About Us

The role of Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) is to ensure the vocational education system meets industry needs and gives a stronger voice to Māori business and iwi development. We will give our sectors, employers, independent earners and volunteers greater leadership and influence across vocational education.


Although Toi Mai sectors make a massive contribution to the economy and culture of Aotearoa, they don’t all currently have a strong voice in the vocational education system. Success for us will mean connecting with entrepreneurial, independent earners and employers - including Māori business owners – as well as volunteers, to bring the benefits of vocational education to life for them.

The sectors we represent 

Toi Mai Workforce Development Council represents sectors including Creative, Technology, Entertainment, Hairdressing & Barbering, Makeup Artistry, Skincare, Journalism, Radio & Television Broadcasting, Gambling, and Sports & Recreation. 

What we will do

We will work with employers, independent earners and volunteers to understand the skills that are needed by our sectors. This information will be passed to education and training providers, who will be expected to create learning programmes that will give people relevant skills to address future workforce needs. 

We will lead the development of relevant qualifications, set industry standards and assess training provision against these standards. Where appropriate, we will set and help with capstone assessments at the end of a qualification. Industry standards will be consistently applied across the country, and across all modes of learning, whether on the job (such as apprenticeships), on campus or online. 

We will also endorse vocational education programmes prior to them being approved by NZQA.  

Who we will work with

As well as engaging with employers and independent earners, we will work collaboratively across the vocational education sector. We will engage with Regional Skills Leadership Groups (RSLGs), Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs) and Providers (Te Pūkenga, Wānanga and Private Training Establishments (PTEs)). 

We will also engage with a range of parties to help inform and prioritise their service delivery. These include the Ministry of Education (MoE), Advocacy Groups, Learners, Te Taumata Aronui, Government agencies and schools. 

Our logo 

Our logo is an image of a taura whiri, a plaited rope. The taura whiri, plaited rope has been used as a metaphor by kaiwhaikōrero (orators) to connect whānau groups through a shared ancestor and to acknowledge a leader’s ability to bring people together. It has been applied to various situations where elements come together in unity. The taura/rope is made by plaiting aho (strands) made from rolled muka (scraped flax strands). Creating a stronger taura (rope) than the aho could on their own.  

Our logo colour relates to Māori culture and the connection between people and nature.  There are many stories of origin relating to ‘Toi’, including an ancestor arriving from the Pacific. In some accounts his children bringing carvings from the Pacific Islands. Similarly one of the stories of carving origin refers to carving being retrieved from Ruatepupuke, a carved house under the ocean. So the Toi Mai colour references these links to the ocean as the source of Toi. 

Who we are

Our Council

Rhonda Kite ONZM – Co Chair

Rhonda Kite ONZM – Co Chair

Rhonda Kite ONZM, Te Aupōuri, Ngai Tākoto, Ngāti Kuri, is the managing director of Toi Te Hiku Trust, an economic development facilitator in the Far North in the screen, creative arts, cultural and technology sectors. Rhonda is the chair of Te Runanga nui o te Aupōuri, New Zealand member of Indigenous Women’s Business Network in the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum, a member of the Business Advisory Group at AUT, and a founding patron of the ImagineNative Film Festival in Toronto, Canada.

Rhonda has held a wide range of executive and governance roles in the film and technology sectors with a particular focus on developing Māori content and storytelling. These have included board roles with Māori Television, NZ on Air, SPADA, and the Aotearoa Film & Television Awards, amongst others.

Victoria Spackman ONZM - Co Chair

Victoria Spackman ONZM - Co Chair

Victoria Spackman ONZM was previously chair of the interim Establishment Board for the Toi Mai Workforce Development Council. Amongst her many governance roles, Victoria is chair of Ackama Group, a high-growth technology services company, director of MetService, Katherine Mansfield Birthplace Society, communications company Acumen, and a director and previous chief executive officer of Gibson Group, a design and production company focusing on bringing together creativity, innovation and technology to enhance visitor experiences.

Victoria has held a wide range of other executive and governance roles in the theatre, education, screen and technology sectors in both New Zealand and Australia.

Alice Shearman

Alice Shearman

Alice Shearman is the Executive Director of the New Zealand Writers Guild Inc, a professional association of script writers, representing the interests of writers in the fields of film, television, theatre, radio, comics and new media.

Alice is also deputy chair of Film Auckland and was a founding member, and deputy chair of the Agents Association of New Zealand. She has held a range of advisory roles across the screen industry, both in New Zealand and overseas. Alice was nominated for the Toi Mai WDC governance council by the NZCTU.

Aliesha Staples

Aliesha Staples

Aliesha Staples is the founder and CEO of StaplesVR an emerging technology, film, and games company based in Auckland, New Zealand with offices in Australia and the UK. Aliesha is also the Co-Founder of Click Studios a collective workspace for creative technology companies with a focus to make the creative tech sector one of New Zealand's leading exporters and The Click Foundation a not-for-profit designed to create equity in the creative tech sector with educational pathways for those unrepresented in the film, games, and tech industries. 

Aliesha was a finalist in the New Zealander of the year awards for innovation work at StaplesVR and was the first female to win the High Tech Young Achiever Award in 2017 and won again in 2018 as well as a finalist in the NEXT women of the year awards and twice a finalist in the Women in Film and TV awards.

Annie Murray

Annie Murray

Annie Murray Te Arawa, is Head of Sky Originals at Sky Network Television. She has previously held a range of senior positions across the New Zealand television industry including with Māori Television Service, Taima Television Ltd, Television New Zealand and NZ on Air.

Annie is a member of Ngā Aho Whakaari, the association of Māori in the Creative Screen Industry, and has been a long-time advocate and champion for Māori stories on screen and for diverse storytelling from under-represented groups in Aotearoa. She is a former tertiary educator and holds Diplomas of Teaching and Bicultural Journalism, and a Master of Education degree. Annie is also a member of the Bay of Plenty Regional Skills Leadership Group.

Barry Soutar

Barry Soutar, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Awa, Ngāi-Tai-ki-Tāmaki, Ngāti Kahungunu-ki-te-Wairoa, is an executive-director of TORO Studios, a creative technology company based in Tairāwhiti and a director of the AMO Collab, a national collective of twenty of NZ’s best export focused creative production companies. Barry is also an executive-director of TORO Technology, a software development company delivering solutions for domestic and international customers.  He is also the executive director of Te Tira Toi Whakangao (T3W), a tech venturing network that connects and drives Māori involvement in the tech sector. He also chairs Orawa, a cultural leadership programme assisting whanau into the future of work.

Barry has been a director of Te Runanganui-o-Ngāti Porou, a director of Ngāti Porou Seafoods Group, the chair of Te Taurahere-o-Ngāti-Porou-ki-Tāmaki, the vice chair of Toitu Ngāti Porou Trustee Ltd and a director for Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki Tribal Trust. He has previously had roles with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and Callaghan Innovation Ltd. Prior to these he built a successful export software company with business partners operating for more than fifteen years in the location intelligence industry.

Jana Rangooni

Jana Rangooni

Jana Rangooni is the Chief Executive Officer of the Radio Broadcasters Association, the industry body for the radio broadcasting industry. She has held various roles in the New Zealand radio industry over the past 30 years including a number of senior roles at Media Works.

Jana is Chair of Paralympics NZ. She is also a board member of the Advertising Standards Authority and is the Chair of the Bay of Plenty Institute of Directors Committee.

Mele Wendt MNZM

Mele Wendt MNZM

Mele Wendt MNZM, received her honour in 2019 for services to governance, the Pacific community and women. She is Samoan (Malie, Lefaga, Vaiala) and palagi (NZ, Britain). Mele is currently a board member of Te Kura (the Correspondence School), the Real Estate Authority, and Wellington Community Trust. She also chairs the Steering Group implementing the National Action Plan for Community Governance.

Mele’s past governance appointments include chairing the Pasifika Education Centre and the Massey University Pacific Student Success Working Group, and serving as board member on Lotteries Wellington/Wairarapa Distribution Committee, Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA), Major Arc Charitable Trust, and Victoria House, to name a few. For 10 years, Mele was the Executive Director of Fulbright New Zealand. Her roles at Victoria University of Wellington included the founding Pacific Islands Liaison Officer and the manager of domestic student recruitment.

Richard Beddie

Richard Beddie

Richard Beddie is the Chief Executive Officer of the Exercise Association of New Zealand, a position he has held for the past 20 years. Prior to this role, he owned two health clubs/gyms in Christchurch, and has extensive governance experience in the not-for-profit sector.

Richard was previously a member of the interim Establishment Board for the Toi Mai WDC. He was previously on the board of Skills Active Aotearoa, including nine years as Chair, and board member of the International Confederation of Registers for Exercise Professionals that included five years as Chair.

Our leadership team

Dr Claire Robinson, Chief Executive

Dr Claire Robinson, Chief Executive

Dr Claire Robinson was previously Professor of Communication Design, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Massey University’s College of Creative Arts in Wellington, New Zealand. She is also an award-winning designer, an author, playwright, political scientist, and one of New Zealand’s respected political commentators.

Claire has worked at Massey University and Wellington Polytechnic for the past 25 years, the past ten on Massey’s Senior Leadership Team. Prior to this she was Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor (Business and Operations) of the College of Creative Arts (2010–2011), Head of the Institute of Communication Design (2005–2008) and a Senior Lecturer and Lecturer in the Institute (1996-2005). She has undergraduate degrees in Politics and Design from Victoria University and Wellington Polytechnic and a PhD from Massey University.

Tama Kirikiri, Poumatua and Deputy Chief Executive

Tama Kirikiri was previously Kaihautū Mātauranga Māori – Māori Education Leader at Tātai Angitu a professional learning and development provider for Te Kura o Te Mātauranga – Institute of Education at Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa – Massey University. He is a proud practitioner of tikanga Māori that underpins his very existence. Widespread use of te reo Māori and kaupapa Māori typifies his approach to everyday life and are the foundation of he is and what he stands for.

Tama has an undergraduate degree and honours in Te Reo Māori from Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington and a Diploma in Primary Teaching from the Wellington College of Education.

Jenni Pethig, General Manager Qualifications and Assurance

Jenni Pethig has been involved in the industry training sector for over 25 years. In her previous role as General Manager Learning Solutions at Skills Active, Jenni led a team building and growing online and work-based learning channels, assuring quality, and developing standards, qualifications and resources for the recreation, sport, exercise and performing arts industries. She is passionate about creating accessible education pathways and innovative products that help ākonga, whānau, communities and businesses to thrive.

How our Workforce Development Council was established 

Extensive consultation with industry and the vocational education sector took place prior to our WDC being stood up on 4 October 2021.  

The establishment of WDCs was led by WDC Interim Establishment Boards (iEBs) that were made up of industry representatives, a number of whom were subsequently appointed to the permanent WDC Council. The main role of iEBs was to oversee the legal establishment of WDCs, which occurred through an Orders in Council (OiC) process.  

Our Order in Council 

The iEB was responsible for consulting with industry and developing an OiC that outlined the name of our WDC, industries represented, governance arrangements and other core aspects of their WDC. More than 200 people and organisations provided feedback on the draft OiCs. This engagement helped ensure our WDC was established in ways that will best meet industry needs. 

Once approved by the Minister of Education, OiCs were sent to the Governor-General for signature. On Monday 10 May 2021 Her Excellency the Governor-General, Patsy Reddy, gave Royal Assent, passing in to law, OiCs establishing the six WDCs. The legislation came into effect on 11 June 2021.  

See the Toi Mai Order in Council.