Our Māori Governance Body

Te Rūnanga Māori

Te Rūnanga Māori has a shared governance role with respect to the Māori strategy as defined in agreement between the Rūnanga and Board. The Chair of Te Rūnanga Māori Chair is also a member of the Board.

AKO Staff Profiles lee cooper

Lee Cooper

Co-Chair | TEU Te Hautū Kahurangi o Aotearoa


Lee represents Te Tira Whakahaere of Te Toi Tauira mō Te Matariki on the Rūnanga where he’s been a member since 2015 and Deputy Chair from 2018. He has been on Te Manu Mātauranga organising kōmiti since the 2010 inaugural Tuia Te Ako conference and chaired from 2011.

He has almost 20 years’ experience in academic and educational administration from the compulsory education sector to tertiary. Lee previously managed the Equity fund for Māori and Pasifika students at Auckland University and is presently Te Pou Tuarā for TEU Te Hautū Kahurangi.

Lee is passionate about working with Māori and Pākehā to develop and advance the Tiriti relationship, and is concerned with social justice and equity for all.

AKO Staff Profiles ivy harper

Ivy Harper


Ngāti Kahungunu / Tainui / Ngāpuhi

Ivy Harper has a demonstrated history of working in the education and environmental management arena, and has a keen interest in gender issues and human rights - particularly the rights of indigenous peoples.

Skilled in non-profit organisations, with strong research and analytical skills, Ivy completed an internship at Columbia University. There she studied indigenous rights and the rights of First Nations people whilst working with diplomats at the United Nations for the duration of her studies.

Ivy was able to bring these learnings back to Aotearoa where she continues to support Māori in the pursuit of their rights and interests.

AKO Staff Profiles Dame Iritana tawhiwhirangi

Dame Dr. Iritana Tawhiwhirangi

Nominated by Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust

Ngāti Porou / Ngāti Kahungunu / Ngāpuhi

Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi was one of the cornerstones of the Kōhanga Reo movement as a means to revitalize the Māori language.

Picking up on the playcentre philosophy of community ownership and management, Dame Tawhiwhirangi helped create a whānau development model that is not only underpinned by cultural and administrative sovereignty, but has also created new opportunities in education and employment for Māori women, and whānau involvement.

Internationally, the Kōhanga Reo model is now the established benchmark for the regeneration of indigenous languages.

AKO TRM Karyn Paringatai

Dr Karyn Paringatai

Ako Aotearoa Academy Member

Ngāti Porou

Karyn has 20 years’ experience in tertiary education as a lecturer in Te Tumu – School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies at the University of Otago, where she teaches primarily in the areas of Māori language, culture and performing arts. She was the recipient of an Award for Sustained Excellence in Tertiary Teaching in a Kaupapa Māori context and was also subsequently awarded the Prime Minister’s Supreme Award for Tertiary Teaching Excellence at the 2014 Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards. 

Karyn is committed to the advancement of Māori knowledge and student success. She is a co-director of an Otago Research Theme, Poutama Ara Rau, alongside Professor Jacinta Ruru and Professor Suzanne Pitama, the aim of which is to research how Māori knowledge and teaching and learning pedagogies can transform tertiary teaching.

Ako.te.runanga.Kyla.campbell kamariera

Kyla Campbell-Kamariera

Student representative

Te Rarawa / Te Aupōuri / Taranaki Tūturu

Kyla is a postgraduate student at the University of Waikato, currently writing her Masters thesis on the political work of Māori university students. For three years she has held executive roles on the Waikato Students' Union, including one year as the Vice-President Māori and two years as the President. She has also been a member of the University of Waikato Council for two years and was also a member of the University's Taskforce against racism.

Now Kyla is the Tumuaki of Te Mana Ākonga (National Māori Tertiary Students' Association), where she is committed to the advancement of Māori student voice and activism in higher education in Aotearoa, as well as supporting Māori student associations at a grassroots level.

Profile Shelley Moana Hiha

Shelley Moana Hiha

Nominated by ITENZ

Ngāti Rangitihi, Te Arawa / Ngāti Kahungunu / Ngāi Tahu

Shelley Moana Hiha is passionate about sport, learning and wellness which are largely influenced by an upbringing with two parents, Margaret and Heitia, who led through their actions from being top sports people, lifelong educators and living healthy lifestyles. Whanau holidays involved camping, tramping, and sporting events, shared with extended whanau of aunts, uncles, and cousins throughout Aotearoa. Her parents were passionate about people, ‘fronting’ to give one’s support and for everyone to have the opportunity to live their dreams.

It is no accident that she now works in sports, health, and education, currently as the Education Director for Wellpark College of Natural Therapies and the Lead Massage Therapist for the Tall Blacks (NZ Men’s Basketball Team).


Hohepa Tamehana

Nominated by Te Tauihu o Ngā Wānanga

Tūhoe, Te Whakatōhea, Ngāti Ranginui

Hohepa is affiliated to Te Whakatōhea and Ngāti Ranginui but raised predominantly Tūhoe with hapū affiliations to Ngāti Koura, Ngāti Haka and Patuheuheu. He completed his PhD with Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi in 2014. His research passion centres on Cultural Anthropology, more specifically, the transformation of tikanga in contemporary times. Hohepa has also worked extensively among First Nations communities in Canada in culture and education for over 20 years.

Hohepa currently works for Te Wānanga o Aotearoa as the National Curriculum Manager for He Waka Hiringa – Masters of Applied Indigenous Knowledge and Kaitiakitanga – Post Grad Dip in Professional Bicultural Supervision. He is also the Manager for Educational Delivery for He Waka Hiringa in Auckland and Hamilton, as well as Te Reo Kairangi – Masters in Reo.