Chief Executive Officer/
Senior Executive Leadership Team

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.

Group Head Strategic Relationships – Rakihia Tau

Rakihia-TauRakihia Tau joined Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu as General Manager Strategy & Influence in 2015, before being seconded in 2019 to lead the strategy work for the Investment Policy Framework in support of Haea Te Awa, our tribal strategy. He was appointed to the role of Group Head Strategic Relationships in 2020. This newly created position is critical to the kotahitanga approach across Te Rūnanga Group, reporting directly to the CEO of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and indirectly to the CE of Ngāi Tahu Holdings. Rakihia leads stakeholder engagement, relationship development and the alignment of strategic workstreams, and manages our Strategy & Influence, Communications & Engagement and Governance Services teams.

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.

Group Head Chief Financial Officer – Darren Beatty

Darren Beatty (Ngāti Kahungunu, Te Whānau a Apanui, Ngāti Porou, Te Roroa) joined Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu in May 2017 as the Group Head Finance & Planning, before stepping into the role of Group Head Chief Financial Officer in 2020. In this role he is responsible for the financial and performance management of the Office of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, as well as the monitoring function and legal team.

Prior to joining Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Darren worked in financial leadership for 12 years. His most recent role was at Māori Television where he was a member of the Executive team in his role as Head of Finance and Administration. Darren is a Chartered Accountant and has a law degree. His career has focused on strategic financial management, reporting, transaction processing and systems improvement, audit and risk management, facilities management and administration.

Darren is a fluent speaker of te reo Māori and is passionate about ensuring te reo Māori me ōna tikanga is part of the life of his whānau. He is committed to whānau development, to his iwi and his marae. He is currently a member of Te Taura Whiri (Māori Language Commission) Audit Committee and has served as a trustee of Tatau Tatau o Te Wairoa’s initial post-settlement governance entity board and as project manager for the rebuild of his mother’s marae in Kaihu, Northland.

Group Head Toi Tangata – Katie McEwan

Katie McEwan has worked for Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu since 2014, and has been the Group Head Toi Tangata since 2016, at which time the role grew to support the organisation’s new responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

In 2019, Katie ably stepped in to cover the position of Chief Operating Officer throughout the duration of Julian Wilcox’s secondment, before returning to her role as Group Head Toi Tangata. In this role, Katie takes responsibility for strategic people initiatives to facilitate the overall strategy of Te Rūnanga Group and enhance its organisational culture and capability.

Prior to her work with Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Katie served 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.

General Manager Te Kura Taka Pini – Gabrielle Huria

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.

General Manager Te Ao Tūroa – Trudy Heath

Trudy Heath (Kāti Huirapa ki Puketeraki, Te Rūnanga o Waihao) was appointed as General Manager Te Ao Tūroa in 2019. Te Ao Tūroa pou is responsible for our taonga resources, mahinga kai and natural environment – a critical kaupapa that is closely linked to our identity as Ngāi Tahu. Trudy’s role sees her steering the strategic direction of these workstreams and leading an incredible team of kaimahi who are passionate about their work. With a strong background in relationship management, Trudy’s skills are highly valued when it comes to supporting papatipu rūnanga and whānau navigate the natural environment space.

Prior to taking up this position, Trudy spent 40 years as an educator, with more than half of that time spent in leadership roles. Most recently, Trudy was the principal at Addington Te Kura Taumatua, a role she held for 13 years. She led a team of 30 teachers and administrative staff, as well as overseeing the education of more than 250 tamariki. During her time as principal she successfully led the kura through periods of significant change, particularly during post-quake rebuild projects.

Throughout Trudy’s career she has developed a sound understanding of governance after working with various school boards of trustees, chairing the board of the New Zealand Foundation for Conductive Education for over 10 years, and serving as a member of the executive for the Canterbury Primary Principals Association.

General Manager Communications & Engagement – Melanie Carpinter

Melanie Carpinter (Ngāi Tahu – Wairewa) joined Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu as the Manager of Communications & Public Relations in September 2018, before stepping into the role of General Manager Communications & Engagement in August 2019. This role leads all strategic communications, marketing, media, events and engagement functions taking place across Te Rūnanga Group, including the overarching tribal entity and all its commercial businesses.

As well as leading significant tribal events including road shows and Hui-ā-Iwi/Hui-ā-Tau, Melanie and her team oversee all Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu communication channels including Tahu FM, websites, print and digital publications and social media. Her team works to ensure papatipu rūnanga and Ngāi Tahu whānau are informed, engaged and participating. Melanie also takes a lead role in political and stakeholder engagement and media relations.

Melanie studied communications and journalism at the University of Canterbury before going onto work in various communications leadership roles in the private and public sector, both in Aotearoa and internationally. This has included working for digital communications and public relations agencies, as well as at Parliament as a press secretary and communications advisor for a former Education Minister and Prime Minister. Melanie is also currently on the board of Sport Canterbury.