Teresa Tepania-Ashton, former CEO of Te Runanga-A-Iwi O Ngapuhi, has been made a Member of the NZ Order of Merit for services to Maori and business.

Now living in Wellington, Ms Tepania-Ashton led the Ngapuhi Runanga for seven years and has contributed her extensive financial and banking experience to the improvement of Maori economic development.

Ms Tepania-Ashton joined HortResearch as their Business Development Leader for Maori. In this role she helped Maori develop land-based projects looking for accelerated pathways to industry and exporting.

She was appointed as CEO of Te Runanga-A-Iwi O Ngapuhi in 2004 and during her seven years in this role she developed Ngapuhi's corporate assets as a director of Ngaphui's Fisheries, Social Services and Asset Holding companies.

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Ms Tepania-Ashton is now CEO of Maori Women's Development (MWDI), which provides last-resort loans to Maori women looking to start their own business. MWDI runs adult and youth training programmes and has trained 130 financial literacy facilitators in remote areas.

She was a community representative on Unitec's Maori advisory board and has served as a trustee of Te Puna Reo Maori O Maungarongo, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Mangaronga, and Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Nga Mokopuna. Ms Tepania-Ashton was a trustee of Leadership New Zealand, a director of Te Putea Whakatipu, is currently a director of Te Aupouri Fisheries Management and Te Aupouri Commercial Development, and is chairperson of Te Mangai Penapena Putea, a partner-working group for the Financial Literacy and Savings strategy with He Kai Kei Aku Ringa.