Conference speakers

(More tbc)

We are honoured to welcome an exciting line-up of speakers for our annual conference. 

Full conference details

Matt for website

Matthew Gifford

Conference Master of Ceremonies (MC)

Ngāti Kahungunu ki Te Wairoa, Ngāi Tuhoe, Tongareva (Cook Islands)

Matt works as a public policy and strategy advisor for his own consultancy business based in the Kāpiti Coast and Rarotonga, Cook Islands.

Matt has hosted a range of events over the past decade including the inaugural TedX Kāpiti, the national launch broadcast of the new health system for New Zealand, the Transport Knowledge Conference, the national Te Matatini Kapa Haka festival, as well as co-hosting the annual international Barbershop Harmony Society livestream. Matt was also a judge on the 2017 TVNZ acapella series The Naked Choir.


Fekitamoeloa Katoa Utoikamanu for website

Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu

Keynote speaker

Tonga's Minister for Foreign Affairs

Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu is a Tongan civil servant, diplomat and Cabinet Minister currently serving as Tonga's Minister of Foreign Affairs. Previously she was Tonga's permanent ambassador to the United Nations, and the United Nations High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.

Ms. ‘Utoikamanu has a wealth of national, regional, and international experience in various senior leadership positions. Prior to her latest appointment, she was Chief Executive Officer of Tonga’s Ministry of Tourism,  and served as Acting Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the Council of the University of the South Pacific in 2015. 

Nanaia Mahuta

Hon Nanaia Mahuta

Keynote speaker

New Zealand's Minister for Foreign Affairs

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.

Minister Mahuta says that Aotearoa New Zealand’s independent foreign policy should be grounded in the principles that we aspire to, and apply at home, in the spirit of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.  As a liberal democracy, we privilege fundamental human rights, and work actively to sustain, strengthen and evolve our democratic institutions.

On the Pacific, she has said that we must support resilience amongst our partners by listening, enabling partner-led solutions, using local and culturally-relevant approaches, and strengthening the capacity of partner countries to chart their own journey.


Emeline Siale Ilolahia for website

Emeline Siale Ilolahia

Keynote speaker

Executive Director, Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (PIANGO)

As Executive Director of PIANGO, Siale represents the interests of Pacific civil society in a range of regional and international fora. She has a strong history of over 10 years of experience and track record in promoting sustainable growth and social development in the pacific region and a reputation for developing strong partnerships within the civil society sector. 

In her previous role as Executive Director of the Civil Society Forum of Tonga, Siale was instrumental in bringing together and supporting coalitions working on issues as diverse as ethical leadership, women’s access to finance, women’s leadership and political participation. 


brianna fruean for website

Brianna Fruean

Keynote speaker

Activist and environmental advocate 

Brianna Fruean is a Climate Change Activist, who has been leading grassroots community projects from a young age.

At age eleven, she became a founding member of the Samoan chapter of the climate organisation At sixteen she became the youngest winner of the prestigious Commonwealth Youth Award for her environmental activism. 

Brianna turned heads with a passionate speech at COP26, telling world leaders 'we are not drowning, we are fighting.'

Audrey Aumua for website

Audrey Aumua


Chief Executive Officer, The Fred Hollows Foundation New Zealand

Dr Audrey Aumua joined The Fred Hollows Foundation as Chief Executive Officer in January 2021. As a Pacific woman of Fijian descent, Dr Aumua has focused most of her career on improving the livelihoods of Pacific people and communities. 

From March 2016 until late 2020, Dr Audrey Aumua led The Pacific Community (SPC) Suva office as Deputy Director-General. 

Prior to her appointment, Dr Aumua served as the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative, Solomon Islands, United Nations Office and was responsible for shaping the public health development dimensions of the United Nation’s partnerships with the government of Solomon Islands.


Junior Ulu for website

Junior Ulu



Director Pacific Peoples Health & COVID-19 in the Community Lead

Junior was previously the Director Pacific Development at the Pasifika Medical Association and prior to this worked with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Oxfam, ChildFund, the United Nations Development Programme, Counties Manakau District Health Board and Volunteer Service Abroad.