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Monday 23 January 2023 3:14pm

Diane Ruwhiu image

Being the first Māori commissioner on the New Zealand Productivity Commission Te Kōmihana Whai Hua o Aotearoa is a “defining moment” for Associate Professor Diane Ruwhiu (Ngāpuhi).

The Otago Business School’s Department of Management lecturer and Graduate Research School Deputy Dean has been in the role since September.

She has spent the first few months working with the Commission’s teams on their research inquiries, meeting industry, Government and community groups, and reviewing the Commission’s current workplans.

“It’s been challenging but so, so interesting,” she says.

The Commission is an independent crown entity responsible for providing research and advice to lift productivity for the wellbeing of all New Zealanders. It is governed by a board that is accountable to Parliament and reports to the Minister of Finance, Hon Grant Robertson.

Associate Professor Ruwhiu is excited and proud of her appointment.

“It is an incredible opportunity to apply my area of expertise, knowledge and skill set, but also to learn more and develop a set of capabilities specific to the intersection of the public sector, industry, and research.

“I love the fact that within what some might think is a very econometric notion of productivity, the commission teams have as a core focus high quality research at the same time as always keeping connected to who we are as a nation, and as communities of diverse peoples.”

She called being the first Māori commissioner a “defining moment” in her career.

“I view it as a huge opportunity, but also responsibility to enhance the commission’s responsiveness to Te Tiriti and Te Ao Māori.

One of her goals while in the three-year, part-time role is to support the Commission’s work in building stronger connections to Māori communities and ensure meaningful participation in the Commission’s work through inquiries.

“But also in the building of Māori researcher capability within the commission.

“The commission is deeply committed to supporting and building the cultural competency of all its staff and it is a privilege to work alongside colleagues who are embracing te reo, Māori values in their work.”

Associate Professor Ruwhiu praised her new colleagues, calling them an “incredible group of people”.

“I’ve seen and been awed by the passion, the tenacity and purpose of the teams in their work and you can’t help but be drawn in and engaged.”

She says the relationships between New Zealand’s productivity and the wellbeing of our people cannot be ignored.

“This is especially evident in the Commission’s two current inquiries on ‘improving economic resilience’ and ‘a fair chance for all’ both of which celebrate our nation’s distinctiveness that reflects a rich kaleidoscope of challenge and opportunity.

“It is an incredible privilege to be a part of the Commission’s work.”

- Kōrero by Jessica Wilson

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