Waylyn Tahuri-Whaipakanga

In the words of Martin Luther King Jr, “The strongest storms make the best sailors. The strongest games make the best players. Tougher challenges make the best leaders.”
This year, marked by unprecedented challenges, has been one for the history books. We’ve all been impacted in various ways, and it is in these challenging times that true humanity emerges.

Our 2023 ‘Leader of the Year’ has not only weathered challenging times but has risen to the occasion with unwavering dedication. Undeterred by circumstances, they have stepped up to provide leadership when it was needed the most.

With an extensive career exceeding 28 years in the health and social services industry, this experienced leader has undertaken a variety of roles, including CEO, Director of Social Housing Developments, and Chair of numerous boards and committees, representing essential leadership forums. While too numerous to name individually, each role has been equally vital in enhancing the well-being of individuals, communities, and overall development. Grounded in cultural heritage, their journey exemplifies substantial contributions across sectors, firmly establishing them as an inspiring and exceptional leader.

Originating from modest roots in Wairoa, this leader embarked on their path as a Drug & Alcohol Counsellor. Over time, they progressed into influential positions within Iwi and District Health Boards, showcasing outstanding leadership and resilience. Their impact extends beyond professional boundaries, where they’ve played a role in shaping policies as both a member and Chair of the Hōhepa Hawke’s Bay/Wellington Board, as well as contributing to organizations such as the NZ NGO Council.

As CEO of one of the largest Māori providers in the country, their exceptional leadership shone during crises, mobilizing resources during the COVID-19 pandemic, and organizing relief efforts post-Cyclone Gabrielle. Their crisis management showcased empathy, decisiveness, and a deep sense of duty to the community.
In community-driven initiatives, they organized various events, infusing energy, and positivity. Beyond crisis response, this leader fosters a supportive workplace for up to 500 staff, emphasizing cultural values and creating a sense of belonging. Actively participating in community initiatives and serving as a Trustee of Rangiahua Marae, this individual has exhibited dedication and the ability to balance professional and community responsibilities.

This unique leadership journey is characterized by passion, resilience, and an unwavering commitment to community well-being, making them an exceptional role model for aspiring leaders everywhere.
We are honoured award Waylyn Tahuri-Whaipakanga the Leader of the Year Award.

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