AUT Pacific professor appointed to National Advisory Council

Professor Tagaloatele Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop, of Samoan descent, was the only academic appointed to the Council headed by the Minister for Women, Louise Upston.



The reformed Council will address issues facing women in employment, including barriers to full participation in the workforce.


“Women are playing a greater role in our economy than ever before, but there is still a long way to go,” says Upston.


There are no female chief executives listed among New Zealand’s top-50 companies and women’s representation on private sector boards is just 17 percent.


Career progression and managing employment breaks continue to be an issue.


“There is huge potential for women to address current and projected skills shortages, especially in digital technology, engineering, construction and trades.


Getting more women in these areas will boost their economic success, help close gender pay gaps and bring greater benefits to New Zealand as a whole,” says Upston.


For more than 30 years, Professor has researched, taught and advocated for Pacific issues.


In 2009, she became the country’s first Professor of Pacific Studies. She was also the first person to hold a Pacific chair at a university in New Zealand.


In 2015, she was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to education and the Pacific community.


Now based at AUT South Campus, she remains committed to increasing the number of Pacific postgraduate students.


Professor Fairbairn-Dunlop joins a group of highly experienced leaders and influencers on the new Council:


  • Norah Barlow, Chief Executive, Summerset Holdings
  • Andrew Cleland, Chief Executive Royal Society of New Zealand
  • Theresa Gattung, Co-founder, My Food Bag
  • Traci Houpapa, Chair, Federation of Māori Authorities  Kerry Prendergast, Chair, Environmental Protection Agency
  • Katherine Rich, Chief Executive, Food & Grocery Council
  • Mark Verbiest, Chair, Spark


“These members are well positioned to identify new opportunities for women and to influence businesses across New Zealand,” says Upston.