new zealand

Symposium 2019

Cordis Hotel 

the New Zealand

Women's Leadership Symposium


Agenda day 1

Tuesday 28th May

10:50 – 11:10

Morning Tea

Panel Discussion

Breaking the competency trap and developing adaptive leadership

We can be trapped by our competence, which can hamper opportunities for growth. Has your past best practice held you back? Panellists will discuss how they adapted and thrived in challenging environments by making gradual and meaningful change.​

11:10 – 12:40

12:40 – 13:40



Suzi Finkelstein and Samantha Tomkinson

13:40 – 14:40

Georgina Beyer

World’s First Transgender Mayor and Member of Parliament

10:20 – 10:50

Keynote Address

Georgina Beyer resigned from Parliament in February 2007 after serving more than seven years as an MP. Achieving everything she set out to do, including ensuring the survival and strengthening of Masterton's hospital, bringing government services back to heartland Wairarapa and the passing of the Prostitution Reform and Civil Unions Acts, has meant that she can now look for fresh challenges.

Georgina became a Member of Parliament for Wairarapa in 1999. She served on the Law & Order Select Committee and the Social Services Select Committee (as Chairperson). Prior to this role she was Mayor of Carterton, having been elected in 1995 with a 48% majority and re-elected in 1998 with a 90% majority. She reluctantly resigned as Mayor in March 2000 due to her parliamentary workload.

Her Excellency the Right Hon Dame Patsy Reddy GNZM, QSO 

Governor-General of New Zealand

09:20 – 09:40

Opening Address


Suzi Finkelstein

Director Advocacy and Leadership, WLNZ

09:00 – 09:20

Welcome and Opening Comments

Sue Watson

Senior Facilitator and Executive Coach, WLNZ

Paula Tesoriero MNZM

New Zealand Disability Rights Commissioner; Former Paralympian

Paula Tesoriero is New Zealand’s Disability Rights Commissioner. It is her role to protect and promote the rights of disabled New Zealanders. She is also a Paralympian cycling gold medallist, a former lawyer,  was a general manager at Stats NZ and at the Ministry of Justice, has held a range of governance roles on various Boards, and is a mum.

15:10 – 15:30

Afternoon Tea

Suzi Finkelstein

Director Advocacy and Leadership, WLNZ

16:20 – 16:30

Closing Comments

Sue Watson

Senior Facilitator and Executive Coach, WLNZ

16:30 – 17:30

Networking Drinks

Agenda day 2

Wednesday 29th May

Suzi Finkelstein

Director Advocacy and Leadership, WLNZ

09:00 – 09:20

Welcome and Opening Comments

Sue Watson

Senior Facilitator and Executive Coach, WLNZ

Traci Houpapa MNZM

Award-winning Company Director and Executive Chairman

09:50 – 10:20

Keynote Address

Traci is an award winning company director and a recognised industry leader.  She is also a trusted advisor to Maori, Government, public and private sector entities on strategic and economic development.  Traci is known for her strong and inclusive leadership and her clear focus on building the wealth and prosperity of Aotearoa New Zealand. 

Traci has been named as one of the top ten most influential women in New Zealand agribusiness and the Listener’s top ten influencers in New Zealand.  She won the Westpac Fairfax Media Women of Influence Board and Management award and has been named on Westpac’s New Zealand Women Powerbrokers list. Traci has been awarded the Massey University Distinguished Alumni Service Award for services to New Zealand agribusiness and Maori, and named amongst the BBCs 100 Most Influential Women in the World.

Jackie Clark

Founder, The Aunties; Supreme Winner, 2018 Women of Influence Awards

10:20 – 10:50

Keynote Address

Jackie Clark runs a community of support called The Aunties, which she started almost six years ago by using social media to get the women in a local refuge what they needed. Now she works with 350 women a year who have lived or are currently living in relationships where the power dynamic is way out of whack. Some call this domestic violence.

Today, The Aunties remains a grass roots organisation, relying on a community of support to get “her girls” what they need and want, when they need it. Jackie has won a number of awards for this work, including Supreme Winner Women of Influence 2018, and she accepts these plaudits for one reason alone: her girls. She is a connector of worlds, a bringer together of people, but her primary directive and driver is this one thing: to get her girls their sh*t.

10:50 – 11:10

Morning Tea

Panel Discussion

Let’s talk about non-traditional roles

In this session we will meet professionals who work in sectors that are generally dominated by one gender. We will learn about how they challenged the system and how their inspiration followed their passion. Panellists will field questions about being the minority in a workplace.​

11:10 – 12:40

Assistant Commissioner Tusha Penny

Response and Operations, NZ Police

Since joining the New Zealand Police in 1992, Superintendent Tusha Penny has worked in both provincial and metropolitan areas. A significant part of her career has been spent in the Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) investigating serious crimes including lead roles in several high profile homicides. She has also worked as a mentor in Tonga assisting to establish family violence units and was part of the New Zealand Police contingent that assisted with the Tongan riots in 2006. Tusha was named as a Finalist in the 2016 Westpac Women of Influence Awards – an achievement not only because of the award status, but because she was nominated by female Inspectors within her Senior Leadership Team. Her Iwi is Ngati Porou and she is the first Māori female District Commander in New Zealand Police. Tusha is married with two teenaged children.

Russell Ballantyne

President, EC-MENz; Early Childhood Educator

Russell has been involved in Early Childhood Education since graduating as a Kindergarten Teacher in 1982.  He has worked as a Kindergarten Teacher, Head Teacher, Senior Teacher and General Manager of Dunedin Kindergarten Association. 

Russell is currently President of EC-MENz which is a group whose purpose is to support Men in Early Childhood Education in New Zealand/Aoteaoroa.  EC-MENz was established in 2006 after a National Hui was called to look at ways of growing a more gender-balanced early childhood workforce.  Early Childhood Education is one of the most gendered professions in this country and EC-MENz believe that children and families/whānau need a more diverse workforce to better reflect their communities.

Rochelle Martin MNZM

National Manager Recruitment, Fire and Emergency NZ; Former Captain, Black Ferns

Rochelle is currently the National Manager Career Recruitment for Fire and Emergency NZ. She was the first career woman firefighter to be promoted to Station Officer in 2008, and in November 2015 was the first career woman firefighter to be promoted to the rank of Senior Station Officer. Recently Rochelle become the first female firefighter to take up a secondment as Assistant Area Commander (Acting).

Rochelle is passionate about recruitment and has a real interest in recruiting and retaining women and those from minority groups into Fire and Emergency NZ. Rochelle attributes her authentic leadership style through the experience gained as Vice-Captain/Captain while playing for the Black Ferns (women's rugby) and was considered one of the most experienced players in Black Fern history with a career spanning from 1994 to 2006, winning three World Cup titles and named player of the year in 1995.

Pip Buunk

Drilling Supervisor, Fulton Hogan; 2018 Tradeswoman of the Year

Pip is a qualified and registered senior driller with over 15 years of experience in the field, covering areas such as water wells, geo-hazard stabilisation and site investigation.

Pip is a current council member of the NZ Drillers Federation, and a member of Women in Trades NZ in which she chairs a sub-committee aimed at supporting and networking women who are in and looking to get into predominantly male trades.

In 2018, Pip was awarded the Tradeswoman of the Year Award by the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) for her dedication to her work as New Zealand’s only registered female driller.

Dr Siouxsie Wiles

Microbiologist and Science Communicator; Associate Professor, The University of Auckland

Dr. Siouxsie Wiles made a career from combining her twin passions of bioluminescence (think glow worms and fireflies) and infectious diseases. Siouxsie studied medical microbiology at the University of Edinburgh, UK and completed a Ph. D. in microbiology at CEH Oxford (formally the Institute of Virology and Environmental Microbiology) and Napier University, Edinburgh. She then spent her postdoctoral years at Imperial College London, developing bioluminescent derivatives of various infectious organisms.

Siouxsie was awarded the New Zealand Association of Scientists (NZAS) Science Communication Award in 2012 and the Prime Minister's Science Media Communication Prize in 2013.

12:40 – 13:40


Alexia Hilbertidou

Founder and Director, GirlBoss NZ

13:40 – 14:20

"Just turned 20" - Inside the minds of the next generation of young leaders

Alexia has just turned 20 yet her love of women’s empowerment has led her to a level of influence well beyond her years. At 16, Alexia founded GirlBoss NZ, an organisation which encourages young women to embrace STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), Leadership and Entrepreneurship. Alexia’s passion for gender equity is why she was named a Top 5 Young Leader by the New Zealand Government, and the most influential New Zealand woman under the age of 25 at the 2016 Westpac Women of Influence Awards. In 2018, Alexia was selected from 20,000 nominations to receive a Queen’s Young Leader medal for services to the Commonwealth from Her Majesty, the Queen. Alexia is the youngest Commonwealth Citizen to hold this title.

Anika Moa

Recording Artist and TV Presenter

14:20 – 15:00

Keynote Address

Anika Moa (Te Aupouri, Ngapuhi) is a recording artist and television presenter, self-proclaimed ‘Yass Queen’, same-sex symbol, Māori princess (literally), mum-of-three with one in the oven, humble and reluctant TV star, children’s entertainer, and a wondrous bloody New Zealander. Throughout her career, Anika has released six studio albums, two Songs For Bubbas albums (inspired by the arrival of her twin sons), and toured her music and stories to every corner of the country.  And some corners of the world too. 

With a constant drive to push her own boundaries, Anika accidentally transcended from musician to one of Aotearoa’s best-loved television personalities. Starting with ‘Face to Face’ in 2015, she was then slung her own live studio show in 2017, ‘All Talk With Anika Moa’. Momentum gathered quickly and in 2018 she was given ‘Anika Moa Unleashed’ – a show that let her loose on high profile New Zealanders, visiting them in their own environments with a viewing of half a million people! 

Suzi Finkelstein

Director Advocacy and Leadership, WLNZ

15:00 – 15:10

Closing Comments

Sue Watson

Senior Facilitator and Executive Coach, WLNZ

Colonel Helen Cooper

Deputy Chief of Army, New Zealand Defence Force

Colonel Helen Cooper joined the New Zealand Defence Force in 1988, initially serving as a Territorial Force soldier.

Colonel Cooper deployed to the Cambodian Mine Action Centre as the Logistic Technical Advisor in 1999, and commanded the Combat Services Support Group with 6th New Zealand Battalion Group, East Timor in 2002. In 2011 she deployed to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation as the Chief Military Observer Group Lebanon, the first female to hold a command appointment at this level.

In July 2017 she was promoted to Colonel and appointed as the Assistant Chief of Army Delivery, responsible for the current operations of Army Headquarters. She is currently posted as the Deputy Chief of Army and is the President of the International Associations of Peace Keeping Training Centres.

Cecilia Robinson is an in-demand keynote speaker. She is an award-winning business woman who founded Au Pair Link and My Food Bag, which is one of the most talked about and fastest growing companies in New Zealand. 
Touted as a serial entrepreneur, Cecilia founded My Food Bag in 2013 alongside well-known Masterchef winner Nadia Lim and businesswoman Theresa Gattung, as well as husband James Robinson, and Carlos Bagrie. Cecilia and James are now Directors of My Food Bag. Cecilia has been acknowledged for her success as a multi-award winning businesswoman, including the 2017 Supreme Award at the Westpac Women of Influence Awards and the Business Enterprise Award.

dr angela lim

CEO and Co-Founder, Clearhead; Doctor and Board Member

Cecilia Robinson

Founder & Director, My Food Bag; Supreme Winner of the 2017 Women of Influence Awards

09:40 – 10:20

How to enable innovation through leadership

Tiana Epati

President-Elect, New Zealand Law Society; Partner, Rishworth, Wall & Mathieson

Tiana Epati is a partner at Rishworth, Wall & Mathieson in Gisborne. She specialises in criminal defence litigation and was appointed a Youth Advocate in 2015. In 2018 she was appointed independent counsel to assist the Coroner in a joint inquest into a number of self-inflicted deaths in the East Coast region. 

Tiana is President-elect of the New Zealand Law Society and will take up the role on 9 April 2019.   She is the first President of Pacifica descent and the fourth woman in the 150 year history of the organisation.  She is also the youngest lawyer to be elected President.

Dr. Angela Lim is CEO and co-founder of Clearhead. Clearhead is building a one-stop-shop online platform to ensure mental wellbeing for all, through improving access and choice to mental health information and support. She believes that technology has the potential to deliver the transformative change required to improve outcomes.

She was previously a doctor at Auckland Hospital, passionate about tackling inequality and left clinical practice in order to focus on developing scalable innovative solutions.

Angela’s leadership has been widely recognised and she was a Finalist in the 2017 Young New Zealander of the Year award.

Chlöe Swarbrick MP

Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand

Chlöe has been a law student, journalist, business owner and a community project leader. In 2016 she ran to be the Mayor of Auckland. Almost 30,000 Aucklanders gave her their vote after Chlöe and her team campaigned for just 4 months on a shoestring budget.

She is now the youngest MP in Aotearoa for over 40 years. She entered parliament to show people that politicians can look a little different, sound a little different, do things a little different, and to drive home the message that politicians work for people.

Chlöe is the Green Party spokesperson on issues that she can really get her teeth into: Education (including Tertiary), Internal Affairs, Sensible Drug Law Reform, Local Government, Arts Culture & Heritage, Small Business, Broadcasting and Youth.

Dame Valerie Adams DNZM

Athlete, Olympic Gold Medallist, World Shot Put Champion

15:30 – 16:20

In Conversation

Dame Valerie Adams is one of New Zealand's greatest ever athletes and one of the all-time best female throwers globally. At age 33 she has won four World Championships, two Olympic gold medals, one Olympic silver and three Commonwealth Games gold medals. In 2018 Dame Valerie inspired a nation by coming back in less than six months from the birth of her first child to win a silver medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast. She currently holds the New Zealand, Oceania, Commonwealth and World Championship records with a personal best throw of 21.24 metres. Dame Valerie was knighted and awarded a Dame Companion of Order in 2016. She is currently planning her fifth Olympic campaign for 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.  

Miriyana Alexander

Journalist & Premium Content Editor, NZ Herald

14:40 – 15:10

Keynote Address

Miriyana Alexander is the New Zealand Herald's premium content editor, and she is leading the project to launch digital subscription on An award-winning journalist, she has studied journalism at the prestigious Cambridge and Oxford universities after winning scholarships to both. Her study topic at Cambridge last year was "Fake News", and she is deeply interested in the behaviour of big tech and its role in spreading misinformation and harmful content. Alexander was previously the Herald's Weekends Editor, and under her editorship, the Weekend Herald won back-to-back Newspaper of the Year awards in 2017-18. And the Herald on Sunday became New Zealand's biggest selling and most-read Sunday paper. She is currently chair of the Media Freedom Committee.

Diane Edwards

General Manager People, Foresight and Innovation, Ports of Auckland

09:20 – 09:50

Keynote Address

Diane has had an eclectic career spanning roles in a diverse range of positions including teaching, operational management, accounting, business reengineering, IT, training, human resources and change management. She has worked within the private, public, central government and not-for-profit sectors, including overseas experience in the UK, USA, Australia, India and Tanzania. Diane is a Chartered Fellow and the current Chair, of the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand, a former National President and Life Fellow of NZATD, member of Global Women and NZ Tech Leaders. She also sits on the Boards of the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association, Nexus Logistics and Bunkershipz Limited, and is a Fellow of the Financial Services Institute of Australasia and Australasian Institute Managers and Leaders. 


Women and Leadership New Zealand