Future Director Check In: Nancy and James


A year into the Future Director Programme, we had a kōrero with Nancy Purvis and James Grey to see how they are faring so far in their roles on the Whai Rawa Board.

Both shared that this year has been focused a lot on listening as well as understanding what happens in the room – and ultimately just being present.

James acknowledges that preparing for the meetings takes time, but doing so properly is key to be able to contribute to the conversation and get the most from the experience.

With the Whai Rawa Board having so many commercial elements, Nancy and James have both enjoyed learning how the underlying values of iwi are still prioritised and tied into any decisions in this space.

“The approach balances making profit but stays true to who we are. I’ve really gained an appreciation of this,” James says.

James has particularly enjoyed being able to get a better understanding of property transactions through witnessing how Whai Rawa builds up the asset base for the iwi. 

Nancy too has been able to see first-hand the background work that goes into commercial projects and has found it rewarding to be a part of the kaupapa around the Hawaiki Street developments.

As a Senior Advisor Māori for the Electoral Commission, she has also really enjoyed learning what happens in a governance space and says that this knowledge has been beneficial to her career.

“I’ve learnt what a Board wants to see if they receive a paper, the type of language to use, and how to put information forward so it’s easily digestible,” she says.

Now halfway through the programme, Nancy adds that she has loved getting to know the Whai Rawa board members. As a descendant, it has grown her trust in knowing that the board members have “really good intentions for our hapū, and they’re really good at what they do.”

James similarly adds that seeing how the board members face challenges has been fascinating and instilled a lot of trust in him too.

“The board is very open to us having a kōrero; your views are valued and taken very seriously.”

Moving forward, Nancy and James both feel ready to start contributing to the conversation even more and want to focus on developing more confidence when it comes to asking questions.

It’s developing skills like this, James says, that makes the programme so valuable.

“It’s a chance to have a say in our iwi affairs at the table, and I’m learning to not be afraid to speak out.”

When asked what advice she’d give whānau who might want to apply for a Future Director role in 2024, Nancy simply says “just do it.”

“Go for it! It’s such an amazing opportunity and a really safe and comfortable environment for understanding the way we look after ourselves and the way decisions are made.”

2024 looks set to be a busy year for both James and Nancy as they continue in their roles as Future Directors, all while balancing the busyness of whānau life.