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Speakers

Kahurangi and Chey Milne

Summit MCs

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Arataua Media was founded by a dynamic young couple, Kahurangi and Chey Milne, with the mission to uphold te reo Māori and preserve their cultural heritage.

The couple’s Arataua journey began in 2013 when they relocated from Auckland to Kahurangi’s hometown of Rotorua. They wanted to provide their children with a similar upbringing as their own, deeply connected to their Māori heritage.

Prior to their shift, Kahurangi and Chey had cultivated high-profile careers in various facets of the media and television industry.

Chey, renowned as the “Pūkana guy,” was working in iwi radio at Ngāti Hine FM and eventually became a prominent television presenter on shows like “I AM TV” and various popular Māori Television productions. He expanded into directing and producing while also venturing into the world of te reo Māori hip hop with albums like ‘Whaikōrero Raps’.

Kahurangi began her career as a researcher for the documentary series ‘Waka Huia’ at TVNZ after earning her Bachelor of Communication Studies.

Once the couple and their young daughter Atareta settled in Kahurangi’s papa-kāinga in Ōhinemutu, the couple decided to combine their media and marketing skills, and the concept of Arataua Media was born – on the street with the same name, highlighting the importance of whānau.

Hon Kiritapu Allan

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Kiritapu hails from Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Tūwharetoa and was the youngest Cabinet Minister when she was appointed in the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern’s government. The former Member of Parliament for the East Coast, Kiritapu was a lawyer by profession prior to entering Parliament and became the first Māori Minister of Justice.

Kiritapu quit politics after she crashed in every sense of the word in 2023. She talks about how a series of catalytic events triggered the greatest gift of all, coming back home to herself.

A mum of a sassy almost 7 year old, director of KLA Consultancy and tonotono to her iwi, Kiritapu will talk about the privilege of service, the pressures of living life in the public eye and finding joy despite all odds.

Melanie Benjamin

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Melanie Benjamin was first elected to the four-year term of Chief Executive/Chairwoman of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe in 2000, and was re-elected in 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020. Benjamin previously served as the Band’s Commissioner of Administration and Sr. Vice President of Administration and Finance at Grand Casino Hinckley. As Chief Executive, Benjamin leads the Executive Branch of Band government and is responsible for conducting external relations with other governments.

Benjamin current service as a board member includes: Native American Finance Officer’s Association; Women Empowering Women for Indian Nations; American Indian Law Resource Center, National Indian Gaming Association, Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes, MN Housing Finance Agency, U.S. Attorney Generals’ Tribal Nations Leadership Council, , the U.S. Department of Interior Self-Governance Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan’s Young Women’s Leadership Council, Minnesota Climate Innovation Finance Authority, and the Minnesota Cannabis Advisory Council.

Benjamin holds a Master’s degree in Education and a B.S. in Business Administration.

Dylan Berger

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Dylan Berger is Gumbaynggirr language and culture educator of Gumbaynggirr, Dhanggati, Yuin and Birpai heritage.

Over the past decade, Dylan has worked in localised teams alongside community and education stakeholders to improve cultural literacy standards, community engagement, and cultural representation for his community. Having completed a Bachelor of Indigenous Knowledge (Hons) with a focus on Indigenous methodologies and justifications for Indigenous-led research, Dylan has recently published a book chapter focussed on methodological approaches within First Nations research contexts.

In research years, Dylan has applied his passion for Indigenous meta-physics, ontology, and language to start a PhD at The University of Queensland. At the same time, he has also started a lead investigator role at Western Sydney University’s, MARCS Institute for Brain Behaviour, and Development to explore the impacts of recent bilingual education opportunities that have emerged in Gumbaynggirr Country.

Kārena and Kasey Bird

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Kārena and Kasey Bird are sisters who grew up in the beach side community of Maketu which is the landing ground of the Te Arawa waka and where they also still currently reside. “We were fortunate to be brought up in a community where everyone knows each other. Fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood were always shared between neighbours when they harvested a crop or came back in from diving and fishing. It was an idyllic childhood”. Kārena and Kasey are fluent speakers of Māori language and their cooking style is firmly rooted in their unique culture heritage.

Food was always a passion for Kārena and Kasey they spent a huge amount of time investing in food experiences and building their culinary knowledge. Before entering Masterchef Karena spent some time living in Wellington before returning to the Bay of plenty where she worked as an auditor. Kasey spent some time living in Melbourne before returning to the Bay of Plenty where she studied Accounting. During this time Kārena and Kasey both took up the opportunity to enter Masterchef New Zealand and in May 2014 Kārena and Kasey were announced the winners of that programme.

Since winning Masterchef Kārena and Kasey have travelled to over 50 destinations across the globe ...

Dr Daniel Brant

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Daniel (Dan) is a member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte and resides on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory with his wife Roberta Greyeyes. He grew up on the reserve and attended the Indian day school on the reserve and attended high school in Belleville Ontario.

Currently, Dan is proprietor of Daniel J. Brant & Associates (Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, Ontario) and is an adjunct professor at Queens University in the School of Policy Studies at Queens University; he has also served as the Chief Administrative Officer, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, Ontario; CEO of Dreamcatcher Charitable Foundation (Ohsweken, Ontario); and previously as a sessional Professor at Algonquin College (Ottawa) and Confederation College (Thunder Bay).

Previously, Dan worked as a Special/Executive Assistant and Senior Policy Advisor to various Minsters and Deputy Ministers for Indian Affairs, Government of Canada, and in various executive positions, CEO of the Assembly of First Nations (Ontario), CEO of the National Aboriginal Capital Corporation Association (Ottawa), Director of Aboriginal Affairs – Environment Canada (Quebec) and Executive Director of the National Indian Brotherhood (Ottawa).

ADM Keith Conn

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Keith was appointed Assistant Deputy Minister, Lands and Economic Development at Indigenous Services Canada in July 2023.

From January 2018 to July 2023, he was the Assistant Deputy Minister, Regional Operations, FNIHB. He was responsible for overseeing health programs, services, and transformative initiatives across the regions.

Keith has had a long and distinguished career with Indigenous Services Canada and other federal organizations. From 2012 to 2018, he held the position of Regional Executive, FNIHB, Ontario Region, Health Canada. Prior to re-joining Health Canada in 2012, Keith occupied the position of Chief Operating Officer for the First Nations Statistical Institute, the first Crown corporation to be led and managed by First Nations. From 1997 to 2009, Keith held the position of Director General, Indigenous Affairs, at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and Director General, Community Programs with Health Canada. He was the Director of Health and Director of the Environment for the Assembly of First Nations from 1992 to 1997.

Keith is a member of the Moose Cree First Nation, Moose Factory, Ontario.

Cliff Curtis

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With over 30 years experience in the film industry, Cliff Curtis has established himself as one of New Zealand’s most successful actors and producers.

Curtis made his feature film debut in a small role in The Piano (1993), before exploring a wide range of genres in NZ films including Desperate Remedies, Jubilee and River Queen. But it was Once Were Warriors (1994), Whale Rider (2002) and The Dark Horse (2014) that bought him to a wider audience.

In 2022, Curtis appeared in Netflix's "True Spirit" with Anna Paquin and in the NZ feature "Muru." He also joined the ensemble cast of James Cameron's "Avatar" Sequels as “Tonowari”. Upcoming projects include roles in the Netflix series "Kaos" with Jeff Goldblum and the Apple TV series "Chief of War" starring Jason Momoa.

In 2013, Curtis established Arama Pictures, dedicated to indigenous storytelling, inspired by mentors Merata Mita, Don Selwyn & Barry Barclay. The company has produced notable works like "The Dark Horse" and the documentary "Merata – How Mum Decolonised the Screen," which premiered at Sundance (2018). Arama Pictures also executive produced "Muru" in 2022. In 2023, Arama executive produced season one of "Swift Street" in Melbourne, set to premiere at CanneSeries in 2024, with a confirmed second season.

Curtis has worked steadily internationally, taking a pragmatic approach to his Hollywood career to strengthen his craft and enhance his passion for producing.

Joe Deere

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Joe Deere is the Cherokee Nation Councilor for District 13. Joe was recently reelected to a 2nd term with virtually an 80% overwhelming victory. Cherokee Nation’s District 13 represents Tulsa and Sperry as well as parts of Catoosa, Owasso, Skiatook and Collinsville. Joe believes that to help safeguard and strengthen the sovereignty of the Cherokee Nation within its Reservation and beyond, partnerships that create communication and cooperation must be formed with all that live on the Cherokee Reservation, Native and non-Native alike.

Joe’s vision for his district is creating community, which he has diligently worked on by fighting for the citizenship rights of Freedmen (Tribal councilor pushes back on treaty issue | News |tahlequahdailypress.com), creating three new community groups, building a new clinic (here), and adding three food distribution sites within his district’s boundaries (here).

Joe was excited to be named one of the Tulsa World’s, “People to Watch 2021”. (People to Watch: Joe Deere is showing how the Cherokee Nation can help Tulsans | Local News | tulsaworld.com). Joe was also honored to be named the Grand Marshal of the 2022 Tulsa Martin Luther King, Jr. parade. (Cherokee Nation Councilor for District 13 Joe Deere Named Grand Marshal of the Tulsa MLK Parade).

Destiny Dewis

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Destiny is a proud Aboriginal, Torres Strait and South Sea Islander woman with a successful career. She began her journey working in tourism and early childhood education and then moved onto community finance and education. A passionate advocate for empowering the next generation of First Nations people, she believes in the importance of early education as a way of developing career pathways.

Ben Eisikovich CA

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Ben Eisikovich is of Kamilaroi heritage from northern New South Wales and Senior Finance Manager at Westpac.

Whilst completing his BCom at the University of New South Wales, Ben was surprised about the fallacies of accounting and the role it plays within Indigenous Australia. He is extremely passionate about all things business and the interconnected benefits that flow because of financial literacy, which resulted in him co-founding Indigenous Finance and Business.

Ben also joined the Inaugural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Member Panel at CA ANZ and is the current Vice Chair.

Chief Sharleen Gale

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Chief Sharleen Gale has dedicated six years of service as a board member with FNMPC, assuming the role of Board Chair in 2017. Her unwavering commitment to her community, Fort Nelson First Nation, spans over 14 years serving in the esteemed positions of both Chief and Councillor since 2009. In her capacity as Chief, she champions a future where every member of her Nation collaborates towards achieving strength, pride, health, and self-reliance.

She is the grand-daughter of Fred Burke and Madeline Needlay. Her roots run deep in the lives of her people and she enjoys being on the land with her family exploring the territory and teaching her son the traditional ways on the lands and how to hunt, fish, and gather medicines and berries. As a leader and Chief of the Nation, she understands the importance of upholding the spirit and intent of the treaty by asserting her peoples’ rights to their land and taking responsibility for ensuring that our future generations are able to live their lives in their territory in a way that honours their ancestors.

Chief Gale brings a wealth of experience garnered from her extensive tenure in the oil and gas sector, the corporate realm, and various leadership roles.

Nickolaus Lewis

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Nickolaus Dee Lewis (Jutskadim) is a citizen of the Lummi Nation. He serves on the Lummi Indian Business Council (LIBC), the elected governing body of the Lummi Nation. As a 1 of 11 tribal leaders of the Lummi Nation, our job is to lead with a servants heart.

Councilman Lewis is committed to improving public health for American Indian/Alaska Native people and to ending opioid misuse and homelessness through his various roles. He serves as Chair of the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board (NPAIHB) and Secretary of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). He also sits on various other tribal advisory committees, including: the Self-Governance Communication and Education Consortium; the Indian Health Service (IHS) Tribal Self-Governance Advisory Committee; the IHS National Tribal Budget Formulation Workgroup; IHS Information Systems Advisory Committee (ISAC); the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) Tribal Technical Advisory Group, and the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Tribal Technical Advisory Committee (TTAC).

He is proud veteran serving 8 honorable years in the U.S. Navy (2000 to 2008), and the proud father of three children.

Hūhana Lyndon

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Green MP based in Tai Tokerau
Ngāti Hine, Ngātiwai, Ngāti Whātua, Tainui Waka

Daughter of the North, her roots, life and career are firmly grounded in Te Tai Tokerau. Hūhana is an advocate for the advancement of He Whakaputanga me Te Tiriti o Waitangi with the Crown, Local Government and community on behalf of hapū and iwi. Hūhana has a diverse career portfolio in health, education and primary industries.

Hūhana is the former CEO of Ngātiwai Trust Board and Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust – the largest Ahuwhenua Trust in Northland. Hūhana led out a national first, for an Indigenous Forestry Transition Plan for the Trust’s 5600ha corpus underpinned by mātauranga o Ngāti Hine. She implemented cadetships into the Trust’s 32ha of Kiwifruit Orchards and led the iwi strategies for the protection of taonga on land and sea underpinned by WAI 262.

Hon Nanaia Mahuta

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As a mother, and a former constituent MP with 20 plus years’ experience who has come from ‘flax-root’ politics, Hon Nanaia Mahuta remains connected to the aspirations of people from all walks of life.

During her time in Parliament, Nanaia supported policies and initiatives that built the capacity of communities, especially social service organisations, greater investment in education, employment and training opportunities particularly for young people, supported the continuation of the Treaty settlement process and supported specific initiatives that lift the wellbeing and opportunities for young mums and those who are vulnerable and victims of abuse.

Nanaia is a tribal member of Waikato-Tainui, Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngāti Manu and her parliamentary experience has enabled her to contribute to the collective aspirations of Maori and all New Zealanders.

In the 2020 Labour Government, Nanaia became the first woman to hold the Foreign Affairs portfolio. Her other roles in the previous Government also included being Minister of Local Government, and Associate Minister for Māori Development.

Nanaia is currently writing, facilitating research collaborations and initiatives to support marae and iwi development, provides strategic, governance and policy advice and is an Independent Director. She is most proud of being a manager for her daughters netball team and learning to make jam and preserves.

Sir Rob McLeod

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(Ngāti Porou) KNZM, FCA, CA ANZ Life Member

Sir Rob McLeod grew up in Gisborne, Aotearoa in a nurturing Ngāti Porou whānau, focused on education. After qualifying in accounting and law at Ōtākou Whakaihu Waka | University of Otago he went on to co-found a specialist tax practice McLeod Lojkine Associates, and eventually became CEO of EY New Zealand and EY Australia. Sir Rob was also a tax partner for most of his career during which he chaired a major Government review of New Zealand’s tax system in 2001. He was a member of the Establishment Unit of Te Puni Kōkiri, of Te Ohu Kaimoana, and of Minister Sharples Maori Development Task Force, the 2004 Hui Taumata.

Sir Rob was the Lead Negotiator of the treaty settlement negotiations on behalf of Ngāti Porou, and has held directorships for iwi organisations and public companies including Tainui Group Holdings. He is also a past Chair of the New Zealand Business Roundtable and the inaugural Chair of Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd (now known as Moana). Sir Rob currently chairs Sanford, Nāti Growth Ltd and is a director of China Construction Bank. His former directorships include Telecom, ANZ Bank, Sky City and the Port of Tauranga.

In 2019, Sir Rob was appointed a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to business and Māori.

Her Worship the Mayor, Tania Tapsell

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Tania Tapsell is of Te Arawa descent and the first māori woman elected as Mayor of Rotorua. She leads a Council responsible for over $1.5 billion of community assets and has priorities to deliver outcomes for community, housing, environment and infrastructure.

Tania has served 11 years in local government after being elected at 21 years old and was Chairperson of Councils Operations & Monitoring Committee. She has also worked in tourism and top finance firms BNZ Business Partners and Deloitte. Tania is a qualified Resource Management Commissioner, has a Bachelor of Management Studies from the University of Waikato, and Diplomas in Business and Marketing.

Tania is a strong advocate for communities and ensuring a strong local voice. Prior to becoming Mayor she was the Deputy Chairperson of the NZ Community Board Executive Committee which represents 110 boards across the country.

Shantelle Thompson

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Shantelle Thompson is a seasoned Empowerment and Visionary Guide (EVG) and the founder of Kiilalaana, a foundation dedicated to weaving together Warrior Heart, Courage, and Legacy. With over 39 years of storytelling experience, Shantelle utilizes her extensive skills in coaching, facilitation, and narrative sharing to empower individuals to live their truth and follow their heart.

As the Barkindji Warrior, Shantelle is not only a world champion in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu but also a respected role model and athlete. Her unique approach integrates her First Nations cultural heritage with her personal and professional experiences, crafting a story that is both grounded in tradition and forward-thinking.

In addition to her professional achievements, Shantelle is a dedicated mother of six and a lifelong learner. She is committed to inspiring others to embrace their Warrior Heart, harness their energy, and share their gifts with the world. Her journey and leadership continue to create lasting ripple effects within her community and beyond.

Jamie Tuuta

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Jamie is an uri of Taranaki Maunga and has had an unwavering commitment to advancing the aspirations of iwi of Taranaki. He is a highly experienced director with a diverse background in iwi development, treaty settlements, agribusiness, fishing, investment, health, Māori development, tourism, philanthropy, and education. He holds multiple leadership roles, including Chair of Whakaata Māori, Sealord, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Mutunga, and several other organizations. Jamie has also served in significant past positions such as Chair of Tourism New Zealand and Māori Trustee and CEO of Te Tumu Paeroa.

He is committed to innovation and improving New Zealand's economic and environmental performance, with a strong focus on indigenous development models. Jamie has received numerous awards for his leadership and contributions, including the Sir Peter Blake Emerging Leadership Award, Māori Young Business Leader of the Year, and a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Waikato.

Rawiri Waititi

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Rawiri Waititi is a current Member of the 53rd Parliament and co-leader of Te Pāti Māori. He is a father of five, iwi leader, Ringatū Minister, creative and kapa haka extraordinaire.

In 2020, Rawiri Waititi (Te Whānau a Apanui, Ngai Tai, Te Whakatohea, Ngai Tuhoe, Ngati Awa, Te Arawa, Ngati Tūwharetoa, Ngai Te Rangi, Ngati Ranginui) successfully bought back the seat of te Waiariki to its Te Pāti Māori kāinga. He then became co-leader as the only Te Pāti Māori tane elected to the 53 rd Parliament of Aotearoa.

Born on the East Coast, and raised in the lights of Tāmaki Makaurau, Rawiri has the balance of experience within the rural and urban Māori settings.

The father of five has worked tirelessly to support te rohe o te Waiariki alongside his Waiariki based electorate team. Putting pressure on the government, advocating for whānau, and channelling the voice of the rohe in parliament.

Rawiri fights relentlessly to uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi, ensuring that Māori are empowered to thrive on their own whenua (land).

An active member and tōhunga (minister) of the Ringatū Faith, Rawiri has dedicated most of my life to the wellbeing of our people - from our tamariki mokopuna through to our pakeke.

Rawiri has been heavily involved in the development of an integrated services approach to community and whānau. The Whānau Ora approach has given Rawiri a broad scope on the education, welfare, health, housing and justice sectors and how they can be integrated to empower whānau.