Our Executive Leadership Team

The Executive Leadership Team of Te Puni Kōkiri is Secretary for Māori Development Dave Samuels and Deputy Secretaries.

Last updated: Friday, 5 July 2024 | Rāmere, 05 Hōngongoi, 2024

Te Tumu Whakarae mō Te Puni Kōkiri | Secretary for Māori Development – Dave Samuels

Photo of Dave Samuels

Waikato, Te Whakatōhea

Dave Tokohau Samuels has been Secretary for Māori Development since September 2019. His leadership of Te Puni Kōkiri is informed by his considerable experience within New Zealand’s state and public service organisations.

Dave’s career began as an infantry officer in the New Zealand Army.  Following his time in the military (which included periods in Singapore, Bougainville, the Middle East and East Timor) he held several management and leadership roles in the Department of Corrections, Te Puni Kōkiri (where he was Director of Policy), the Ministry for Primary Industries, and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. 

In 2015 he moved from the MPI Head Office to become the first Consul and Regional Agriculture Counsellor at the New Zealand Embassy in the United Arab Emirates.  There he was responsible for establishing the MPI footprint in the region and expanding trade with the Middle East and North Africa for New Zealand’s primary products.  In 2017 he took up a role in China, where he led the MPI team in Beijing and managed MPI’s strategic relationships to support New Zealand trade.

Dave’s return to Aotearoa to lead Te Puni Kōkiri reflects his commitment to thriving whānau – and his belief that the government and Māori communities can find innovative ways to work together, to the ultimate benefit of all New Zealanders.  As a senior public servant, he has a role in helping ensure that the public service system as a whole is responsive to the perspectives and needs of Māori.

Dave holds a Master’s of Philosophy in Defence and Strategic Studies (Massey University, 2005) and an Executive Master’s of Public Administration (Victoria University, Australia New Zealand School of Government, 2009).


Hautū | Deputy Secretary – Policy - Paula Rawiri

Photo of Paula Rawiri

Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Ruanui

Paula Rawiri brings a wealth and breadth of experience to the role of Deputy Secretary Policy.

For 18 years Paula contributed to Māori development at the Ministry of Education, where she has worked in leadership roles since 2002. Most recently she was the Ministry’s Director of Education, Waikato.

With a strong background in operational and policy management, Paula is highly skilled in developing and implementing Māori education initiatives, and she continues to broker opportunities with whānau, hapū, iwi and Māori at Te Puni Kōkiri. In her role she oversees investment in innovation that will build capability among Māori communities so they can achieve their aspirations and move towards intergenerational transformation.

Paula holds a Bachelor of Education and Post Graduate Diploma in Māori and Pacific Development from the University of Waikato. Growing up in Taupō, where she returns as often as possible, she maintains her strong regional focus by being based in the Te Puni Kōkiri Hamilton office.


Hautū | Deputy Secretary – Regions - Grace Smit

Grace Smit

Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Rakaipaaka

Grace Smit is Deputy Secretary Regions.

With public service experience across a broad range of policy, operational and service design responsibilities, Grace brings a wealth of experience and expertise to lead our Regions.

Before joining Te Puni Kōkiri, Grace held the dual role at the Ministry of Justice, of Pae Matua/Director of the Waitangi Tribunal and Māori Land Court. Grace provided oversight and direction over the Waitangi Unit’s administrative and support services to the Waitangi Tribunal. She also guided the Māori Land Court’s national network of offices, to provide a range of services for Māori landowners and their whānau and hapū.

As part of this mahi, Grace worked closely with Te Puni Kōkiri on joint initiatives, including improving services and support for Māori Landowners through the Whenua Māori Programme, and working on amendments to Te Ture Whenua Māori legislation.

Grace has also held management roles in the Department of Corrections and the tertiary education sector. Her role at Te Puni Kōkiri allows Grace to draw from her kete of knowledge, to help deliver a high performing support system that enables the organisation to achieve its vision of Thriving Whānau.

Grace grew up in Auckland, where she gained a Masters of New Zealand History from the University of Auckland.


Hautū | Deputy Secretary – Strategy - Terina Cowan

Terina Cowan

Ngāti Porou, Ngatiangiia (Rarotonga) Amuri (Aitutaki)

Terina’s public service experience extends across policy, corporate services, and community engagement to lead Strategy.

Terina’s previous role was at Manatū mō ngā Iwi ō te Moana-nui-ā-Kiwa, Ministry for Pacific Peoples, where she served as a member of the Executive Leadership Team. Terina served in the substantive role of Chief Advisor to the Chief Executive leading strategy and organisational growth and change. 

Across her public service career to date, Terina has worked at the Environmental Protection Authority, Inland Revenue, and the Department of Corrections. Terina returns to Te Puni Kōkiri after undertaking the Graduate programme in 2007; where she was first introduced to the Public Service.

Born and raised in Wellington, Terina holds a Bachelor of Science from the Victoria University of Wellington. Terina is currently completing her Master of Public Management with the Australian New Zealand School of Government.


Hautū | Deputy Secretary – Governance - Hugh McAslan

Hugh McAslan

Hugh McAslan is seconded to Te Puni Kōkiri from Te Ope Kātua O Aotearoa (New Zealand Defence Force) until late 2024 in the role of Deputy Secretary Governance.

As Deputy Secretary Governance, he is responsible for delivering a broad range of projects aimed at helping government see how it can work best with Māori to support whānau to thrive.

Hugh brings lived leadership, and strategic and operational experience to his role culminating from over 30 years’ service as an officer in Ngāti Tūmatauenga (New Zealand Army) and more recently in Defence strategy and intelligence roles.

During his military career Hugh completed multiple overseas operational deployments, including being the Deputy Commanding General of Coalition Forces for the Defeat ISIS campaign in Iraq in 2016-2017.

Hugh has a Master of Military Art and Science and a Master of Strategic Studies from United States institutions, and in the 2012 Queens Birthday Honours was awarded the Distinguished Service Decoration for services to the NZ Defence Force in reference to his service in Afghanistan.

Hugh’s experience of both national and international broader public service provides Te Puni Kōkiri with an opportunity to develop innovative solutions from a unique perspective. We are pleased to have Hugh join our Te Puni Kōkiri whānau.


Hautū I Deputy Secretary – Corporate - Manaia Paki King

Manaia King

Waikato Tainui, Ngāti Hauā, Ngāti Koroki Kahukura

Born and raised in Hamilton on the mighty Waikato River, Manaia Paki King is Deputy Secretary Corporate.

He has a 20 year’ career in the public service acquiring experience in policy, service delivery and operation, and community and partner engagement with whānau, hapū, and iwi Māori.

Manaia’s previous role was a secondment as Private Secretary to the office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Development and Employment where he was the primary day-to-day link between the Minister and her advisors, and the leaders of MSD in the provision of advice across the Māori, Community, Partnership and Seniors Portfolios. 

His substantive role was General Manager Māori, Partnerships and Programmes at the Ministry of Social Development where he led the development, implementation, monitoring and reporting of Te Pae Tata, MSD’s Māori Strategy and Action Plan.  Manaia also led the review and renewal of the Tuhoe Service Management Plan, He Tapuwae, led the development and implementation of MSD’s Māori Language Plan Te Mahere Reo and MSD’s Māori Language Policy, Karangahia te Haeata, led post-treaty settlement discussions to develop Relationship Agreements on behalf of MSD with Whānau-a-Apanui, Ngāti Maru, Whakatōhea, Whanganui Lands Trust, Parihaka and Waikato and established MSD’s Kaupapa Inquiries Team. 

Prior to this, Manaia spent 10 years with the Ministry of Health focusing on prevention where he was responsible for funding, monitoring, and achieving population health and primary prevention outcomes in four key priority areas: tobacco control, alcohol and drugs, sexual and reproductive health and nutrition and physical activities.  One achievement Manaia is proud of whilst working in health was leading an entire system change across all national, regional, and local stop smoking services to increase the national quit rate to attain the Smokefree Aotearoa 2024 goal. 

Manaia has a Bachelor of Laws and Master of Laws from the University of Waikato and is a Barrister and Solicitor.  Manaia also has a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health from the University of Auckland and an Executive Masters in Public Administration from the Australia and New Zealand School of Government.