Events and Workshops

Our Events and Workshops are open to Multiethnic Young Leaders members and MYLN Corporate Impact Investors. These include the Table for Ten Series, Annual Matariki Reunion, and Leadership Workshops.

TABLE FOR TEN

Food is not only sustenance but also a powerful cultural symbol that brings people together. Across diverse cultures, the act of sharing a meal helps to foster connections, build trust, and promote understanding. It’s a universal language that transcends barriers and creates a sense of belonging. 

Recognising the significance of food in cultural identity and community bonding, our new series, ‘Table for Ten,’ brings together nine emerging leaders and a distinguished host —ten people in total— for an evening of meaningful kōrero (conversation) over shared kai (food).

At each gathering, we will commence with whakawhanaungatanga introductions inspired by food and conclude by inviting the distinguished host to share their leadership journey, stories and insights with our emerging leaders.

‘Table for Ten’ is designed to facilitate deeper discussions in a relaxed setting, fostering authentic connections through shared interests to strengthen unity and social cohesion.

ANNUAL MATARIKI REUNION

Each year, as the Pleiades cluster lights up our southern skies, we gather to celebrate the Māori New Year at our flagship event – the Annual Matariki Reunion.

The evening begins with a pōwhiri for new members, reminding us of who we are – our kaupapa, objectives, initiatives, values, and aspirations.

Together, we reflect on the past, celebrate achievements, and set our intentions for the upcoming year. 

The event presents an opportunity for both our longstanding and new members to share stories, break bread, and strengthen bonds.

LEADERSHIP WORKSHOPS

Our leadership workshops help members develop as culturally confident, inclusive, and purpose-driven leaders in both the workplace and the broader community.

We partner with expert facilitators to deliver the following workshops each year:

  • Rangatiratanga: Perspectives on Leadership from Te Ao Māori
  • Authenticity: Leading as Your Authentic Self
  • Self-Care: Burnout, Resilience and Wellbeing
  • Purpose: Committing to Purposeful Leadership

SPEAKER AND NETWORKING SERIES (SNS)

Throughout 2022 and 2023, we partnered with KPMG New Zealand to deliver the Speaker and Networking Series (SNS). This series provided an opportunity for members and the wider community of next-generation leaders in Aotearoa to hear from influential leaders across diverse backgrounds, industries, and ethnicities. Speakers were invited to share their stories, insights, and leadership journeys with our emerging leaders.

The purposes of the series were to:

  • Inspire, educate, and empower our ethnically diverse members and audience.
  • Normalise and increase the visibility of leaders from underrepresented communities in positions of influence.
  • Foster meaningful conversations on diversity, equity, and inclusion in leadership and the workplace.
  • Promote social cohesion in Aotearoa (New Zealand) through connection and collaboration.

Our Speakers

Mervin Singham

Chief Executive, Ministry for Ethnic Communities (he/him)

Mervin is a vastly experienced public servant and previously led the Office of Ethnic Affairs. Prior to becoming the new Ministry’s first Chief Executive he was appointed Executive Director, Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions in 2018. From 2012 to 2018 he held a number of executive leadership roles at the Department of Internal Affairs, including Deputy Chief Executive, Stewardship and Organisational Sustainability and Deputy Chief Executive, Strategy and Governance.

Between 2000 and 2004 he was Chief Mediator at the Human Rights Commission. He was Complaints Manager at the Office of Race Relations Conciliator from 1997 to 2000.

Mervin holds a Master of Laws (1st Class Honours), Auckland University and a Bachelor of Laws (Honours), University of Canterbury.

Mervin is a vastly experienced public servant and previously led the Office of Ethnic Affairs. Prior to becoming the new Ministry’s first Chief Executive he was appointed Executive Director, Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions in 2018. From 2012 to 2018 he held a number of executive leadership roles at the Department of Internal Affairs, including Deputy Chief Executive, Stewardship and Organisational Sustainability and Deputy Chief Executive, Strategy and Governance.

Between 2000 and 2004 he was Chief Mediator at the Human Rights Commission. He was Complaints Manager at the Office of Race Relations Conciliator from 1997 to 2000.

Mervin holds a Master of Laws (1st Class Honours), Auckland University and a Bachelor of Laws (Honours), University of Canterbury.

Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, NZ Human Rights Commission (she/her)

Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo is the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission.

She is of Samoan descent and originally from the village of Vailima in Upolu, Samoa.

Saunoamaali’i has a strong commitment to improving equal employment opportunities, particularly bringing a Pasifika perspective to human rights issues facing Aotearoa New Zealand.

For 20 years, Saunoamaali’i has worked as a public advisor and social worker, advocating for the interests of children, women, families, the rainbow community, social protection, youth employment, gender equality and an end to gender violence.

She believes pay equity and equal employment opportunities are key avenues  foryouth empowerment, women’s empowerment, reduction of family poverty, freedom from gender based violence, and community wellbeing.

Saunoamaali’i holds qualifications in social work, social policy, mediation and science, including a PhD in public policy from AUT.

Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo is the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission.

She is of Samoan descent and originally from the village of Vailima in Upolu, Samoa.

Saunoamaali’i has a strong commitment to improving equal employment opportunities, particularly bringing a Pasifika perspective to human rights issues facing Aotearoa New Zealand.

For 20 years, Saunoamaali’i has worked as a public advisor and social worker, advocating for the interests of children, women, families, the rainbow community, social protection, youth employment, gender equality and an end to gender violence.

She believes pay equity and equal employment opportunities are key avenues  foryouth empowerment, women’s empowerment, reduction of family poverty, freedom from gender based violence, and community wellbeing.

Saunoamaali’i holds qualifications in social work, social policy, mediation and science, including a PhD in public policy from AUT.

Tiana Epati

Barrister and Former President, New Zealand Law Society (she/her)

Tiana was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in September 2000 after graduating from Auckland University with a BA in philosophy and history and an LLB. For many years she was a Crown prosecutor in Auckland and Wellington. She worked at Crown Law Office in 2008 working in the criminal law team before moving to Gisborne in 2012, where she now works as a criminal barrister. 

Tiana is an established leader in the legal profession and community. In 2019, Tiana became just the fourth woman to be President of the New Zealand Law Society. That same year, online legal blog site “LawFuel” named her “Lawyer of the Year” for the fresh voice and leadership she brought to the role. Since the first President was elected in 1897, the national lawyers’ organisation and regulator has had 30 Presidents. Tiana is the first President of Pasifika descent and one of the youngest people to ever serve in the role. She finished as President in April 2022. Presently, Tiana continues her governance work as Trustee on the Moana Pasifika Community Trust who are the Super Rugby franchise license holder for the Moana Pasifika Rugby Team.

Tiana was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in September 2000 after graduating from Auckland University with a BA in philosophy and history and an LLB. For many years she was a Crown prosecutor in Auckland and Wellington. She worked at Crown Law Office in 2008 working in the criminal law team before moving to Gisborne in 2012, where she now works as a criminal barrister. 

Tiana is an established leader in the legal profession and community. In 2019, Tiana became just the fourth woman to be President of the New Zealand Law Society. That same year, online legal blog site “LawFuel” named her “Lawyer of the Year” for the fresh voice and leadership she brought to the role. Since the first President was elected in 1897, the national lawyers’ organisation and regulator has had 30 Presidents. Tiana is the first President of Pasifika descent and one of the youngest people to ever serve in the role. She finished as President in April 2022. Presently, Tiana continues her governance work as Trustee on the Moana Pasifika Community Trust who are the Super Rugby franchise license holder for the Moana Pasifika Rugby Team.

Fiona Cassidy

Executive Director, Office Of The Children’s Commissioner (she/her)

Iwi affiliations – Ngāti Kuri, Te Aupōuri, Te Rarawa

With over 25 years in communications and public relations Fiona is recognised as one of New Zealand’s senior communications professionals.

In the last fifteen years she has held a number of senior executive leadership roles in both the public and private sector. Fiona has worked nationally and internationally both in-house and as consultant. 

Fiona is the first Chairperson of the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRINZ) and a Life member. She also holds a number of Director and Board appointments in business, government and not-for-profit organisations both nationally and internationally. 

Fiona has a Master in Business Studies endorsed in Communication Management and a Master in Philosophy endorsed in International Relations and Defence Studies.

Her greatest achievements are her whānau and mokopuna.

Iwi affiliations – Ngāti Kuri, Te Aupōuri, Te Rarawa

With over 25 years in communications and public relations Fiona is recognised as one of New Zealand’s senior communications professionals.

In the last fifteen years she has held a number of senior executive leadership roles in both the public and private sector. Fiona has worked nationally and internationally both in-house and as consultant. 

Fiona is the first Chairperson of the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRINZ) and a Life member. She also holds a number of Director and Board appointments in business, government and not-for-profit organisations both nationally and internationally. 

Fiona has a Master in Business Studies endorsed in Communication Management and a Master in Philosophy endorsed in International Relations and Defence Studies.

Her greatest achievements are her whānau and mokopuna.

Hon Priyanca Radhakrishnan

Minister for Diversity, Inclusion & Ethnic Communities, New Zealand Parliament (she/her)

Hon Priyanca Radhakrishnan is the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities, Minister for Youth, Associate Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, and Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment and MP for Maungakiekie.  She is the first person of Indian origin to become a Minister in New Zealand and was appointed in November 2020.

Born in India, she went to school in Singapore, and then moved to New Zealand to further her education.  She has spent her work life advocating on behalf of people whose voices are often unheard – survivors of domestic violence, and migrant workers who have been exploited.  She strongly believes that everyone has the right to live with dignity – that means equitable access to affordable housing, quality education and decent, secure work.

Hon Priyanca Radhakrishnan is the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities, Minister for Youth, Associate Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, and Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment and MP for Maungakiekie.  She is the first person of Indian origin to become a Minister in New Zealand and was appointed in November 2020.

Born in India, she went to school in Singapore, and then moved to New Zealand to further her education.  She has spent her work life advocating on behalf of people whose voices are often unheard – survivors of domestic violence, and migrant workers who have been exploited.  She strongly believes that everyone has the right to live with dignity – that means equitable access to affordable housing, quality education and decent, secure work.

Mervin Singham

Chief Executive, Ministry for Ethnic Communities (he/him)

Mervin is a vastly experienced public servant and previously led the Office of Ethnic Affairs. Prior to becoming the new Ministry’s first Chief Executive he was appointed Executive Director, Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions in 2018. From 2012 to 2018 he held a number of executive leadership roles at the Department of Internal Affairs, including Deputy Chief Executive, Stewardship and Organisational Sustainability and Deputy Chief Executive, Strategy and Governance.

Between 2000 and 2004 he was Chief Mediator at the Human Rights Commission. He was Complaints Manager at the Office of Race Relations Conciliator from 1997 to 2000.

Mervin holds a Master of Laws (1st Class Honours), Auckland University and a Bachelor of Laws (Honours), University of Canterbury.

Mervin is a vastly experienced public servant and previously led the Office of Ethnic Affairs. Prior to becoming the new Ministry’s first Chief Executive he was appointed Executive Director, Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions in 2018. From 2012 to 2018 he held a number of executive leadership roles at the Department of Internal Affairs, including Deputy Chief Executive, Stewardship and Organisational Sustainability and Deputy Chief Executive, Strategy and Governance.

Between 2000 and 2004 he was Chief Mediator at the Human Rights Commission. He was Complaints Manager at the Office of Race Relations Conciliator from 1997 to 2000.

Mervin holds a Master of Laws (1st Class Honours), Auckland University and a Bachelor of Laws (Honours), University of Canterbury.

Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, NZ Human Rights Commission (she/her)

Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo is the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission.

She is of Samoan descent and originally from the village of Vailima in Upolu, Samoa.

Saunoamaali’i has a strong commitment to improving equal employment opportunities, particularly bringing a Pasifika perspective to human rights issues facing Aotearoa New Zealand.

For 20 years, Saunoamaali’i has worked as a public advisor and social worker, advocating for the interests of children, women, families, the rainbow community, social protection, youth employment, gender equality and an end to gender violence.

She believes pay equity and equal employment opportunities are key avenues  foryouth empowerment, women’s empowerment, reduction of family poverty, freedom from gender based violence, and community wellbeing.

Saunoamaali’i holds qualifications in social work, social policy, mediation and science, including a PhD in public policy from AUT.

Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo is the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission.

She is of Samoan descent and originally from the village of Vailima in Upolu, Samoa.

Saunoamaali’i has a strong commitment to improving equal employment opportunities, particularly bringing a Pasifika perspective to human rights issues facing Aotearoa New Zealand.

For 20 years, Saunoamaali’i has worked as a public advisor and social worker, advocating for the interests of children, women, families, the rainbow community, social protection, youth employment, gender equality and an end to gender violence.

She believes pay equity and equal employment opportunities are key avenues  foryouth empowerment, women’s empowerment, reduction of family poverty, freedom from gender based violence, and community wellbeing.

Saunoamaali’i holds qualifications in social work, social policy, mediation and science, including a PhD in public policy from AUT.

Tiana Epati

Barrister and Former President, New Zealand Law Society (she/her)

Tiana was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in September 2000 after graduating from Auckland University with a BA in philosophy and history and an LLB. For many years she was a Crown prosecutor in Auckland and Wellington. She worked at Crown Law Office in 2008 working in the criminal law team before moving to Gisborne in 2012, where she now works as a criminal barrister. 

Tiana is an established leader in the legal profession and community. In 2019, Tiana became just the fourth woman to be President of the New Zealand Law Society. That same year, online legal blog site “LawFuel” named her “Lawyer of the Year” for the fresh voice and leadership she brought to the role. Since the first President was elected in 1897, the national lawyers’ organisation and regulator has had 30 Presidents. Tiana is the first President of Pasifika descent and one of the youngest people to ever serve in the role. She finished as President in April 2022. Presently, Tiana continues her governance work as Trustee on the Moana Pasifika Community Trust who are the Super Rugby franchise license holder for the Moana Pasifika Rugby Team.

Tiana was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in September 2000 after graduating from Auckland University with a BA in philosophy and history and an LLB. For many years she was a Crown prosecutor in Auckland and Wellington. She worked at Crown Law Office in 2008 working in the criminal law team before moving to Gisborne in 2012, where she now works as a criminal barrister. 

Tiana is an established leader in the legal profession and community. In 2019, Tiana became just the fourth woman to be President of the New Zealand Law Society. That same year, online legal blog site “LawFuel” named her “Lawyer of the Year” for the fresh voice and leadership she brought to the role. Since the first President was elected in 1897, the national lawyers’ organisation and regulator has had 30 Presidents. Tiana is the first President of Pasifika descent and one of the youngest people to ever serve in the role. She finished as President in April 2022. Presently, Tiana continues her governance work as Trustee on the Moana Pasifika Community Trust who are the Super Rugby franchise license holder for the Moana Pasifika Rugby Team.

Fiona Cassidy

Executive Director, Office Of The Children’s Commissioner (she/her)

Iwi affiliations – Ngāti Kuri, Te Aupōuri, Te Rarawa

With over 25 years in communications and public relations Fiona is recognised as one of New Zealand’s senior communications professionals.

In the last fifteen years she has held a number of senior executive leadership roles in both the public and private sector. Fiona has worked nationally and internationally both in-house and as consultant. 

Fiona is the first Chairperson of the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRINZ) and a Life member. She also holds a number of Director and Board appointments in business, government and not-for-profit organisations both nationally and internationally. 

Fiona has a Master in Business Studies endorsed in Communication Management and a Master in Philosophy endorsed in International Relations and Defence Studies.

Her greatest achievements are her whānau and mokopuna.

Iwi affiliations – Ngāti Kuri, Te Aupōuri, Te Rarawa

With over 25 years in communications and public relations Fiona is recognised as one of New Zealand’s senior communications professionals.

In the last fifteen years she has held a number of senior executive leadership roles in both the public and private sector. Fiona has worked nationally and internationally both in-house and as consultant. 

Fiona is the first Chairperson of the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRINZ) and a Life member. She also holds a number of Director and Board appointments in business, government and not-for-profit organisations both nationally and internationally. 

Fiona has a Master in Business Studies endorsed in Communication Management and a Master in Philosophy endorsed in International Relations and Defence Studies.

Her greatest achievements are her whānau and mokopuna.

Hon Priyanca Radhakrishnan

Minister for Diversity, Inclusion & Ethnic Communities, New Zealand Parliament (she/her)

Hon Priyanca Radhakrishnan is the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities, Minister for Youth, Associate Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, and Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment and MP for Maungakiekie.  She is the first person of Indian origin to become a Minister in New Zealand and was appointed in November 2020.

Born in India, she went to school in Singapore, and then moved to New Zealand to further her education.  She has spent her work life advocating on behalf of people whose voices are often unheard – survivors of domestic violence, and migrant workers who have been exploited.  She strongly believes that everyone has the right to live with dignity – that means equitable access to affordable housing, quality education and decent, secure work.

Hon Priyanca Radhakrishnan is the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities, Minister for Youth, Associate Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, and Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment and MP for Maungakiekie.  She is the first person of Indian origin to become a Minister in New Zealand and was appointed in November 2020.

Born in India, she went to school in Singapore, and then moved to New Zealand to further her education.  She has spent her work life advocating on behalf of people whose voices are often unheard – survivors of domestic violence, and migrant workers who have been exploited.  She strongly believes that everyone has the right to live with dignity – that means equitable access to affordable housing, quality education and decent, secure work.

Leanne Lazarus

CEO, Heartland Bank NZ (she/her)

Mervin is a vastly experienced public servant and previously led the Office of Ethnic Affairs. Prior to becoming the new Ministry’s first Chief Executive he was appointed Executive Director, Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions in 2018. From 2012 to 2018 he held a number of executive leadership roles at the Department of Internal Affairs, including Deputy Chief Executive, Stewardship and Organisational Sustainability and Deputy Chief Executive, Strategy and Governance.

Between 2000 and 2004 he was Chief Mediator at the Human Rights Commission. He was Complaints Manager at the Office of Race Relations Conciliator from 1997 to 2000.

Mervin holds a Master of Laws (1st Class Honours), Auckland University and a Bachelor of Laws (Honours), University of Canterbury.

Mervin is a vastly experienced public servant and previously led the Office of Ethnic Affairs. Prior to becoming the new Ministry’s first Chief Executive he was appointed Executive Director, Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions in 2018. From 2012 to 2018 he held a number of executive leadership roles at the Department of Internal Affairs, including Deputy Chief Executive, Stewardship and Organisational Sustainability and Deputy Chief Executive, Strategy and Governance.

Between 2000 and 2004 he was Chief Mediator at the Human Rights Commission. He was Complaints Manager at the Office of Race Relations Conciliator from 1997 to 2000.

Mervin holds a Master of Laws (1st Class Honours), Auckland University and a Bachelor of Laws (Honours), University of Canterbury.

Mayor Tory Whanau

Mayor, Wellington City Council (she/her)

Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo is the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission.

She is of Samoan descent and originally from the village of Vailima in Upolu, Samoa.

Saunoamaali’i has a strong commitment to improving equal employment opportunities, particularly bringing a Pasifika perspective to human rights issues facing Aotearoa New Zealand.

For 20 years, Saunoamaali’i has worked as a public advisor and social worker, advocating for the interests of children, women, families, the rainbow community, social protection, youth employment, gender equality and an end to gender violence.

She believes pay equity and equal employment opportunities are key avenues  foryouth empowerment, women’s empowerment, reduction of family poverty, freedom from gender based violence, and community wellbeing.

Saunoamaali’i holds qualifications in social work, social policy, mediation and science, including a PhD in public policy from AUT.

Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo is the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission.

She is of Samoan descent and originally from the village of Vailima in Upolu, Samoa.

Saunoamaali’i has a strong commitment to improving equal employment opportunities, particularly bringing a Pasifika perspective to human rights issues facing Aotearoa New Zealand.

For 20 years, Saunoamaali’i has worked as a public advisor and social worker, advocating for the interests of children, women, families, the rainbow community, social protection, youth employment, gender equality and an end to gender violence.

She believes pay equity and equal employment opportunities are key avenues  foryouth empowerment, women’s empowerment, reduction of family poverty, freedom from gender based violence, and community wellbeing.

Saunoamaali’i holds qualifications in social work, social policy, mediation and science, including a PhD in public policy from AUT.

Nevak Rogers

Chief Content Officer, TVNZ (she/her)

Tiana was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in September 2000 after graduating from Auckland University with a BA in philosophy and history and an LLB. For many years she was a Crown prosecutor in Auckland and Wellington. She worked at Crown Law Office in 2008 working in the criminal law team before moving to Gisborne in 2012, where she now works as a criminal barrister. 

Tiana is an established leader in the legal profession and community. In 2019, Tiana became just the fourth woman to be President of the New Zealand Law Society. That same year, online legal blog site “LawFuel” named her “Lawyer of the Year” for the fresh voice and leadership she brought to the role. Since the first President was elected in 1897, the national lawyers’ organisation and regulator has had 30 Presidents. Tiana is the first President of Pasifika descent and one of the youngest people to ever serve in the role. She finished as President in April 2022. Presently, Tiana continues her governance work as Trustee on the Moana Pasifika Community Trust who are the Super Rugby franchise license holder for the Moana Pasifika Rugby Team.

Tiana was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in September 2000 after graduating from Auckland University with a BA in philosophy and history and an LLB. For many years she was a Crown prosecutor in Auckland and Wellington. She worked at Crown Law Office in 2008 working in the criminal law team before moving to Gisborne in 2012, where she now works as a criminal barrister. 

Tiana is an established leader in the legal profession and community. In 2019, Tiana became just the fourth woman to be President of the New Zealand Law Society. That same year, online legal blog site “LawFuel” named her “Lawyer of the Year” for the fresh voice and leadership she brought to the role. Since the first President was elected in 1897, the national lawyers’ organisation and regulator has had 30 Presidents. Tiana is the first President of Pasifika descent and one of the youngest people to ever serve in the role. She finished as President in April 2022. Presently, Tiana continues her governance work as Trustee on the Moana Pasifika Community Trust who are the Super Rugby franchise license holder for the Moana Pasifika Rugby Team.

Dr Claire Achmad

Chief Children’s Commissioner, Mana Mokopuna (she/her)

Iwi affiliations – Ngāti Kuri, Te Aupōuri, Te Rarawa

With over 25 years in communications and public relations Fiona is recognised as one of New Zealand’s senior communications professionals.

In the last fifteen years she has held a number of senior executive leadership roles in both the public and private sector. Fiona has worked nationally and internationally both in-house and as consultant. 

Fiona is the first Chairperson of the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRINZ) and a Life member. She also holds a number of Director and Board appointments in business, government and not-for-profit organisations both nationally and internationally. 

Fiona has a Master in Business Studies endorsed in Communication Management and a Master in Philosophy endorsed in International Relations and Defence Studies.

Her greatest achievements are her whānau and mokopuna.

Iwi affiliations – Ngāti Kuri, Te Aupōuri, Te Rarawa

With over 25 years in communications and public relations Fiona is recognised as one of New Zealand’s senior communications professionals.

In the last fifteen years she has held a number of senior executive leadership roles in both the public and private sector. Fiona has worked nationally and internationally both in-house and as consultant. 

Fiona is the first Chairperson of the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRINZ) and a Life member. She also holds a number of Director and Board appointments in business, government and not-for-profit organisations both nationally and internationally. 

Fiona has a Master in Business Studies endorsed in Communication Management and a Master in Philosophy endorsed in International Relations and Defence Studies.

Her greatest achievements are her whānau and mokopuna.

SPEAKER AND NETWORKING SERIES (SNS)

The Speaker and Networking Series (SNS) is an opportunity for Multiethnic Young Leaders members and the wider community of next-generation leaders in Aotearoa to hear from influential leaders from diverse backgrounds, industries and ethnicities. Speakers are invited to share their stories, insights, and leadership journeys with our emerging leaders.

The purpose of the Series is to:

  • Inspire, educate, and empower our ethnically diverse members and audience.
  • Normalise and increase the visibility of leaders from underrepresented communities in positions of influence.
  • Foster meaningful conversations on diversity, equity, and inclusion in leadership and the workplace.
  • Promote social cohesion in Aotearoa (New Zealand) through connection and collaboration.

Previous SNS Speakers

Mervin Singham

Chief Executive, Ministry for Ethnic Communities (he/him)

Mervin is a vastly experienced public servant and previously led the Office of Ethnic Affairs. Prior to becoming the new Ministry’s first Chief Executive he was appointed Executive Director, Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions in 2018. From 2012 to 2018 he held a number of executive leadership roles at the Department of Internal Affairs, including Deputy Chief Executive, Stewardship and Organisational Sustainability and Deputy Chief Executive, Strategy and Governance.

Between 2000 and 2004 he was Chief Mediator at the Human Rights Commission. He was Complaints Manager at the Office of Race Relations Conciliator from 1997 to 2000.

Mervin holds a Master of Laws (1st Class Honours), Auckland University and a Bachelor of Laws (Honours), University of Canterbury.

Mervin is a vastly experienced public servant and previously led the Office of Ethnic Affairs. Prior to becoming the new Ministry’s first Chief Executive he was appointed Executive Director, Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions in 2018. From 2012 to 2018 he held a number of executive leadership roles at the Department of Internal Affairs, including Deputy Chief Executive, Stewardship and Organisational Sustainability and Deputy Chief Executive, Strategy and Governance.

Between 2000 and 2004 he was Chief Mediator at the Human Rights Commission. He was Complaints Manager at the Office of Race Relations Conciliator from 1997 to 2000.

Mervin holds a Master of Laws (1st Class Honours), Auckland University and a Bachelor of Laws (Honours), University of Canterbury.

Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, NZ Human Rights Commission (she/her)

Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo is the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission.

She is of Samoan descent and originally from the village of Vailima in Upolu, Samoa.

Saunoamaali’i has a strong commitment to improving equal employment opportunities, particularly bringing a Pasifika perspective to human rights issues facing Aotearoa New Zealand.

For 20 years, Saunoamaali’i has worked as a public advisor and social worker, advocating for the interests of children, women, families, the rainbow community, social protection, youth employment, gender equality and an end to gender violence.

She believes pay equity and equal employment opportunities are key avenues  foryouth empowerment, women’s empowerment, reduction of family poverty, freedom from gender based violence, and community wellbeing.

Saunoamaali’i holds qualifications in social work, social policy, mediation and science, including a PhD in public policy from AUT.

Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo is the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission.

She is of Samoan descent and originally from the village of Vailima in Upolu, Samoa.

Saunoamaali’i has a strong commitment to improving equal employment opportunities, particularly bringing a Pasifika perspective to human rights issues facing Aotearoa New Zealand.

For 20 years, Saunoamaali’i has worked as a public advisor and social worker, advocating for the interests of children, women, families, the rainbow community, social protection, youth employment, gender equality and an end to gender violence.

She believes pay equity and equal employment opportunities are key avenues  foryouth empowerment, women’s empowerment, reduction of family poverty, freedom from gender based violence, and community wellbeing.

Saunoamaali’i holds qualifications in social work, social policy, mediation and science, including a PhD in public policy from AUT.

Tiana Epati

Barrister and Former President, New Zealand Law Society (she/her)

Tiana was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in September 2000 after graduating from Auckland University with a BA in philosophy and history and an LLB. For many years she was a Crown prosecutor in Auckland and Wellington. She worked at Crown Law Office in 2008 working in the criminal law team before moving to Gisborne in 2012, where she now works as a criminal barrister. 

Tiana is an established leader in the legal profession and community. In 2019, Tiana became just the fourth woman to be President of the New Zealand Law Society. That same year, online legal blog site “LawFuel” named her “Lawyer of the Year” for the fresh voice and leadership she brought to the role. Since the first President was elected in 1897, the national lawyers’ organisation and regulator has had 30 Presidents. Tiana is the first President of Pasifika descent and one of the youngest people to ever serve in the role. She finished as President in April 2022. Presently, Tiana continues her governance work as Trustee on the Moana Pasifika Community Trust who are the Super Rugby franchise license holder for the Moana Pasifika Rugby Team.

Tiana was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in September 2000 after graduating from Auckland University with a BA in philosophy and history and an LLB. For many years she was a Crown prosecutor in Auckland and Wellington. She worked at Crown Law Office in 2008 working in the criminal law team before moving to Gisborne in 2012, where she now works as a criminal barrister. 

Tiana is an established leader in the legal profession and community. In 2019, Tiana became just the fourth woman to be President of the New Zealand Law Society. That same year, online legal blog site “LawFuel” named her “Lawyer of the Year” for the fresh voice and leadership she brought to the role. Since the first President was elected in 1897, the national lawyers’ organisation and regulator has had 30 Presidents. Tiana is the first President of Pasifika descent and one of the youngest people to ever serve in the role. She finished as President in April 2022. Presently, Tiana continues her governance work as Trustee on the Moana Pasifika Community Trust who are the Super Rugby franchise license holder for the Moana Pasifika Rugby Team.

Fiona Cassidy

Executive Director, Office Of The Children’s Commissioner (she/her)

Iwi affiliations – Ngāti Kuri, Te Aupōuri, Te Rarawa

With over 25 years in communications and public relations Fiona is recognised as one of New Zealand’s senior communications professionals.

In the last fifteen years she has held a number of senior executive leadership roles in both the public and private sector. Fiona has worked nationally and internationally both in-house and as consultant. 

Fiona is the first Chairperson of the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRINZ) and a Life member. She also holds a number of Director and Board appointments in business, government and not-for-profit organisations both nationally and internationally. 

Fiona has a Master in Business Studies endorsed in Communication Management and a Master in Philosophy endorsed in International Relations and Defence Studies.

Her greatest achievements are her whānau and mokopuna.

Iwi affiliations – Ngāti Kuri, Te Aupōuri, Te Rarawa

With over 25 years in communications and public relations Fiona is recognised as one of New Zealand’s senior communications professionals.

In the last fifteen years she has held a number of senior executive leadership roles in both the public and private sector. Fiona has worked nationally and internationally both in-house and as consultant. 

Fiona is the first Chairperson of the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRINZ) and a Life member. She also holds a number of Director and Board appointments in business, government and not-for-profit organisations both nationally and internationally. 

Fiona has a Master in Business Studies endorsed in Communication Management and a Master in Philosophy endorsed in International Relations and Defence Studies.

Her greatest achievements are her whānau and mokopuna.

Hon Priyanca Radhakrishnan

Minister for Diversity, Inclusion & Ethnic Communities, New Zealand Parliament (she/her)

Hon Priyanca Radhakrishnan is the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities, Minister for Youth, Associate Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, and Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment and MP for Maungakiekie.  She is the first person of Indian origin to become a Minister in New Zealand and was appointed in November 2020.

Born in India, she went to school in Singapore, and then moved to New Zealand to further her education.  She has spent her work life advocating on behalf of people whose voices are often unheard – survivors of domestic violence, and migrant workers who have been exploited.  She strongly believes that everyone has the right to live with dignity – that means equitable access to affordable housing, quality education and decent, secure work.

Hon Priyanca Radhakrishnan is the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities, Minister for Youth, Associate Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, and Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment and MP for Maungakiekie.  She is the first person of Indian origin to become a Minister in New Zealand and was appointed in November 2020.

Born in India, she went to school in Singapore, and then moved to New Zealand to further her education.  She has spent her work life advocating on behalf of people whose voices are often unheard – survivors of domestic violence, and migrant workers who have been exploited.  She strongly believes that everyone has the right to live with dignity – that means equitable access to affordable housing, quality education and decent, secure work.

Mervin Singham

Chief Executive, Ministry for Ethnic Communities (he/him)

Mervin is a vastly experienced public servant and previously led the Office of Ethnic Affairs. Prior to becoming the new Ministry’s first Chief Executive he was appointed Executive Director, Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions in 2018. From 2012 to 2018 he held a number of executive leadership roles at the Department of Internal Affairs, including Deputy Chief Executive, Stewardship and Organisational Sustainability and Deputy Chief Executive, Strategy and Governance.

Between 2000 and 2004 he was Chief Mediator at the Human Rights Commission. He was Complaints Manager at the Office of Race Relations Conciliator from 1997 to 2000.

Mervin holds a Master of Laws (1st Class Honours), Auckland University and a Bachelor of Laws (Honours), University of Canterbury.

Mervin is a vastly experienced public servant and previously led the Office of Ethnic Affairs. Prior to becoming the new Ministry’s first Chief Executive he was appointed Executive Director, Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions in 2018. From 2012 to 2018 he held a number of executive leadership roles at the Department of Internal Affairs, including Deputy Chief Executive, Stewardship and Organisational Sustainability and Deputy Chief Executive, Strategy and Governance.

Between 2000 and 2004 he was Chief Mediator at the Human Rights Commission. He was Complaints Manager at the Office of Race Relations Conciliator from 1997 to 2000.

Mervin holds a Master of Laws (1st Class Honours), Auckland University and a Bachelor of Laws (Honours), University of Canterbury.

Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, NZ Human Rights Commission (she/her)

Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo is the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission.

She is of Samoan descent and originally from the village of Vailima in Upolu, Samoa.

Saunoamaali’i has a strong commitment to improving equal employment opportunities, particularly bringing a Pasifika perspective to human rights issues facing Aotearoa New Zealand.

For 20 years, Saunoamaali’i has worked as a public advisor and social worker, advocating for the interests of children, women, families, the rainbow community, social protection, youth employment, gender equality and an end to gender violence.

She believes pay equity and equal employment opportunities are key avenues  foryouth empowerment, women’s empowerment, reduction of family poverty, freedom from gender based violence, and community wellbeing.

Saunoamaali’i holds qualifications in social work, social policy, mediation and science, including a PhD in public policy from AUT.

Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo is the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission.

She is of Samoan descent and originally from the village of Vailima in Upolu, Samoa.

Saunoamaali’i has a strong commitment to improving equal employment opportunities, particularly bringing a Pasifika perspective to human rights issues facing Aotearoa New Zealand.

For 20 years, Saunoamaali’i has worked as a public advisor and social worker, advocating for the interests of children, women, families, the rainbow community, social protection, youth employment, gender equality and an end to gender violence.

She believes pay equity and equal employment opportunities are key avenues  foryouth empowerment, women’s empowerment, reduction of family poverty, freedom from gender based violence, and community wellbeing.

Saunoamaali’i holds qualifications in social work, social policy, mediation and science, including a PhD in public policy from AUT.

Tiana Epati

Barrister and Former President, New Zealand Law Society (she/her)

Tiana was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in September 2000 after graduating from Auckland University with a BA in philosophy and history and an LLB. For many years she was a Crown prosecutor in Auckland and Wellington. She worked at Crown Law Office in 2008 working in the criminal law team before moving to Gisborne in 2012, where she now works as a criminal barrister. 

Tiana is an established leader in the legal profession and community. In 2019, Tiana became just the fourth woman to be President of the New Zealand Law Society. That same year, online legal blog site “LawFuel” named her “Lawyer of the Year” for the fresh voice and leadership she brought to the role. Since the first President was elected in 1897, the national lawyers’ organisation and regulator has had 30 Presidents. Tiana is the first President of Pasifika descent and one of the youngest people to ever serve in the role. She finished as President in April 2022. Presently, Tiana continues her governance work as Trustee on the Moana Pasifika Community Trust who are the Super Rugby franchise license holder for the Moana Pasifika Rugby Team.

Tiana was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in September 2000 after graduating from Auckland University with a BA in philosophy and history and an LLB. For many years she was a Crown prosecutor in Auckland and Wellington. She worked at Crown Law Office in 2008 working in the criminal law team before moving to Gisborne in 2012, where she now works as a criminal barrister. 

Tiana is an established leader in the legal profession and community. In 2019, Tiana became just the fourth woman to be President of the New Zealand Law Society. That same year, online legal blog site “LawFuel” named her “Lawyer of the Year” for the fresh voice and leadership she brought to the role. Since the first President was elected in 1897, the national lawyers’ organisation and regulator has had 30 Presidents. Tiana is the first President of Pasifika descent and one of the youngest people to ever serve in the role. She finished as President in April 2022. Presently, Tiana continues her governance work as Trustee on the Moana Pasifika Community Trust who are the Super Rugby franchise license holder for the Moana Pasifika Rugby Team.

Fiona Cassidy

Executive Director, Office Of The Children’s Commissioner (she/her)

Iwi affiliations – Ngāti Kuri, Te Aupōuri, Te Rarawa

With over 25 years in communications and public relations Fiona is recognised as one of New Zealand’s senior communications professionals.

In the last fifteen years she has held a number of senior executive leadership roles in both the public and private sector. Fiona has worked nationally and internationally both in-house and as consultant. 

Fiona is the first Chairperson of the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRINZ) and a Life member. She also holds a number of Director and Board appointments in business, government and not-for-profit organisations both nationally and internationally. 

Fiona has a Master in Business Studies endorsed in Communication Management and a Master in Philosophy endorsed in International Relations and Defence Studies.

Her greatest achievements are her whānau and mokopuna.

Iwi affiliations – Ngāti Kuri, Te Aupōuri, Te Rarawa

With over 25 years in communications and public relations Fiona is recognised as one of New Zealand’s senior communications professionals.

In the last fifteen years she has held a number of senior executive leadership roles in both the public and private sector. Fiona has worked nationally and internationally both in-house and as consultant. 

Fiona is the first Chairperson of the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRINZ) and a Life member. She also holds a number of Director and Board appointments in business, government and not-for-profit organisations both nationally and internationally. 

Fiona has a Master in Business Studies endorsed in Communication Management and a Master in Philosophy endorsed in International Relations and Defence Studies.

Her greatest achievements are her whānau and mokopuna.

Hon Priyanca Radhakrishnan

Minister for Diversity, Inclusion & Ethnic Communities, New Zealand Parliament (she/her)

Hon Priyanca Radhakrishnan is the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities, Minister for Youth, Associate Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, and Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment and MP for Maungakiekie.  She is the first person of Indian origin to become a Minister in New Zealand and was appointed in November 2020.

Born in India, she went to school in Singapore, and then moved to New Zealand to further her education.  She has spent her work life advocating on behalf of people whose voices are often unheard – survivors of domestic violence, and migrant workers who have been exploited.  She strongly believes that everyone has the right to live with dignity – that means equitable access to affordable housing, quality education and decent, secure work.

Hon Priyanca Radhakrishnan is the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities, Minister for Youth, Associate Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, and Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment and MP for Maungakiekie.  She is the first person of Indian origin to become a Minister in New Zealand and was appointed in November 2020.

Born in India, she went to school in Singapore, and then moved to New Zealand to further her education.  She has spent her work life advocating on behalf of people whose voices are often unheard – survivors of domestic violence, and migrant workers who have been exploited.  She strongly believes that everyone has the right to live with dignity – that means equitable access to affordable housing, quality education and decent, secure work.

The 2023 Speaker and Networking Series is made possible through the generous support of KPMG New Zealand.