Southern GWN was launched in Christchurch in May 2018, establishing a formal presence for GWN in the South Island. The launch of Southern GWN was achieved through the efforts and enthusiastic commitment from a group of Christchurch women, with leadership from several women in the New Zealand Customs Service.

Southern GWN Te Aka Wāhine o Te Waipounamu is not tied to a specific organisation or agency. Similarly to Auckland GWN, Southern GWN is a cross-agency regional network for all interested women and their supporters from any government organisation or agency in the South Island.

Southern GWN’s goals and aims

Southern GWN shares GWN’s larger goals and ensures their regional work is focussed on facilitating professional networking opportunities, leadership development, and supporting women with resources.

Outside Christchurch, government women in other South Island locations are encouraged to connect with each other and their supporters to hold local professional networking events. The West Coast Professional Women’s Network, a network for both public and private sector women, were part of setting up Southern GWN in 2018.

Southern GWN shares the larger aims of GWN, and:

  • Identifies and pursues topics that are relevant to public sector women across the South Island and promotes regional network events
  • Shares resources and information between GWN and Southern GWN and with networks throughout the South Island
  • Shares successes and outcomes from events and connection with their members and networks
  • Where relevant, supports GWN when information or help is sought
  • Shares government information with Southern GWN members and promote information and events publicised by GWN
  • Shares issues, observations and suggestions from Southern GWN members with GWN
  • Continues to focus on increasing membership from women in public sector in the South Island.

Southern GWN Committee

Southern GWN’s Committee, led by the Committee Chair, is comprised of members from agencies around the South Island. 

Kirsty PatersonSouthern GWN Chair, Ministry for Primary Industries – Manatū Ahu Matua

Karen Mora, Southern GWN Co-Chair, Department of Corrections, Ara Poutama Aotearoa

Jennifer Leahy,  Ako Aotearoa

Jennie Farrar-de Wagt, Department of Corrections– Ara Poutama Aotearoa  

Paula O’Neill, Ministry of Social Development – Te Manatū Whakahiato Ora

Catherine Pearson, Ministry of Social Development – Te Manatū Whakahiato Ora

Alexandra Neems, Department Internal Affairs – Te Tari Taiwhenua

Kathy Connolly, Stats NZ – Tatauranga Aotearoa

Alica Barwell, New Zealand Police – Ngā Pirihimana O Aotearoa

Amanda Henman, New Zealand Police – Ngā Pirihimana O Aotearoa

Fiona Barker, Earthquake Commission – Toka Tū Ake

Trinity McMahon, Ministry of Social Development – Te Manatū Whakahiato Ora 


SGWN hold several events throughout the year as well as the Women in Public Service Summit. Keep an eye on our events page for upcoming opportunities, or read summaries from past Southern GWN events on our event summaries page.

Public service in the South Island

According to the 2019 State Services Commission Public Service Workforce data, there are 131,279 public sector staff in the South Island. Canterbury has 9.2% of the total public sector workforce.

Nationwide, 60.1% of the public sector workforce is made up of women. Specific data about the number of women in the South Island’s public sector is not available.

Join Southern GWN Te Aka Wāhine o Te Waipounamu

To join the Southern GWN, signup to our newsletter mailing list.

If you're interested in taking a more active role as part of the Southern GWN Committee or occasional volunteering, please get in touch.