Edwina Merito

Practice Lead | Ārahi Wāhi Mahi
Auckland Office

Edwina is a leader and specialist in Māori development. She helps clients build their cultural responsiveness and engage meaningfully with Māori and iwi. Edwina has extensive experience in strategy and planning, and she’s skilled in translating aspirations and concepts into tangible results.

Edwina (Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Pūkeko) brings expertise in strategy, planning, and stakeholder engagement to support organisations that want to build their cultural responsiveness, engage with Māori, and create benefits for Māori and all communities in Aotearoa.

She gives clients confidence that they are fulfilling their responsibilities under te Tiriti o Waitangi. She is able to examine and refine proposals based on an understanding of their probable impact and of how Māori communities are likely to perceive them.

Edwina began her career in policy and strategy roles in the public sector, working with Te Puni Kōkiri and the Ministry for the Environment. This gave her a strong background in machinery of government and inter-agency consultation.

In the late 2000s Edwina returned to her tūrangawaewae in Whakatāne in a senior policy and strategy role with Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa. There she focused on social development at the iwi and hapū levels, grounded in tikanga and mātauranga Māori.

More recently Edwina has developed a close understanding of the social and economic landscape in Tāmaki Makaurau. Working for Auckland War Memorial Museum and then in an executive role with Auckland Unlimited, Edwina gained in-depth knowledge of local government and economic development in a metropolitan setting. Her work included engaging with 19 Auckland iwi.  

Clients and colleagues value Edwina’s ability to break down complex issues and create simple strategies that can be easily understood and implemented. She helps organisations connect people and ideas together, creating new understandings and objectives.

Edwina and her whānau live in Avondale in Tāmaki Makaurau, and love the melting pot of culture and city-fringe vibes. She has two tamariki who whakapapa to the Karen tribe of Myanmar, and so Burmese and Karen culture are a part of her home life alongside Māori and Pākehā culture. For Edwina and her partner, cooking and food is nearly always at the centre of their social lives, and they are also keen renovators and DIYers.

Examples of Edwina’s work

  • A key success was embedding a bi-cultural foundation for a 20-year vision and Master Plan for Auckland Museum, with a te ao Māori perspective woven in as a key guiding principle.

  • Edwina also translated the aspirations of the Museum’s Governance Board and Māori Advisory Board into a new strategic vision, He Korahi Māori: A Māori Dimension, which resulted in a set of actions and measures of achievement.

  • During 2021, as Auckland Unlimited’s Head of Māori Outcomes & Relationships, Edwina led work to create benefits for Māori and mana whenua businesses in Tāmaki Makaurau. The legacy of this programme has included greater visibility of te ao Māori and of Māori talent, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

  • Another of Edwina’s achievements was a two-day Economic Summit in response to the impact of COVID-19 on Māori. The outcome was a new economic agenda and key actions for Tāmaki Makaurau – these have informed a strategy for Auckland Unlimited and contributed to Auckland Council’s planning.

Edwina’s qualifications

Edwina has a Bachelor of Business Studies from Massey University, and postgraduate papers from Massey in Advanced Management and Advanced Research Methods in Business.

She also has a Poupou Huia Te Reo certificate from Te Wānanga o Raukawa.