Speaker bios - Te Ritorito 2017

Justice Joe Williams

(Ngāti Pukenga, Te Arawa)

Justice Williams was appointed a Judge of the High Court on 10 September 2008.  He graduated from Victoria University with an LLB in 1986 and from the University of British Columbia, Canada, with an LLM (Hons) in 1988.  He then joined, and later became a partner of the law firm Kensington Swan in Auckland.

After practising as a partner of Walters Williams & Co between 1994 and 1999, Justice Williams was appointed Chief Judge, Māori Land Court in December 1999.  Shortly thereafter he was appointed as Deputy Chairperson of the Waitangi Tribunal and appointed the Chairperson of the Waitangi Tribunal in 2004.

Justice Williams is a former Vice President of the Māori Law Society and a former President of Te Rūnanga Rōia o Tāmaki Makaurau, the Auckland Māori Lawyers Association.  While in practice, he had extensive experience as a company director including sitting on the Board of MAI FM in Auckland for some years.  He was the lead singer of ‘Aotearoa’, a popular R&B/reggae band in the 1980s.  He is a fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, a fellow of the Law Faculty at Victoria University of Wellington, and an adjunct professor at the Ngāi Tahu Research Centre, Canterbury University. 

Len Cook

Families Commissioner, Superu

Len was appointed Families Commissioner in July 2015. He was the National Statistician of the United Kingdom from 2000 to 2005 and the Government Statistician of New Zealand from 1992 to 2000. Prior to this, Len worked in various roles at Statistics New Zealand from 1971, becoming Deputy Government Statistician in 1986. He was a member of the Royal Commission on Social Policy in 1987-88.

He is a member of Superu's Social Science Experts Panel and Chair of the advisory board of the Institute for Governance and Social Policy at Victoria University of Wellington. Len is a member of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Board, and has served on a wide variety of boards over the years. 

Len's prime interests include public administration, population change and public policy, official statistics and the place of science in policy.

His main focus in recent years involves working with official statistical offices in the Pacific, Superu and the Tuaropaki Trust.

Dr James Hudson

(Ngāti Awa, Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Pūkeko, Ngāi Tai)

Principal Adviser, Independent Māori Statutory Board

James Hudson is responsible for the Tāmaki Makaurau programme.

His work at the Independent Māori Statutory Board has focused on data innovations for Māori in Tāmaki Makaurau, including the development of an integrated data strategy and the implementation of an evaluation framework. Recently he has led the production of The Māori Report for Tāmaki Makaurau 2016.

James holds an LLM (Hons) from the University of Auckland and a PhD from Massey University. During his early career, James practiced in areas of resource management and public and commercial law, specialising in Māori land law and indigenous jurisprudence. He later shifted his career towards researching Māori and indigenous governance and development.

Andrew Sporle

(Ngāti Apa, Rangitāne, Te Rarawa)

Māori Health Researcher, University of Auckland

Andrew Sporle is  based in the Statistics Department at the University of Auckland.  A sociologist and epidemiologist, his research interests include indigenous statistics, social inequities, Māori responsiveness of mainstream research investment and improving access to existing data.

Andrew is a founding member of the Māori Data Sovereignty Network Te Mana Raraunga, he is on the Science Leadership Team of the Ageing Well national science challenge and he convenes the Kāhui for the Healthier Lives national science challenge.

He was formerly the inaugural Māori Health Research Manager at the Health Research Council, where he was involved in implementing strategies for the rapid development of Māori health research.

Liz MacPherson

Chief Executive, Statistics New Zealand

Liz MacPherson is the Government Statistician and Chief Executive of Statistics New Zealand.

Liz is a public servant with 25 years of experience, including more than a decade working at senior leadership level. She is passionate about evidence-driven decision-making, seeing her role as a way to ensure New Zealand decision-makers at all levels have access to quality information.

Prior to joining Statistics NZ, Liz held several senior roles at the Department of Labour, the Ministry of Economic Development (MED), and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).


Ben Dalton

(Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou, Irish)

Deputy Director General, Ministry for Primary Industries

Ben Dalton is responsible  for Sector Partnerships and Programmes at the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Ben’s branch delivers programmes to increase primary sector productivity and economic growth, such as the Primary Growth Partnership, Sustainable Farming Fund, Regional Economic Development, Irrigation Acceleration Fund and Māori Agribusiness.  He is also the Senior Regional Official for Northland.

During his public sector career Ben has been Chief Executive of the Crown Forestry Rental Trust and Deputy Chief Executive at the Ministry for Fisheries. He was also Chief Executive for Te Rūnanga Ā Iwi O Ngāpuhi representing New Zealand’s largest iwi. 

He has an MBA from the University of Auckland, and is a graduate of the Senior Executive Programme at the University of Columbia.

Hon Dame Tariana Turia

(Ngāti Apa, Ngā Wairiki, Ngā Rauru, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Whanganui)

Hon Dame Tariana Turia was a New Zealand MP from 1996 to 2014. She has been Minister for Whānau Ora, Disability Issues, and the Community and Voluntary Sector. She has also been Associate Minister in Health, Māori Affairs, Social Development, Child, Young and Family, Housing, Corrections, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment.

Dame Tariana has been a champion of rangatiratanga (self-determination) for Māori as well as advocating strongly for disabled people and Pacific communities. Before entering politics, Dame Turiana was the Chief Executive of Te Oranganui Iwi Health Authority, the largest Māori health service provider in the central region.

Dame Tariana was co-leader of the Māori Party from its inception in 2004 until November 2014. She was deputy chair of the Ministerial Committee on Poverty, which invested over $65m in addressing and preventing rheumatic fever. It also extended home insulation for low income families and supported free doctors’ visits and medicine for children up to the age of 13.

Two of her greatest achievements are in Whānau Ora and tobacco reform. Dame Tariana received the Tū Rangatira mo te Ora award from the New Zealand Public Health Association in 2010 for her work in Māori public health and the Luther L Terry Award for Exemplary Leadership in Tobacco Control from the American Cancer Society in 2015.

Dame Tariana is the Patron of the Whanganui YWCA and the Weightloss Surgery Trust, Chair of the Parihaka Settlement Trust, a mentor for ABI Rehabilitation New Zealand and a life member of CCS Disability Action. She is also a board member of Superu.

 Richard Steedman

(Ngā Iwi o Mōkai Pātea: Ngāti Whitikaupeka, Ngāi Te Ohuake, Ngāti Hauiti, Ngāti Tamakōpiri)

Director, Whakauae Research Services

Richard Steedman is the Chairman of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whitikaupeka, one of the four iwi of the Mōkai Pātea Confederation, and is currently the Claims Manager for the Mōkai Pātea Waitangi Claims Trust.  He has extensive governance experience in a range of iwi entities, their subsidiaries and land trusts.

Richard is also a Director of Whakauae Research Services, an iwi-owned Māori health research entity.  He also has experience working in the health sector at provider, funder and policy levels, including at the Whānganui District Health Board.

Nancy Tuaine

(Whanganui, Ngāti Rangi, Ngāi Tahu)

Chief Advisor, Te Puni Kōkiri

Nancy joined the Office of the Chief Executive at Te Puni Kōkiri last year, after twenty five years of working for her Iwi in Whanganui.  

In the early years of Te Oranganui Trust, Nancy worked alongside Dame Tariana Turia where she gained her first exposure to the aspirations of whānau ora.  

Nancy was then requested by the leadership of her Iwi to manage the transition of the Whanganui River Māori Trust Board through to a post settlement environment.  In this role she participated alongside other Iwi leaders to achieve the recent Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement).  

Nancy was a member of the Whānau Ora Taskforce that presented the Whānau Ora: Report of the Taskforce on Whānau-Centred Initiatives to Government in 2010.  She went on to be a member of the Whānau Ora Governance Group that had oversight for the first phase of Whānau Ora.   

In 2012 Nancy returned to lead Te Oranganui as the Chief Executive Officer.  She was driven to ensure that whānau ora had the best chance of survival through application and evidence.  At the same time Nancy became an Iwi Advisor to Richard Steedman an Iwi Leader on the Whānau Ora Governance Group.  

Whānau Ora is one of Nancy’s key responsibilities within Te Puni Kōkiri. She helps provide strategic guidance but she is also responsible for embedding a Whānau Ora approach within the operating framework of the Ministry.      

Dr Kathie Irwin

(Ngāti Porou, Rakaipaaka and Ngāti Kahungunu)

CEO, Hope Brokers Inc

Kathie is CEO and Founder of Hope Brokers Inc, a consultancy established in 2007 specialising in Public Policy, Tertiary Education and Research & Development. The strategic vision of Hope Brokers Inc, is "Creating new futures with people and organisations".

Kathie has built a career as an academic specialising in Māori education, research and development. Following work in the tertiary she moved into the Government sector working first at Te Puni Kokiri, as Chief Analyst Culture, and then at the Families Commission (now Superu), becoming Director Kaupapa Māori Research and Evaluation. Kathie currently works part time as General Manager Māori Development at Barnardos.

Kathie’s passion drives her to contribute to nation building in innovative and creative ways that are inspired by her  tīpuna Sir Apirana Ngata's whakatauākī "E tipu, e rea". This proverb speaks to the possibilities of bicultural and bilingual models of change that create authentic social inclusion.

Dr Tahu Kukutai

(Tainui: Ngāti Tipa, Ngāti Mahanga, Ngāti Kinohaku)

Professor of Demography, University of Waikato

Tahu Kukutai is a Professor at the National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis, University of Waikato.

Tahu specialises in Māori and indigenous demographic research and has written extensively on issues of Māori population change, Māori identity and official statistics. Her research has a strong applied focus and she has undertaken research with and for numerous hapū, iwi, Māori NGOs, and government agencies.

Tahu is a founding member of the Māori Data Sovereignty Network Te Mana Raraunga and is Vice President of the Population Association of New Zealand. She is co-editor (with John Taylor) of the new volume Indigenous Data Sovereignty: Toward an Agenda 

Tahu has degrees in history, demography and sociology from the University of Waikato and a PhD in sociology from Stanford University. During her early career she worked as a Journalist.

Last update: 28 Mar 2017