Skip Content

Te Mana Whakahaere is the council that oversees Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

Members of Te Mana Whakahaere are appointed for their ability to help the organisation fulfil its mission in alignment with the requirements of the Education Act 1989.

The council, which now consists of nine members down from 17 reflects the legislative changes passed by Parliament in February 2015 for tertiary education organisations to provide smaller, skills-based councils.

The council includes three members appointed by the Minister for Tertiary Education and six members appointed by Te Mana Whakahaere – one appointment being the CEO and one member must be a current or former Te Wānanga o Aotearoa student.

Te Mana Whakahaere members:


Vanessa Eparaima (Chairperson)
Raukawa, Ngāti Tuwharetoa

Vanessa was elected Chair of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in July 2016, having previously held the Deputy Chair role since February of the same year.

Vanessa has been the Chair of the Raukawa Settlement Trust since 2012 and is the director and former chairperson of Raukawa Iwi Development Ltd – the $140 million commercial arm of the iwi. As chair of the Raukawa Charitable Trust, Vanessa leads strategy and oversight of the trust’s social, cultural and environmental operations.

She also chairs Te Kākano Whakatipu Ltd – a company of six central North Island iwi with forestry interests in Kaingaroa – and is a director of Central North Island Iwi Holdings Limited, which is tasked with negotiating and finalising the replant right and investment option over the Kaingaroa Forest with the NZ Super Fund.


Bryan Hemi (Deputy Chairperson)
Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Koata, Samoan

Bryan is a director of Kordia Group Limited, a telco and media business that provides network and technology solutions in New Zealand and Australia.

He is also the director of Te Puna Manawa, a health services provider to disadvantaged youth and high-needs Māori and Pacific Islanders in the Waitematā region.

Bryan has also held directorships with Quotable Value, Aotearoa Credit Union and Property IQ and holds an executive MBA from Auckland University.

He is a business consultant and shareholder with iToolsOnline Limited – a New Zealand-owned software company. 


Dr. Jim Mather (Te Taiurungi / Chief Executive)
Ngāti Awa, Ngāi Tūhoe

Jim has held a number of chief executive roles at crown entities and brings a strong commitment to indigenous development and whānau transformation.


Dr. Kathie Irwin
Rakaipaaka, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Porou

Dr Kathie Irwin is CEO and founder of Hope Brokers Inc, a consultancy firm.

She has held academic posts at Massey University, Victoria University and Christchurch College of Education and was a senior manager at Te Kohanga Reo National Trust and Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi .

Dr Irwin was chief advisor Māori at the Families Commission and has served on the boards of Ako Aotearoa, the National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence, and is a member of the Māori Caucus.

Dr Irwin is a member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors, Te Awe (Wellington Māori Business Network) and the Māori Women's Welfare League.


Josh Wharehinga
Ngāti Porou, Te Arawa, Rongowhakaata, Te Atianga a Māhaki

Josh has chaired community residents’ association Ka Pai Kaiti and the Community Organisational Grants Scheme in Gisborne.

A Gisborne District councilor since 2014, Josh has had governance involvement with a number of schools and clubs in the Gisborne area for more than a decade.

Josh is completing ‘He Waka Hiringa - Masters in Applied Indigenous Knowledge' offered by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.


Katie Bhreatnach

Katie is a commercial lawyer who has extensive experience gained in the public and private sectors while practising in Australia, New Zealand, the U.K and Ireland.

She has undergraduate degrees in law and arts from the university of Otago and a masters from trinity college in Dublin.

Katie is currently General counsel Australia and New Zealand for the multinational Danone. Katie is also a member of the institute of directors.


Robert Gabel
Ngāti Kahu, Te Rarawa, Te Paatu

A chartered accountant since the early 1970s, Robert has provided financial, organisational management and taxation advice to a diverse clientele.

He was previously a mentor for the Māori Business Facilitation Service and the Institute of Chartered Accountants.

Robert is a director and trustee of Toi Māori Aotearoa Group and has led and been a member of boards of trustees and school committees, charitable trusts, marae and trust boards. 

Provide feedback on this page