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

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

The council consists of nine members and includes three members appointed by the Minister for Tertiary Education and six members appointed by Te Mana Whakahaere – one appointment being the CEO, and another member being a current or former Te Wānanga o Aotearoa tauira (student).

Te Mana Whakahaere Constitution


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.


Katie Bhreatnach
Ngāti Mahuta, Ngāti Awa

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.


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.


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.


Stephen Ruru
Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Ranginui

Stephen Ruru is the CEO of the Southland District Council – the southernmost territorial authority in New Zealand.

He is also a director of Milford Sound Development Authority Ltd, and has previously served with Lakeland Health Ltd/Lakes District Health Board, and Department of Corrections, in various governance roles.

Stephen is a Chartered Accountant and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of New Zealand and holds a Bachelor of Management Studies majoring in Accounting from Waikato University.


Jon Stokes
Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Maniapoto

Jon is the owner of Stokes Communications Ltd, which provides public relations, communications, risk and strategy advice and support to not-for-profit, commercial, and government organisations.

Jon is a former award-winning journalist and has had a successful career in sales and marketing management.

He has governance experience across a range of sectors including agribusiness, commercial development, forestry, and iwi development.


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.



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