Symposium 2024 Agenda - Women & Leadership New Zealand

The New Zealand Women's Leadership


Thursday 02 May 2024

Grand Millenium, Auckland


08:30 - 09:00
09:00 - 09:10
Karakia Timatanga
Reina Daji (She/her/Ia)

Kaiwhakahaere Hōtaka | Māori Postgraduate and PhD Student Programme Coordinator, Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato | The University of Waikato

Reina is a proud indigenous wāhine of Aotearoa, who has deep ancestral roots connecting her to the tribal regions of Ngāti Hine, Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Tūwharetoa in Aotearoa and also across the oceans to India, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Reina works at Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato in the role of Kaiwhākahaere Hōtaka serving as a Coordinator for Māori Postgraduate and PhD student excellence programmes. She always cherishes the opportunities she has to be inspired by courageous wāhine in spaces of leadership and hopes to be a role model of the same for future generations to come.

09:10 - 09:25
Welcome & Opening Comments
Dr Janet Smith (She/Her)

Program Specialist and Lead Facilitator, Women & Leadership New Zealand

09:10 - 09:25
Welcome & Opening Comments
Samantha Tomkinson (She/Her)

Senior Facilitator and Executive Coach, Women & Leadership New Zealand

Megan Ibrahim square
09:25 - 09:35
Acting General Manager's Welcome
Megan Ibrahim (She/Her)

Acting General Manager, Women & Leadership New Zealand

Schools Summit Event Page
09:35 - 09:45
Networking Activity
Networking Activity

A structured networking opportunity to connect with other event attendees.

09:45 - 10:00
Opening address
Dr Suzanne Manning (She/Her)

President, Te Kaunihera Wāhine o Aotearoa | National Council of Women New Zealand

Suzanne Manning is the President of Te Kaunihera Wāhine o Aotearoa | The National Council of Women of New Zealand, an organisation that has advocated for women’s rights for 128 years. She has an eclectic background, with a science degree in biochemistry, a diploma in management, a Master of Education, and a PhD in Educational policy and history. Her working experience is a mix of unpaid and paid roles, including a 20-year ‘career’ in Playcentre which is Aotearoa’s early childhood education parent cooperative service, retail experience in a science toy shop, student support at Whitireia Polytechnic, and work as a social researcher. Suzanne is passionate about creating positive social change and eliminating discrimination and inequality.

Fatumata Bah
10:00 - 10:30
Keynote Address
Fatumata Bah (She/Her)

Senior Policy Analyst, Ministry of Health; Board Member, Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA)

Fatumata is a Senior Policy Analyst at the Ministry of Health. In addition to her work in government, Fatumata is also a board member for the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), a member on the Donald Beasley Institute Disability Advisory group and a member on the Policy Research and Advocacy Team, Commonwealth Youth Health Network (CYHN). In 2023, Fatumata was finalist in the Young Leader of the Year Award category for the Public Service Commission’s Spirit of Service Awards which recognise public servants who go the extra mile and initiatives that deliver great outcomes for people in New Zealand.

Morning Tea: 10:30am - 10:55am

10:55 - 12:20
Panel Discussion

Allyship in the Workplace: Building Collaborative Networks for Impact


Allies play an important role in advancing inclusion in our workplaces and communities by supporting people or groups who are underrepresented, marginalised, or experiencing discrimination. As leaders, engaging allies and collaborating with other supporters is key to increasing our impact. Our diverse panel will share their real-world experiences of allyship in action: what it looks like, what the challenges are, and what can be achieved. We’ll explore practical tips for being a better ally, how we can work with allies to advance change, and how we can all take small actions every day to drive lasting change.


Gina Mills Gina Mills (She/Her) 
Director, Empathetic and Inclusive Leadership, EY; Chair, Northern Region FootballGina Mills is EY’s Oceania Director of Empathetic and Inclusive Leadership. An award-winning advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion, Gina is passionate about creating environments where people feel they belong. She previously led EY’s Unity LGBTQ employee network across Australia and New Zealand, including key strategic initiatives such as the She Starts Out program to support LGBTQ women entrepreneurs, a focus on Bi+ inclusion, as well as advocating for EY to support banning conversion therapy in New Zealand. She won the Network Leader of the Year at the Australian LGBTQ Inclusion Awards in 2021 and she was named Inspirational Role Model of the year at the New Zealand LGBTI Awards in 2018. Gina is also Chair of Northern Region Football, one of New Zealand’s largest Regional Sports Organisations, which has a strategic focus on equity of access for underrepresented groups, including women and girls.
Sam Johnson Sam Johnson (He/Him)
Founder and Chief Executive, Student Volunteer Army
Sam Johnson is most well-known for his entrepreneurial projects that continue to stretch our imagination about what is possible. He was the Founder and long-time Chief Executive of Student Volunteer Army, which to international acclaim mobilised volunteers to respond to every type of disaster across ten years following the Christchurch earthquakes, before moving to Auckland to lead Projects at STILL; a family office entrepreneurial venture focused on starting or acquiring 100 enterprises that are fundamentally good for New Zealand. Sam is a former Young New Zealander of the Year, Communicator of the Year and 2023 Emerging Director for Auckland Institute of Director. He is a founding board member of the Prince’s Trust New Zealand, a member of Westpac Bank’s Sustainability Panel and a director of several STILL companies. Sam is a very proud father of Elsie who was born via surrogacy this year with his husband Tyler.
Saunoamaali’i Dr Karanina Sumeo (She/Her)
Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, Acting Chief Commissioner, and Acting Race Relations Commissioner, Te Kāhui Tika Tangata | New Zealand Human Rights CommissionSaunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo is the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner and Acting Race Relations Commissioner at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission. She is of Samoan descent and a mother to three children. Saunoamaali’i has worked as a public advisor, consultant, and social worker, advocating for the rights and interests of children, youth, women, Rainbow, and Pacific communities. Saunoamaali’i holds qualifications in science, social work, and social policy including a PhD in public policy from the Auckland University of Technology.
Ruth Monk Dr Ruth Monk (They/Them)
Research Fellow, Anatomy and Medical Imaging, University of Auckland; Member, Autism New Zealand Community Advisory GroupRuth is a neurodivergent postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Auckland, at the forefront of groundbreaking research in neurodegenerative conditions. Supported by a Neurological Foundation of New Zealand Fellowship, their work at the Centre for Brain Research delves into early indicators of neurodegenerative conditions, specifically in patient-derived cells, with a keen focus on Parkinson’s.Ruth’s commitment to meaningful research extends beyond neurodegenerative conditions. Ruth is a passionate advocate for community-led and co-designed research. Drawing from their experiences in academia and as an Autistic individual, Ruth actively works to bridge the gap between research and the Autistic community. As a member of the Disabled Staff/Staff with Disabilities Network and the Staff Rainbow Network at the University of Auckland, Ruth is a dedicated champion of equity both within and beyond their role. Outside the realm of research and advocacy, Ruth enjoys exploring nature and training with their therapy dog, Stanley.
Huhana Hickey Dr Huhana Hickey MNZM
Managing Director, Pukenga Consultancy; Board Member, Odyssey House; Housing Expert Advisor, New Zealand Human Rights CommissionDr Huhana Hickey (MNZM) from Ngāti Tāhinga, Whakatōhea (also Aboriginal, Navajo and Sami) is an academic and disability rights lawyer. She has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair and service dog, was the first openly disabled Housing NZ board member and is an advocate for whānau hauā and all disabled people. Dr Hickey is a director for Pukenga consultancy LtD, a member of the New Zealand Human Rights Review Tribunal for ten years now and became a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2015 for services to people with disabilities. Dr Hickey is an artist and writer with several pieces sold. Her passion as she gets older is to complete her anthology of poetry, short stories and her art. She is also keen to mentor disabled rangitahi to help them find their own voices and become leaders in the disability sector, especially indigenous disabled rangitahi.


Lunch: 12:20pm - 1:00pm

01:00 - 02:00
Development Session

Build your Personal Board: Cultivating Strategic Relationships
As leaders, our relationships with others can be one of our greatest assets. Even the most causal lunch-room conversation can lead to a new idea or opportunity. And with research showing that women feel less safe in the workplace than men, having a trusted group of supporters can be an important step towards improved psychological safety. So, how can we leverage our existing contacts, identify gaps in our professional network, and initiate new connections to help us achieve our strategic and career goals? In this practical session we’ll explore the power of strategic alliances and develop an authenic approach to building a personal ‘board’ of trusted advisors and supporters, at any stage of our career.

02:00 - 02:30
Keynote address
Tania Tapsell

Her Worship the Mayor, Rotorua Lakes Council

Tania Tapsell, who is of Te Arawa descent, is the first Māori woman elected as Mayor of Rotorua. She was previously elected as a Rotorua Lakes Councillor in 2013 at the age of 21 and went on to serve as the Chairperson of Councils Operations & Monitoring Committee. Tapsell has also worked in tourism and top finance firms BNZ Business Partners and Deloitte as a Consultant helping businesses to grow. She is a qualified Resource Management Commissioner, has a Bachelor of Management Studies from the University of Waikato, and Diplomas in Business and Marketing. Mayor Tapsell is passionate about advocating for communities and ensuring a strong local voice. She was Deputy Chairperson of the NZ Community Board Executive Committee which represents 110 boards across the country. 

Alana Thomas
02:30 - 03:00
Keynote Address
Judge Alana Thomas (She/Her)

Judge, Māori Land Court; Member, Waitangi Tribunal

Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Rēhia, Ngāti Kuri

Judge Alana Thomas is a permanent Judge of the Māori Land Court and member of the Waitangi Tribunal. Judge Thomas was appointed in 2023. Judge Thomas graduated from the University of Auckland in 2008. Whilst studying, Judge Thomas was the President of the Māori Law Students Association and an active member of Waipapa Taumata Rau, the Māori Students Association.During her legal career, Judge Thomas represented several iwi and hapū throughout New Zealand on matters relating to the rights of te iwi Māori, and more specifically, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the environment, the land, the sea, tikanga Māori and te reo Māori. Judge Thomas is a strong advocate for the promotion of te reo Māori and has been passionate in her pursuit to ensure te reo Māori is recognised and used in the law. Judge Thomas sits within the Aotea district.


Afternoon Tea: 3:00pm - 3:20pm

03:20 - 03:50
Keynote Address
Sian Jaquet (She/Her)

Executive Coach; Board Director; Keynote Speaker

A former Head of Inspection for Social Services and Manager of Children’s prisons, Sian has always sought to protect the lives of society’s most vulnerable. Today, Sian takes these skills into the boardroom by assessing risk, protecting management and staff, and building a more compassionate, results driven future. She is unafraid to walk into the messy and difficult conversations our lives throw at us. In 1975, at the age of 14, Sian was the first person in the UK to be assessed as dyslexic. Sian attributes knowing and understanding her values as what got her through some major life crises. Sian has also hosted and contributed to two prime-time television series: The Big Stuff on TV3 and Starting Over on Vibe Sky TV. Both series sold internationally and assisted people to breakthrough crisis situations and create new opportunities.

03:50 - 04:20
Keynote Address
Billie Jordan (She/Her)

Founder, Hip Op-eration Crew: The world's oldest dance crew

Billie Jordan is the Founder of the Hip Op-eration Crew, a hip hop dance crew of members aged 65 to 98 years old. Billie established the crew, after experiencing repeated trauma, to ignite the potential of the senior citizens in her neighbourhood. After surviving an abusive childhood and repeated trauma in the deadly Christchurch Earthquake in 2011, Billie Jordan used these experiences as a catalyst for igniting the potential of the senior citizens in her community on Waiheke Island. Billie was awarded a Queens Honour in 2016, was New Zealand Woman of the Year in 2016/2017, and won the New Zealander of the Year award in the Local Hero category in 2015. She is also the star of an award-winning feature documentary film Hip Hop-eration, which has screened in cinemas all over the world, and now Hollywood plan on making her story into a block buster movie!

04:20 - 04:30
Closing Comments
Dr Janet Smith (She/Her)

Program Specialist and Lead Facilitator, Women & Leadership New Zealand

04:20 - 04:30
Closing Comments
Samantha Tomkinson (She/Her)

Senior Facilitator and Executive Coach, Women & Leadership New Zealand

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