As we bring another difficult year to a close, it was lovely to chat to Sarah about what motivated her to join Te Aka Wāhine o Tāmaki, the value of networks and her goals for the new year ahead.


What motivated you to join Te Aka Wāhine o Tāmaki komiti?

My initial motivation came from the inaugural Women in Public Service Sector summit where wāhine from all backgrounds spoke with heart and gusto. It was powerful. AGWN founding member Jo Hacking then put a call out to join the komiti. The support and encouragement she shared is a reminder to this day - no matter who you are, or whatever your backstory - extend grace and encouragement to one another. You never know what may come of it.

What are the biggest challenges for women working in the public service in Auckland?

Pay inequity – Pacific wāhine are paid the lowest average hourly wages by ethnic group and gender in New Zealand. (Statistics New Zealand, Household Labour Force Survey, 2020, Average Hourly Wages).  Pay inequity based on race and gender goes deep and affects everyone. Its consequences influence broader social and economic outcomes and have long-lasting intergenerational effects.

Health and wellbeing – The effects are further compounded when there is financial stress. Wāhine still fulfil traditional caring roles on top of their mahi. More support will be needed to help wāhine cope with work/home life balance as Auckland re-opens.

An ageing population – People are living and working for longer. In the spirit of ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ and moving towards more flexible working arrangements, I would love to see further support of our mature wāhine. Their knowledge and mana are an absolute asset to our workforce. 

Climate change – A major effect on the development of policy, legislation, and how we interact with the environment in general. Alongside learnings from Covid, and the continuing development of technology, these factors combined will affect the future of work and types of jobs available. Ideally, the Public Service sector would lead by example to retain and re-train staff in its commitment to provide fair and equitable outcomes for all. 

As Chair of Te Aka Wāhine o Tāmaki, what key things do you hope to achieve in this role?

  • The Public Service must reflect the people it serves. As a tamāhine of the Pacific with Pākehā whakapapa, I look forward to launching our Māori and Pacific strategy and bringing to life the insights shared in our workshops earlier in 2021.  

  • To see more komiti members involved in the annual Women in Public Service summit, to better reflect our melting pot of wāhine and present on issues most relevant to them.

  • That the summit is recognised and supported by Public Service leaders as a legitimate professional development day – particularly for wāhine who work frontline, or in shift work. These women need support from their leaders, so they have access and opportunity to participate.

  • Stronger, more collaborative working relationships between local and central government. I hope for our wāhine to make genuine connections that will translate into their professional lives to better help and support one another.

  • Personally, to continue to learn and understand more about mātauranga Māori so I can better interchange kōrero and be more comfortable leading tikanga where appropriate, out of respect for tangata whenua and to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

What can network members do to make the most out of belonging to Te Aka Wāhine o Tāmaki?

Keep turning up, engage, participate, and enjoy! Continue to share your feedback on how to make this network work for you. Wāhine who may think “it’s not for me” I know how that feels. When you see the komiti I stand alongside, I hope you see a reflection somewhere in us of you and realise this network is just as much for you, as it is for anyone else.


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