.
Tumu Whakarae / CEO, Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira
Helmut is an experienced director, executive and consultant with specialist skills in implementation change management. He began his professional career in accounting and finance, branched into economic development and management consulting upon completion of an MBA in 1991. Helmut has been the chief executive of various commercial enterprises experiencing growth, turnaround, mergers or other strategic change. He is passionate about the social and economic development of Māori.
Dinnie Moeahu is a dedicated public servant and a second term New Plymouth District Councillor with a deep love for his community. Graduating with a Master's degree in Māori and Indigenous Leadership, DInnie is currently pursuing a PhD in Political Science to help the sector navigate through multiple complex challenges facing local government.
Moeahu's community vision has led him championing multiple community initiatives raising over a million dollars for charities & community organisations. Grounded by his grassroots approach, Dinnie's longstanding contribution to community were acknowledged with multiple accolades including NPDC Citizen's Award for services to community, and the 2019 Taranaki Person of the Year.
With a passion for positive change, Dinnie's Strengthening Te Tiriti Partnerships presentation is engaging, grounded and wrapped in an abundance of aroha & positivity.
Chief Executive & Principal Economist, Infometrics
Brad Olsen is the Chief Executive and Principal Economist at Infometrics and is one of New Zealand’s leading economic commentators across TV, radio, and print media. With extensive networks across New Zealand’s business, media, community, and social sectors, Brad brings together a variety of influential views, data, and emerging trends to inform and advise key decision makers and the public across New Zealand so they can make better informed decisions. Brad is passionate about using economics to make better informed decisions and can communicate complex and detailed trends in a simple, relatable, and useful manner.
Deputy Mayor, Nelson City Council
Rohan O’Neill-Stevens is a politician, activist, resource management commissioner, and campaigner. First elected to Nelson City Council in 2019, as its youngest ever councillor, they were appointed Deputy Mayor in 2022.
Rohan is involved in a range of local and national organisations, with a focus on climate action, arts and creativity, urban development, indigenous self-determination, and youth engagement and development.
Global Future Communities Leader, GHD
Andrew holds 25 years of consulting, leadership and commercial experience across a diverse range of market sectors, including defence, environment and water. In his role as GHD’s Global Lead for Future Communities, he uses his deep experience as a strategist, influencer and collaborator to help clients put people at the heart of building communities that are connected, resilient, productive and inspired.
Coupled with a background as an Environmental Scientist, Andrew brings deep practical experience in research, policy, technical application, leadership and governance to inspire teams and create holistic, sustainable solutions. Andrew is known for his natural ability to develop early, enduring and collaborative relationships across industry, underpinned by creativity, deep environmental and social insights, and innovation to create lasting benefits for communities.
Caren Rangi, ONZM
Chair, Arts Council of New Zealand (Creative New Zealand)
Caren is a proud Canterbury born, Hawke’s Bay raised Cook Islander who started her career as a chartered accountant and auditor with the Office of the Auditor-General. She chose a career in governance, combined with facilitation and leadership work, so she can contribute to decision-making in areas for which she has passion. Her current governance roles include Chair of the Arts Council of New Zealand, Chair of NGO Pacific Homecare, and a member of the Boards of Radio New Zealand, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Pacific Co-operation Broadcasting Ltd (Pasifika TV) and the Hawke’s Bay Regional Economic Development Agency. Her most recent appointment is to the Board of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Recovery Board, established to help lead Hawke’s Bay’s recovery from the impact of Cyclone Gabrielle.
Caren describes her leadership and governance style as pragmatic, collaborative and relational, and attributes her strengths to her combined interpersonal skills, professional experience and cultural capital.
Michelle is a Reward Specialist and aims to make all things about remuneration and total rewards easy for leadership teams and governors.
Michelle has experience working across a range of industries and organisations in the public, private and not for profit sectors over the last decade. Her earlier career was with multinationals in Human Resource leadership roles, spanning across different legislative frameworks and countries. Michelle currently works with Boards on remuneration governance. She is a Director of Strategic Pay and Cargill Enterprises. Cargill Enterprises is a Business Enterprise with a social purpose and is the trading arm of the Disabled Citizens Society (Otago) Inc.
Eugenie Sage has been a Green MP since 2011. She chairs Parliament’s Environment select committee and was Minister of Conservation, Minister for Land Information and Associate Environment Minister (waste) from October 2017-October 2020. She is currently Green spokesperson for environment, oceans and fisheries, conservation, forestry, land information, emergency management and three waters.
Managing Director (Funds & Finance), Willis Bond
Wayne joined the Willis Bond team in 1997 as Chief Financial Officer. He has a wide range of expertise in raising capital, negotiating bank funding agreements, managing real estate evaluation and acquisition processes, and the financial management of public real estate funds.
Prior to working on the Tauranga City revitalisation project, Wayne has also acted as the project director for Willis Bond’s Sunderland residential development at Hobsonville Point (Auckland), and the commercial stages of Willis Bond’s Catalina Bay Precinct project.
He has previously held the role of chair of Property for Industry and is currently a director of Property Income Fund and a director and investment committee member of the Willis Bond Capital Partners IV development fund.
Prior to joining Willis Bond, Wayne held a number of senior financial roles in local government organisations, and the advertising and investment industries.
General Manager, Sheffield South Island
Mike has over 30 years’ experience in leading a wide range of CEO and senior executive search and recruitment assignments. His experience is across private, local government and public sector appointments.
Mike is a Member of NZ Institute of Directors, a Chartered Director and advises Chairs and Boards on Director appointments, and Boards on CEO review projects. He is currently a Trustee of the Christchurch Cancer Research Trust. He has recently retired from the role as Chair of the Christchurch Art Gallery Foundation and the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation. He has also served on the Boards of The New Zealand Institute for Brain Research, Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce, and Rangi Ruru Girls’ School.
Rehette was elected as Mayor of Gisborne in 2019. Before that, she served as Deputy Mayor for two terms. Rehette is passionate about environmental sustainability, wants to encourage and enable economic growth and she values the wonderful bi-cultural community that is unique to Tairāwhiti.
Born and raised in South Africa, an OE brought Rehette to Gisborne in 2001, and she immediately fell in love with Tairāwhiti and its lovely people. Rehette has a Masters Degree (M.Sc) in Cardiovascular Physiology, and before entering the world of politics, she was actively involved in cardiovascular research and lecturing. She enjoys being an active member of the Tairāwhiti community and supports several trusts and community organisations.
Moko Tepania is the Mayor of the Far North and sits as a core group member for the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs and the Zone 1 Representative for National Council. In the previous term as a councillor for the Far North he was also a member of the Te Maruata Rōpū Whakahaere and a co-chair for the Young Elected Members Committee.
National Practice Lead - ESG, Climate and Enterprise Risk, Aon
Cecilia has over 20 years’ experience in combined legal, insurance and risk management. Prior to joining Aon in 2022, she was the Chief Risk Officer with Auckland Council and Datacom. Cecilia was awarded Risk Professional of the Year by RiskNZ in 2018. Cecilia advises on both insurable and uninsurable risks, using best practice enterprise risk management approaches to support organisations to enhance their risk maturity.
Louise Van Tongeren
Council Play Advocate, Christchurch City Council
Louise Van Tongeren works at the Christchurch City Council as the Council Play Advocate under the Sport NZ Local Play Workforce project, and has extensive experience in the field of play. Louise spent 15 years working in pediatric play in Early Intervention, has presented internationally on the art, science and psychology of play. She founded a successful online platform for families following the Christchurch earthquakes which saw her directly engaging with tens of thousands of local families daily on how to use our places and spaces for play, and why this mattered from the perspective of community resilience and belonging. She is on the board of Play Aotearoa and has three young sons.
Central Hawke’s Bay Mayor
Alex Walker has been Mayor of Central Hawke’s Bay since 2016. Raised and schooled in the Oueroa district of Central Hawke’s Bay, Alex lived on a sheep and beef farm. She has a Masters’ Degree in Microbiology and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration majoring in Marketing. In 2010, Alex and partner Billy decided to move home to Central Hawke’s Bay with their 3 young daughters and since then she has thrown herself into the community through schools, tennis, music and theatre, the business community, and now as Mayor of the district.
As Mayor, a view for long-term success for her small district has meant taking a patient approach when it comes to council business. Her experience in leading major change as Board Chair of her local primary school, backed up by her corporate experience in strategic marketing and product development, has meant she has lead a back-to-basics process starting with strong governance, community engagement, clear strategic direction and high quality executive leadership. In building the council team, a brainstorming session about the values and priorities of the group lead to a "eureka" moment. Trust, Honesty, Respect, Innovation, Valuing people and Excellence spells THRIVE. In the months following the coining of this word as a vision for Central Hawke's Bay, THRIVE is recognised across council and community, and has tapped into the imagination of the people. Alex is a firm believer in the power of collaboration and leadership which listens carefully and supports the success of others.
Member of Parliament for North Shore
Simon Watts was elected as the Member of Parliament for North Shore in the 2020 election. He is the National Party spokesperson for Climate Change, Local Government, Regional Development, Statistics and associate spokesperson for Finance and Infrastructure.
Simon grew up in the Waikato, where his family were farmers and orchardists. He is married and has two sons.
He studied Accounting and Finance at Waikato University and worked in investment banking in New Zealand, Asia and the United Kingdom. He has worked for some of the world largest investment banks, including at the Royal Bank of Scotland, where he held a management role during and in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis.
Simon has also completed a Health Sciences degree at Auckland University of Technology. He continues to volunteer with St John as a frontline ambulance officer alongside his duties as a Member of Parliament.
Since returning to New Zealand from working overseas in 2013, he has held roles in the Waitematā and Counties Manakau DHBs, most recently as the Deputy Chief Financial Officer of Waitematā.
National Manager, Local Government Risk Practice, Aon
Matthew has over 30 years of insurance experience and has been with Aon New Zealand for 18 years. During this time Matthew has looked after large multinational accounts and has been working with the local government sector since 2009, recently taking the role of National Manager for Aon’s Local Government Risk Practice Group.