Whānau Reference Group

The Families Commission Act (2003) asks us to be cognisant of the needs, values and beliefs of Māori as tangata whenua.

To facilitate this, our Whānau Reference Group helps us identify issues and priorities for Māori so we can work with whānau to enable them to achieve total wellbeing.

Whānau Strategic Framework 2009-2012

Anga Rautaki ā-Whānau 2009-2012

Colleen Tuuta

Taranaki Tuturu, Ngati Mutunga, Te Atiawa, Ngati Mahuta

During the past 30 years Colleen has worked extensively in community development, Māori business and economic development and more recently regional development. Within these sectors Colleen has represented primarily women, families and Māori. Colleen is also a trainer, facilitator, researcher and author.

Colleen has been a self-employed business woman for the last 18 years, and she is currently:

  • government appointed representative for New Zealand Women on the Public Advisory Council Legal Services Agency of the Ministry of Justice
  • ministerial appointment to the Taranaki DHB
  • A&D health provider trustee of the Mahia Mai a Whai-Tara Trust
  • trustee of the New Plymouth Girls' High School Board
  • Māori Advisory Committee member for Philanthropy New Zealand
  • trustee of Inspiring Communities.

Colleen is a past trustee and Chair of the TSB Community Trust and Director of TSB Bank Limited.

Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi

Ngati Porou, Ngati Kahungunu, Ngapuhi, Canadian, and English

Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi was one of the cornerstones of the Kōhanga Reo movement as a means to revitalise the Māori language. Picking up on the playcentre philosophy of community ownership and management, she helped create a whānau development model that is not only underpinned by cultural and administrative sovereignty, but has also created new opportunities in education and employment for Māori women, and whānau involvement. Internationally, the Kōhanga Reo model is now the established benchmark for the regeneration of indigenous languages.

Amster Reedy

Aitangaa-Mate, Putaanga, Tuwhakairiora, Uetohatu, Ngati Porou

Amster has forged a varied and successful career as a Māori Tikanga consultant. At the forefront of Māori philosophy and in New Zealand an expert in ancient Māori rituals, Amster has been providing advice to public and private sector agencies on tikanga, protocols and practices for over 20 years.

Brought up in, as he describes it: "the Māori world" on a dairy farm on the East Cape near Ruatoria, Amster began his career as a teacher before recognising the growing need for consultants on Māori issues, practices, identity and language. He has travelled the world in this capacity, including accompanying the New Zealand Olympic and Commonwealth Games teams to Athens and Beijing.

Maxine Waiti Rennie QSM

Ngati Te Roro o Te Rangi/Ngati Whakaue Hapu of Te Arawa

Maxine Waiti Rennie has over 30 years experience in social services both at a local and national level. She is a strong advocate of restorative justice and actively involved in governance roles, mentoring Māori social work managers, supervision of Māori social work staff, community and iwi development to reduce whānau violence.

Barbara Greer MNZOM

Ngati Mamoe, Ngai Tahu, and Ngati Porou

Barbara is the Tumuaki (Chief Executive Officer) of Rata Te Awhina Trust, a Kaupapa Māori Health and Social Service. She has also served two terms on the Community and Public Health Advisory Committee and a term each on the Epiqual, Quality Improvement and NHI Consumer Advisory committees. She is currently a member of the Māori Advisory, National Screening, Consumer Advisory, Te Rito Leadership and Strengthening Families Management groups as well as the Children and Care Protection Panel at Child, Youth and Family.

She is a Life Member of the Māori Women’s Welfare League (MWWL), a past Area Representative for Te Waipounamu, and was also a member of the Health Advisory Group at national level for the MWWL. She has more than 40 years as a registered psychiatric nurse, clinical supervisor and a lead Auditor under the IRCA Certification Scheme.

Dr Catherine Love

Te Atiawa, Taranaki, Ngati Ruanui and Nga Ruahinerangi

Catherine Love was Director of Indigenous Research and Development at Victoria University of Wellington, before taking up the position of National Manager for Entrepreneurship New Zealand in October 2008.

She has taught at Massey University, the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand and Victoria University for more than 15 years. Dr Love is a Director of Metlife Care, Trustee of Palmerston North Māori Reserve Lands Trust, multi-iwi negotiator for the Port Nicholson Block Treaty of Waitangi claims settlement, member of the New Zealand Psychologists Board and Hutt Valley District Health Board.

Wharehoka Wano

Te Atiawa and Ngati Awa

Wharehoka Wano is the founder of Tihi Ltd, which provides management support to kura kaupapa teachers throughout Waikato, Taranaki, Hawkes Bay and Manawatu, and is also an award-winning event management organisation, involved in some of New Zealand’s premier festivals and events.

Before founding Tihi Ltd, Wharehoka taught English at Whakatane High School, and was a Māori Language teacher at primary, secondary and tertiary levels before moving to the Massey University College of Education as an advisor to Māori teachers working in kura kaupapa.

Bobby Newson

Tarakeha Te Maunga, Matihetihi Te Marae, Tao Maui Te Hapū, Te Rarawa Te Iwi, Mitimiti Hokianga 

Robert (Bobby) Newson has given over 40 years of service to the public, commencing in Māori Affairs and the Māori Land Court, serving in the New Zealand Army as a soldier, 17 years as a New Zealand Police officer, 10 yeas as a cultural advisor in the Human Rights Commission, and four years with the Families Commission.

Bobby has a Bachelor of Māori Studies from AUT and has lectured in Māori theology and spirituality. As a certified translator and interpreter of Te Reo Māori, he has worked in the District and High Courts in Auckland and on Treaty of Waitangi claims. He currently serves on a diverse range of boards and committees, including the Unitec Council, Mercy Charities, Waitakere Community Law Centre, Sport Waitakere and Te Runanga o Te Haahi Katorika.

Waaka Verco

Ngati Awa, Te Arawa

Waaka is a kaumatua with skills in local government having worked as Māori Policy Advisor for the Bay of Plenty Regional Council for many years. Waaka is fully bilingual and has published in Māori.

Waaka is currently a member of the Māori Heritage Council of the Historic Places Trust.