Our people

Our Council 

Renata Hakiwai – Co-chair 

Renata Hakiwai, Ngāti Kahungunu, Rongomaiwahine, Tūwharetoa, Waikato Tainui, is the Managing Director of HTK Group Ltd, an organisation established in 2015 to meet the growing demand for a Māori and indigenous professional services organisation that is purpose driven. Renata has more than 10 years of experience in senior executive and leadership positions alongside being a successful investor and dual exit entrepreneur. 

Mr Hakiwai was previously co-chair of the interim Establishment Board Hanga-Aro-Rau, Manufacturing, Engineering and Logistics Workforce Development Council. He sits on several Boards on a range of organisations which include crown, commercial, iwi, post settlement entities, not for profit and start up entities. Mr Hakiwai has extensive experience and a diverse range of skills working across iwi, public, Start-Up and commercial sector, and has a major passion for Māori economic development with a focus on Māori business, innovation, enterprise, workforce development and employment, STEM and the Future of work. Mr Hakiwai has deep connections into the communities in which he serves, and sees himself as an enabler of people, and an accelerator for Māori and indigenous development.

Dr Troy Coyle – Co-chair


Dr Troy Coyle is the Chief Executive Officer of NZ Heavy Engineering Research Association (HERA). She has more than twenty years of experience in the engineering and manufacturing sectors in both New Zealand and Australia including senior roles with New Zealand Steel Ltd, Blue Scope Steel Ltd, and the University of Wollongong. 

Dr Coyle was previously the co-chair of the interim Establishment Board of the Manufacturing, Engineering and Logistics Workforce Development Council. She has a portfolio of governance roles which include being Chair of Sustainable Steel Council, a member of the Construction Innovation Council, a board member of Metals NZ and a member of MBIE's Building Advisory Panel. 

Jerome Mika 

Faamoetauloa Po’e Jerome Mika is of Samoan descent from the villages of Moata’a, Lelepa, Safune and Saoluafata. His current role is Business Development Lead at The Cause Collective, a Pacific social change agency in South Auckland. He has previously held a number of roles focusing on engaging with Māori and Pacific communities and ensuring cultural insights are embedded into projects. Jerome has led and been part of great teams in both the corporate and not for profit sector. 

Mr Mika has considerable experience in unions in both New Zealand and Samoa with roles at the Dairy Workers Union, Samoa First Union, First Union and EPMU. He has also been a Business Director for Ogilvy and Mather Marketing agency. Jerome currently sits on the Pacific Advisory Board for the Counties Manukau Police. 

Mark O’Grady 

Mark O’Grady is the owner and managing director of Excel Digital Ltd, one of New Zealand’s largest cut sheet digital print operations. He has previously held senior executive roles at Wool Equities Ltd, New Zealand Wool Board, and NZ Meteorological Service. 

Mr O’Grady has extensive experience as a director with organisations in the manufacturing and technology sectors including Print NZ, Wool Research Organisation of NZ, Andar Ltd, Keratec Ltd, Ovita Ltd, and Softswitch Ltd. He also has considerable involvement with vocational education having been involved in the targeted review of qualifications (TRoQ), the manufacturer and supplier of training resources for almost all industry training organisations, as the major sponsor of the “Got a Trade: Got it Made” campaign, and as a judge at the NZ Apprentice of the Year awards. He was also a member of the Ministerial Science Task Force that led to the restructuring of the Government science sector and the establishment of the Crown Research Institutes (CRIs). 

Nick Leggett


Nick Leggett is the Chief Executive of the Road Transport Forum, the peak industry body for the trucking industry. He has previously held a number of executive level positions including being Executive Director of NZ Alcohol Beverages Council, Executive Director of Porirua Chamber of Commerce, and Mayor of Porirua City. 

Mr Leggett is a director of MITO, the Industry Training Organisation for the motor, transport and contracting industry, as well as being a director of WRC Holdings LTD and the chair of the Hutt Mana Charitable Trust. He has previously held a range of governance positions including being chair of Spark Foundation, chair of Wellington Regional Emergency Management Group, a member of Capital & Coast District Health Board. Nick has long been a strong advocate for vocational education as a tool to enhance employment, qualifications and competencies among our workforce and potential workforce. 

Rachel Mackintosh


Rachel Mackintosh is the Assistant National Secretary for E tū, New Zealand’s largest private sector union. She has twenty years of experience in unions and has previously held a number of senior roles with E tū and EPMU. 

Ms Mackintosh is the Vice President of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions and a member of the interim Establishment Board of the Manufacturing, Engineering and Logistics Workforce Development Council. She also has considerable experience with governance of tertiary education organisations being a current board member of the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) and a former board member of the Plastics and Materials Processing Industry Training Organisation (PaMPITO).

Stuart Lawrence


Stuart Lawrence, ko Uenuku te Iwi, is Director – Programme Kaitautoko at Whatukura Ltd, a boutique consultancy firm where he has led a number of workforce development, pastoral care and community projects focusing on Māori and Pasifika development. He previously spent 13 years as National Manager – Māori for The Skills Organisation Industry Training Organisation. 

Mr Lawrence holds a number of governance positions including being chair of Māori Pasifika Trades Training (Tamaki), an advisory board member of Project Retrain – Increasing Gender Equity, and a committee member for a number of community organisations. 

Maea Pivac

Maea Pivac (Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Whātua, Ngāti Wai and Ngāti Hine) is extensively experienced in the vocational education arena, both in Aotearoa and Australia. So far in her 25+ year career, she has worked across the PTE, ITO, ITP sectors and in industry in a large Northland company with a strong and enduring commitment to industry training.

Based in her hometown of Whangarei, Ms Pivac is the Managing Director of Tai Tokerau Trades Training, an educational consultancy specialising in vocational education and industry capability development in Northland. She is also the director of a small business advisory company called People Weavers Raranga Tangata Ltd, and of Kia Mauria te Pono Ltd, a start-up company delivering workshops and services that are imbedded in the values which have guided the hearts and minds of Iwi Māori for generations; those values being; I runga I te Tika, i te Pono me te Aroha.

Gary Sue

Gary Sue (Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāti Maru, Te Ātiawa, Ngāruahine) has a long-established career across the construction and infrastructure sectors and has extensive experience within the vocational education sector in Aotearoa. Having occupied different roles for Downer NZ and BCITO for over a decade, Mr Sue found his passion for education and a desire to impact people’s lives positively.

Mr Sue has been with Kāinga Ora since October 2021 as the Principal Advisor Māori in the Greater Wellington region, utilising his experience and knowledge of Te Ao Māori to establish genuine partnerships with iwi, hapū, and rōpū Māori. He serves as a Justice of the Peace and current President of the Hutt Valley & Districts JP Association, alongside occupying governance roles across various non-profit organisations. 

He is determined to challenge the system and improve it for underserved communities. Mr Sue seeks to build resilience in Māori and Pacific youth through education and remove barriers to make the system more accessible and beneficial to learners.

Teresa Poli - Governance Associate

Teresa Poli has worked in construction and infrastructure across Australia and Aotearoa on various projects. Holding a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons), majoring in Environmental Engineering from the University of Waikato. She is currently completing her Masters of Engineering, where her thesis investigates how Māori education can be incorporated into the Engineering curriculum. The goal is to provide engineers with some knowledge of Māori design principles, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, iwi engagement practices, Te Ao Māori, mātauranga Māori and kaitiakitanga. 

She is passionate about promoting and supporting rangatahi, particularly Māori and wāhine, in construction and infrastructure roles. In addition, Ms Poli brings her passion for social and environmental broader outcomes associated with the industry, advocating for a stronger Māori voice within the engineering, education, construction, and infrastructure sectors.

Our leadership team 

Phil Alexander-Crawford, Chief Executive


Phil Alexander-Crawford (Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Rēhia, Ngāpuhi) is a highly experienced leader of transformation, who has worked with and for iwi and hapū. Mr Alexander-Crawford was previously Director of Te Pae Tawhiti – Māori Equity Partnership at Te Pūkenga. He has held senior leadership positions in the vocational education sector, including Chief Executive of Te Matarau Education Trust, General Manager Education for the Ngātiwai Trust Board and as Director of Development for Tai Tokerau Wānanga (NorthTec).

Samantha McNaughton, Deputy Chief Executive


Samantha McNaughton has been involved in the vocational education sector for more than a decade and has held various senior positions at Competenz, MITO and Skills International.

Prior to her current role, Samantha led the strategic industry engagement and learning design and innovation functions, including standard setting, quality assurance, resource development and programme innovation at Competenz. She is acutely aware of the workforce development challenges facing New Zealand and is particularly passionate about ensuring all people have clear and accessible educational pathways that support sustainable employment and prosperity.

Mike Crossan, General Manager Industry Standards

Mike Crossan is the former Executive General Manager Learning Services at Primary ITO, previously having worked at LearningWorks and Wintec. He has been in the vocational education sector for the last 20 years and prior to that was an automotive mechanic for 18 years. Mike has an absolute passion for the transformation of lives and communities through the opportunities that vocational education provides having received those opportunities for himself and his whānau.

Yvonne O'Callaghan, General Manager Improvement and Operations

Yvonne O’Callaghan is an experienced leader in vocational education, with a proven track record in developing staff, ensuring academic integrity, delivering training, process improvement and change management. Prior to her current role, Yvonne managed the Quality Support team at Competenz for five years and, more recently, was involved in preparing the organisation for its transition to the Workforce Development Councils.

She has a strong background in a broad range of industries, including ten years’ training experience which saw her write and deliver learning modules. Yvonne’s passion is ensuring all New Zealanders are given the opportunity to pursue higher education and obtain a qualification they can be proud of.

Darrell Lambert, Poumatua

Darrell Lambert (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whātua, Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Ruapani and Ngāti Kahungunu) has 25 years of experience in the tertiary sector and has held several senior leadership roles responsible for improving outcomes for Māori. Prior to joining Hanga-Aro-Rau, Mr Lambert was the Regional Economic Development Manager for the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) in Te Taitokerau (Northland). In this role he worked with hapū/iwi, industry and local/central government to stimulate regional economic development that generated employment and improved wellbeing indicators for Te Taitokerau.

He was a Director at NorthTec (Northland Polytechnic) before moving to MSD and worked at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa for 15 years and the Open Polytechnic in Wellington before that. Mr Lambert began his career as a tutor of traditional Māori carving for ten years.

Maria Fuata, General Manager Corporate Services

Maria Fuata brings 15 years of experience in financial management and corporate services, working across a number of New Zealand crown entities, primarily within the Pacific business development, Pacific regional cooperation and Pacific media spaces. Prior to that, Ms Fuata worked in auditing and assurance for five years at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Suva, Fiji.

She was recently the Programme Manager Pasifika at Auckland UniServices Limited, leading the mahi for professional learning and development (PLD) for educators in schools with high Pacific learners across Aotearoa, working closely with the Ministry of Education.

Ms Fuata is an advocate for promoting and preserving Pacific languages and cultural identity as a taonga and leads this mahi for her Rotuman language and culture as a community leader and Chairperson of the New Zealand Rotuman Fellowship Incorporated Society. She currently serves on the Pacific Business Trust and Pacific Media Network boards. She is of Rotuman descent, from the villages of Itumuta and Juju, born and raised in Lautoka, Fiji.

Alisha Tsai, Executive Officer

Alisha Tsai has more than seven years of ELT support experience in the vocational education sector and ten years as an Executive Assistant in both the public and private sectors before that. Prior to her current role at Hanga-Aro-Rau, Ms Tsai was an Executive Assistant at Unitec Institute of Technology and the Committee Secretary of its Rūnanga Māori Advisory Committee.

Brought up in a family with a strong education background, she is passionate about working in an organisation that is here to drive transformational change in vocational education for future generations.