Women of Influence to be recognised on eve of 125 years’ suffrage

Women of Influence to be recognised on eve of 125 years’ suffrage

Eighty-three of New Zealand’s most inspiring and successful women have today been named as finalists in the 2018 Women of Influence awards.

The distinguished group includes a Paralympic swimmer, an author, a composer-pianist, chief executives, directors, lecturers, volunteers and community workers.

The Women of Influence awards, now in their sixth year, are backed by Westpac and Stuff, with honours conferred in 10 categories.

Awards judge and Stuff chief executive Sinead Boucher says this year’s event will be auspicious because it falls on the eve of the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand.

“There’s a special buzz this time around, coming 125 years after New Zealand became the first country in the world allowing all women to vote. We can now say we’ve had three women Prime Ministers and have made massive strides towards equality that women of previous generations could have only ever dreamed of.

“This year, we wanted to make sure nominations came in for all Kiwi women who are making a difference - not just those who are well-known or successful in business, but anyone going the extra mile every single day for others around them; whether they are nurses, social workers, teachers, or community volunteers.”

Westpac NZ chief executive David McLean says it’s heartening to see so many fresh names in the list of finalists.

“Every year the nominations are completely different and it just reminds us that there are so many women out there making a mark in their own way. It’s clear that 125 years after suffrage, the determination of New Zealand women to make society a better place is as strong as ever. I’m in no doubt that this group of finalists will inspire the next generation of women and men to achieve amazing things.”

The prestigious awards fall across 10 categories, including Arts & Culture, Community & Not-for-profit, Innovation & Science and Business. Some of the more recognisable finalists include: Composer-Pianist Gillian Bibby, Author Steff Green and Paralympic swimmer Sophie Pascoe.

Each year, one Women of Influence category winner receives an extra accolade as supreme winner. Previous winners include Helen Robinson, Joan Withers, Lesley Elliott and Dame Therese Walsh.

“The calibre of nominations and heartfelt stories shared this year make me incredibly proud to be a woman,” says Boucher.

The finalists are each invited to attend the Women of Influence Forum on September 18, themed around the last 125 years, what has been achieved for gender equality and where to from here. Following the Forum, the Women of Influence 2018 winners will be announced at the Awards Dinner at SKYCITY in Auckland.

For tickets and more information about the Forum and Awards, visit: www.womenofinfluence.co.nz.


Full list of finalists:


Arts & Culture                 

Deborah McCormick - Executive Director, SCAPE Public Art Trust

Gillian Bibby - Composer-Pianist

Miranda Harcourt - Performance Consultant, Rata Studios

Nicola Marshall - Executive Director, Square Eyes Film Foundation

Professor Lydia Wevers - Emeritus, Victoria University of Wellington

Steff Green - Author


Board & Management                       

Dr Farah Palmer - Senior Lecturer, Massey University

Dr Lucy Baragwanath - Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Engagement), Victoria University of Wellington

Heather Walton - Principal, Ray White Epsom

Jane Wrightson - Chief Executive, NZ On Air

Joanna Pidgeon - Partner, Pidgeon Law

Lani Evans - Head of Foundation, Vodafone Foundation, Chairperson, Thankyou Payroll, and Trustee and Founder, Thankyou Charitable Trust

Lara Ariell - CFO, Inland Revenue

Professor Rawinia Higgins - Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Māori), Victoria University of Wellington

Susan Freeman-Greene - Chief Executive, Engineering New Zealand


Business Enterprise

Alliv Samson - Co-Founder and COO, Kami Limited

Angela Meyer - Co-Founder and Co-Director, Double Denim Ltd

Angie Judge - Chief Executive, Dexibit

Anna Guenther - Founder and Chief Bubble Blower, PledgeMe

Eleanor Bodger - Director, Eldernet Limited

Greer O'Donnell - Director, The Urban Advisory

Jody Hamilton - Director, JMP Consulting

Kerry Jackson - Founder and Creative Director, MM Linen

Lillian Grace - CEO, Figure.NZ

Lisa King - Founder and Director, Eat My Lunch


Community & Not for Profit

Dr Mahsa Mohaghegh - Founder and Director, SheSharp and Lecturer, Auckland University of Technology

Jackie Clark - Aunty in charge, The Aunties

Jana Nee - Project Manager / Youth Worker, Te whānau o waipareira Trust

Jenn Hooper - Founder and Spokesperson, Changing Places NZ, Action to Improve Maternity Trust and Charley Supports Ltd

Julia Hartshorne - Founder and Trustee, Achieve2B Trust

Karla Sanders - CEO, Sticks 'n Stones

Leanne Hegan - Trustee, Guardian Angels

Lorraine Taylor - CEO, Variety - The Children's Charity

Merenia Donne - Charity Founder and Board Member, Kotuku Foundation Assistance Animals Aotearoa

Natasha Takutaimoana Kemp - CEO, Te Kaha o Te Rangatahi Trust

Ruth Money - Private Victim Advocate and Volunteer Advocate

Season-Mary Downs - Director, Tukau Law and Kaiwhakahaere, Tukau Community and Clothing

Sheryl Connell - Chairperson, Houhanga Rongo Trust

Stephanie Clare - Chief Executive, Age Concern New Zealand

Zoe Lawton - Legal Researcher, Ministry of Justice



Dr Negar Partow - Senior Lecturer, Massey University

Naomi Manu - Director, Māori Student Success, Massey University

Sarah Lang - Project Director, Infrastructure New Zealand

Sheree Carey - CEO, Southland Chamber of Commerce

Shila Nair - Senior Advisor / Counsellor, Shakti Community Council Inc.

Sophie Pascoe - Paralympic Swimmer          

Steph Dyhrberg - Partner, Dyhrberg Drayton Employment Law

Victoria Lessing - Co-Director / NZ Sign Language Specialist, Merge NZ



Amanda Santos - CEO, Tekron International

Cassandra Treadwell - CEO and Founder, So They Can

Samantha Rae Jones - Founder and CEO, Little Yellow Bird

Sarah Vrede - Recently Director, Financial Operations and Head of New Zealand Debt Management Office, The Treasury

Shahed Abu Jwaied - Founder and CEO, Integrate Women International

Yvonne Simpson - Immediate Past President, Soroptimist International

Ziena Jalil - Director - Business, Asia New Zealand


Innovation & Science

Dr Kosala Gunawardane - Lecturer, Auckland University of Technology

Dr Yvonne Anderson - Paediatrician, Liggins Institute, University of Auckland

Ezel Kokcu - CEO, Passphere

Kristen Lunman - Innovation Director, Kiwi Wealth

Kylie Price - Head of Research Technology, Malaghan Institute of Medical Research

Professor Julia Rucklidge - Professor of Psychology, University of Canterbury

Professor Maggie-Lee Huckabee - Professor and Director, The University of Canterbury Rose Centre for Stroke Recovery and Research

Professor Penny Brothers - Professor of Chemistry, University of Auckland

Professor Wendy Larner - Provost, Victoria University of Wellington


Public Policy

Charlotte Korte - Co-Leader, Mesh Down Under

Gael Surgenor - Director of Community & Social Innovation, Auckland Council

Hazel Heal - Law student, Otago University and Team Lead, Hep C Action Aotearoa

Helene Quilter - Secretary of Defence, Ministry of Defence

Keriana Brooking - Deputy Director Service Commissioning, Ministry of Health

Louise Harris - Executive Advisor, New Zealand Transport Agency

Sonia Wilson - Manager - Youth Justice, Oranga Tamariki - Ministry for Children

Victoria Manning - General Manager-Strategy, Deaf Aotearoa and Chairperson, New Zealand Sign Language Board



Kimberly Crewther - Executive Director, Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand

Rebecca Keoghan - General Manager / Director, Westland Milk Products & Pamu Academy

Sarah Perriam - Co-Host & Producer on Rural Exchange on RadioLIVE, MediaWorks & Perriam Media


Young Leader

Ashleigh Smith - Founding Member and Chairperson, Sticks 'n Stones

Brittany Cosgrove - Founder, NopeSisters Clothing

Iri Edwards - First Year Student Representative       

Jacinta Gulasekharam - Co-Founder, Dignity

Maddison McQueen-Davies - Founder & Facilitator, Share a Pair

Mahrukh Sarwar - President, University of Auckland Muslim Students Association

Paige Sullivan - Chairperson, Selwyn Youth Council

Poppy Norton - Co-Founder, Collaborate


Key dates:

-  Tuesday 18 September (morning) - Forum, SKYCITY Auckland

-  Tuesday 18 September (evening) - Awards Dinner, SKYCITY Auckland

2018 Women of Influence Sponosrs:

-  Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand – sponsor of Diversity category

-  DLA Piper – sponsor of Board & Management category

-  Hotpoints – sponsor of Young Leader category

-  Massey University – sponsor of Global category

-  Mastercard – sponsor of Innovation and Science category

-  Ministry for Women – sponsor of Public Policy category

-  MYOB – sponsor of Business Enterprise category

-  Spark – sponsor of Community / Not for Profit category

-  Zespri - sponsor of the Rural category

-  SKYCITY - Venue partner

-  Nautilus Estate – Wine partner

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