Local Kiwi legends inspire South Waikato students for International Women’s Day

Local Kiwi athletes and leaders across various industries are congregating in South Waikato this Wednesday 8 March 2023 to speak and inspire the next generation of young women in honour of International Women’s Day.

From New Zealand sport representatives to directors of large local companies, these successful females are born, bred, serve or live in the Waikato and are sharing their stories with 150, Year 11 girls from three high schools across the district. The event is being held from 10am to 12.30pm at the Tokoroa Events Centre.

Students will hear first from Kate Searancke (Ngāti Maniapoto), a lawyer and newly appointed director of South Waikato Investment Fund Trust (SWIFT), and will then spend the morning in small groups hearing from 18 other inspiring women as they share their keys to success, before the event closes with television producer Lanita Ririnui.

Kate was born and raised in Te Awamutu and has spent most of her professional career working in large corporate law firms in Auckland and Sydney. She returned to the Waikato to join Tompkins Wake in 2014 and lives in Tamahere with her two children and extended whānau.

“He uri ahau nō te waka o Tainui.  Ko Kaputuhi te whare e tū nei.  Ko Ngāwaero me Ngāti Kapu Tuhi ngā hapū.  Ko Ngāti Maniapoto te iwi.  Mauri ora.”

Kate is committed to serving the South Waikato district and recently took up the role as director of SWIFT, helping with the growth and development of businesses in the region.

Closing the event will be Lanita Ririnui, a mother and screen industry consultant and content development executive, who has a strong understanding of culture, strategy, and storytelling. Lanita is skilful at developing and producing authentic and impactful content for a range of audiences. With tribal affiliations to Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Wai, Tauranga Moana and Tumutevarovaro, Lanita is an advocate for good people creating great things, which is exactly what this event is about.

Susan Law, Chief Executive of South Waikato District Council, is thrilled to be celebrating International Women’s Day with female Year 11 high school students from around the district. “It’s a great opportunity to shine a spotlight on some of the successful women from the district where they can encourage and inspire students while teaching them about a variety of career paths.”

The event is co-funded by the SWIFT, a community-owned economic development fund dedicated to the growth and development of business in South Waikato.

SWIFT CEO Amanda Hema says it is heartwarming that so many talented women, ranging from sportswomen to television producers, lawyers, businesspeople and social change agents are willing to share their experiences to inspire the next generation.


South Waikato International Women’s Day leaders

Marie Farrell

South Waikato District Council

Rebekah Garner

The Event Girl

Marcella Pitt


Nanise Ginnen

Impact Hub

Pratishtha Purohit

Te Waka

Jannat Maqbool


Leafa Wilson

Creative Waikato

Debbie Lascelles

South Waikato District Council

Kate Searancke

Tompkins Wake

Soteria leramia

Kudos Science Trust

Sally Hastie

Riverside Adventures

Tania Witheford


Joleen Redden

Entrada Travel Group

Sarah Flavall


Chelsea Semple

NZ Rugby Union

Debbie Gisby

Graham Brown

Kiani Tuhua


Megan Jones


Makea Piahana

Pou Systems

Shannon Double



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