Climate leader Bronwyn Hayward named supreme Woman of Influence

Colourful female face on beige background

Internationally-recognised sustainability and climate change advocate Professor Bronwyn Hayward has been named the Supreme Winner at the Women of Influence Awards.

The University of Canterbury academic was chosen from more than 60 finalists across 10 categories. Professor Hayward, who was the Environment category winner, serves on the core writing team for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and was the only New Zealander who contributed to its special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 degrees.

The University of Canterbury professor was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2021 for her services to political science, and is a co-leader of the Deep South National Science Challenge Mana Rangatahi, supporting young Māori and Pacific New Zealanders to lead climate action. 

Former Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright, the Head Judge of the awards, received a Lifetime Achievement award in recognition of her remarkable contribution to justice and women’s rights issues over half a century.

Jointly presented by Westpac NZ and Stuff, the awards celebrate high-achieving wāhine who are making a difference to the lives of New Zealanders. 

Stuff CEO and Women of Influence judge Sinead Boucher says Professor Hayward’s key contributions at both a local and global level made her a unanimous choice among the judges.

“What stood out about Bronwyn is her relentless focus on helping Aotearoa step up as a leader to tackle climate change, calling for our nation to take bold steps to secure our future and protect our economy,” Ms Boucher says.

“Climate change is an issue that will affect not only New Zealand but the world, and we need to be prepared for the changes happening on an international scale. We need the best people on our side to provide advice, and Bronwyn is already stepping up to the challenge and is a prominent voice in this space.”

Westpac NZ CEO Catherine McGrath highlighted how the finalists, from diverse and wide-ranging backgrounds, have risen up and worked collaboratively to tackle issues that are important to all New Zealanders and their communities.

“From climate change to rural mental health, period poverty to improving our housing stock, the stories and achievements of our finalists and winners should provide inspiration for us all,” Ms  McGrath says.

“We also know there’s more we can all be doing to support the amazing wāhine in our lives. With International Women’s Day just a month away, we challenge everyone to take action – whether it’s joining a community group, nominating a deserving person for greater recognition, or simply sharing social posts about causes that are meaningful to you.”

People can learn more about all this year’s finalists and their stories at a public exhibition in Auckland’s Takutai Square throughout February.

Note for editors: The 2021 Women of Influence Awards winners were due to be announced at a gala dinner in November but were delayed to February 10, 2022. The move to red in the traffic light system forced the cancellation of the event.

The full list of 2021 Women of Influence Award winners:

Supreme winner (and Environment category winner): Professor Bronwyn Hayward, award-winning international expert on sustainability and climate change.

Arts & Culture: Qiane Matata-Sipu, founder and creator of storytelling social impact movement NUKU.

Board & Management: Cassandra Crowley, CEO for Te Arawa Management Limited, working to support the aspirations of Māori, Pasifika, youth, migrant, and refugee women. 

Business Enterprise: Jessie Wong, Founder and Director of Yu Mei, omni-channel sustainable leather goods brand. 

Community Hero: Dr Bernadette Pinnell, General Manager for Compass Housing Services, advocate for social sustainability issues.

Diversity: Dana Youngman, Sky TV network Executive and champion for diverse primetime television programming.

Innovation, Science and Health: Professor Beverley Lawton, Founder and Director of the Centre for Women’s Health Research, addressing health inequity and mentoring researchers.

Primary Industries: Tia Potae, Whānau Ora Navigator at Tokomairiro Waiora, supporting shearers and their families through COVID-19 impacts.

Public Policy: Melanie Mark-Shadbolt, Deputy Secretary Māori Rights & Interests, Ministry for the Environment championing Māori issues across MfE and Government. 

Young Leader:  Kate Gatfield-Jeffries, Diversity Champion for Young Women in Business and Law, co-president of Women in Business.

Lifetime Achievement: Dame Silvia Cartwright, trailblazing jurist, New Zealand’s first female High Court judge and second female Governor-General.

Highly commended: Sarah Page (Community Hero), Aroha te Pareake Mead (Environment).

Images of this year’s winners are available here.

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