Our people

The Ministry for Women is committed to achieving the Ministry’s vision that Aotearoa New Zealand is a great place to be a woman or girl, wāhine Māori succeed as Māori, and gender is not a barrier to wellbeing. Our staff have in-depth private and public sector experience, specialist knowledge, and strong links with a wide range of external stakeholders. This allows us to develop the best policy advice to lead to better results for New Zealanders. 

Secretary for Women and Chief Executive, Te Tumu Whakarae mō te wahine 

Kellie Coombes

Kellie began her role as Chief Executive and Secretary for Women on 18 June 2021. Kellie was previously Deputy Commissioner, System & Agency Performance | Kaikōmihana Tuarua,  Te Aromātai Whakatutukitanga at Te Kawa Maataho Public Service Commission. In this role Kellie’s group played a key role in driving system and agency performance. Her responsibilities included supporting the recruitment, appointment, and employment of Public Service chief executives. She was also responsible for the conduct of Performance Improvement Framework (PIF) reviews. Previous to this role, Kellie has held a number of senior leadership roles across the public sector.

Click here for details of the CE's expenses.


Leadership team

Kirsty Anderson - Director, Communications and Stakeholder Engagement 

Kirsty leads the Ministry’s communications activities. This involves oversight of the Ministry’s website, publications, social media, corporate documents, and stakeholder engagement activities. Kirsty has worked in senior roles in communications for a number of public and private sector organisations. Kirsty has a Masters in Management (Communication Management) and a Bachelor of Arts.


Deborah Malcolm - Director, Policy

Deb leads the Ministry’s policy advice on social wellbeing, including women in leadership and business, unpaid work, and violence prevention. Deb has a strong policy background, which has included the Families Commission and Ministry of Social Development. Deb holds a Master of Arts from the University of Essex and a Bachelor of Arts from Victoria University of Wellington.


Dr Nicola Ngawati (Ngapuhi, Ngāti Hine) - Kaiwhakahaere Matua (Director), Joint Roopū

Nicola leads the Mana Wāhine joint roopū (in partnership with Te Puni Kōkiri). This roopū coordinates the government response to the Mana Wāhine Kaupapa Inquiry currently before the Waitangi Tribunal.

Nicola joined the Ministry following a varied career in the New Zealand diplomatic service. During her policy career at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Nicola has represented New Zealand offshore in Brussels, Belgium (Second Secretary), Rarotonga, Cook Islands (Deputy High Commissioner/Acting High Commissioner) and in many regional and international contexts.

Nicola holds degrees in Law (Auckland); Masters in Public Policy (Victoria); PGDipBusAdmin Management (Massey) and a PhD (Victoria University School of Government). Nicola serves on the Boards of Diversity Works New Zealand and Endometriosis New Zealand.

Peter Noble - Director, Corporate Services

Peter leads the corporate services of the Ministry including: nominations service; finance, planning and reporting; information services; property; human resources; ministerial services and corporate services. Peter's previous role was at the Department of Conservation where he lead similar corporate services functions.  He also has experience in sustainability management, leading ICT and call centre services, and market research. He has had mixed background of both private and public sector experience.


Maxine Khrona Shortland MNZM (Ngāti Hine, Ngāpuhi, Ngātiwai, Ngāti Porou) - Hautū Māori - Director, Capability and Engagement

Maxine leads the strategic and operational work to develop and strengthen the Ministry’s cultural capability. This involves engaging, supporting, and influencing projects so Te Ao Māori is reflected throughout all existing and future work. 

Maxine has a long history of holding leadership and governance positions in organisations across many sectors, including sports, business, conservation, philanthropy, and public and Māori health. 

Maxine has both a Masters in Management (Research) and Postgraduate Diploma in Business (Māori Development) from The University of Auckland. She is also a graduate of the EY Darden Master Programme: Diversity and Leadership with the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.