A Rotorua woman is a finalist in two categories of the 2019 Women in Governance Awards.

Vanessa Eparaima features in both the Māori or Pasifika Governance Leader and Inspiring Governance Leader sections of the awards, which recognise and celebrate innovation, excellence, creativity and commitment to diversity by both organisations and individuals.

Eparaima (Raukawa and Ngāti Tuwharetoa) was appointed chair of Te Mana Whakahaere - Te Wānanga o Aotearoa governing body - in 2016.

She has a long history of governance. She is Raukawa Settlement Trust executive chairwoman, chairwoman of the Raukawa Charitable Trust, and a director of Raukawa Iwi Development Ltd.


Eparaima was the lead negotiator for Raukawa and successfully negotiated the Treaty of Waitangi settlement for the Raukawa Settlement Trust.

She was the inaugural chairperson of Kākano (a six member Iwi collective which holds a shareholding in Kaingaroa Timberlands), a Director of CNI Iwi Holdings and the Co-Chair of CNI Iwi Land Management.

Eparaima was also a trustee of Tuaropaki Trust and a director of Te Puia Tāpapa Fund, a Māori Investment Fund.

She became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori in 2014.

Eparaima said she was humbled to be nominated for the awards, particularly given the quality of the other finalists.

"We don't take on these roles for the recognition. We do it because we are passionate about achieving better outcomes for our people," she said.

"None of us work in isolation therefore any success we may achieve is because of the good people around us and those who support us in our mahi."

She said the quality of the finalists indicated that women were playing increasingly important roles in governance throughout all sectors and industries in Aotearoa.


The Women in Governance Awards are an initiative of Women on Boards New Zealand which is a business unit of Governance New Zealand. The award winners will be announced on June 20.