2021 Keynote Speakers

Hon Nanaia Mahuta

As a mother, and a constituent MP with 20 plus years’ experience who has come from ‘flax-root’ politics, Hon Nanaia Mahuta remains connected to the aspirations of people from all walks of life. Those who work hard for a living so that their children can do better, kaumatua, tradespeople, those who aspire to own their home, those who own small businesses and those who lead a range of services and organisations and huge iwi entities.

During her time in Parliament, Nanaia supported policies and initiatives that built the capacity of communities, especially social service organisations, greater investment in education, employment and training opportunities particularly for young people, supported the continuation of the Treaty settlement process and supported specific initiatives that lift the wellbeing and opportunities for young mums and those who are vulnerable and victims of abuse.
Nanaia is a tribal member of Waikato-Tainui, Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngāti Manu and her parliamentary experience has enabled her to contribute to the collective aspirations of Maori and all New Zealanders.

In the 2020 Labour Government, Nanaia became the first woman to hold the Foreign Affairs portfolio. She is also Minister of Local Government, and Associate Minister for Māori Development.

Bill Bayfield

Bill Bayfield is the establishment Chief Executive of Taumata Arowai, the new water services regulator for Aotearoa. He joined in May 2020.

Previously he was Chief Executive of Environment Canterbury Regional Council (Ecan), a position he held since 2011.

Prior to Ecan, Bill was Chief Executive at the Bay of Plenty Regional Council between 2006-2011. From 2003-2006, he was General Manager, Sustainable Industry and Climate Change Group at the Ministry for the Environment, and before that held senior roles at Taranaki Regional Council.

He has a deep knowledge of drinking water and environmental regulation, and is an experienced local government Chief Executive..
His appointment as establishment Chief Executive of Taumata Arowai is on a fixed-term basis to December 2021.

In the coming months the new Taumata Arowai Board will consider a permanent appointment for 2022 and beyond.

Donna Flavell

Donna is the Chief Executive of Te Whakakitenga o Waikato Inc (Waikato-Tainui). Her impressive background has seen her work on many iwi initiatives in the freshwater space. She managed Waikato’s negotiation of the Waikato River Settlement and, following the settlement, was the General Manager of the Waikato Raupatu River Trust. During her time with Ngāi Tahu she contributed to the development of the iwi’s freshwater strategy.
Currently, she is also the Chair of the Iwi Advisors Group for Freshwater and a Director of Te Wai Maaori Trust.

Siouxsie Wiles

With her bright pink hair, Dr. Siouxsie Wiles is hard to miss! She’s one of the country’s most recognised and respected scientists, trained as a microbiologist. At the Bioluminescent Superbug Lab at Auckland University, Siouxsie and her team make nasty bacteria glow in the dark to find out what’s making us sick with the aim of finding new medicines. She still can’t quite believe she gets paid to do it for a living. Outside the lab, Siouxsie regularly appears on radio and TV, working hard to smash the stereotypes people have about what scientists and leaders look like.

Siouxsie has been recognised many times for her amazing contributions to science and society in New Zealand. In 2019 she was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to microbiology and science communication. Prior to this, she had been honoured as a Blake Leader by the Sir Peter Blake Trust as well as winning both the Royal Society Te Aparangi Callaghan Medal and the Prime Minister ’s Science Media Communication Prize. Most recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Siouxsie became one of the primary faces, communicators and educators in NZ, helping ease the public’s anxiety through lockdown and beyond. This led to Siouxsie being named the supreme winner of the Stuff-Westpac Women of Influence Awards 2020.


Huhana Smith

Associate Professor Huhana Smith is a visual artist, curator and principle investigator in research who engages in major environmental, trans-disciplinary, kaupapa Māori and action-research projects. She is co-principle investigator for research that includes mātauranga Māori methods with sciences to actively address climate change concerns for coastal Māori lands in Horowhenua-Kāpiti. Huhana actively encourages the use of art and design’s visual systems combined in exhibitions, to expand how solutions might integrate complex issues and make solutions more accessible for local communities.

Jon Lamonte PhD MA BSc (Hons)

Jon began his career in the Royal Air Force, where he served for 32 years, first as a fighter pilot and later holding senior roles in logistics and procurement for the Ministry of Defence. After leaving the RAF, he became chief executive of Tube Lines, running the engineering and upgrade of London’s busiest underground lines around the time of the London Olympics. He then headed up Transport for Greater Manchester, before moving to Australia for the role of chief executive of Sydney Metro, where he led the company through the opening of their first driverless line. He joined Watercare as its chief executive in April 2021, becoming responsible for Auckland’s water and wastewater services.