Toi Ohomai Subsidiary Board of Directors appointed


Toi Ohomai Subsidiary Board of Directors appointed

March 17, 2020 | 7 min read

The New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology Establishment Board (the Establishment Board) is today announcing directors for the boards of subsidiary Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs), effective from 1 April 2020.

The following people have agreed to serve as directors on the board of Toi Ohomai from 1 April 2020:

Catherine Cooney – Chair

Ripeka Evans (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou, Te Aupōuri, Ngāti Kahu) – Deputy Chair

Leith Comer (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Māmoe, Te Arawa, Ngāti Rangitihi, Ngāti Pāhauwera)

Ngaroma Tahana (Te Arawa)

“The appointment of this Board of Directors is a significant step forward in the journey towards a cohesive, sustainable vocational education system,” says Establishment Board Chair Barry Jordan.

“In making these appointments we have balanced the need to ensure continuity of operation with sound local and regional relationships. We are delighted with the diversity of thought within each board, alongside the complementary skills and experience that will drive positive outcomes for their respective communities.”

The Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Act requires that the initial board for each subsidiary ITP comprise at least four and no more than eight directors, of which at least half must reside within the region that the subsidiary primarily serves.

Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology Board Chair Cathy Cooney said, “At Toi Ohomai, we’re passionate about our regional and rural learners, and Māori success for learners in those areas. We’ve been very invested in our Māori and iwi partnership and are keen to see that go from strength to strength, while supporting other providers around the country to create better partnerships and working relationships with Māori and iwi.

“As we embrace the reforms to vocational education we are deeply focussed on how we can ensure the changes bring about better outcomes for learners, iwi, hāpu, industry, and the region.”

To further drive the shift from competition to operating as one regionally accessible network of provision, the Establishment Board has decided that one NZIST Council member will be a director on each subsidiary ITP board. Each board may also receive a ‘cross-Board appointee’. These names will be confirmed in April.

The Establishment Board based its approach to the appointment of directors on the Treasury framework used to appoint directors to the boards of Crown companies. More than 370 expressions of interest were received over the Christmas and New Year period.

All appointments to subsidiary boards are subject to ratification and approval by the NZIST Council on 1 April 2020. Members of this Council will be confirmed by the Minister of Education, Hon Chris Hipkins, before the end of March.

Catherine (Cathy) Cooney – Chair


Catherine has been the Chair of Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology covering the Bay of Plenty and South Waikato region since 2016. She is passionate about supporting learners to achieve their full potential and about the role vocational education plays for advancing regional, social, cultural and economic development.

Catherine has a background in governance, health sector leadership, public health, community development, nursing and midwifery. She was the Chief Executive of Lakes DHB from 2001 to 2012 and has been a management consultant since that time holding a number of local and national governance and advisory roles.

Ripeka Evans – Deputy Chair

Ripeka (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou, Te Aupōuri, Ngāti Kahu) has been a director, Chair, Chief Executive and strategic adviser. Based in Wellington, she is a consultant specialising in Treaty partnerships and Māori economic development.

Ripeka began her career with the Māori Economic Development Commission and then Television New Zealand. She has held Chief Executive roles with Te Māngai Paho, Toi Eastern Bay of Plenty Economic Development Agency as well as director and trustee roles with Te Aupōuri Fisheries Limited and Te Rūnanganui o Te Aupōuri. She is a member of the Te Ao Māori Strategy Committee of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

Leith Comer

Leith (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Māmoe, Te Arawa, Ngāti Rangitihi, Ngāti Pāhauwera) lives in Rotorua with his wife. He holds a number of community appointments including chair of Te Mana o Ngāti Rangitihi Trust and chief negotiator for its iwi treaty settlement, chair of the Rotorua Golf Club and chair of both the Veterans Advisory Board and the Ngāti Pumanawa Waru Education Trust.

Leith is a recent member the New Zealand Parole Board and a former chair of Lakeland Health Limited. He is a former senior public servant in Wellington, spending three years as Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Economic Development followed by 12 years as the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Māori development – Te Puni Kokiri. 

Leith’s first career was in the New Zealand Army as an infantry officer where he commanded the 2nd/1st Infantry Battalion. He was the contingent commander of the peace keeping unit in the Sinai and an exchange officer with the United States Army. He attended the United States Army Staff College where he passed with Distinction and received the Eisenhower Award.

Ngaroma Tahana

Raranga to hau ki te muri Raranga to hau ki te tonga Kia makinakina i uta

Kia mataratara i tai

Kia whakapuke ai nga ngaru o Te Ngarue

Ko nga potiki a Hinehopu e heru mai ra i Te Matarae i o Rehu Tihei Mauri Ora!

He uri ahau o Ngati Pikiao ko Tapuika hoki.

Ngaroma is a partner at Kahui Legal, a boutique Māori law firm based in Rotorua and Wellington. She is a senior solicitor with over 15 years litigation and governance experience. Her experience includes involvement at all stages of criminal and civil litigation and in particular dealing with serious crime. Ngaroma is passionate about education as a vehicle for developing individuals and growing communities. She was a Ministerial appointee on the councils for Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology and Waiariki Institute of Technology.