Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga (NPM) is delighted to announce that Kerensa Johnston (Ngāti Tama, Ngāruahine, Te Atiawa, Ngāti
Whāwhakia) has joined New Zealand's Māori Centre of Research Excellence as Board Chair in 2019.
Kerensa brings with her a wealth of experience in the corporate world as well as an academic rigour that will be
essential in continuing to move NPM forward into an exciting and challenging future.
She is currently Chief Executive of the Nelson based Wakatū Incorporation, which she joined as its General Counsel in
December 2012. Founded in 1977, Wakatū has approximately 4,000 shareholders who descend from the original Māori land
owners of the Nelson, Tasman and Golden Bay Regions – Te Tau Ihu. Wakatū now has an asset base of more than $350 millon,
and with 70% of these assets held in land and waterspace Wakatū manages a diverse portfolio from vineyards and orchards
to residential properties, large retail developments, office buildings, marine farms and waterspace. Under the direction
of its 500-year intergenerational plan, Te Pae Tawhiti, Wakatū Group oversees Whenua (Property), Kono NZ LP (its export
food and drinks business) and Manaaki (People and Culture), which delivers development and capability programmes to
Wakatū owners as well as cultural and HR oversight of approximately 500 employees.
Kerensa is also a lawyer who has worked as a solicitor in the private sector, and as a legal academic at the Faculty of
Law, University of Auckland, where she specialised in Māori legal development, public law and land law. She is a
graduate of Victoria University of Wellington, where she was awarded a BA in History and a LLB. She has a Masters in
Laws in International Law (First Class Honours) from the University of Auckland and is a member of the International
Association of Corporate Counsel, Corporate Lawyers’ New Zealand and Te Hunga Roia Māori o Aotearoa.
NPM Co-Directors Professors' Jacinta Ruru and Linda Waimarie Nikora acknowledge that Kerensa comes to NPM with an
outstanding reputation, a focus on excellence and a desire to see Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga working with our researchers,
our communities and with government to ensure the best possible impact and outcomes for our research. “We are excited by
her acceptance of this position and look forward to the dynamism and knowledge she will bring to our outstanding Ngā Pae
o te Māramatanga Board.”
Kerensa Johnston expressed her commitment to live up to the example set by her predecessor Sir Tīpene O'Regan,
commenting that "the guidance that Tā Tīpene has provided for Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga over the past 12 years has been
instrumental in the centre's ongoing success in delivering research of real consequence for our people and the nation,
and he has clearly laid down the challenge for us to continue to advance our work and do better than ever before. As a
result of his leadership we have expectations of NPM that we need to meet and exceed as we look to the future."
"The institutional knowledge that exists within Ngā Pae, supported by the expertise of its many allied researchers
around the country and the rich mātauranga of our engaged communities, is resulting in advances across the research
spectrum that I believe will be vital to Māori and all New Zealander's as we continue to chart a path through what will
be a challenging future - economically, environmentally and culturally. NPM has an increasingly important role to play
in this future, and I am looking forward to contributing what I can."
Kerensa commenced her term at the beginning of the year and will chair the first 2019 meeting of the NPM Board, in
Auckland on 20 March 2019.