Conference Keynote Speakers

Professor Airini

Professor Airini is Dean, Faculty of Education and Social Work at Thompson Rivers University, BC, Canada.  Concurrently, Airini is Adjunct Professor at Victoria University, Melbourne, and AUT University, Auckland.   A Fulbright Scholar, Airini is an award-winning researcher and educator for Indigenous tertiary education success, in Aotearoa New Zealand. Her publications include Success for All: What university teaching practices help/ hinder Maori and Pasifika student success with Papali'i Pale Sauni and Knowledge Makers: Indigenous undergraduate and graduate student research mentoring with Dr Sereana Naepi. 

Airini's research interests focus on equity in education, particularly for Pacific, Māori, and Indigenous education achievement. Airini builds 21st century systems to close gaps in education success. Her goal is education success for all.  

Hon Chris Hipkins

Chris Hipkins is Member of Parliament for Rimutaka. He is the Leader of the House and Minister of Education and State Services. He is also the Minister responsible for Ministerial Services.Chris passionately believes that every New Zealander deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential in life. He is a staunch advocate for and defender of our public education system and believes that a free quality education is the right of every child.Chris has worked in the industry training sector and before becoming an MP was the senior advisor to two Education Ministers, later working in the office of the then Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Pale Sauni MC 

Pale returns to our conference as MC bringing the magic and the music we look forward to every year.  Pale has worked with Pasifika and Maori in the education space for over thirty years and is an ACE Aotearoa Board member. He is also lead facilitator for the ACE Aotearoa Capability project in Auckland and Northland and Pasifika Advisor to Ako Aotearoa. A regular at the ACE Conference, Hui Fono and other key ACE events, Pale is a highly skilled facilitator with a deep knowledge of the sector and a unique style which follows the principle  “if you’re not having fun, you’re not learning.”