Waikato alumna receives award for a career dedicated to supporting her community

15 October 2020

Tania Simpson
Chancellor Sir Anand Satyanand, Tania Te Rangingangana Simpson and Vice-Chancellor Professor Neil Quigley

Tania Te Rangingangana Simpson has spent her career focusing on projects and roles that will improve outcomes for Māori.

Ms Simpson (Tainui, Ngāi Tahu, Ngā Puhi) has been recognised by the University of Waikato with a Distinguished Alumni Award. The award is given to a small number of alumni who have achieved significant success in their career and made outstanding contributions to their communities.

Ms Simpson arrived at the University of Waikato with the intention of studying languages, however realised early on that Māori language and culture was the right pathway for her. She graduated in 1987 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

“The Māori department fed my interests. Māori knowledge, Māori language, the Māori nature and values was my food for that time.  From those three short years my outlook on the world pivoted to connect with the knowledge handed down from my own ancestors,” she says.

After graduating she became an iwi liaison officer for the New Zealand Housing Corporation, before moving into policy advisory for the newly established Te Puni Kōkiri. She founded her own Māori policy advisory firm, Kowhai Consulting in 1995.

In 2001, Ms Simpson became a director of Mighty River Power, a role she held for 13 years. She currently holds directorships at Tainui Group Holdings, Reserve Bank of New Zealand and Auckland International Airport. She is the Chair of the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge Governance Group and a member of the Deep South National Science Challenge Governance Group. She is a member of the Waitangi Tribunal and Deputy Chair of the Waitangi National Trust.

While serving in a governance capacity on a range of iwi, commercial and public entities, she has always had a strong vision for iwi development and recognising Māori values within business.

Ms Simpson says she emerged from the University of Waikato with a desire to pursue work that supported the place of Māori separate identity and autonomy in Aotearoa/New Zealand. “Up to the present day I am still pursuing my goal of seeing Māori prosper and that the intention of the Treaty of Waitangi is upheld.”

She has paved the way for many young Māori leaders and was appointed the first Māori director on the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. She credits her success to having great mentors throughout her education and career and takes pride in supporting the next generation of young Māori leaders through a mentorship programme she created.

She was made a Commander of the Order of the Taniwha in 2014 and a Dame of the Order of St Lazarus in 2019 for her services to Māori business, charity and community.

Ms Simpson is one of four University of Waikato Distinguished Alumni for 2020, along with My Food Bag CEO Kevin Bowler, professional director Liz Coutts ONZM and Māori Land Court Judge and Chief Justice of Niue, Judge Craig Coxhead.

Latest stories

Related stories

Dr Tangiwai Rewi

Waikato alumna to lead Māori & Indigenous Studies

The University of Waikato’s Te Pua Wānanga ki te Ao, Faculty of Māori and Indigenous…

Raukokore Marine Research

Waikato supports Raukōkore Marine Research Centre opening

The Raukōkore Marine Research Centre has officially opened, providing a crucial research base for the…

Damien Puddle

Writing the play book for Councils across the country

Known to his colleagues as Dr Play, Waikato Health and Sport PhD alumnus Damien Puddle…

Leilani Tuala-Warren and Unaisi Narawa

Double appointment at Waikato a “landmark moment” for New Zealand as a Pacific nation

Two new appointments at the University of Waikato, including New Zealand's first Pacific woman to…

From Germany to New Zealand for a semester abroad

Like many of our study abroad and exchange students, Ann-Katrin Nolte was attracted to New…

Three generations of Dr Ritchies

Pioneering Psychology Professor leaves peaceful parenting legacy

The University of Waikato sadly acknowledges the passing of Emeritus Professor Jane Ritchie OBE, at…

Graduates at Te Kohinga Mārama Marae on Monday.

A week of celebration for Waikato graduates

It’s graduation week at the University of Waikato – and that means four days of…

Rhythm and resilience: A deputy principal’s inspiring journey to success

A talented dancer and performer, Caroline Gill has had a long history with the University…

Jackson Mason-Mackey

Alumnus making his mark on the world in the humanitarian sector

Not many people can say they’ve worked in Mozambique, Italy, Afghanistan and Colombia, but Jackson…

A group of people stand outside the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts at the 50th anniversary celebrations for the School of Psychology postgraduate clinical and behavioural psychology diplomas.

Saving lives: Psychology programmes celebrate 50 years

More than 85 people gathered to celebrate the University of Waikato’s School of Psychology on…

Award-winning soprano and Waikato alumna is branching out into the world

With one of her recent achievements on home soil having been the runner up at…


Scholarship recipient loves learning about people

It takes a special person to receive two scholarships from the University of Waikato but…