Helene Quilter

Helene started her Public Service career as a frontline worker in the Department of Social Welfare. She developed her career in the Department and then in the Ministry of Social Development, where she finished her time as a Deputy Chief Executive in 2006. From 2007 to 2012, Helene was a Deputy Commissioner with the State Services Commission. Helene was appointed Secretary of Defence in 2012 and completed her term of office in June 2019. She was appointed Deputy State Services Commissioner in July 2019. Helene became a companion of the Queen Service Order in 2019. She holds a Masters in Strategic Studies from Victoria University.

Grace Smit

Grace joined Te Puni Kōkiri in 2021, having previously held the roles of Director, Waitangi Tribunal and Director, Māori Land Court at the Ministry of Justice. With more than 20 years’ experience in the Public Service and the wider public sector, Grace has Public Service experience across a broad range of policy, operational and service design areas. Her varied career includes management roles with the Department of Corrections, Coronial Services and in the tertiary education sector.

Debbie Power

Debbie took up her role as Chief Executive, Ministry of Social Development in February 2019. She was previously the Statutory Deputy State Services Commissioner at the State Services Commission. She was also accountable for supporting the Commissioner with chief executive appointments, performance management, and led work to restructure and simplify chief executive remuneration. Debbie started her Public Service career in 1980 as a frontline case manager at the then Department of Social Welfare. Debbie has held a range of senior roles in MSD including Deputy Chief Executive, Service Delivery; Deputy Chief Executive, Office of the Chief Executive; and Regional Commissioner, Northland.

Laulu Mac Leauanae

Laulu is Secretary for Pacific Peoples and Chief Executive of the Ministry for Pacific Peoples. Since he started in the role in July 2017 he has led the development of a bold and unifying vision for Pacific communities in New Zealand, and has secured new investments and Pacific-led initiatives to lift the economic, social and cultural wellbeing of Pacific peoples.

Laulu actively contributes to the public sector’s diversity and inclusion programme and leads Pou Mātāwaka, which aims to eliminate ethnic pay gaps.

In prior roles, he was Chief Executive of the Pacific Cooperation Foundation and the General Manager of Pure Pacifika Limited, a company that exported horticultural products from the South Pacific primarily into Asian markets.

Laulu holds an MBA from Henley Management College, UK, with his dissertation focusing on 'Community Participation in Governance'. He also holds an LLB from Auckland University.

Rachel Hayward

Rachel is the Deputy Secretary of Cabinet (Constitutional and Honours) in the Cabinet Office, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Before joining the Cabinet Office in 2014, Rachel worked as a litigation lawyer in private practice, as a senior legal and policy advisor for the New Zealand Law Commission, and as General Manager (Law Reform) at the New Zealand Law Society. Rachel’s current role includes leading the Honours Unit, which administers a range of honours and awards instituted by The Queen of New Zealand and provides policy advice and support to the Prime Minister on matters related to the New Zealand Royal Honours system.

Kellie Coombes

Kellie is the Secretary for Women and Chief Executive, Te Tumu Whakarae mō te Wahine.

In this role she leads Manatū Wāhine Ministry for Women to uplift and improve outcomes for wāhine in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Prior to this role she was the Deputy Commissioner of System and Agency Performance group and Director, Office of the Head of State Services at Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission. Kellie has a wealth of experience across the public sector, previously holding roles in the Ministry of Social Development and the Department of Labour. She holds an honours degree in Public Policy from Victoria University of Wellington.