The first event was hosted in Auckland on 6 September and was attended by the Governor-General, Lieutenant General, The Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae, international and New Zealand speakers, Members of Parliament, public, private and community representatives.

6 September 2013, Alberton House, Auckland


4.10 pm  Mihi Whakatau
Reverend Iritana Hankins

4.15 pm  Welcome
Phil O’Reilly, Chief Executive, BusinessNZ

4.20 pm  Opening addresses
The Governor-General,
Lieutenant General The Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae
Minister of Women’s Affairs, Hon Jo Goodhew

4.30 pm  Speakers
Lieutenant Colonel Helen Cooper, New Zealand Defence Force
Lise Edwards, Diversity and Inclusion Specialist, Co-Founder GenderAllies
Lynn McKenzie, President, Zonta International

4.50 pm  Summary 
Phil O’Reilly, Chief Executive, BusinessNZ

4.55 pm  Closing address
Dr Jo Cribb, Chief Executive, Ministry of Women’s Affairs



Reverend Iritana Hankins, President of the Anglican Mothers’ Union, opened the event with a mihi whakatau.




Minister of Women’s Affairs, Hon Jo Goodhew, celebrated the initiatives of organisations working on improving the ‘pipeline’ of women in leadership. She stated that “organisations that plan for greater diversity and broader leadership capability will reap the rewards. These will be the truly successful organisations of the future.” 

The Minister launched a report from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Realising the opportunity: Addressing New Zealand’s leadership pipeline (2013).


The Governor-General, The Lt Gen Rt The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, highlighted the significance of suffrage in his speech. “It is hard for 21st century citizens to appreciate how radical a move it was.The time it took for other countries to follow our lead, however, gives an indication of how challenging a prospect votes for women was for the political leaders of that time.”

He challenged the audience by saying: “We should also take the opportunity to reflect what it meant for New Zealand, for having taken the stage as a world leader in women’s rights, we continued to produce trailblazers”. He reflected that there is still work to be done and it is something that we all can help with. 


Phil O’Reilly, Chief Executive of BusinessNZ, put forward a challenge to New Zealand: “Brave and insightful people, men and women, bequeathed us this history and great gift.  Now it’s our duty to carry this forward.  We need to be there for the young, disenfranchised, fearful and uninterested. If we unleash the power of women, we will unleash New Zealand.  If we don’t do that New Zealand will fail”.


Lieutenant Colonel Helen Cooper, the first woman to head the United Nations peace keeping forces in Lebanon, shared her personal experience about moving her family to Lebanon and leading an international team in a predominantly male workforce. “It’s lonely at the top, especially as a woman.  Especially in a command role”. Helen was strongly supported by the New Zealand Defence Force in her role, in her words: “In 2011 the stars aligned with my family, employer and my own aspirations.  It’s a partnership between spouses, employers and yourself.  When the balance is right everyone wins”.

Lise Edwards, a diversity and inclusion specialist and guest of the US Embassy visiting New Zealand to honour the 70th anniversary of Eleanor Roosevelt’s visit to the South Pacific, said: “We all stand on the shoulders who have come before us. 120 years ago New Zealand played a critical role in women’s suffrage. The lesson is the road is long, there will be obstacles and setbacks, we cannot weaken, we must resolve to gather support and when the tipping point arrives be ready to move. There is no reason to be complacent. Be persistent. Engage anyone you can to move the needle forward knowing people all over the world are doing the same thing.  And some day a child or grandchild will stand on your shoulders.”

Lynn McKenzie, President of Zonta International, challenged guests to think about a girl born this year and then to imagine it’s 2019 and she is 6 years old and then in 2023 when she is 20 years old. She asked the audience: “What does her world look like?  What are her dreams?  How are we shaping her thinking, consciously and unconsciously?  What barriers will she be breaking? Who’s supporting, encouraging and mentoring her to be the best she can be and what role are we playing in her journey?”.

Jo Cribb, Chief Executive of Ministry of Women’s Affairs, closed the event and left guests with the following thought: “Ma tini ma mano ka rapa te whai. By many, by thousands, the work (project) will be accomplished”. 




Guests enjoying celebrations at Alberton House