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I N T E RV I E W

Rachel Taulelei

Kerensa Johnston

FAMILY VALUES IN THE BOARDROOM Sadie Beckman meets two trailblazing women who have arrived, and are now focused on creating sustainable, happy workplaces for their employees.

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ork-life balance is a hot topic, and an equilibrium many people feel they struggle to achieve and maintain. This can be especially so for women. True equality in the workplace still doesn’t exist in many cases, and societal pressure compels women to fulfil multiple roles, both in their personal and professional lives. Imagine, though, a situation where the concepts of work and life blend into one, and mix seamlessly with other concepts such as family, integrity and passion. This is the case for two women who are not only achieving at the top of their game, but have taken that game and completely redefined it.

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Kerensa Johnston Kerensa Johnston is the chief executive of Wakatū Incorporation, an international organisation based in Nelson with about 4000 shareholders, all of whom descend from the original Māori landowners of the Nelson, Tasman and Golden Bay regions. Wakatū has three divisions: Kono, its food and beverage arm; Whenua, the property division; and Manaaki, which focuses on people, including via scholarship and development programmes. Kerensa is a lawyer who has worked in the private sector and as a legal academic at Auckland University’s law faculty, where she specialised in Māori legal development, public law and land law. She has also worked as a barrister. A graduate of Victoria University, where she was awarded a BA in History and a LLB (Bachelor of Laws), Kerensa holds a Masters in Laws in International Law with First Class Honours from the University of Auckland, and is a member of the International Association of Corporate Counsel, Corporate Lawyers New Zealand and Te Hunga Roia. Kerensa, who is of Ngāti Tama, Ngāruahine and Ngāti Whāwhakia descent, certainly holds some impressive credentials. The academic powerhouse joined Wakatū in 2012 as incorporation secretary and a general counsel, a position she still holds. However, in addition, she now oversees the whole organisation as chief executive.

WildTomato January 2018  

WildTomato is Nelson & Marlborough's magazine. We focus on inspiring journalism, stunning photography and beautiful design. www.wildtomato.c...

WildTomato January 2018  

WildTomato is Nelson & Marlborough's magazine. We focus on inspiring journalism, stunning photography and beautiful design. www.wildtomato.c...