The Women of Influence Awards 2018

Tuesday, 18 September - 6:00pm-11pm
SKYCITY Convention Centre, 88 Federal Street

Be inspired by the New Zealand women who are helping the next generation positively shape their future at the Women of Influence Awards.

This year's MC at the awards night is one of the most recognisable and popular faces on New Zealand television, and host of prime time current affairs show Seven Sharp - Hilary Barry.

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Award finalists

 See below for the full list of finalists.




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

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

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
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


Amanda Santos – CEO
Tekron International
Cassandra Treadwell - CEO and Founder
So They Can
Samantha Rae Jones - Founder and CEO
Little Yellow Bird
Sarah Vrede -Director, Financial Operations and NZ 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
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, NZ Sign Language Board


Business Enterprise

Alliv Samson - Co-Founder and COO
Kami Limited
Angela Meyer - Co-Founder and Co-Director
Double Denim Ltd
Angie Judge - Chief Executive
Anna Guenther - Founder and Chief Bubble Blower
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
Lisa King - Founder and Director
Eat My Lunch

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

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


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




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Award categories

 See below for more on the 10 brilliant categories.




Women whose advocacy has helped to create a more diverse workforce. This may include advocacy in the workplace, in government, lobby groups, or the community. Presented by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

WOI Sponsor Logos Chartered Accountants

Board & Management

Women working in senior management or as directors whose influence extends beyond the confines of their role and incorporates the personal support and mentoring of others in their communities. Presented by DLA Piper.

 WOI Sponsor Logos Chartered Accountants DLA PIPER

Young Leader

Aged under 25 (as at 7 June 2018) who demonstrate a capacity to act as a catalyst for change, and represent a new generation of leader who advocates for and gives a voice to younger women and their concerns. Presented by hotpoints. 

 WOI Sponsor Logos HOTPOINTS


Women whose work is having an impact internationally; New Zealanders whose influence is being felt beyond New Zealand. Presented by Massey University.

 WOI Sponsor Logos MASSEY

Innovation & Science 

Women who are driving scientific, technological, or other significant innovation either within their business or workplace or within the broader community. Presented by Mastercard.


Public Policy

Women working in the public sector at either a local or national level who use their influence to work towards better social inclusion and equality. Presented by Ministry for Women. 

 WOI Sponsor Logos ministry for women

Business Enterprise

Women who have substantially developed a business (must have been running for at least 36 months as at 7 June 2018) and led its strategy and direction, as an owner or an operator. Presented by MYOB. 

 WOI Sponsor Logos myob

Arts & Culture

Women who contribute to the advancement of arts and culture, either as creative artists or by enabling others to further New Zealand arts and culture. 


Community & Not for Profit

Women working in community projects or campaigns in the not for profit sector, which may include health, local education, domestic violence, financial, literacy, cultural or ethnic diversity programmes. Presented by Spark.

WOI Sponsor Logos SPARK 


Rural Women who demonstrate leadership and a positive influence in rural communities and in the primary production sector. Presented by Zespri.  

 WOI Sponsor Logos ZESPRI
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The Awards have been selected by a prestigious panel of judges.

Dame Rosanne Meo

Dame Roseanne Meo

Dame Rosanne Meo is a prominent New Zealand businesswoman. In 1991 she was the first female president of the Employers' Federation and in her time as a public director, has chaired Television New Zealand and sat on the board of Mercury Energy, Sky TV, Ports of Auckland, Forestry Corporation and Baycorp.

She currently chairs Briscoes and the Real Estate Institute, is a Director of Overland Footwear, James Dunlop Textiles and a Trustee of Kelliher Trust and the Middlemore Foundation.

Dame Rosanne is renowned for bringing her business expertise into non-profit organisations such as the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra Trust Board, Liggins Institute, South Auckland Health Foundation and the Kelliher Charitable Trust. She was awarded a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2011 for services to business and community and was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1993.

Sinead Boucher

Stuff CEO 60x60px

Sinead was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Stuff in August 2017. Prior to this she held the position of Fairfax Media’s New Zealand Group Executive Editor since September 2013. In this role she has overseen the largest newsroom in the country, responsible for the editorial teams behind Fairfax’s stable of newspapers, magazines and New Zealand’s biggest domestic site Stuff.

Under Sinead’s watch, Stuff has grown to record audience numbers and was recently named as New Zealand’s most influential publishing brand. She has driven significant organisational transformation whilst in this role, creating an award-winning newsroom equipped to serve audiences and their modern ways of engaging across the country.

Sinead brings a sharp focus on quality, innovative journalism that serves the interests of New Zealand communities. From leading her team through challenging natural disasters such as the Kaikoura earthquake through to special long-term investigation projects like Faces of Innocents, the global chart-topping podcast series Black Hands and the video-led investigation unit Stuff Circuit, Sinead’s passion for driving word-class results is endless.

Sinead has a long tenure with Fairfax. She began her career with us in 1993 as a reporter for The Press, before heading to London where she worked as a digital journalist for the Financial Times site,, and as a general correspondent for Reuters' London bureau. In 2004 she returned to New Zealand to be the Assistant Editor at The Press, where she was charged with developing and editing the online presence at She went on to further prove her digital development skills and newsroom leadership in group-wide online and digital roles.

Sue Foley

Sue Foley 60x60px

Sue Foley is recognised as one of New Zealand’s most well respected corporate affairs and reputation management executives. She joined Westpac New Zealand after extensive roles in journalism, broadcasting, government, media, marketing and corporate relations.
Ms Foley is a former member of the Westpac New Zealand Executive Team where she was responsible for the delivery of the organisation’s reputation management, including media, government relations, sustainability, community, sponsorship, social media and internal communications.
She has retained a part time position with Westpac as Director of External Relations as well as managing a portfolios of Board positions including CEDA and Chair of Food HQ.
MS Foley joined Westpac in March 2010 from Massey University where she was Assistant Vice Chancellor,

External Affairs, responsible for the marketing and corporate communications and a member of the Senior Leadership Team.
Prior to Massey University, Ms Foley was General Manager Corporate Affairs of Toll NZ from 2003 – 2008, a period of significant change and public scrutiny for the organisation with the changes of ownership from Tranz Rail, and then to the New Zealand Government. Ms Foley’s role was critical in establishing the communication of the change across all stakeholders, and in the management of those relationships. Ms Foley was the company’s spokesperson during this time and dealt with numerous crisis management incidents.
Ms Foley has also held senior roles across government, television and public relations including Parliamentary Chief of Staff of the Opposition and Chief of Staff TV3 News.

Jamie TuutaJamie Tuuta 60x60px

Jamie is the Māori Trustee and CEO of Te Tumu Paeroa. Te Tumu Paeroa protects and enhances Maori land and assets, administering 100,000 hectares of land throughout the country and managing a variety of investment interests.

Jamie has held a range of governance positions in the following sectors: iwi development, agribusiness, fishing, investment, health, Māori development, tourism and education. He is currently a director of Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd, Te Ohu Kaimoana Trustee Ltd, Wools of New Zealand, Taranaki Investment Management Ltd and is a board member of Tourism New Zealand.

He is the former chair of Parininihi ki Waitōtara Incorporation a large land based farming business, Te Runanga o Ngāti Mutunga and the Ngati Mutunga ki Wharekauri Asset Holding Company. He is also a former director of Port Nicholson Fisheries Ltd a lobster export business and was a member of the Government appointed Investment Advisory Panel for the Primary Growth Partnership.

Jamie is passionate about investing in innovation and increasing the economic and environmental performance of our primary industries, particularly the Māori pastoral and fishing sectors. He has a particular interest in building and developing the capacity and capability of the Māori primary sector.
Jamie is also a recipient of the Sir Peter Blake Emerging Leadership Award.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes 60x60px

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. His business interests include a diverse range of industries from manufacturing to property to technology. As a technology commentator he has a broad presence both in the traditional media and extensively online. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to aviation technology, enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

He is a globally recognized subject matter expert with an extensive following across multiple channels. His commentary has been published on Network World, Forbes, ReadWriteWeb, GigaOm, The Guardian and a wide variety of publications – both print and online. Often included in lists of the most influential technology thinkers globally, Ben is also an active member of the Clouderati, a global group of Cloud thought leaders and is in demand as a speaker at conferences and events all around the world.

As organizations react to the demands for more flexible working environments, the impacts of the economic downturn and the existence of multiple form-factor devices and ubiquitous connectivity, Cloud computing stands alone as the technology paradigm that enables the convergence of those trends – Ben’s insight into these factors has helped organizations large and small, buy-side and sell-side, to navigate a challenging path from the old paradigm to the new one.

Ben is passionate about technology as an enabler and enjoys exploring that theme in various settings.

Professor Mary Sewell

Mary Sewell 60x60px

Mary A. Sewell is a Professor of Marine Biology at the University of Auckland where she studies marine invertebrates with a focus on how the environment influences early development.  At the university she has participated herself in the “Women in Leadership Programme”, and the “Future Academic Leaders Programme”, and acts as an official and unofficial mentor for women at all stages of their academic careers (from undergraduate to senior academics).

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Entry criteria

Candidates will be judged on their demonstrated vision, leadership, innovation and action in and beyond their field; their impact and how it was achieved.

The judging panel will give consideration to:

  1. Personal, academic, professional and community achievements.
  2. Demonstration of collaboration within or beyond their field, and a wider circle of influence than their direct role.
  3. If their influence has contributed to women’s social and economic advancement.
  4. Involvement and contribution to New Zealand communities through collaboration and mentoring.
  5. Extent to which their contribution was innovative.
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