Stephen Town

Stephen Town

Chief Executive, NZIST

Stephen has held executive positions for over 20 years in tertiary education, local government, and transport. He is a former Chief Executive of Auckland Council.

Previous roles include leading the Franklin District and Tauranga City Councils, and Regional Director of the NZTA in Northland/Auckland.

His first chief executive role was at Wanganui Regional Community Polytechnic in 1994, making him the youngest CE in New Zealand at the time.

Jill Chrisp and Karen Johansen

Jill Chrisp and Karen Johansen

CJ Development Consultants, Te Tairāwhiti

Karen and Jill are partners in life and in business, but also have whakapapa which intertwine in unexpected and challenging ways.  Jill is a descendant of a Tairāwhiti settler family. Her great-great-grandfather and former Gisborne harbour master was responsible for having the iconic rock ‘Te Toka a Taiau’ destroyed to open shipping lanes. Karen belongs to Rongowhakaata, Te Aitanga-a Māhaki and Ngai Tāmanuhiri, three iwi significantly impacted by this event.  They have spent a lifetime having awkward conversations and navigating the tricky realities of their respective families, histories and lived realities.

Karen, previous New Zealand Indigenous Rights Commissioner with the New Zealand Human Rights Commission and Gisborne Girls High School principal has spent her life championing indigenous rights at home and throughout Aotearoa. While her engagement with human rights issues for tangata whenua has been wide ranging, her main focus has been on the formal education sector.  She is currently involved in advising the establishment of Tūranga Tangata Rite, an Iwi/Crown-owned school in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa.

Jill is an international, regional and community-led development specialist. She works in strategic leadership, capacity-building, project management and research roles with a focus on the promotion and protection of human rights and sustainable economic, social, cultural and environmental wellbeing.  She is currently working on projects in Aotearoa, the Pacific and Asia.

Hemi Rolleston and Ramona Radford

Scion (New Zealand Forest Research Institute)

For the past 18 months Hemi and Ramona have been developing the Māori Forestry Futures strategy at Scion. Working “for the benefit of Aotearoa” (the mandate for CRIs), often means fighting, winning, and losing battles for mātauranga Māori to be upheld in the world of research, science, and innovation. Their journey through this experience highlights the value of approaching the whare of partnership between Māori and the Crown, one step at a time.

Hemi, previous General Manager of Sectors and Māori at Callaghan Innovation and CEO at Te Awanui Huka Pak kiwifruit company in Tauranga, qualified as an accountant and has spent his life championing Māori commerce and new horizons. While his engagement with business has been wide ranging, his heart has always remained centred on the development of his Ngāti Whakaue and Ngai Te Rangi people.  He is currently the General Manager of Māori Forestry Futures at Scion a Crown Research Institute based in Rotorua whose mission is to drive innovation and growth through the forestry, wood processing, and biomaterials manufacturing industry.

Ramona (Ngāi Tai, Te Whakatōhea and Ngāti Porou) has a background developing strategic relationships between Māori, the Crown, and the commercial and primary sectors and uses high-level collaboration to bring about positive change and shift the status quo. As Māori Partnership Advisor at Scion she works as a Vision Mātauranga and cross-cultural specialist to support scientist-researcher and Māori interests in native forest protection and restoration, plantation forestry, indigenous forestry (Sustainable Forestry Management), and tree-based innovation.

Hemi and Ramona are responsible for co-developing a space for Te Ao Māori (the Māori world) to endure inside research, science, and innovation work crucial to climate mitigation and tomorrow’s forests. By co-leading and co-facilitating Scion’s Māori Forestry Roadmap and partnerships with Māori/Moriori, Government and industry their work contributes to the future success of the Māori economy and Aotearoa’s emerging bio-economy, One Billion Trees planting programme, and low carbon future