Cultural Intelligence in Action

Leaders from across Asian, Maori, Pasifika and European/ NZ communities attended the New Zealand Asian Leaders session on Cultural Intelligence in Action. An event jointly hosted by NZAL, Chen Palmer, AUT, Bank of New Zealand (BNZ), BEST Pacific Institute of Education and Federation of Maori Authorities (FOMA), saw 150 leaders exchange ideas, views and strategies for doing business together and shaping a successful superdiverse future for NZ.

Speaker of the evening:

  1. Desna Jury, AUT Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor
  2. Richard Griffiths, Director Strategy & Business Performance, Bank of NZ
  3. Victoria Crone, MD of Xero
  4. Rachel Skudder, Director BEST Pacific Institute of Education and Development

With contribution and thoughts shared by:

  1. Sir Tipene  O’ Regan,
  2. Dame Rosie Horton,
  3. Pauline Winters, Chief Executive, Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs


Mai Chen, Founding Chairperson of NZAL said, “New Zealand is a burgeoning multicultural society on a bicultural base. We have to treasure diversity rather than be hostile towards it. Understanding diversity and working towards it, is the key for a growing New Zealand.”

Rachel Skudder, Director, BEST Pacific Institute of Education said, “Cultural diversity sparks divergent thinking which sparks creativity which sparks innovation.”

Victoria Crone, MD of Xero stated, “We need to work together as a community in order to succeed in this superdiverse environment. There needs to be a shift in mindset from being scared of diversity to embracing it, that’s when businesses will truly progress and thrive.”

Sir Tipene O’ Regan said, “Cultural Intelligence actively promotes and advocates for a more culturally aware nation. We need to work towards a unified New Zealand, be open to diversity whilst maintaining our specific identity. The fate of future of NZ rests in our hands and we can effectively accept diversity and evolve together to create a stronger nation.”

Traci Houpapa, Chair of FOMA, Federation of Maori Authorities said, “Maori have a deep understanding of cultural intelligence which is the cornerstone for everything we do.  This is reflected in our successful intergenerational business ventures.  It’s time for Maori to expand this understanding for future business success which is then reflected in our New Zealand economy.”

Richard Griffiths, Director of Strategy & Business Performance, Bank of NZ said, “Leaders have to shape the way New Zealand grows. We need to change business strategies in order to adapt to this changing social structure. Understanding and assuming cultures into businesses will be very important to succeed in a super diverse New Zealand.”

Carol Cheng, Director, Hong Consulting Ltd. said, “There is a lack of understanding of the concept of cultural intelligence at a board and executive level, and hence if more people find out about cultural intelligence, there’s more awareness which will lead to further action. What I particularly took away from the interactive sessions were my exchange with Maori and Pasifika leaders. We don’t get enough opportunities to interact with them and I think NZAL demonstrated great leadership by getting the various ethnic groups together.

Teresa Tepania-Ashton, CEO, Maori Women’s Development Inc said, “Understanding diversity is the key to finding solutions. Cultural Intelligence is not only about realising biculturalism but also understanding and getting involved in what that means and submitting yourself to the exciting environment that it will bring to New Zealand. Until we accept and immerse ourselves in this environment, people will struggle. NZAL’s session portrayed a pure landscape of NZ’s current environment and it allowed leaders to get a perspective and converse at the same level. “