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 to support 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, is associated with Southern GWN .

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. Southern GWN's Committee are:

Jennifer Leahy,  Southern GWN Chair,  Ako Aotearoa

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

Jacqui Francis, New Zealand Customs Service – Te Mana Ārai o Aotearoa

Nicola Danielson, ACC – Te Kaporeihana Āwhina Hunga Whara

Eileen Yee, Ministry for Ethnic Communities – Te Tari Mātāwaka

Kirsty Paterson, Ministry for Primary Industries – Manatū Ahu Matua

Nicole McCorkindale, Inland Revenue 

Paula O’Neill, Stats NZ – Tatauranga Aotearoa

Jennifer Belworthy, Ara Poutama Aotearoa Department of Corrections

Terresa Day, ACC – Te Kaporeihana Āwhina Hunga Whara

Catherine Pearson, Ministry of Social Development Te Manatū Whakahiato Ora


In 2020, six Southern GWN events are scheduled. These events will cover career development, finance, mental health, and celebrate International Women’s Day and Suffrage Day. In 2020, a new Women in Public Sector Summit Christchurch has also been planned, with more information coming soon.

Last year, seven events were held, with over 300 women attending. The events included skill building, information sharing, and inspirational speakers. SGWN collaborated with other parties such as Ryan Recruitment, Customs, MPI, Aviation Security, MBIE and LDC to deliver these events.

You can see current events on our events page, 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.