Celebrating 25 years - Liz Makene

Published on Rāpare, 21 Hakihea, 2017

Liz Makene goes way back.  So far back, in fact, that she began her career as a cadet in the Māori and Pacific Island Recruitment Scheme.

She started out with the former of Department of Māori Affairs, and later the Iwi Transition Agency, before jumping ship to join Te Puni Kōkiri from the Māori Trust Office in 2002. Hear more from Liz as she shares memories from the past 25 years.

‘Devolution’ has therefore been one of the most significant events in her time.

Memories associated with the wind down of the old department and its eventual transformation into the current Ministry resurfaced for Liz at the Hui Kurawhiti.

“Just listening to all the things that happened during that time, you can so easily forget. Devolution was a complete change for everyone: for kaimahi and iwi stakeholders,” she says.

She came into Te Puni Kōkiri as an Administrator and has worked with Regional Managers - Ian Peters, Darren Bean, Walter Wells and Tui Marsh – who’ve all made a big impression on her.

A secondment as Executive Assistant (EA) to Alison Thom in head office gave her a fuller perspective of the Ministry’s work and led to her becoming EA to the Māori Business Facilitation Service (MBFS).

In 2015, Liz became an MBFS Account Manager in Te Taitokerau regional office where she was exposed to, “some very entrepreneurial ideas.  A large part of my work was to keep clients tightly focused on their business ideas. Keeping that focus was important to help them make good informed decisions.”

In her current role as an Advisor, Liz loves the freedom of being able to move across all aspects of work in the office including promotion of Pū Harakeke initiatives, Moving the Māori Nation and the Māori Housing Network.

For the last 22 years, Liz has been Secretary to the Waitangi Day Commemorations Committee, which organises and provides logistical support to the annual event.

As Secretary, she has met many Ministers, but one in particular was a unique personality.  “Parekura Horomia had a grassroots attitude and always acknowledged the little person in the room,” Liz says.

“Whenever we met he’d call me ‘Little Chief’.  I always had a special place for him.  Whenever you were around Parekura you always felt like going all-out to support him.”

She intends sticking around for the next 25 years and predicts events will be as interesting as those of the last quarter century.

“It’s a changing environment out there now.  Our whānau are more skilled and stepping up to take on the challenges of engaging directly with government.”

Liz is incredulous when she thinks back to the way things were in the 80s and 90s.   “Today our people can virtually walk up and knock on the Minister’s door themselves.  Who would have believed it?”

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