“Caren is a proud New Zealand born Cook Islands Maori, who is the eldest child and grandchild in her generation. The position in her family has provided a platform for Caren to take up leadership roles within the Cook Islands, Pacific and wider New Zealand communities.
These days, her leadership is mostly exercised as an independent Board member across a range of organisations, including as Chair of the Arts Council of NZ, and member of the Boards of Radio New Zealand, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and the Cook Islands Investment Corporation in Rarotonga. Having actively built a career in governance for over twenty years, Caren’s reputation as a strong governor was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2018 when she was conferred as an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to governance and Pacific communities.
As a self-confessed governance geek, Caren is on a mission to reshape governance practice to be more fit-for-purpose for Aotearoa New Zealand today and in the future. This sees her spending her time outside of her governance roles providing governance training, mentoring aspiring governors and working with fellow governance enthusiasts to introduce new thinking and practices. She is particularly proud of the work she has carried out in the Cook Islands establishing the first formal director’s development programme for the state-owned enterprises sector.
Caren’s professional life started as Sector Manager, Local Government, for the Office of the Auditor-General, following completion of a Bachelor of Business Studies (Accountancy) degree) at Massey University, and becoming a qualified chartered accountant. Quite a different pathway to the one she really wanted to take as a 17 year old, which was to become a professional Cook Islands dancer – a passion that is still important to her today. The move into governance came about when Caren realised that there were very few people from her Cook Islands and wider Pacific communities sitting in decision-making positions on boards, and she decided that this was where she would like to have influence.
Caren is very proud to say she is the founder of the Cook Islands World Domination movement #CIWD – a small but passionate group of fellow Cook Islanders who promote and celebrate Cook Islands success where ever it happens, as a means of increasing community pride and awareness in the skills, experiences and achievements of Cook Islanders globally.
However, her main pride and joy is her family – her son Mika, daughter Kaiata , partner McKenzie, brother Geoffrey and parents Berry and Puna, along with a large extended family.”Log in to view