GWN are excited to announce the appointment of two new Co-Chairs, and ten new Steering Committee members, all geared up rearing to go, for a busy and impactful year ahead.


In November 2023 the Government Women’s Network Steering Committee farewelled outgoing Chair Anita Edwards (Ministry of Justice) and Deputy Chair Karyn Thompson (Department of Conservation) and thanked these incredible wāhine for their outstanding service over the past two years. Both Anita and Karyn have dedicated countless hours outside of busy full-time jobs, to support GWN to thrive.

“During your tenure the network has gone from strength to strength, and a huge part of this has been your inspirational leadership, unwavering commitment to this kaupapa, and the humanity and humility you brought to this group. Your warmth, your humour, and the way you allowed us to all bring ourselves and bring our best, you will be missed, and you have left big shoes to fill”  – 2024 Chair Nicola Johns

At the same time the committee thanked outgoing members; Fathima Iftikar, Laura Olsen, Juliette Hayes, Melanie Smith, and Monique Esplin, for their passion, commitment, and all the mahi they have done to support the network. Anita and Karyn have handed over the baton to Nicola Johns (incoming Chair) from the New Zealand Police and Nina Russell (incoming Co-Chair) from the New Zealand Defence Force. Karyn is staying on the steering committee as a member and it is wonderful to retain her in this capacity.

Both Nicola and Nina are looking forward to the year ahead, and the addition of ten new fabulous wāhine joining the Steering Committee and, bringing their different backgrounds, insights and experience, to the table.

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari kē he toa takitini – success is not the work of an individual, but the work of many. This is what GWN is all about. From the continued growth in agency women’s networks and GWN representatives, the thriving regional committees, the behind-the-scenes work of steering committee members, the support from the ELN team at Te Kawa Mataaho, and the continued support of our co-sponsors Renee Graham and Peter Mersi. It really does take a village, and both Nina and I are excited to see what we can all achieve together in 2024”. – Chair Nicola Johns.

Nina is also looking forward to the year ahead.

“I am delighted to be working alongside Nicola and with the fantastic members of GWN - I am impressed with the energy and commitment to the kaupapa of supporting wāhine in the public sector to have excellent careers and thrive. We’re looking forward to connecting with the various GWN representatives in the different agencies and understanding their priorities for the year ahead.” – Co Chair Nina Russell.

As well as changes at the helm for the Steering Committee, the regional networks have new leads for 2024. Te Aka Wāhine o Tāmaki Auckland GWN has welcomed incoming Chair Joanna Maskell, and Co-Chair Natasha Lewis, and Te Aka Wāhine o Te Waipounamu Southern GWN has welcomed Kirsty Paterson (Chair) and Karen Mora (Co-Chair). Both networks bid farewell and acknowledge the exceptional service of Sarah Leo Anderson (outgoing AGWN Chair) and Jennifer Leahy (outgoing SGWN Chair).

With ten new Steering Committee members, GWN is more ready than ever to continue supporting women to reach their potential in the Public Sector. You can see the full list of Committee members under Our Structure.

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