25 Jan 2021
new board members2

Variety has recently appointed four new members to its board to help shape the organisation’s future direction towards alleviating child poverty.

With more than 60 per cent of children supported through their flagship Kiwi Kid Sponsor programme with a Māori or Pacific Island background, Variety recognised the need for the board to reflect the community it supports. The board members were appointed due to their active leadership and extensive backgrounds in improving social outcomes for children and young people, as well as their commitment to reducing child poverty and improving child wellbeing in New Zealand.

Known for her advocacy for diversity in technology, Dr Mahsa Mohaghegh is a computer engineer, senior lecturer and director at Auckland University of Technology (AUT). Mahsa has a PhD in Artificial Intelligence and is involved in research and development of high-level artificial intelligence strategy concerning the future of work and digital disruption. She is also the founder and director of She Sharp, a non-profit networking and learning community, aiming to address the gender imbalance prevalent in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields.

Marama Royal is a Director of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trustee Ltd and has chaired the trust since 2017. Her wealth of experience in strategic planning, relationship management and organisational change will be a huge asset to Variety, while her passion for achieving positive outcomes for New Zealand’s tamariki (children) and mokopuna (grandchildren) will help provide an important voice for the organisation.

Saunoamaali’i Dr Karanina Sumeo is the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission. Originally from Samoa, Dr Karanina’s involvement in statutory social work, policy, and gender empowerment within diverse communities, has driven her work in improving outcomes for Pasifika children and families. She holds a number of qualifications in the areas of science, social policy and mediation, including a PhD in public policy from AUT.

Rounding out the appointments is Rachael Tuwhangai (of Tainui Waka and Ngāti Maniapoto descent). Racheal is the Co-Director of MAPSS (Maori and Pasifika Support Services), which focuses on the intersection between indigenous peoples and improving social outcomes, while also providing support in cultural advisory, education and digital technologies. She has a range of experience in the education sector, having previously taught at secondary, tertiary and within prison settings, in both English and te reo Māori. Her background motivates her interest in reducing Māori and Pasifika poverty, underachievement, child welfare and imprisonment.

Variety Chief Executive, Susan Glasgow says, “We’re honoured to welcome our new members to the board. Each one of them brings considerable knowledge and expertise that will help us address child poverty throughout Aotearoa. Covid-19 means the financial struggle for low-income Kiwi families has never been as tough as it is, so we’re thrilled to have these incredible women now join us at board-level.

“Our aim is to continue to help provide basic essentials to the children of families who come to us for support. With the start of school only a few weeks away, this means making sure they have what they need such as a uniform, shoes, stationery and funding for school activities such as camp or sports. I’m inviting New Zealanders interested in supporting our work to sponsor a child through Variety,” adds Susan.

See the full list of Variety's Board of Directors here.