Arihia Bennett

CEO, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

Ko te whānau te mea tuatahi – Family comes first; everything I touch and do must be about the whānau way. Arihia Bennett MNZM (Ngāi Tahu – Ngāi Tāhuriri, Ngāti Waewae, Ngāti Porou)

Whānau wellbeing underlines every aspect of the role of Chief Executive Officer of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. As the iwi works towards improving inter-generational health, wellbeing, education and financial security, Arihia is committed to helping whānau to take charge of their own lives.

Appointed to her current position in 2012, Arihia began her career in health and social services in 1979, as a Māori Affairs social services cadet in Christchurch. She then worked for Child, Youth and Family, taking six years out to work in tourism. From 1991-1997 she and her husband, Richard ran the eco-tourism venture, O Tapara Lodge, on the Milford-Te Anau Highway; followed by a stint as managers of the Sheraton Hotel on Fiji’s Vomo Island, and then managers of Fiordland Travel Milford Sound.

Arihia has held advisory positions to government, including Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Commissioner (CERC) following the September 2010 earthquake. She has held governance roles associated with Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, including Ngāi Tahu Development Corporation, where she was a director from 1999-2002, and then chair until 2005.

She is married to Richard Bennett (Ngāi Tahu – Moeraki, Ngāti Tūwharetoa). They have one son, Piri, 22, who lives in Australia. They are among the three generations of whānau who live in the family home at Tuahiwi, near Christchurch.