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First Māori President For National Council of Women

Nelson-based Lisa Lawrence (Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Ruapani) has been named the new President of the National Council of Women.

Lisa is the first Māori woman appointed to this role, and has served as Vice President since 2017. She says Māori leadership in mainstream spaces like NCWNZ is happening more than it was.

“The College of Midwives appointed its first Māori president this year too which is pleasing to see. The challenge is in indigenising mainstream areas like this while ensuring it is not seen as tokenism, and also supporting the membership to grow and recognise themselves in a Tiriti o Waitangi based society,” says Lawrence.

As Kaiwhakahaere of the Motueka Family Service Centre, Lisa fills numerous leadership roles across the region and nationally including with NZ Psychology Board and Pharmac. Previously she has worked for an iwi-based health and social service, NZ College of Midwives, St John, Family Planning NZ, and was a governor of Nelson Bays Primary Health.

Lawrence has acknowledged the huge mahi undertaken by outgoing President, Vanisa Dhiru who was appointed in 2017. She served on the board for over six years, and led the public launch of the Gender Equal NZ campaign, and represented NCWNZ at a variety of events and meetings, including during Suffrage 125 and at the United Nations CSW (Commission on the Status of Women) and CEDAW meetings (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women) in 2018.

“Not many people realise that this role is an entirely voluntary position and we maintain a full time job as well. Vanisa did an enormous amount of work and has certainly set the bar high when it comes to effective representation and achievements,” says Lisa.

Vanisa will remain on the board to support handover tasks until the end of February 2020, and recruitment for new board members will commence in the new year.

The World Economic Forum Global Gender Pay Gap report released this week saw Aotearoa move up one place internationally in its rankings. Lisa says pay equity continues to be a major focus for the Council of Women.

“Pay equality and value for the work we do is not our reality. Looking at the latest Global Gender Pay Gap Report, we need to keep progressing the pay parity conversation. While it’s a positive shift from 7th to 6th and we need to keep moving forward as that’s still not good enough.”

2020 will be the council’s 124th year in existence; the first founding President was suffragist leader, Kate Sheppard.


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