Wellington, 11 May 2022 – UNICEF Aotearoa New Zealand today announced indigenous governor and entrepreneur Rachel Petero as Heamana Tuarua/Deputy Chair of the UNICEF Aotearoa New Zealand Board.
Grateful for Rachel’s ongoing support and renewed commitment, Board Chair Linda Jenkinson noted that Rachel has been a valuable contributor to the Board since late 2019.
“I would like to acknowledge the mana Rachel brings to UNICEF Aotearoa as tangata whenua. Rachel has been instrumental in leading UNICEF Aotearoa’s bicultural journey and we acknowledge her strengths in governance, her cultural and commercial intelligence, and her dedication to better the lives of tamariki and rangatahi through a Te Ao Māori worldview,” said Jenkinson.
“Rachel’s highly regarded work with indigenous women, girls and communities is truly inspiring. Her global networks, teamed with her warmth, integrity, and generosity, make her a valuable Board member and we look forward to benefitting from her leadership in the years ahead,” Jenkinson added.
Petero noted that indigenous women in governance and business internationally are few, and often hidden in the gender statistics. Yet there are over a billion children in poverty globally, with many under-represented due to the lack of indigenous representation on similar global boards.
“I am proud that UNICEF Aotearoa NZ is intentionally leading out in this governance space through my appointment,” said Petero.
“Alongside my Indigenous Rights Committee colleagues Mavis Mullins, Simon Wi Rutene and Linda Jenkinson, our governance model is grounded in our advocacy for the rights of children, and our commitment to bi-culturalism, led by the Board.
“We have focused on system change and improved outcomes for tamariki here in Aotearoa through our advocacy and engagement on national policy issues such as the Oversight of Oranga Tamariki System and Children and Young People’s Commission Bill,” added Petero.
“I also believe UNICEF Aotearoa has the ability to impact and influence indigenous rights and the rights of all children on a global scale, said Petero. “Our Pacific Resilience project means we are able to raise funding in a way that flexibly supports UNICEF’s work in the Pacific, such as delivering water and sanitation for children in the region. And there is much to be done in uplifting kotiro (girls) with a view to having a positive impact on the effects of climate change.”
With the recent appointment of two outstanding rangatahi Māori, who are equally driven to uplift others, Petero is excited about the future of UNICEF’s advocacy efforts and increasing the participation of young people in child rights issues in Aotearoa.
Mavis Mullins, Chair of UNICEF Aotearoa’s Indigenous Rights Committee, said that indigenous communities have a significant role to play in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals and improving outcomes for children.
“Culture is essential for progress in this area, and it must be recognised as a driver of positive change. We need an integrated approach to sustainable development, ensuring that indigenous voices are empowered and respected so all tamariki can flourish,” said Mullins.
Petero acknowledged whānau and indigenous communities are at the heart of her decisions and the UNICEF governance leadership role comes at a pivotal time. Her personal whakatauki is illustrative of her focus.
Wāhine Tū, Whānau Ora
When our women are strong, our whānau and tamariki will be well
With strong links to her iwi Waikato-Tainui (Ngāti Tamaoho, Ngāti Whawhakia, Ngāti Tahinga, Ngāti Te Ata) Rachel has excelled at driving gender equity, diversity and inclusivity through her leadership roles in governance, business and community development.
Rachel currently holds the additional roles:
Founder and CEO of Rise2025 Global Indigenous-centred coaching and development
Board Director Te Rau o Te Korimako
Board Trustee Ngāti Tamaoho Charitable and Settlement Trust
Co-Chair Te Ohu Whai Ao Trust
Mana Whenua committee member Otara Blue Light
International Board Director Los Lagos IP CFT, Chile
UNICEF Aotearoa – Mō ngā tamariki katoa
UNICEF Aotearoa is one of 33 National Committees and seeks to make life better for all tamariki by advocating for the rights of children in Aotearoa, partnering with the New Zealand Government to deliver programs to tamariki in the Pacific and raising funds for UNICEF’s worldwide emergency and development work. For more information about UNICEF Aotearoa and its work for children visit unicef.org.nz
UNICEF works in over 190 countries and territories to protect the rights of every child. UNICEF works in the world's toughest places to reach the most disadvantaged children and adolescents – and to protect the rights of every child, everywhere.