Breakthrough Leaders 2024: Navigating Bi-Cultural Leadership in Te Tai Tokerau

Participating in the Breakthrough Leaders Programme’s Te Tai Tokerau Experience marked the beginning of an enriching and transformative journey. The first of a series of five planned for the year, this initial Experience set an incredible standard, offering a blend of inspiration, education, and connection. It was a holistic retreat aimed at nurturing and empowering female leaders from diverse backgrounds and sectors.

The theme of bi-cultural leadership set the tone for the Experience, and staying at Te Whakamaharatanga Marae provided a rich cultural environment that emphasised the importance of understanding and respecting Māori traditions and values. It also provided a unique and immersive setting for the cohort to cultivate connections and trust through team-building exercises like waka ama. More than just a physical activity, waka ama required synchronization, communication, and collaboration, mirroring the dynamics of effective teamwork and leadership.

The camaraderie and support within the diverse cohort strengthened our learning journey. Despite our differences in background, skills and sectors, we found common ground in our shared commitment to leadership and our desire to effect positive change in our respective circles of influence.

Learning about Te Tiriti o Waitangi and immersing ourselves at the Waitangi grounds proved to be a special experience. There was an excellent lineup of female leader speakers who brought unique perspectives on Te Tiriti and New Zealand’s history, while also sharing their personal journeys, insights, and wisdom. For many in the cohort, delving into the history and significance of the Treaty was not just an academic exercise but a journey of cultural understanding.

Storytelling emerged as a key theme during our stay, weaving its way through activities, discussions, and interactions, ultimately becoming a powerful tool for connection, inspiration, and personal growth.

Looking ahead there is a sense of anticipation and excitement among participants about the next four Experiences. Each promises new opportunities for learning and growth, building upon the foundation laid during the inaugural Experience.

I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from incredible female leaders, engage with a supportive cohort, and be guided by the Global Women team.  

Breakthrough Leaders 2024 participant Amy Knightley is the Director of Marketing and Communications at New Zealand Story. You can find more information about our Breakthrough Leaders Programme here.