Hosts: Auckland Government Women’s Network, Te Aka Wāhine o Tāmaki

Venue: Aotea Centre

Date: 16 November  2023

Attendance: approx. 300


Led by our fantastic MC, Michele A'Court ONZM, the 2023 Auckland Summit was a powerful and inspiring day for all the women and gender diverse folk who attended, guided by the whakatauki | proverb, ‘Ma te kotahitanga e whai kaha ai tātau – in unity we have strength.’

A wide-ranging group of women from all levels of the public service and wider public sector, iwi, and communities  in our region spoke on panels on How to Influence Change, Leadership as Service, Climate Change and Sustainability for Auckland and Why Auckland Matters? The role of Economic Development.

The summit focused on leadership journeys at different career stages, featuring personal experiences of leaders like Hon Carmel Sepuloni, former Deputy Prime Minister, Lisa Davis, Chief Executive of  Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, Carolyn Cooper, Aged Care Commissioner, and Jane Wrightson, Retirement Commissioner. Dynamic younger women also shared their leadership stories Saunoa (Noa) Samasoni, Young Leader of the Year at the Te Kawa Mataaho Spirit of Service Awards, and Olivia Shivas, journalist and editor of the D*List, the home of disability culture in Aotearoa.

There was wonderful feedback from many who attended about the value of meeting kanohi ki te kanohi|face to face, making connections, shaping their career paths and being inspired by other women in the public service.


Key Takeaways

  • Coming together was important after major events in the region including the pandemic, Cyclone Gabrielle and late January floods. Attendees felt a sense of solidarity and renewed purpose that was important in a time of change.
  • Leadership as contribution and community-building was appreciated by attendees, especially frank insights from senior women leaders about their career paths.
  • Our region’s role in the success of Aotearoa New Zealand was highlighted, as the economic engine of the country and the Pacific capital of the world.
  • Making Te Ha o Hineahuone (AGWN Strategic Action Plans for Māori and Pacific Women in the Public Service) a reality meant seeing Māori and Pacific women’s leadership in action.


You can see more photos from the day in the Auckland Summit Gallery and a list of the amazing speakers who featured in the programme below:

  • Lisa Davis – CEO Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei
  • Jules Lynch – AGWN sponsor, Regional Public Service Commissioner
  • Anita Edwards – National GWN Chair
  • Saunoa (Noa) Samasoni – Spirit of Service Awards, Young Leader of the Year, Kainga Ora
  • Carmel Sepuloni – Member of Parliament for Kelston
  • Carolyn Cooper – Aged Care Commissioner
  • Jane Wrightson – Retirement Commissioner
  • Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo – EEO and Acting Race Relations Commissioner
  • Parekawhia McLean, Chief Executive, Te Kahui Tatari Turi Criminal Cases Review Commission
  • Lynette Reed, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Lead, Auckland Council
  • Theresa Peters, Principal Advisor People Experience MSD, Co-Chair Cross Agency Rainbow Network (CARN)
  • Sonja Lister, Co-Chair Public Service Association (PSA) Women’s Network
  • Pam Ford, Director Tātaki Auckland Unlimited
  • Professor Gail Pacheco, Director Work Research Institute AUT
  • Quanita Khan, Programme Director MBIE
  • Katrina Taupo, Te Puni Kōkiri
  • Serena Curtis, GM Pacific, and Community Capability MSD
  • Helen Te Hira, Head of Māori Outcomes, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited
  • Olivia Shivas, Journalist and Editor of the D*List

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