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NZUSA Elects Its 2023 Leaders

The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) has elected the student representatives who will lead the movement in 2023. Ellen Dixon was elected as National President and Tangihaere Gardiner and Minnie-Kalo Voi were elected to serve as co-Vice Presidents.

Ellen Dixon has been the NZUSA Research and International Engagement Officer in 2022. Ellen has also served as NZUSA National Education Officer in 2021, VUW PGSA Vice President Advocacy in 2021, and currently represents on the Steering Committee for the Global Student Forum, the umbrella organisation for student unions globally. Ellen is also the Global Project Lead for the SDG Students Program at UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network - Youth, and was the interim Youth/Student Representative on the UN Education 2030 High-Level Steering Committee Sherpa Group in early 2022.

She says, “While the 2023 team has successfully emerged in a spirit of camaraderie, we have been elected into a time of significant disruption in the education sector. Not only has student debt, the cost-of-living, employment cutbacks, tuition fees, the pandemic, and the housing crisis continued to impact students across Aotearoa, they have imposed upon students’ democratic citizenship. Students have consequently been at the forefront of the resounding call for solutions, to combat the crippling impact this has had on their sense of dignity and social value.”

“Despite this, I have always been impressed by the generosity and tenacity of the student movement of Aotearoa New Zealand, in its ability to support the community, weave together diverse voices, and champion education as a social good. I am honoured to serve and uphold the students of Aotearoa New Zealand for 2023.”

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Alongside Dixon, NZUSA elected two co-Vice Presidents, Tangihaere Gardiner, and Minnie-Kalo Voi.

Tangihaere is a former Vice President of the National Disabled Students’ Association (NDSA) and has studied at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, Otago Polytechnic, UCOL, and Te Herenga Waka Victoria University. They helped with Te Pūkenga’s student consultations when forming Te Pūkenga’s plan around student engagement, while aiding in the formation of new student associations around Aotearoa to ensure ITP students could contribute on issues that impacted them.

Tangihaere says: “It was nice to spend time getting to know some of the incoming student leaders and find out how we can support them and their institutes best. One of my main priorities is making sure people feel seen and heard in this space. Especially with the amount of pressure placed on new student leaders to come into this space and create change, we need to be providing training, support and roles for our new up and coming leaders.

“I am excited to work with the members to amplify their voices on a national level and ensure they are involved at every level of consultation we are involved in. I am honoured to have been voted in by our membership and I hope to be able to support the team in creating a sustainable future for NZUSA."

Minnie-Kalo is the current Vice President of the New Zealand International Students’ Association (NZISA) and is the student representative on the Massey University Council. She also served on Massey University Students’ Association and Tauira Pasifika as the Welfare and International Officer in 2021. She is one of the first Pacific Vice Presidents at NZUSA and hopes to bring more indigenous voices to the national and regional space.

Minnie-Kalo says: “This is an interesting time to be alive, especially as a student, and a young indigenous woman. We have some of the world’s biggest problems on our backs, yet we are still fighting to have a seat at the table. The challenges we face can only be solved together, we cannot all be thriving, unless everyone else is - including our vulnerable groups. It is now time to think critically about things, work collaboratively and not be afraid to challenge systems and norms.”

“Students are the future of labour markets, decision makers, they are the movers and shakers of today and tomorrow, it's time to support them, build their capability, so they too, can live a free and prosperous life. I am absolutely honoured to be representing the students of Aotearoa alongside my colleagues, Ellen and Tangi and I look forward to seeing what NZUSA will do in 2023. Tenkyu tru tumas and Meitaki.”

The incoming 2023 team assume their roles as of January.

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