Chief Executive Officer/
Kā Pakitua Leadership Team

Kā Pakitua

The name Kā Pakitua has been chosen to represent the senior management team of the Office of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. It refers to the great toki (adze) that was on board the great migration waka, Uruao.

Uruao was captained by famed Ngāi Tahu ancestor Rākaihautū, who is said to have carved out many of the hills, valleys and waterways of Te Waipounamu (the South Island). On his voyage across the ocean, Rākaihautū used Kā Pakitua to clear a passage across the ocean, allowing the waka to arrive at Aotearoa.

The name symbolises the role played by the senior management team, clearing a passage for the organisation and leading us through charted and uncharted waters.

Chief Executive Officer Arihia Bennett

Arihia Bennett (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Porou, Ngāpuhi) has been the Chief Executive Officer of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu since 2012. Reporting directly to the board, Arihia works closely with the senior leadership team to protect and advance the interests of more than 65,000 iwi members, and develop the strategy and purpose that guides the whole organisation according to its tribal whakataukī: Mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri ā muri ake nei – for us and our children after us.

Arihia oversees the operations of the entire Te Rūnanga Group, using strong relationship management and stakeholder engagement skills across a broad range of internal and external stakeholders, including other iwi, central and local government, community agencies and corporate entities. She also oversees the delivery of a range of programmes and initiatives designed to create intergenerational wellbeing for all Ngāi Tahu whānau.

Arihia was recently appointed to the Pūhara Mana Tangata Māori advisory panel to the Ombudsman’s Office. She is one of the inaugural members of The Nature Conservancy’s Aotearoa New Zealand Programme Advisory Board and the New Zealand-China Council. She has held several other advisory roles and directorships, including Commissioner of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Commission, and later worked collaboratively with other leaders in the Christchurch area to advise on the city’s redevelopment. Arihia also served as a director of Ngāi Tahu Development Corporation from 1999 to 2002, and then as chair until 2005.

Arihia is an alumna of graduate business school INSEAD Fontainebleau and Singapore and Te Hono Movement (a partnership helping to drive the success of the primary industry in Aotearoa). She is a member of Global Women and the Tuahiwi Māori Women’s Welfare League and was previously on the board of Barnardos NZ and the Christchurch Women’s Refuge. In 2008 Arihia was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori and the community.

Arihia lives at Tuahiwi in an intergenerational household and is an active participant in her papatipu rūnanga.

Executive Special Projects

This workstream is focused on achieving the strategic goals of emerging or significant kaupapa, and currently includes Haea Te Awa and Te Kura Taka Pīni.

Haea Te Awa

Haea Te Awa is the major strategic initiative that will equip Te Rūnanga towards the vision of tino rangatiratanga mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri ā muri ake nei (tino rangatiratanga for us and our children after us). Haea Te Awa means “to slash the sky from the sea – to create a clear pathway forward”, and is the tool that will help deliver regional rangatiratanga aspirations and goals for papatipu rūnanga.

The five workstreams of Haea Te Awa are:

  1. Investment Strategy
  2. Distribution Strategy
  3. Regional Development & Enhancement
  4. Universal Value Creation
  5. Pou Whenua

Haea Te Awa Programme Lead: Julian Wilcox

Julian-WilcoxJulian Wilcox (Ngāpuhi) began working at Te Rūnanga in 2015 as the General Manager Communications, before being appointed as Chief Operating Officer (COO) in February 2016. He has stepped away from this role until February 2020 to lead the development of Haea Te Awa.

Before coming to Te Rūnanga, Julian worked for Māori Television for more than 10 years in various roles, notably as General Manager, News and Current Affairs, where he managed a large team of staff providing strategic and operational leadership in a fast-paced environment.

Julian has also had extensive involvement in Māori radio, which has helped him to develop relationships with iwi, the Crown and Māori communities. While broadcasting has been a key focus of his career, Julian has also lectured in te reo, tikanga, whaikōrero and media. He is committed to Māori development and achieving whānau rangatiratanga, and has a passion for all things Māori.

Haea Te Awa Investment Policy Framework: Rakihia Tau

Rakihia-TauRakihia Tau was appointed as General Manager Strategy & Influence in 2015, but has stepped away from this role un February 2020 to lead the strategy work for the Investment Policy Framework in support of Haea Te Awa.

As a young man Rakihia watched and learned as the Waitangi Tribunal hearings unfolded at Tuahiwi. In the ensuing years he became deeply involved in The Claim process working as a researcher, participating on various sub-committees and ultimately taking a leadership role as one of the six Ngāi Tahu Claim negotiators. From 1998-2003 Rakihia worked for Ngāi Tahu Holdings in investments and the various subsidiaries. He then moved full time into Ngāi Tahu Tourism as a General and Divisional Manager of Shotover Jet until 2006.

More recently, Rakihia was working as a partner in ARIHIA, a business consultancy. He has been involved in the Christchurch rebuild, helping establish Te Awheawhe Rū Whenua, then going on to work on a number of projects for the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA). During his time at CERA, Rakihia played an integral role in the establishment of the Matapopore Charitable Trust, designed to ensure the realisation of Ngāi Tūāhuriri / Ngāi Tahu values, narratives and aspirations within the rebuild of central Christchurch.

Te Kura Taka Pīni

Te Kura Taka Pīni has been established as a working group of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu to provide strategic and focused governance and management in support of Ngāi Tahu achieving their objectives associated with customary rights for freshwater in the takiwā. Te Kura Taka Pīni will prepare a strategic plan for freshwater using water science, environmental knowledge, and natural resource law and policy – all with an emphasis on the tino rangatiratanga of Ngāi Tahu.

Six project workstreams have been established to support this kaupapa:

  1. Legal
  2. Economic
  3. Science/Technology/Environment
  4. Historical
  5. Political
  6. Communications.

Te Kura Taka Pīni – General Manager

In June 2019 Gabrielle Huria MNZM (Te Ngāi Tūāhuriri) was appointed to the role of Te Titirei o Te Kura Taka Pīni (General Manager – Freshwater). This is a critical leadership role for the iwi that will ensure Ngāi Tahu aspirations for freshwater in the takiwā are realised.

Prior to this Gabrielle was the Principal Advisor on Ngāi Tahu and Māori Relationships to the Mayor of Christchurch, and had held the role of Te Rūnanga representative for Te Ngāi Tūāhuriri Rūnanga for six years. She has stepped down from both of these roles in order to take up this opportunity.

She has held several other leadership roles within Te Rūnanga, including Acting CEO from 2005 to 2007. Gabrielle managed the communications strategy for Ngāi Tahu during its negotiation and post-settlement periods, and as part of this she instigated and was the first editor of our iwi magazine Te Karaka.

Gabrielle has held several director positions, including as chair of Tahu Communications and the Whānau Ora Te Waipounamu Regional Leadership Team. As chair of Māori and Pacific mental health provider Emerge Aotearoa, she has helped the organisation to become a leader in the field, providing those with mental health and addiction issues. Her career to date led to her being appointed as a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2018 for her services to Māori and governance.

Chief Operating Officer

The position of Chief Operating Officer (COO) is a key role in the leadership team, helping to shape the collective Ngāi Tahu strategic vision and translate this into action. The COO provides leadership to the shared services, legal, communications, human resources and monitoring and compliance functions.

Chief Operating Officer (Acting): Katie McEwan

Katie McEwan has worked for Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu since 2014. In her previous position of Group Head Toi Tangata Katie assumed responsibility for strategic people initiatives to facilitate the overall strategy of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and enhance its organisational culture. In 2016 this role grew to include health, safety and wellbeing to support the organisation’s new responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act. Katie is currently fulfilling the Chief Operating Officer role during the completion of the Haea Te Awa project.

Over the past decade Katie has served in various public sector roles in a range of human resources disciplines, influencing how people feel, behave and perform at work to enable organisational performance. A registered psychologist, Katie’s professional grounding in behavioural science has supported her ability to drive transformational change programmes within organisations. Katie’s professional interest areas include leadership, employee wellbeing, risk management and operational excellence.

Te Taumatua

Te Taumatua is the pou responsible for ensuring the integration of Ngāi Tahutanga into all aspects of Te Rūnanga Group activities and ensuring the efficient and effective delivery of the core services through which tribal members can determine their membership, incorporating the whakapapa function, tribal archive and taonga collections, Kotahi Mano Kāika and the Ngāi Tahu Fund.

General Manager, Te Taumatua: Lynne-Harata Te Aika

Lynne-Harata-Te-AikaAs the General Manager, Te Taumatua, Lynne-Harata Te Aika (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Awa) is responsible for ensuring the intergenerational transfer of a strong, vibrant Ngāi Tahu culture through programmes such as Ngāi Tahu Funds, Kotahi Mano Kāika, Ngāi Tahu Archives and Whakapapa Ngāi Tahu.

Before taking up her role with Te Rūnanga, Lynne-Harata was the Senior Lecturer and Kaiārahi Māori, based at Aotahi School of Māori and Indigenous Studies, at the University of Canterbury. She is the former Head of School for Māori & Indigenous Studies in the College of Arts at the University of Canterbury, and the former Head of School – Māori, Social & Cultural Studies, at the College of Education, also at the University of Canterbury.

Lynne has vast governance experience, including her former role as the Chair of Mātauraka Mahaanui, the Māori Advisory Board to the Minister of Education and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu for Greater Christchurch Educational Renewal. She has been a Ngāi Tahu Fund Board Member, a Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology Council member, a Kotahi Mano Kāika Advisory Committee member and the Chair of Te Ngāi Tūāhuriri Education Committee.


The Oranga pou is responsible for workstreams designed to help whānau to realise rangatiratanga in the areas of education, employment, financial literacy and business creation. Oranga provides strategic programme delivery to ensure success for whānau through whānau rangatiratanga.

General Manager, Oranga: Hana O’Regan

Hana-OReganHana O’Regan (Kāti Rakiāmoa, Kāti Ruahikihiki, Kāi Tūāhuriri, Kāti Waewae) was previously the Kaiārahi – Director of Māori and Pasifika, and the Director of the Student Services Division at Ara Institute of Canterbury (Ara). In this role she sat within the Ara executive, reported directly to the CEO and oversaw 121 staff members.

Hana has also held memberships to national commissions and boards, including the Government’s Working Party on Charter Schools, NZCER, The Review Panel for the Foreshore and Seabed Legislation, Ngā Kaituhono – The Māori Advisory Group to the NZQA Board, and the recent New Zealand Flag Consideration Panel, to name a few. She has strong capabilities in management, and in strategic planning and implementation.

Hana’s expertise in te reo is recognised regionally, nationally and internationally. She has held memberships on numerous commissions, boards, advisory groups and committees, and strategy reference groups. She is a sought-after public speaker and an award-winning lecturer, tutor and author.

Te Ao Turoa

Te Ao Tūroa pou is responsible for our taonga resources, mahinga kai and natural environment. Te Ao Tūroa leads the strategic direction of these workstreams and ensures the integration of programmes and environmental workstreams within the wider tribal development strategy to support whānau outcomes.

Strategy & Influence

The Strategy & Influence pou is dedicated to realising our visions for tribal development through the development and implementation of political and organisational strategy, strategic relationship management and strategic public relations.

This pou provides leadership in progressing the post-Treaty Settlement partnership between Ngāi Tahu and the Crown, as well as contributing to re-embedding Ngāi Tahu in the fabric of the community through key external relationships. It is focused on the protection of the rights of Ngāi Tahu, including those deriving from the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act, as well as maximising the contributions of Ngāi Tahu to the national interest.

General Manager Strategy & Influence
/ Te Ao Tūroa (Acting): Rebecca Clements

Rebecca Clements (Ngāi Tahu – Ōraka Aparima) joined Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu in 2012 as a Senior Policy Advisor, and is now the General Manager (Acting) for the portfolios of Strategy & Influence and Te Ao Tūroa. She has over 10 years’ experience in public policy, spending the earlier part of her career working for central government. She has an intimate understanding of national politics and the machinery of government after working in Parliament as the Private Secretary for the then Minister Responsible for Climate Change Issues.

Before coming to Te Rūnanga Rebecca lived overseas and worked as a Policy Advisor for the British Government, with a focus on housing, environment and United Nations. Her work at Te Rūnanga since 2012 has focused on Crown relationships, protecting and advocating for the natural environment with a particular focus on freshwater, and more recently Settlement Protection.

Rebecca enjoys complex problem solving and is passionate about politics and history. Her rural upbringing set a foundation for a strong connection and affinity with the natural environment. Rebecca takes a great deal of pride in being able to use her skills and experience for the benefit of her iwi.