Māori advocate takes deputy executive role at UNICEF NZ

By Jessica Tyson

Unicef board members say they have appointed a highly regarded family champion and Māori advocate as Unicef New Zealand’s deputy executive director of child rights.

Brandi Hudson has a wealth of experience in local government, Treaty of Waitangi settlements, Māori business development, health promotion, education, as well as sports and recreation, which they say makes her an ideal advocate for indigenous peoples' participation in international development.

Hudson says she is able to interpret policy simply so that people, especially public servants who work for the government, understand what is needed to be able to give rise to Māori development.

“After working with the independent Māori statutory board and spending nine years looking inside at the machinery of Auckland Council, the skill that I have is the legal policy areas of giving rise to the statutory rights that Māori have.”

“For a long time we’ve been treated as the minority. We haven’t been treated as a Treaty partner. So I think, especially as the world looks at itself through the lenses of racism and equality, my strength comes from being able to interpret policies in a simplistic way that drives change.”

Hudson, of Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Rarua and Ngāti Pikiao, says she has long admired Unicef NZ’s commitment to children.

Lasting impact

“It takes courage and innovative thinking to address the disparities and inequalities faced by many New Zealand families. I am excited to join Unicef NZ and use my knowledge and passion to make a lasting impact for our whanau.”

Hudson has joined the organisation at an unprecedented time. Coronavirus is the biggest global crisis for children since World War II and Unicefhas been working at speed to support children and families in New Zealand and overseas.

“The most immediate concerns we have for Māori children are that our whanau were already in crisis before Covid-19. So we knew we have spent the past, since forever, trying to help our whānau who have really struggled as a result of colonisation and you can go down a pretty dark path there," she says.

“But what we know is that Māori have a lot of solutions for what is enabling for them to provide the right types of whānau development, the right types of whanau initiatives that help them to thrive. So, as much as I have great concerns about the housing that we live in, the type of kai that we get, the type of education that we get, I’m also feeling really positive and hopeful.”

Unicef NZ’s chair Linda Jenkinson has welcomed Hudson.

“Brandi not only brings to the role a deep understanding of entrepreneurship and innovation, she also has a proven track record of empowering people and advocating for equality."

Important time

Unicef NZ Board member Mavis Mullins welcomes Hudson to her new role and says that it is an important time in history to champion the rights of children and their families.

“Brandi’s wealth of experience will help ensure Unicef continues to address the inequalities that exist for children in Aotearoa and around the world.”

Hudson says she is honoured to join Unicefto help advance the rights of every child, in Aotearoa and around the world.