Conference Speakers

andy robinson

Andy Robinson

Country Programme Manager, World Vision New Zealand 

Andy Robinson has over 20 years experience in the aid and development sector. His current role is Country Programme Manager at World Vision New Zealand, and before this he worked as a Programme Manager at Tearfund New Zealand.

Andy has lived and worked in Ethiopia, Afghanistan, the Middle East, the Philippines, and Myanmar, serving on wide range of projects including child protection, WASH, nutrition, cyclone response, and protracted refugee situations.

Bernadette Cavanagh portrait ScaleMaxWidthWzEyMDBd

Bernadette Cavanagh

Deputy Secretary, Pacific and Development Group, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT)

Bernadette Cavanagh returned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) in August 2022 to take up the position of Deputy Secretary of the Pacific and Development Group. The Group oversees both Aotearoa New Zealand’s political and development relationships with Pacific partners, and our global development relationships.

Bernadette started her career at the New Zealand Defence Force and Ministry of Defence. In 2000, Bernadette joined MFAT and has held a number of roles including Deputy Secretary of the Multilateral and Legal Affairs Group, and serving offshore at the New Zealand Embassy in Moscow, New Zealand Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, and as the New Zealand High Commissioner to Singapore.

From 2019 – 2022, Bernadette was Chief Executive of Manutū Taonga | Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Manatū Taonga has responsibility for policy, legislation and funding for the government’s work in arts, culture, heritage, sport, media and broadcasting.


Bernadette Pinnell

Global Business Director, Home in Place NZ

Bernadette established Home in Place NZ, a not for profit affordable housing business in 2016, and led the expansion of  Home in Place International in 2020. The company has been operating in Australia for 40 years and is the largest social housing organisation, providing homes to over 20,000 people.

Her focus is on developing and managing climate, resilient affordable housing  and associated social infrastructure in the Pacific, through partnerships with Governments, local NGO’s and private sector funding agencies. She is on the Steering Committee for the Pacific Urban Forum in Fiji Sept 2023 convening sessions on Housing Partnerships and First Nations Housing Solutions with representatives from Hawaii, Canada, NZ and the Pacific.

Bernadette has a Master’s  Degree in Urban and Regional Planning and her PhD research examined ‘ what works for whom in social housing reform programmes’. She is the Chair of the Urban Development Institute NZ. In 2022 she was awarded  the Westpac NZ Woman of Influence Award for her work in affordable housing in Aotearoa.  She has previously worked and lived in the UK, Australia and PNG.

Dana MacDiarmid Profile Photo v2

Dana MacDiarmid

Private Secretary, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and Council Member, Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA)

Dana has worked at the NZ National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) since 2016 in the emergency welfare services, strategic planning, and Pacific Disaster Risk Management Programme teams.

Following a half-year NEMA posting to Niue for the 2021/22 cyclone season, she is currently on secondment as Private Secretary to the Minister for Emergency Management.

Prior to joining NEMA, Dana was based in Timor-Leste working as a communications and marketing advisor with a local NGO as a NZ Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) volunteer, and then as a locally employed staff member at the NZ Embassy in Dili.

Dana has been an elected VSA Council member since 2016, where she is Deputy Chair and Chair of the Governance and Organisational Performance committee, and is also a member of the Asia NZ Foundation Leadership Network. Outside of work, Dana enjoys scuba diving (in warm waters), cooking, and is training for a half marathon.

Siale photo v2

Emeline Siale Ilolahia


Siale is a Tongan civil society leader, women’s advocate and activist, working and base in Suva, Fiji.

As Executive Director of PIANGO, she represents the interests of Pacific civil society in a range of regional and international fora specifically in areas of human rights based approach, governance and institutional building, effective and informed participation of citizens in decision making to ensure that interest of Pacific peoples are safeguarded.

She has brought her experiences from her previous role as Executive Director of the Civil Society Forum of Tonga to the region in the area of coalition building on issues as diverse as ethical leadership, women’s access to finance, women’s leadership and political participation, humanitarian localisation and locally-led development. Siale was awarded an inaugural Jose Edgardo Campos Collaborative Leadership Award in Washington DC in 2016 in recognition of her contributions to local leadership efforts in Tonga.

Jade Hamilton Pic

Major Jade Hamilton

Operations Officer, Head Quarters Deployable Joint Inter-Agency Task Force (HQ DJIATF), New Zealand Defence Force

Jade Hamilton has been in the NZ Army for 17 years. He is an infantry officer who has deployed on security operations to the Solomon Islands (2010), Afghanistan (2011), and Iraq (two deployments, 2016 and 2019).

In the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) space, Jade deployed with the multi-agency contingent to Tonga in early 2022, after the eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai. He deployed again in late 2022, this time to Niue as part of an NZDF response to a La Niña induced drought, where he provided operational advice to the Niue government and the supporting agencies back in NZ. 

More recently, Jade played a significant role in the NZDF’s response to Cyclone Gabrielle – he was initially sent to Auckland to assist Regional Emergency Management with operational delivery where he helped co-ordinate the evacuation of Muriwai. Upon the declaration of a National State of Emergency, Jade’s Unit was reprioritised to Wellington where – supporting NEMA – he helped coordinate the national level response. Jade also deployed to Vanuatu in 2023 as part of the NZ Government’s response to Cyclones Judy and Kevin. 

Jade has significant involvement in multi-agency engagement activities with a number of Pacific Islands. These pre-disaster planning activities are designed to better understand how the NZDF (and wider NZ agencies) can coordinate with, and assist a locally-led response during an emergency response in the Pacific.

Jaydene Buckley2

Jaydene Buckley 

Managing Director, OSACO Group

Jaydene Buckley is the Managing Director for OSACO Group, an Aotearoa-based company that provides services to Humanitarian and Development organisations, specialising in investigations, safeguarding, compliance, governance, security, anti-corruption measures, and managing Code of Conduct issues. Their work encompass UN Agencies, NGOs, INGOs, Corporates and Government Agencies across the world.

Jaydene has 30 years increasingly senior professional experience as an investigator, strategic advisor and manager in Aotearoa and internationally and has been a consultant to; UN, INGOs and international development sectors as well as the private sector. Jaydene is also currently a board member for the Marlborough Women’s Refuge and Sexual Violence Centre a member of the Institute of Directors and the Southern Māori Business Network.

John Appleby Bio Photo

John Appleby

Team Leader Operational Readiness and Response, National Emergency Management Agency

Dr John Appleby leads the Operational Readiness and Response Team at Te Rākau Whakamarumaru the New Zealand National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). His team is responsible for ensuring NEMA has the right people, systems, processes, and facilities in place to respond to New Zealand’s most significant disasters, including arrangements for requesting and approving international assistance. Prior to his current role he led a work programme at NEMA which established a national governance and accreditation framework for volunteers working in emergency management.

John is one of the three delegated National Controllers for States of National Emergency, and has had involvement in the emergency management sector for over 20 years in numerous roles both here in Aotearoa and the United Kingdom, with a focus on response leadership, incident management, and capability development.

kanni photo

Kanni Wignaraja

UN Assistant Secretary General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific

Ms. Kanni Wignaraja began her role as UNDP’s Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific on 18 November 2019. Before, Ms. Wignaraja served as the Acting Assistant Administrator and Director of UNDP’s Bureau of Management Services and as Special Adviser to the UNDP Administrator, roles that she performed throughout 2019 after working as the Director of the UN Development Operations Coordination Office from 2014 to 2018.

Ms. Wignaraja has over twenty-five years of experience of the UN’s mission and UNDP’s role in the sustainable development agenda. She has a deep knowledge of the Asia-Pacific region, as well as the global, regional and country level workings of UNDP, across policy, programme, management and operations.

Prior to joining the UN, Kanni worked with the Ford Foundation in New York. Kanni has contributed to numerous papers, articles and conferences in areas of public policy, institutional reform, capacity development, human rights and leadership.

luke harrington photo

Luke Harrington

Senior Lecturer in Climate Change, University of Waikato

Dr Luke Harrington uses state-of-the-art climate models to understand how climate change influences observed extreme weather events around the world, including why some communities experience more significant changes than others. Harrington’s research found that any further global warming will worsen existing inequalities. For example, even if global warming is kept within the Paris Agreement goal of 1.5°C, the changes in extreme heat experienced by low-income countries would still be more significant than those seen by high-income countries after 3°C of warming.

In its 2022 edition, Harrington was the first New Zealander to feature in the ‘Healthcare and Science’ section of Forbes 30 under 30 Asia. He was a lead author on a 2021 OECD report examining losses and damages from climate change and has led several studies as part of the globally renowned World Weather Attribution group. He is now working with colleagues to build a global inventory of the impacts of extreme weather which can be attributed to anthropogenic climate change, while also raising awareness of the data gaps which impede the measurement of extreme weather impacts in some of the world’s most vulnerable regions.

staff Marc Purcell

Marc Purcell

CEO, Australian Council for International Development (ACFID)

Marc has 25 years’ experience in the community, international development and human rights sectors in Australia. He worked as Oxfam Australia’s National Advocacy Manager and was Executive Officer for the Catholic Commission for Justice Development and Peace Executive. He has also worked as Country Program Manager for Africa at Australian Volunteers International; and worked with UNHCR in Nepal assisting Tibetan refugees.

Marc is a Director of the Community Council for Australia and the Campaign for Australian Aid Executive Committee. He has served on the boards of Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, the National Roundtable of Non Profit Organisations, the Refugee Immigration Legal Centre, A Just Australia, and Catholic Social Services Victoria.


HE Nina Obermaier

European Union Ambassador to New Zealand

Since 2019, Nina is the European Union Ambassador to New Zealand.

She started her professional career as a journalist before moving into the government space. She then spent twenty years working for the European Union, covering Israel and the West Bank/Gaza, information society and e-government, protection and crisis management, and negotiations with Switzerland.

Before coming to New Zealand, Nina was the Lead Negotiator for the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland in the Brexit negotiations.

pat conroy pacific hi res

Pat Conroy MP 

Minister for International Development and the Pacific and Minister for Defence Industry, Australian Government

Mr Conroy was elected to the House of Representatives as the Member for Charlton in 2013 and, following an electoral redistribution, as the Member for Shortland in 2016 and again in 2019 and 2022. His Parliamentary service has included Deputy Chair (Senior Opposition member) on the Joint Public Accounts and Audit Committee, Deputy Chair of the House Environment and Energy Committee, Deputy Chair of the House Privileges Committee and as a member of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics.

From 2016 to 2019 Mr Conroy was Shadow Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy and Shadow Assistant Minister for Infrastructure. In 2019 he was appointed Shadow Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Shadow Minister Assisting for Defence and Shadow Minister Assisting for Climate Change and Energy.

Following the election of the Albanese Labor Government in May 2022, he was appointed as Minister for International Development and the Pacific and Minister for Defence Industry.


Peter Rudd

Executive Director, Council for International Development 

Peter is a strategic-minded, impact driven and outcomes-oriented leader, with a deep set of skills and experience accumulated over 25+ years working within the private sector (local and multi-national companies) and public sector, including international government agencies in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia and Fiji. 

Peter is a results-oriented executive with a particularly strong professional background in strategic leadership, international development, economic development and global trade & investment. He has worked with New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE), the New Zealand government’s export and investment agency and in leadership roles with multi-national organisations including the Institute for International Research (IIR). He has experience as a Founder and Chief Executive with New Zealand based companies and has extensive governance experience.

Prior to joining CID, Peter was appointed by DT Global (on behalf of Australian Department Foreign Affairs & Trade) to lead the transition, establishment and operations of the Pacific Island Food Revolution (PIFR) to a stand-alone Non-Government Organisation (NGO) and registered Charity in New Zealand to continue their innovative development programmes in the Pacific. Before this, Peter was responsible for the establishment, management and sustainable growth of the inaugural Fiji Trade Commission to New Zealand on behalf of the Fijian Government.

Peter has degrees in business and management from Auckland University of Technology and is an active member of the Institute of Directors and Institute of International Affairs. 

Rachel Mason Nunn

Rachel Mason Nunn

Director, Mandela Partners

Rachel is passionate about working with governments, businesses and civil society to navigate a changing economy. Rachel is one of the leading voices on international development in Australia. She has worked with government, NGOs and foundations to design and implement development programs throughout Asia and the Pacific, with a focus on women's economic empowerment and health equity. Rachel was previously Director of Equity Economics, and prior to this worked with EY and The World Bank. Rachel founded Good Will Hunters, a podcast dedicated to international development, in 2018. Having aired over 150 episodes, Rachel continues to commentate on social and development policy on a variety of platforms. 

Robert Oliver Photo v2

Robert Oliver

Executive Director, Pacific Island Food Revolution

Oliver is a New Zealand chef raised in Fiji and Samoa who has developed restaurants in New York, Miami, Las Vegas and Sydney, "farm to table" resorts in the Caribbean and food programs feeding homeless people and African immigrants with AIDS in New York City.

Robert is the Chef Ambassador for Le Cordon Bleu, New Zealand and has authored two popular culinary books: Me’a Kai: The Food and Flavours of the South Pacific and Mea’ai Samoa. Me’a Kai stunned the food world by winning “Best Cookbook in the World” at the Gourmand Awards in Paris.

He is currently the Executive Director and Founder of “Pacific Island Food Revolution”, a television media-led movement across the South Pacific designed to return the region to traditional cuisine in an effort to curb the Pacific’s NCD crisis. 

In 2017, Robert was honored with a KEA World Class New Zealander Award and in 2022 was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit in recognition for his services to the food industry and Pacific Communities.

Ross Wilson copy 002

Ross Wilson

Chair, Board of Trustees, UnionAID

Ross Wilson is a former President of the NZ Council of Trade Unions and is the Chair of Unions Aotearoa International Development UnionAID Trust. Ross has had a long association with the Burma union and democracy movement and, in 2012-13 worked for the International Labour Organization in Myanmar to establish a project to promote freedom of association rights.  He currently oversees UnionAID’s projects in Myanmar including the ongoing Young Leaders’ Programme, funded by MFAT.



Schannel (Sagele) van Dijken

Marine and Heritage Director, Conservation International

Guided by curiosity and heritage, Schannel is a National Geographic Explorer, and a marine biologist working with Conservation International’s (CI) Asia-Pacific Program as Marine and Heritage Director. He has worked in 15+ countries across diverse environmental initiatives from Antarctica to Europe, Asia and Oceania. He has demonstrated leadership, sustainability, and environmental management experience honed in working at the intersection of traditional knowledge, science, education, tech, and environmental policy.

Trusted technical practitioner, Schannel is a passionate Pacific advocate, Polynesian voyager (double-hulled traditional voyaging canoe), divemaster, and field scientist. He has spent significant time on the open ocean exploring nature across many Islands between Aotearoa New Zealand, to Hawaii to Mexico, Cocos & Galapagos Islands. When not in the field or working within teams, he can be found exploring the blockchain, crypto, and digital frontier.

Steven Ratuva

Steven Ratuva

Director of the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, University of Canterbury

Distinguished Professor Steven Ratuva is the Director of the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies (University of Canterbury) and Chair of the International Political Science Association (IPSA) Research Committee on Conflict, Security and Democratization.

With a PhD from UK, he is a global interdisciplinary scholar with 9 books published (including the most comprehensive book on ethnicity in the world) and has led a number of international research projects such as the global security project by the International Political Science Association.

He was awarded the University of Canterbury Research Medal in 2019 (the first Pacific Islander and social scientist), Sustainability Research Award. He also became the first and only Pacific person in the world to be promoted to the position of Distinguished Professor, the highest academic rank. 


Stuart Meiklejohn

Standards and Humanitarian Manager, Council for International Development 

Stuart has worked in a number of emergency management and policy roles in New Zealand government. He has worked at the National Emergency Management Agency for the last three and a half years in planning and emergency welfare services, working closely with NGOs involved in domestic responses. He has also been involved in government responses to Cyclone Gabrielle, COVID-19, and Whakaari/White Island emergencies along with many others. Other roles include senior advisor for emergency management at the Ministry of Social Development, and private secretary for biosecurity while working for the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Stuart has also spent a number of years overseas in emergency management and humanitarian roles, including a year in the Philippines in disaster management planning and a year in Mongolia working for their National Emergency Management Agency.

Stuart has undergraduate degrees in law and business, a master’s degree focused on international law, a post-graduate diploma in emergency management, and has volunteered for eight years in Land Search and Rescue.

Tim Manson Profile photo

Tim Manson

International Programmes Director, Tearfund New Zealand

Tim is the International Programmes Director at Tearfund New Zealand.His team is responsible for delivering NZ$11 million in development and humanitarian support through local partners around the world.  Originally from New Zealand, he grew up in Cote D’Ivoire, West Africa until the age of 14. Tim completed a Masters in International Development with First Class Honours from Massey University and has spent 6 years in Uganda working in refugee response programming in the mental health sector. In the past year Tim has visited Tearfund's humanitarian partners in Ukraine and Ethiopia. Tim is married to Helen, a humanitarian photojournalist, and together with their three young kids they hail from Pakuranga, Auckland. 

Viv head shot 3 v2

Vivienne Euini

Director International Operations, New Zealand Red Cross

Vivienne has extensive experience in international development and the NGO sector, including at the most senior leadership level.  In her current role as Director International Operations at New Zealand Red Cross, she  is responsible for the operation of their entire international programme.  As a wahine toa, she is the organisation’s most senior Māori leader and has taken a critical leadership role in establishing the Rōpū Hāpai Māori, a thriving network of employees, members and volunteers and is also the Chair of their Te Ao Māori Programme. Viv’s experience is diverse having started her career in sharebroking, transitioning to senior management positions in the banking sector and then moving to helping the most vulnerable in mental health as CEO for Anxiety New Zealand.