Inspiring New Zealand business leader selected for global economic development programme
Ms Tepania-Ashton MNZM (Ngapuhi, Ngati Kuri, Te Aupouri, Te Rarawa and Ngati Kahu ki Whangaroa) is Chief Executive Officer of Māori Women’s Development Inc (MWDI), a lending and development organisation that encourages and supports Maori women and their whanau in business. She will be attending the GWIM programme alongside other leaders in women’s economic development from around the world.
The intensive four-week workshop (22 July – 16 August) is designed to empower women in the not-for-profit and civil society sectors with leadership, technical and professional skills, as well as share learnings and international best practice that will assist them in helping other women to fulfill their economic potential and drive economic and social change in their communities.
Andrew McNaught, Lead Country Manager for Mobil, says Ms Tepania-Ashton displays an articulate insight into social enterprise and its natural alignment to Te Ao Māori, and was highly impressed by her commitment to increasing access to support and development services for wāhine.
“As the Māori economy continues to blossom, it makes sense to be supporting female business leaders who are at the forefront of embedding Māori-specific models of practice and are encouraging other women into business” says Mr McNaught.
“It is proven that investing in women’s leadership competencies strengthens the entire community. Ms Tepania-Ashton’s presence at the GWIM programme will augment her already extensive knowledge base by way of providing an international perspective of women’s economic development,” he says.
“GWIM presents Ms Tepania-Ashton with the added opportunity to expand her network and work with other global leaders in the economic development space as well as share her substantial experience with others in the programme and help them develop bi-cultural leadership strategies that can be applied in other indigenous communities around the globe.”
In addition to leading MWDI for the last seven years, Ms Tepania-Ashton has also held leadership and governance roles at Te Rūnanga-a-Iwi o Ngāpuhi, Te Aupouri Commercial Development Ltd and Te Aupouri Fisheries Ltd.
Ms Tepania-Ashton’s commitment to empowering Māori Women and their whānau in business was formally recognised in June 2016, where she was received as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori communities and business. Last year, she also joined the third cohort of fellows into the Edmund Hillary Fellowship and was a recipient of the Kiwibank Local Hero Awards for Wellington in 2016.
Ms Tepania-Ashton is excited to see how others implement programmes that support the success of indigenous businesswomen and is looking forward to applying lessons from around the world into a New Zealand context.
“The GWIM programme is a fantastic opportunity to work with other women around the world who are supporting the economic advancements of women in their own communities and apply insights to specific models of practice for Māori women and their whanau.”
“I believe one of the key ingredients for Māori wāhine succeeding in leadership today is having a strong support system, and I’m excited to be able to collaborate with other women leaders, who are sharing a similar pathway.”
“Whāia te iti kahurangi, ki te tuohu koe, me he maunga teitei: refuse to let obstacles get in your way while striving to reach your goal,” concludes Ms Tepania-Ashton.
Ms Tepania-Ashton is the only New Zealand applicant selected to attend the 2019 GWIM workshop. GWIM is supported by the ExxonMobil Foundation’s Women’s Economic Opportunity Initiative, which was launched in 2005 to help women fulfil their economic potential and drive economic and social change in their communities.