Our people

The Ministry’s capability derives from the quality of its direction and strategy, leadership, knowledge and skills, relationships, and its systems and processes.

The Ministry’s leadership team, led by the Chief Executive, is committed to achieving the Ministry’s vision of better outcomes for women. The Ministry’s staff have in-depth private and public sector experience, specialist knowledge and strong links with a wide range of external stakeholders.  This knowledge, experience, and contacts assists staff to develop the best policy advice and implement outcomes which provide better results for New Zealanders. 

Chief Executive

Renee Graham

Renee has been Chief Executive of the Ministry for Women since June 2017. The Ministry for Women works to improve outcomes for New Zealand women and girls and strongly promotes diversity and inclusion.

During Renee’s tenure as Chief Executive, the Ministry has successfully gained Ministerial agreement for an increased 50 percent target for women on public sector boards and an Action Plan to eliminate the gender pay gap in the core public service. A key focus of the Ministry’s work programme is to improve outcomes for wāhine Māori.

Renee contributes to a number of public sector wide steering groups and committees, including the Papa Pounamu board for Diversity and Inclusion, and the Women in Public Sector Summit organising committee. 

Prior to this appointment, Renee was a Policy Director at the Ministry of Education. Renee has a strong background in leading complex strategic policy development in both the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Social Development.

As well as her policy expertise, Renee also has experience in operational roles in Work and Income, before moving into project and management positions after starting her career as a frontline case manager. Renee is a skilled public service senior leader with a track record of successfully leading the development of solutions to complex policy issues.

Renee is of Ngāti Toa and Ngāti Raukawa descent.

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 number of public and private sector organisations.  Kirsty has a Masters in Management (Communication Management) and a Bachelor of Arts.

Rebecca Barnes-Clarke - Director, Policy

Rebecca leads the Ministry’s policy advice on economic and international issues such as the gender pay gap, pay equity; APEC and various UN organisations. Rebecca has a wide variety of policy experience across the public sector – focussed on economic and international issues, strategic policy, and futures policy. Rebecca’s background includes roles at The Treasury, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry of Defence. Rebecca has a first class honours degree from the University of Otago (International Politics) and a Bachelor of Commerce (Economics). 

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

Nicola leads the joint rōpū (in partnership with Te Puni Kōkiri). This rōpū will lead the government response to the Mana Wāhine Kaupapa Inquiry currently before the Waitangi Tribunal and will focus on improving outcomes for wāhine, kotiro and whanau Māori across the state sector.

Nicola joins 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 led policy engagement on a range of issues impacting New Zealand. 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 has significant experience working on the interface of the Crown/Māori relationship in the public sector and has been actively involved in kaupapa Māori and advocacy for wāhine Māori. Nicola was raised in Auckland and holds degrees in Law (Auckland); Masters in Public Policy (Victoria); PGDipBusAdmin Management (Massey) and is currently studying towards a PhD in the School of Government at Victoria (her research centres on how Māori are represented as part of New Zealand’s diplomacy through people, art and design).

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.

Margaret Retter - Director, Policy 

Margaret leads the Ministry’s policy advice on women’s skills, employment, and income and leadership. She has a strong background in the public service with particular focus in policy and archives management. 

Tupu Tai internship programme

The Ministry for Women supports the Tupu Tai summer internship programme for Pasifika tertiary students interested in a career in public policy which is run annually by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

We have hosted two students: Sina Ete (2017/18, pictured right) and Enya Roughan (2018/19, pictured bottom right). As part of their time at the Ministry, students work a range of issues, producing a paper which they present on at the end of the Tupu Tai summer internship programme. 

New Zealand public sector organisations need to make sure they have the highly skilled employees they need to succeed and grow in the future. Tupu Tai is a great way for Pacific tertiary students to explore the public policy profession and get a taste of what it’s like to work in the public sector. Pacific peoples are underrepresented in the New Zealand public sector, especially in high skill, high wage roles such as Policy. Pacific people are a young population (55 percent of the Pacific population are younger than 25 years old) and will represent an increasing percentage of the available work force (potentially 30 percent of the work force in Auckland by 2026).

New Zealand is increasingly diverse. Studies have shown a link between diverse workforces and higher financial returns for the employer. This may be attributed to the diversity dividend – the increased innovation, customer orientation, investment and international trade brought by a diverse labour market and society. New Zealand businesses have an opportunity to maximise the diversity dividend to gain a competitive advantage in the global marketplace. Realising the diversity dividend involves overcoming unconscious bias – a form of discrimination where employers and employees associate certain traits or activities, such as men with Tech. Changing attitudes and beliefs requires inclusion. Inclusion starts with attracting and recruiting for diversity, and then implementing a successful diversity programme. Tupu Tai provides an important vehicle for recruiting for diversity and helping public sector employers and Pacific workers develop the competencies to respectively create and thrive in a diverse workplace.

Tupu Tai addresses these barriers by proactively targeting these students and helping them develop the skills and gain the experiences and networks necessary to succeed in mainstream recruitment.