Ariana Simpson

Ngati Awa, Te Whānau -ā- Apanui, Ngāti Rangihouhiri

Ariana Simpson has over 40 years of experience working with the Women's movement regionally, nationally, and internationally.   Ariana is known and respected for her dedication to whānau through her advocacy for social justice and social change in stopping violence against women and children.  

Her early years include the first national Family Violence Coordinating Committee (FVPAC), Māori Reference Group, E Tū Whānau, and Māori Core Group rep for the National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuge just to name a few.   Starting in Rape Crisis, Ariana was part of the Māori Women ‘s movement determined to hold space for Māori women and their whānau while developing a pathway towards safety and tino rangatiratanga. 

Her mantra of ‘every woman and child have the right to be safe and live their life to their fullest potential’ is reflected in everything she does.  She is renowned for her ability to challenge the multi-layered forms of oppression that impact women and tamariki through the inadequate and, at times, dangerous responses by the State.  She continues to lobby for the needs of battered women and children to ensure successive governments are held to account for systemic failures.

Ariana is one of the founders of the first Māori Women’s Refuge (Te Whakaruruhau) in 1986.  Today, Te Whakaruruhau (now Waikato Women’s Refuge) is the largest refuge in Aotearoa. It provides a suite of services for women and children living with violence and other complex social issues.  Te Whakaruruhau now works with all whānau members to ensure whānau are in control of their pathways, resulting in improved sustainable outcomes, which Ariana has been instrumental in implementing. 

As part of her ongoing mahi as Pou Whakarite with Te Whakaruruhau, Ariana has pioneered the importance of preserving whakapapa in the mahi they do.  In 2012, after giving years of service, Ariana (alongside Ruahine Albert) was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal.


Ariana Simpson

Waikato Women’s Refuge Te Whakaruruhau - board

Puhi: Memories and experiences in their ceremonial role in traditional and contemporary Maori worlds

Honours: Ruahine Albert and Ariana Simpson

Te Whakaruruhau Waikato Women’s Refuge

National Maori women's refuge hui

New Waikato Māori Women's Refuge film premiere

He Rangatira Our Leaders

Adele Hauwai

Ngāti-Kahungunu, Ngaī Tuhoe, Ngāti-Maniapoto, Ngāti-Pahauwera

Adele Hauwai is a mentor and facilitator who strongly focuses on supporting and contributing to mental health, well-being, and suicide prevention work.

Leilani Maraku

Ngāti Raukawa

Leilani Maraku develops and delivers Kaupapa Māori Mental Health & Addiction peer support services throughout the Manawatū region for adults, youth, and their whānau.

Michael Naera

Te Arawa, Ngāti Tūteniu, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahungunu

Michael’s leadership to maintain the focus and course to achieve the right thing remains. He tino rangatira tēnei – not only does Michael have the skills and attributes of being an emerging leader, but he also has the mana to be a great leader.

Elana Taipapaki Curtis

Ngāti Rongomai, Ngāti Pikiao, Te Arawa

Associate Professor Elana Curtis is a public health medicine specialist focused on Māori and indigenous health inequities. She looks at Māori health outcomes and the way in which racism (and privilege) act as a determinant of health.