Members Spotlight | Nationhood

As we commemorated Waitangi Day on February 6th, 2024, it prompts us to ponder: What does nationhood truly signify to each of us?

Sharing their thoughts and experiences are members, Kennie Tsui, Erica Whineray Kelly, Paula Bennett and Tania Te Rangingangana Simpson (ONZM).

Join us as we delve deeper into the perspectives of these incredible wāhine from various walks of life, exploring their unique interpretations of the concept of nationhood.


Kennie Tsui, Chief Executive of the New Zealand Geothermal Association

It was a pleasure to speak with Kennie Tsui, Chief Executive of the New Zealand Geothermal Association, who resides in Pōneke.  She communicated her energy, enthusiasm and knowledge with her answer to my question about how as a country we are progressing towards Nationhood.

“This question is close to my heart.  I have no affiliation with Māori, however, if we put the Government initiatives aside and look at where we have come from, we have honoured the Treaty of Waitangi.  And I am proud that my Chinese ancestors have contributed to the beautiful history of our country.  In 2030 when our population is predicted to be six million, non-Pākehā numbers will be much higher than Pākehā. Our culture will be super-diverse.”

As the CE of the NZGA, how are you working toward finding the best whakautu that will insure the best outcomes for the country and the people?

“Geothermal Resource is classified as taonga (treasure) for Maori Land Owners and is recognised in the Treaty of Waitangi.   However, there are places where Maori Land Trusts are still experiencing challenging access to the supply which has a very long history, I’m on a path to bring the conversations with Ministers and Government agencies and education programmes together.  The dream is that one day those challenges / barriers will be removed so they can share their successes of the whenua, resources that brings prosperity to their people they represent and communities they live in. We’re working with a couple of Māori groups in the central North Island and a research group that  gifted six new geothermal (Waiwhatu) words in te reo Māori. It’s a long journey and we are making progress towards learning about each other.  The path to Nationhood will acknowledge this.”

As a member of Global Women, what do you see as the organisation’s most important korero towards Nationhood?  How can women lead the way? 

“Global Women is shining a light on the different cohorts of cultures in our membership, and the diversity is very interesting. My specific thoughts are short, medium and long term; firstly, announce the diverse demographics of our membership.  Secondly, could the Global Women staff gather evidence-based insights from our members to celebrate, for example, the Indian culture, the Chinese/Asian culture, then produce a paper, and work with academics to deep dive into the topic.  Third level, how could we advocate?  The Gender Pay Gap is one of Global Women’s great examples, it’s very powerful.  Build on this paradigm and have more collective voices.  How can our members help to make us feel more connected to the organisation? We must build friends and allies.  We’ve been fantastic on economic forecasts but haven’t been foresighting, and that is what Nationhood is about.  Let’s do this at the Hui in May or in other channels!”

Erica Whineray Kelly, Chief Medical Officer for Southern Cross Healthcare

As the newly-appointed Chief Medical Officer for Southern Cross Healthcare (including the Women’s portfolio), together with her extensive experience as a doctor, a surgeon, and advocate for all patients to achieve positive outcomes, Global Women is honoured to add Erica Whineray Kelly’s voice to Mozaic.

Currently, in Aotearoa New Zealand, do you think our journey towards Nationhood and unity is progressing?  Do you have thoughts and considerations for the way this path could be better forged?

“We are at a really tense socio-political moment in Aotearoa New Zealand.  I would have said we were making a great deal of progress, but over the last couple of years we have stalled.  What I consider a glimmer of hope is that we do have strong tangata whenua accompanied by the newer tangata Tiriti.   A group of non-Māori that are really wanting to tautoku Māori as they come under fire. It is easy to be polarised and drawn into unhelpful dialogue so I think it’s important that we’re not drawn into arguments that we have, and should have, moved on from.

We had amazing examples of shifting the conversation from the Hui at the Māori King’s marae and at Waitangi. We saw Māori come together as a collective, putting aside differences, with real positivity of direction to unify and look forward.  The film On the Basis of Sex, (about Ruth Bader Ginsburg) delivered a brilliant quote: ‘Don’t be affected by the weather of the day but by the climate of the era.’  I get this inspiration from our Māori leaders who advise us to keep focused ahead, as they continue to navigate the current situation.

Personally, I’ve been reflecting on my journey of recognising the fluke of my birth and privilege; learning to be Pākehā and sitting in the discomfort of being tangata tiriti whilst learning to be an ally, and not a white saviour.”

With your engagement and influence in the health profession, what do you see as your role, and that of Southern Cross Healthcare, in the development of appropriately-focused, universal healthcare for Aotearoa New Zealand that will contribute to a unified country?

“Southern Cross Healthcare is owned by a Charitable Trust whose goal is to advance healthcare for New Zealanders.  Even though it sits in the private sector it still provides a significant amount of care for public patients, including through ACC and on behalf of Te Whatu Ora.  Additionally, Southern Cross Society, the insurance arm, provides medical insurance to a large number of New Zealanders who access it through its employees’ programmes.

There is a real commitment to meet our Te Tiriti obligations. There is strong focus on the Māori health strategy. The most recent progress is that our Southern Cross Māori Advisory Group, Te Tira Rearea o Māhutonga have appointed Kaimahi Māori Cultural Support in five of our hospitals so far, so the cultural needs of our Māori patients can be met.

Acknowledging the existence of the health-gap for women, Southern Cross Healthcare has also developed a Women’s Health strategy which I feel very fortunate to be overseeing. Access to good health care is a problem for women, and wāhine, especially if you are a woman of colour. The equity disparity is big.”

As a member of Global Women, what do you see as the organisation’s most important korero towards nationhood?  How can women lead the way? 

“It’s tricky to nail it down because advocacy is at its heart. It means extending our advocacy beyond women ‘like us’ to a clearer representation by more women of colour, and transgender and non-binary groups… ‘wāhine plus’. There are some amazing leaders in Global Women, however, we need to recruit more members outside of our circles. That will be what shifts the dial.”

Paula Bennett, former Deputy Prime Minister

Paula Bennett has served as Aotearoa New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister, and in numerous ministerial portfolio roles.  She is now a Real Estate Director. Global Women is honoured to have her voice in our Mozaic newsletter about Nationhood.

Currently, in Aotearoa New Zealand, do you think our journey towards Nationhood and unity is progressing?  Do you have thoughts and considerations for the way this path could be better forged?

“When you speak to a cross-section of New Zealanders and study the polls too, unity is by far the biggest issue for our country.  It’s very real in every ethnicity and cultural group, and there is unnecessary tension.

I feel that we talk more about our differences than the things we have in common and what we want in the future.  Politics aside, you can see where we sit now.  Is this because in the past Māori voices weren’t seen or heard as much? The feeling of disunity was there but perhaps hidden and not openly spoken about. We need to act like adults and have honest conversations in order to get through these challenges toward a better life where we can thrive. We don’t celebrate the differences! We must find our common ground which I hope is a love of this country and its people.  We’re living in a time of heightened tensions. I think it is up to our leaders (not just politically) but also across communities, in Māoridom, and in different cultures, to help us through this to a place that is positive where we arrive better and stronger.  The ‘pub table-thumping’ is where we’re at at the moment.  We need to listen!

We’re such a young country, and l liken us to 19-year old teenagers (which is cool!) because we’ve got a bit of mojo and a swagger, but sometimes the mouth gets away from the brain so we need to grow up a little.  When we get into our 20’s we will grow up quite quickly to a place of maturity and understanding where we respect and listen to each other.”

Through your engagement and influence in Aotearoa New Zealand, do you see unification ahead for our country?

“Unity will be a celebration of Aotearoa New Zealand and our people in all our glory, celebrating our differences because we do not have to be the same.  That’s what describes unity.  I don’t mind what language people speak but I’m happy that te reo is being taught in our schools and we’re evolving as we should in that respect.  However, I am deeply concerned that we are living in a really rocky time but with the right impetus we could turn into a positive outcome.”

As a member of Global Women, what do you see as the organisation’s most important korero towards Nationhood?  How can women lead the way? 

“I do think that having a number of people in the room, with someone leading the korero that addresses these issues would ease the tension. As women leaders we have a sense of maturity where we can debate and respect differences.  It’s interesting to note that if you’re not Māori these days, you can get slammed! Global Women can help to pull us together and then lead by example.

There’ll be bigger ways that we could influence, but I’ve always found that women have a unique influential style that we aren’t given credit for.  We have a safe space in which to test each other and learn and grow”.

Tania Te Rangingangana Simpson, ONZM

Tania Te Rangingangana Simpson (ONZM) engages in extensive mahi with the Waitangi Tribunal, The Waitangi National Trust and Auckland Airport to name but a few of her directorship roles. Global Women is honoured to share her voice and insights.

Currently, in Aotearoa New Zealand, do you think our journey towards nationhood is progressing as it should or could?  Please share your thoughts and considerations for the way this path could be better forged?

“I think our progress is stymied by a general lack of knowledge of the history of our country, the meaning of the Treaty Partnership, and its application in a modern context.  We need to raise the nation’s understanding of these issues so that we are engaging from a better level of knowledge.  This includes teaching our history in schools and making it a part of our immigration or citizenship settings.  We have been stifled for too long by a general ignorance of these issues.”

What do you envisage as the best outcomes for the tangata whenua in order for Aotearoa New Zealand to become a unified nation?

“We need more platforms for sharing the rich stories and histories of our pre- and post- colonisation encounters, and for the evolution of policy and legislation that reflects the Treaty partnership.  There is a mine of information in historical research reports, Waitangi Tribunal reports, and various publications, but these are accessed by only a small part of our population. The rest of the population is largely oblivious.  We need much better story telling.

A best outcome is that we give effect to the promises made in the Treaty of Waitangi to the fullest extent possible in a modern context, that we see the Treaty as a continuous and evolving relationship, and that we lead the world in setting an example of a modern society that embraces this diverse reality.  And, that we do not seek to reduce or amalgamate our identity into an homogenous society. Our difference requires different inputs and approaches to produce equitable outcomes.”

As a member of Global Women, what do you see as the organisation’s most important korero towards nationhood?  How can women lead the way? 

“I enjoy seeing Global Women members raise the debate, inform, educate, support, lead in the many and varied spaces that we operate.  This is an issue for us all.  We cannot rise as a country on the back of the oppression of Māori identities, rights and wellbeing.  We cannot stand as proud global women, on the backs of the ongoing struggles of Māori women to achieve equity for themselves and their families in Aotearoa and authority as leaders in their own lands.

Global Women has a lot of members who understand, and many who are deeply informed and educated in Treaty issues. We can be a powerful force for change.”


All interviews and stories written by our Editor in Residence, Jenni Prisk (Global Women Member)