Due to COVID-19 this event has now been moved to an online delivery.

Wednesday 1st & Thursday 2nd September 2021


Suzi Finkelstein

Chief Executive Officer, Women & Leadership New Zealand

09:05 – 09:40

Opening Comments

Samantha Tomkinson

Senior Facilitator and Executive Coach, Women & Leadership New Zealand

13:00 – 14:00


15:10 – 15:30

Afternoon Tea

Suzi Finkelstein

Chief Executive Officer, Women & Leadership New Zealand

16:50 – 17:00

Closing Comments

Samantha Tomkinson

Senior Facilitator and Executive Coach, Women & Leadership New Zealand

Panel Discussion

‘Embracing the ‘other’ in others and ourselves

Othering is a phenomenon in which individuals or groups are defined and labelled as not fitting in within the norms of a particular social group. It is an effect that influences how people perceive and treat those who are viewed as being part of the in-group versus those who are seen as being part of the out-group. Race/ethnicity; age; gender; sexuality; class; religion; politics; disability status and profession can all be used to marginalize others but often it is these exact expressions of diversity that are the basis for real growth and new thinking. In this session, panellists will explore their own experiences of ‘othering’, what ‘othering’ means for leaders and how we all can embrace our differences to become more inclusive and effective leaders.

11:30 – 13:00

11:10 – 11:30

Morning Tea

Siân is a passionate and lively thinker, drawing insights from a life lived to the full. She has travelled to over 45 countries, has embraced 'the future of work' for almost a decade and lives what we know to be the ‘suitcase’ lifestyle. Her key role for over five years was heading up the Kiwi Landing Pad as the Global Community Director, working with Kiwi Startups and Technology companies that dream of exporting and have global aspirations. Since leaving the Kiwi Landing Pad in 2019, Siân is continuing her work in community and content through her new vehicle Public Rally where she works with organisations that could really do with boosting their community around their products and services, as well as developing strategic content to boost their business goals - through podcast, webinar series or similar.

Siân Simpson

Founder and Community Director, Public Rally

09:40 – 10:10

Keynote Address

Theresa Gattung is a New Zealand business leader, author, philanthropist, and investor. She was the first female CEO of an NZX listed company, Telecom New Zealand. Since leaving Telecom, she has divided her time between professional governance, entrepreneurial pursuits, and philanthropic work. As co-founder of My Food Bag, she helped take the start-up to a nationwide company with a turnover of over $130m. She is also the New Zealand lead of SheEO, an international community that supports, finances, and celebrates female entrepreneurs. In the 2015 New Year’s Honours List, Theresa was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to business and philanthropy, and in August 2015 she was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame at the 2015 TVNZ Marketing Awards.

Theresa Gattung CNZM

Activator and NZ Country Lead, SheEO

10:10 – 10:40

Keynote Address

Dr Chellie Spiller

Professor, University of Waikato; Author and Trainer

10:40 – 11:10

Keynote Address

Chellie Spiller is a professor at the University of Waikato. She is a passionate and committed advocate for leadership development and she works extensively with organisations across New Zealand and around the world in areas such as 'next level inclusion' and Wayfinding Leadership. She was a guest speaker at Harvard University on "What is great leadership?", and her latest co-edited book, published in 2020, focuses on practical wisdom from Indigenous, Asian and Middle Eastern perspectives. She is a co-principle investigator on a research team exploring Māori leadership in the context of decision-making, , and in 2015 She coauthored Wayfinding Leadership: Ground-Breaking Wisdom for Developing Leaders, which led to a TEDx talk. Chellie was a Fulbright Senior Scholar at the Harvard Kennedy School and the University of Arizona. 

Alison Mau

Editor and Executive Producer, Stuff.co.nz

15:30 – 16:10

Keynote Address

Ali Mau is a broadcaster, journalist, and writer with a 30-year career in television, radio and print news and current affairs. In two-decades at TVNZ she became well known as the host of TVNZ programmes including One News, Breakfast, Fair Go, and Seven Sharp. In February 2018, Ali launched the #metooNZ project at Stuff.co.nz, leading a team of senior journalists investigating sexual harassment in Kiwi workplaces. Ali also writes the masthead current affairs column for the Sunday Star Times/Stuff.co.nz. Ali was a finalist in the 2017 Women of Influence Awards for her work mentoring young women in broadcasting, and in the LGBTQI community. In 2018 she won the Leadership Excellence Award at the equivalent WoI awards in Sydney, Australia, acknowledging her work on the #metooNZ project.

10:50 – 11:10

Morning Tea

Suzi Finkelstein

Chief Executive Officer, Women & Leadership New Zealand

14:50 – 15:00

Closing Comments

Samantha Tomkinson

Senior Facilitator and Executive Coach, Women & Leadership New Zealand

Manawatū-born Indian Vanisa Dhiru is an equality champion with a strong sense of social responsibility. Vanisa has served as the National President of National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ) and she is a member of Global Women NZ, the Institute of Directors, the Wellington Interfaith Council, and the Global BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Network. Vanisa is passionate about challenging equity issues, developing young people and cultural relations. Her extensive experience in governance and advocacy has led her to be a champion for sector-wide collaboration and working together in the changing landscape of Aotearoa New Zealand. Vanisa is the Community Manager for InternetNZ, where she has responsibility for the organisation’s philanthropic arm, connecting the wider community with partnerships, grants and in-kind support. 

Teresa Tepania-Ashton MNZM is Chief Executive Officer of Māori Women’s Development Inc (MWDI), a lending and development organisation that encourages and supports Māori women and their whānau in business. As CEO, she has established MWDI as a recognised charitable provider for Māori Women in business. Teresa’s commitment to empowering Māori Women and their whānau in business was formally recognised in June 2016, where she was received as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori communities and business. In 2018, she also joined the third cohort of fellows into the Edmund Hillary Fellowship and was a recipient of the Kiwibank Local Hero Awards for Wellington in 2016.

Julie is a lawyer and governance professional and is the former Mayor of Hamilton. She has first class honours degrees in Law and Masters in business management.  Julie was a partner in a large Hamilton law firm for many years and now operates her own legal practice. Julie holds governance roles in government, private and the community sectors. She is chair of the Environmental Protection Authority and the chair of Australasian Heads of Environmental Protection Authorities and is Deputy Chair of Governance New Zealand and Chair of Women on Boards.  

Tupe Solomon-Tanoa’i held several senior roles in the public service, including in the high-stakes, high-pressure environment of the Beehive, before being appointed the Chief Philanthropic Officer of the Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation which funds legal research, education, and scholarship. The Samoan/Fijian Kiwi has spent her professional and personal life advocating for more inclusive workplaces. She is the creator of an independent web series called Misadventures of a Pacific Professional. The award-nominated series tackles unconscious bias, diversity, and inclusion. Her chat show, Talanoa with Tupe, showcases successful Pacific peoples. In 2020, Tupe was recognised as one of the University of Auckland’s 40 under 40 and won the diversity category in the New Zealand Women of Influence Awards.

Chief Petty Officer Songivalu enlisted with the Royal New Zealand Navy in May 2003 as a Communications Operator. Her first Operational Deployment was in 2004 to the Arabian Gulf on board the frigate HMNZS TE MANA on which she served for three years. In 2010, CPO Songivalu completed her Petty Officer Development Course and deployed on-board HMNZS TE KAHA as the CT Team Leader, which remains a highlight in her career. CPO Songivalu is of Pacific Island descent and is a founding member of the RNZN South Pacific Community, which launched in August 2019. She has been involved in projects for developing the NZDF Pasifika Strategy and Women's Health to increase Cultural Awareness and meet the needs of Pasifika people within the organisation.

Naila Hassan joined police as a recruit in 1988. Early in her career Naila became the first female Police Physical Training Instructor at the Police College. She then qualified as a Detective and spent a number of years in Investigations prior to working as a Police Prosecutor and District Manager of Prosecutions in Auckland City. Naila is a purposeful and high energy leader who has demonstrated an ability to balance work with fitness and further education. She is passionate about diversity in the workplace and has most recently demonstrated breaking down her own barriers by speaking proudly about being a Muslim and of the Islamic faith. Outside of her police career, Naila is an active road cyclist and spends time spearfishing and free diving.

Development Session 
with Suzi Finkelstein and Samantha Tomkinson

Moving Towards Gender Equity in 2021: From Vision to Action

Let's get practical! While New Zealand has come a long way with gender equity and equality over the years, we’ve still got a long way to go. This development session will provide participants with an opportunity and frameworks to determine their vision and actions for a more inclusive and equitable future, and some timely strategies to enhance their leadership in this domain.

14:00 – 15:10

Vanisa Dhiru

Commissioner, Communication and Information, New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO; Commissioner, Library Information Advisory Commission (LIAC)

09:20 – 09:50

Keynote Address

Rebecca Kitteridge was appointed Director-General of Security in May 2014. Before her appointment Rebecca was the Secretary of the Cabinet and Clerk of the Executive Council, within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. She served under four Prime Ministers and four Governors-General in that role and in earlier roles in DPMC. In March 2014, Rebecca was appointed as a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, in recognition of her service as Cabinet Secretary and Clerk of the Executive Council. In 2017, Rebecca won the Public Policy Award at the New Zealand Women of Influence Awards. Rebecca lives in Wellington with her husband and daughter. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, reading and cycling.

11:10 – 12:40

Panel Discussion

Speaking to Power

Following on from the previous session, this Panel Discussion will explore more deeply how women leaders can effectively ensure their voices are heard by decision-makers and those in positions of power. Panel members will discuss their lived experiences and share insights, strategies and practical tips on how attendees can influence and advocate on a broader scale.

Chief Petty Officer Emma Songivalu

Leadership Development Instructor, Royal New Zealand Navy

Tupe Solomon-Tanoa'i

Chief Philanthropic Officer, Michael & Suzanne Borrin Foundation

Julie Hardaker

Director/Lawyer, Julie Hardaker Lawyers

Teresa Tepania-Ashton MNZM

CEO, Māori Women's Development Inc

Grace is the ultimate entertainer, having worked as both a studio presenter and actress, Grace blows audiences away with her abilities to act, sing and dance. After training at the prestigious National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney, she secured a role in the iconic Australian drama Home and Away. Following this, Grace returned to New Zealand where she embarked on a four-year-long lead role in the top-rating primetime soap Shortland Street. Since then, Grace has appeared in AMC’s action drama The Dead Lands and drama series The Brokenwood Mysteries. Most recently, Grace joined forces with her sister Eve to write and star in the TVNZ series Good Grief.

14:10 – 14:50

In Conversation

Grace Palmer

Actress and Studio Presenter

Suzi Finkelstein

Chief Executive Officer, Women & Leadership New Zealand

09:00 – 09:20

Opening Comments

Samantha Tomkinson

Senior Facilitator and Executive Coach, Women & Leadership New Zealand

10:20 – 10:50


Empowering Women through Speaking to Power

Brigitte Morten

Director, Franks Ogilvie

Holly Bennett

Director and Principal Consultant, Awhi; Founder, Engage

Brigitte Morten and Holly Bennett worked side by side within the halls of power: Brigitte as a Senior Advisor and Holly as a Junior Advisor in the Beehive. Now they are seen as competitors in their sector, but they have taken their public sector skills and insights straight to the private sector and grown their government relations careers side by side. Brigitte is a Director with Franks Ogilvie and a regular political commentator for RNZ, Newshub and Newstalk ZB. Holly has formed her own government-lobbying firm Awhi, and has also launched Engage, which seeks to educate New Zealanders on government relations to improve democracy for us all.

Engaging with government is often seen as too complex, too difficult or too obscure: where to start, who to talk to, why would they even listen? In this session, Holly and Brigitte will show us that the good news is that government engagement is a tool we can all add to our tool kit.

12:40 – 13:30


Considered by many to be the most electric rugby player in the world, Portia Woodman set the game alight from the moment she took up the sport in 2012. A key member of the Black Ferns sevens team which won the silver medal at the Rio Olympics and gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Portia is a three-time world champion. She won the 2013 and 2018 World Cup Sevens tournaments and the 2017 World Cup, where she set the tournament alight with 13 tries. Portia’s finishing ability is unparalleled with a staggering 195 tries on the Sevens World Series. A proud Northlander of Ngāpuhi descent, Portia and her fiancé Renee are mums to daughter Kaia. Portia is a Te Reo speaker and passionate about growing the profile of women’s rugby and female sport, while inspiring young women to follow their dreams.

Portia Woodman

World Champion Rugby Player

13:30 – 14:10

In Conversation

Dr Robbie Francis Watene

Senior Human Rights Researcher, Donald Beasley Institute; Disability Rights Advocate

Dr Robbie Francis Watene is a disability advocate, scholar, author, and leader from Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland. Born with a physical disability, Robbie has dedicated her personal, professional, and academic life to advocating for the rights of marginalised populations. Robbie has been an expert advisor to the New Zealand Government, and is a senior researcher at the Donald Beasley Institute, where she is Project Lead for the Disabled Person-Led Monitoring of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Aotearoa New Zealand. Robbie is also the co-founder and Director of The Lucy Foundation, an international social enterprise advocating for disability inclusion, access, and diversity within the global coffee industry. In 2018, Robbie completed her doctorate at the University of Otago National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.

Sophie Handford

Kāpiti Coast District Councillor; Founder, School Strike 4 Climate NZ

Sophie Handford is a 20-year-old Councillor and activist from Kāpiti, New Zealand. Since the age of 12, Sophie has held the environment closely and always felt a strong connection to and need to protect this one planet we share. Sophie was service captain, student rep and Head Girl at various points throughout her secondary schooling at Kāpiti College. After graduating, she founded School Strike 4 Climate in Aotearoa NZ and went on to coordinate the movement, which mobilised 170,000 people across the country in September.

Anjum Rahman MNZM

Founder and Project Lead, Inclusive Aotearoa Collective Tāhono

Anjum Rahman is the Project Lead of the Inclusive Aotearoa Collective Tāhono, and is a chartered accountant with over 25 years’ experience, working with a range of entities in the commercial, farming and not-for-profit sectors. She was a founding member of the Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand, and has also been a founding member and trustee of Shama, Ethnic Women’s Trust. She has worked in the area of sexual violence prevention both as a volunteer and as part of Government working groups. Anjum is a Trustee of Trust Waikato, a major funder in the Waikato Region. Anjum has been an active member of the Waikato Interfaith Council for over a decade, and she is a member of international committees around dealing with violent extremist content online.

Squadron Leader Elizabeth Reardon

Executive Officer Woodbourne - OSFWB, Royal New Zealand Air Force

Early in life, Libby was captured by a thirst for learning and diverse experiences. She left Nelson at 17 to become a student of Psychology in Christchurch, and three years later, she followed her friends and moved to London. When Libby came home, she completed her teaching qualification and joined the Army. This led her to roles in Timor-Leste and Thailand, before taking a break in 2012 to work with the aboriginal community in Queensland’s outback. Finding life in the desert somewhat frustrating, Libby returned to NZ and trained in policy before joining the Air Force. Recently, Libby spent 2 years living in Fiji where she began the Pacific Defence Gender Network to connect women across Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Fiji. She is now posted to Marlborough, finishing her PhD and raising two adopted daughters.

Tricia Keelan

Pou Ārahi (Deputy CEO and Indigenous Rights Lead), Te Kāhui Tika Tangata (NZ Human Rights Commission)

Ngāti Porou, Te Aupouri, Rongomaiwahine and Ngāti Kahungunu.

Tricia is the Pou Ārahi of Te Kāhui Tika Tangata (NZ Human Rights Commission) and leads the Commission’s indigenous rights kaupapa and Te Hā o Te Tiriti commitment; the organisation’s transformational journey to become a Tiriti based National Human Rights Institute. Tricia is currently enrolled in her PhD with Massey University exploring a vision of Aotearoa that would be made possible if the Crown honoured its promises to Tangata whenua. From Tricia’s perspective, the world needs wholesome exemplars of tikanga, and values-based leadership and indigenous people have an important perspective to offer.

09:00 – 09:05           Mihi Whakatau

Agenda day 1

Wednesday 1st September 2021

Agenda day 2

Thursday 2nd September 2021

Shaneel was born in Fiji and migrated to New Zealand at the age of 14. They are of iTaukei and Girmitiya descent. Shaneel is passionate about liberating people who live within the intersections of being BIPOC and queer. Shaneel co-founded the Conversion Therapy Action Group to work towards a ban on conversion therapy. They have also worked alongside the Ministry of Education to design a more inclusive education system. Shaneel was selected as the Global Youth Leader for Open Government Partnerships and sat on the Amnesty International Global Youth Taskforce. In 2019, Shaneel joined the Executive Board at Rainbow Youth.

Shaneel Lal

Executive Board Member, RainbowYOUTH; Co-Founder, Conversion Therapy Action Group

Superintendent Naila Hassan

Waitematā District Commander, New Zealand Police

Kathrine Switzer

Women's Advocate, Runner, and Author

16:10 – 16:50

Take the first step

Iconic athlete, sports and social advocate, author, and Emmy award-winning television commentator, Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to officially register and run the Boston Marathon. She has been honoured widely for her achievements, including being inducted into the U.S.A National Women’s Hall of Fame for creating positive social change. The ramifications of her work are both joyful and profound, changing forever the face of sports, health, and opportunities for women around the world. While all her awards and accolades are too lengthy to name, there is one particular highlight: In 2011 she was inducted into the U.S.A. National Women’s Hall of Fame; not just for breaking barriers, but also for creating positive global social change. Because of her, millions of women are now empowered by the simple act of running. Or as Kathrine says, “It’s not about running. It’s about changing people’s lives.”

Rebecca Kitteridge CVO

Director-General, Security, New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS)

09:50 – 10:20

Keynote Address

Advocacy Partner​

Due to COVID-19 this event has now been moved to an online delivery.

Final agenda times will be subject to change

Women and Leadership New Zealand