• Diversity Works New Zealand | 0800 DIVERSITY (348 377) | 09 525 3023

Each of our 2022 judges has a track record of advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We acknowledge their commitment as volunteers, sharing their unique expertise and experience, reviewing every entry, visiting finalists and deciding our award winners.

Catherine Smith 2020 Diversity Awards Judge Auckland Museum

Catherine Smith

Director of People and Organisation, Auckland Museum

Catherine Smith is the kaitiaki of the Auckland Museum’s people and unique Tāmaki Paenga Hira culture. She is passionate about social change and authentic leadership and was awarded the Walk the Talk award at the 2019 Diversity Awards NZ™.

Her passion for social change, began when she was a social worker working with individuals to change behaviours and outcomes. She was attracted to HR because of the opportunity to support human change on a large scale. She has over 15 years of experience in Human Resources and organisational development roles and is committed to creating sustainable, high-performance workplaces where people experience enriching work and are inspired to innovate.

She holds a Bachelor of Social Work, a Postgraduate Diploma in Business, a Master’s degree in Human Resources and Organisational Development and has won several academic excellence awards for her postgraduate studies.

Charmaine Pene

Charmaine Pene

Group Manager, Safety, Quality and Risk, Evolution Healthcare

Charmaine has 25 plus years’ experience working in health management, quality and project roles within the NZ Defence Force and wider health sector. During her time in the Defence Force, Charmaine was awarded an Officer of New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for her leadership during the medical response in the 2004 Tsunami Boxing Day Disaster. More recently, Charmaine has held the role of National Manager, Force Health Organisation, NZ Defence force, with over 300 staff, encompassing 27 health services in nine military bases across New Zealand. Her current role is Group Manager, Safety, Quality and Risk at Evolution Healthcare.

Charmaine is a Fellow of the Australasian College of Health Service management (ACHSM) and qualified lead health auditor with extensive experience in auditing and certification planning for a wide variety of health services.

Charmaine grew up in Whanganui and whakapapa to Atihaunui-a-Pāpārangi, Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga, and Ngāti Tūwharetoa.

Christine Herzog

Christine Herzog

Kaiwhahaere, Te Tai-awa o te Ora Trust

Originally trained as a social planner, Christine Herzog worked for the Auckland City Council from 1977-81. Subsequently, her interests shifted to community and adult education, with a focus on Te Tiriti o Waitangi. She spent over twenty years as co-ordinator of bi-cultural programmes in Te Tari Matauranga Māori at Manukau Institute of Technology, where she set up the Treaty Education Unit. In 2004, she established the Treaty Resource Centre and the related Culture Matters project. 

Christine has facilitated more than a thousand Treaty and related workshops, consulted widely and published numerous articles relating to application of the Treaty in organisations. She was a founding member of Auckland Project Waitangi and continues to be active in Tamaki Treaty Workers. Christine supported Ngati Tamaoho Trust through their Treaty claims negotiations and is now kaiwhahaere of Te Tai-awa o te Ora Trust, a kaupapa Maori social services organisation based in south Auckland. 

Professor Edwina Pio

Professor Edwina Pio

Director of Diversity, Auckland University of Technology

Recipient of a Royal Society medal, and Duke of Edinburgh Fellowship, Fulbright alumna, Edwina Pio is New Zealand’s first Professor of Diversity, University Director of Diversity, and elected Councillor on the governing body of the Auckland University of Technology.

A prolific writer with over half a dozen books and publications in world-leading journals, her research, teaching and doctoral supervisions encompass the intersections of work, ethnicity, Indigenous studies, religion and pedagogy. Edwina has been appointed to the Ministerial Advisory Group pertaining to the Royal society recommendations on the Christchurch mosque shootings and to the Rutherford Discovery Fellowship Humanities and Social Sciences Panel. She chairs the Academic Advisory Board of Te Kupenga the Catholic theological colleges of New Zealand and is trustee of the Religious Diversity Centre. Edwina brings grace, gratitude, courage and thoughtfulness to governance and stakeholder engagement.


Grace Smit

Grace Smit

Deputy Secretary Organisational Support, Te Puni Kōkiri

Ngāti Rakaipaaka, Ngāti Matangirau

Grace joined Te Puni Kōkiri in 2021 as the Deputy Secretary Organisational Support. With more than 20 years’ experience in the Public Service and the wider public sector, Grace has leadership experience across a broad range of policy, operational and service design areas. Her varied career includes having held the roles of Director, Waitangi Tribunal, Prison Manager of Mt Eden Men’s prison, the National Manager of Coronial Services and the Director Māori Land Court.

A challenger of stereotypes and an enthusiastic promoter of diversity, Grace champions the power of employee-led networks to create more effective, inclusive and creative workplaces.


Dr Guillermo Merelo

Dr Guillermo Merelo

Associate Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, University of Auckland

With a strong background in people and culture, Guillermo has worked as a senior public officer, columnist, lecturer and academic researcher in Latin America, Europe and New Zealand. Over the past 25 years, he has successfully integrated his academic and practitioner experience to help public and private organisations build diversity, equity and inclusion infrastructures that are mindful of the unique capabilities of an increasingly diverse workforce.

His research areas include culture, sexual identity, gender, religion, well-being and employee experience. He has worked as Executive Director of People and Culture in the Electoral Service (Mexico City), Head of Research and Innovation at Diversity Works New Zealand, and he is currently Associate Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Auckland.

Jennifer Del Bel

Jennifer Del Bel

Managing Director, Downlights NZ

Creative, compassionate and a champion for change, Jennifer is the co-founder and managing director of Downlights NZ, a social enterprise that creates meaningful employment and career growth opportunities for young New Zealanders with Down syndrome and cognitive disabilities.

Possessing a dedication to creative excellence, an entrepreneurial mindset and genuine care for the community, she has applied her 25+ years business experience to develop Downlights into a thriving luxury soy candle company that is designed through the eyes of a disabled person.

Jennifer’s leadership has seen Downlights become the 2020 Breaking Barrier Award winner, 2020 Attitude Awards Impact Category finalist, Orakei Business Awards 2021 Best New Business; Best Not for Profit; Best People’s Choice And she is a proud Principal Partner for Living Wage Aotearoa and Akina Impact Supplier.

Her greatest pleasure comes from watching the Downlights crew beam with confidence as they achieve new goals and increased independence as a result of meaningful work opportunities.

Saunoamaali'i Karanina Sumeo

Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, New Zealand Human Rights Commission

Karanina is the proud mother to three children, and of Samoan descent, originally from the village of Vailima, Upolu, Samoa.

Her professional and academic background has involved advocating for the promotion of economic development, social and employment interests of marginalised groups, particularly women, Pacific peoples, learners and young people. Her previous experience within the public sector includes roles within the Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, Tertiary Education Commission and the Auckland District Health Board.  Currently she is the Equal Employment Opportunities Commisioner for the New Zealand Human Rights Commission. 

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

Kate James

Kate James

Head of Organisational Development for the Pacific, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners

Kate is Head of Organisational Development for the Pacific at Coca-Cola Europacific Partners – the world’s largest Coca-Cola bottler with over 30,000 employees across 25 countries. In her role she and her team develop initiatives that lead to inclusive experiences at each stage of the employee journey and ensure organisational effectiveness across diversity and community-based initiatives throughout the Pacific region. 

Prior to this, Kate led the Talent function at Air New Zealand, worked with Auckland Council, The Warehouse Group and Trade Me where she focused on building connected, meaningful talent frameworks.

Kirsten Patterson

Kirsten Patterson

Chief Executive, Institute of Directors

Kirsten (known as KP) is the Institute of Directors Chief Executive. She is a qualified lawyer and a Distinguished Fellow of the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand, Co-Deputy Chair of the Global Network of Directors Institutes (GNDI), member of External Reporting Advisory Panel (XRAP) and was previously Chair of the Wellington Homeless Women’s Trust. She is currently Chair of the Brian Picot Ethical Leadership Advisory Board. With extensive governance and leadership experience, she is actively involved in community initiatives.

A strong advocate of diversity, KP was one of the founding members of Global Women’s ‘Champions for Change’, a group of senior executives and directors who commit to diversity in the workplace. She is also a founding member of WiSPA, an organisation promoting women in sport, and mentors a number of business leaders.

Kylie Nelio

Kylie Nelio

Chairwoman, ConCove Tūhura Māori Advisory Group

Kylie (Waikato-Tainui; Ngāti Mahuta, Ngāti Tiipa, Ngāti Amaru, Ngāti Te Wehi) is the Construction Outcomes Lead for Tamaki Regeneration Company and Chairwoman for ConCove Tūhura Māori Advisory Group. She has over 18 years of experience working within the construction, facilities maintenance & government sectors.  She is passionate about sharing her knowledge & experience to inspire & empower young rangatahi & especially wāhine māori to create and build meaningful pathways towards accomplishing their future aspirations.

Kylie has also been previously elected as a company representative for the Diversity & Inclusion Committee Group and has been an active panelist speaker for various governance and community groups sharing her experience about the impediments & life’s challenges of being wahine māori working within industry.

She is a devoted advocate for promoting social equity, diversity & inclusiveness and strives to be the voice for vulnerable Māori & Pasifika who feel under-represented.

Paul Spoonley

Distinguished Professor Emeritus Paul Spoonley 

College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Massey University 

Distinguished Professor Emeritus Paul Spoonley was the Pro Vice-Chancellor of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Massey University until his retirement. The lead researcher on the MBIE-funded project, “Capturing the Diversity Dividend of Aotearoa New Zealand” (2014-2021), he is the author or editor of 28 books. These include a Ranginui Walker’s biography “Mata Toa”, a 2021 book “The New New Zealand: Facing Demographic Disruption” and an edited book on New Zealand’s radical right (2022).

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, the Auckland War Memorial Museum and the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Germany. He was a Fulbright Senior Scholar at the University of California Berkeley. He has been a judge for the Diversity Awards NZ™ for some years.


Phil Turner

Phil Turner

Managing Director, Accessibility Tick

Phil is passionate about achieving sustainable positive change in the outcomes for disabled New Zealanders. He works to achieve this through ensuring that organisations have both the support and are being recognised as a key stakeholder in disability and neurodiversity employment, leading to impactful and sustainable disability and neurodiversity inclusion strategies.

 As Managing Director of the Accessibility Tick and New Zealand Disability Employers’ Network, Phil works with leading brands across New Zealand to help them realise the true potential of disabled people, to the benefit of all.

Robin Davies

Robin Davies

Robin Davies Consulting

Robin is driven by making a difference to people and organisations. She has held many roles in finance at EY and Lion around the world across commercial finance, mergers & acquisitions and risk/governance before following her heart into human resources 10 years ago.

She has been the People & Culture Director at Lion NZ and Stuff and has significant experience in building high performance cultures that deliver results, coaching and developing people and teams, and leading change. She has also led a number of businesses at Lion in the sales and retail categories, is a member of the Institute of Directors of NZ and is a Chartered Accountant.  Robin is passionate about driving change in inclusion, diversity and wellbeing and has won a number of awards in these areas.

Susan Lowe

Susan Lowe

Chief People & Sustainability Officer, Fuel50

Susan is passionate about all things people within the organisations she works within knowing that Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging is a critically important part of any culture.

She feels that culture is at the heart of any organisation and a great culture is about enabling people to bring their whole selves to work and be their best self, for themselves, the business, and their whanau. Susan strongly believes that organisations with great culture attract the best talent, have better capability, and are more innovative in their approaches.

Susan is the Chief People & Sustainability Officer at Fuel50, the world’s fastest growing Talent & Opportunity Marketplace. Having previously worked for many award-winning Best Employers Susan’s passion and personal purpose led her to join Fuel50 as a business striving to enable outstanding employee experiences globally with their clients. 

Teina Teariki Mana Judge Diversity Awards Community Engagement Vector

Teina Teariki

Community Engagement Manager, Vector Limited

Teina has worked for Vector for over 10 years with experiences in Finance, Risk Management and Networks and has held senior roles within these areas. Teina’s current role as the Community Engagement Manager is being the conduit between the customer and Vector, covering a large footprint as far North as Whangarei and South as Papakura which also includes Waiheke Island.

Prior to Vector Teina held several roles at Auckland City Council, was a former Chair of Glen Innes School 2008-2019 and is currently a First Foundation mentor. Teina holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Business from the University of Auckland graduating April 2019.

Teina also chairs Vector’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee, leading a team of volunteers across the Vector business in NZ and Australia. She has been instrumental in driving initiatives leading from the front encouraging participation, celebration and awareness through Vector’s D&I workplan, importantly being there from start winning the Supreme Award in the 2015 and 2019 Diversity Awards NZ, alongside category awards including Tomorrows Workforce, Empowerment and Diversability.

Ziena Jalil

Ziena Jalil

Independent director, strategic advisor and inclusion advocate

Ziena is an award-winning business and public sector leader, with 20 years experience working in New Zealand and Asia. She consults on strategy and stakeholder engagement, and is a keynote speaker and commentator on Asia business, nation branding, leadership, and diversity, equity and inclusion. She is also a board member of Education New Zealand, the Asia New Zealand Foundation, Unitec, Manukau Institute of Technology, DNA, and the Cancer Society of New Zealand.

Recognised by Campaign Asia Pacific as part of its 2020 Women to Watch, a group of 40 outstanding women in the Asia Pacific, Ziena has received several international awards for her work promoting New Zealand trade and education in Asia, and advises businesses looking to grow in the region. Her previous roles include Regional Director (South and Southeast Asia) for Education New Zealand, New Zealand Trade Commissioner to Singapore, and Head of North Asia Marketing and Communications for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. 

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