• Deborah Morris
Associate Minister of Women's Affairs


I am pleased to be here today to launch the Ministry's new project, 'Maori Women in Decision Making'.

I am excited about the impact this project is going to have on increasing the number of Maori women on boards and committees. And I am excited that each and every one of the women I am about to introduce you to, is likely to have the opportunity to sit on boards and committees in the future. In so doing, they will make decisions that affect our lives.

I believe it is essential that the boards that make these decisions, are representative of our communities that those decisions affect. This diversity needs to be reflected in the boards' membership, to give people confidence that their issues are being heard and are being addressed.

Perhaps, more importantly, the durability and appropriateness of decisions made by boards with diverse memberships is likely to be greater. Such boards deliver decisions that provide far better outcomes for the entire community, than those which represent only one perspective.

Maori Women have always played a critical role within their own communities, iwi and hapu. A number of these women also have the skills and expertise to participate at very senior levels of decisionmaking in mainstream organisations.

In spite of all the compelling reasons to appoint Maori women in mainstream decisionmaking structures, the number of Maori women in such positions is negligible. In Parliament for instance, there are 36 women MPs, of whom only 6 are Maori.

I am happy to say, that the women participating in this project, who I will now introduce, have all acheived in their respective fields. They all possess the personal and professional characteristics that will enable them to make significant contributions. And, we should feel privileged that they are so ready, willing and able.

Let me introduce you to the women the Ministry has selected to profile.

First, Roseann O'Hare. Roseann is a manager with Arthur Anderson Business Consulting and specialises in business management information systems. She is a computer whizz and has particular expertise in software evaluation and selection.

Cathy Tait-Jamieson, Director of Biofarm products. Cathy has a great business manufacturing organic yoghurt, milk and other related products. At the moment, Cathy is busy developing markets in Australia, Asia and America. You may be interested to know that Cathy has been a home school educator based on the Rudolph Steiner system of education and works part-time as a creative therapist with adults who have learning and physical difficulties.

Third on my list (which of course is in no particular order) is Claire Johnstone, ex Radio New Zealand journalist and a former print media journalist. After fourteen years in journalism and public relations and a few years in regional government, Claire is now Chief Executive of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce.

Fiona Adds, is the accountant of this team. A financial expert, with a particular interest in strategic planning, internal control evaluation and marketing and systems analysis. Fiona established her own practice, Parearau Chartered Accountants in 1995, and manages to juggle two children, her accountancy practice, and a number of iwi-based activities as well.

Caron Taurima is another self employed woman and, like Roseann, she is also something of a computer whizz. Caron is the Managing Director of Carich Computer Training, a successful computer training business which has grown 10-fold over the past decade since its establishment.

Lisa Tipping is a Senior Manager of business consulting in Arthur Andersen's Wellington office. Lisa's career began in the public service in financial management positions. In this capacity, she dealt with Treasury and Cabinet Committees and gained valuable experience in developing financial systems and expertise in the area of change management.

Leah Whiu is the legal person in the line-up, a barrister and solicitor with Russel McVeagh Bartleet & Co. Prior to deciding on a career in law, Leah taught science and mathematics at Kelston Girls and Queen Victoria High Schools in Auckland. Leah has worked on some interesting cases as a lawyer, particularly in the family law and civil litigation area.

Mavis Mullens is another self starter. Along with her husband, Mavis runs Paewai Mullins Shearing, a shearing company. Mavis has a long history of involvement in the wool industry, including stints as a woolhandler, shearing contractor, wool classer, instructor and competitor. No wonder she knows the business so well! Mavis has also recently graduated from Massey University with a Masters of Business Administration.

Vianney Douglas has had a variety of work experiences. The focus of her career has been on the delivery of culturally appropriate programmes and services to Maori and Community development. She has worked as a policy analyst, in fact right here at the Ministry of Women's Affairs, and was a Senior Trainer with Ihi Consultancy. Vianney joined her tribal Runanga in 1992, The Runanga o Ngati Porou and is a Crown appointment to the East Coast Conservation Board.

Finally, we have June McCabe, Westpac Trust's Chief Manager for Government Business. Her role as Chief Manager incorporates the delivery of banking services to all Government Departments. It also involves seeking to establish new business with Treasury, Crown Entities and State Owned Enterprises. Prior to securing this position, June was the Chief Executive of Mortgage Corporation Ltd. June's career has progressed rapidly and she has demonstrated a high level of achievement. She is a member of the Institute of Directors, New Zealand Institute of Management, Institute of Property Management and a member of the Owners and Managers Association and the Chamber of Commerce. What a string of credits!

These women clearly have what it takes to make a difference, and I guarantee this won't be the last time you hear their names.

I am sure this project will create awareness, in the minds of decision makers, of Maori women's skills and the contribution they can make. And I am sure that the women I have just introduced will become increasingly 'known' to those making appointments and we will be seeing them on the biggest and best boards soon.

The goal of this project is to ensure that when appointments are made, Maori women are considered and accepted as options.

I can't overstate the importance of ensuring balanced representation. Of course, we must have women with the right skills and there are plenty of them. In closing I would like to say that when it comes to appointments, the merit principle is fine. If only it applied to men too!! It is a pleasure to launch the Maori women in decision making project.