Navigating pathways into the future

As HPF’s Deputy Executive Director – Corporate Service Leanne Eruera spearheads some of HPF’s major projects. In this interview, Leanne who also consults on various projects including Mātauranga Māori and Māori economic development in the Tai Tokerau region, discusses some of the projects she is working on and about some of the workforce challenges that need to be addressed as we shift into the Covid-recovery phase.


Leanne shares about her interest in new technologies, especially in the field of health promotion, and how technology coupled with indigenous knowledge on planetary health can contribute significantly to global climate challenges, as well as HPF principles and founding documents, the Ottawa Charter, and Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and how these will shape and navigate us through uncertain times.


Hauora: You’ve been with the Health Promotion Forum of NZ (HPF) for some seven years now. Can you tell us a bit about when you started with HPF, in what capacity and what your role now entails?


Leanne, right, with Board members, Chair Mark Simiona and Sharon Grant Kennedy-Muru

Leanne: I started with HPF in January 2014, as the Business Manager with core responsibilities mainly in the finance area. My formal qualifications are in business management and accountancy. In 2017, I became the Senior Business Development Manager, and in 2020, the Deputy Executive Director – Corporate Services.  The purpose of the role is mainly to support and advise the Executive Director and to lead and manage the corporate services of HPF, especially in the areas of finance/business development, information technology, and human resources and management.


In separate but related work, I consult on various projects including Mātauranga Māori, and Māori economic development, in the Tai Tokerau region.

Hauora: What are some of the highlights of your time with HPF? 

Leanne: There are many, but I think project-managing the 2019 IUHPE conference was a highlight – the benefits from the collaboration nationally and internationally, and the particular focus on indigenous health promotion, and the ongoing legacy statements that continue to influence and shape the global conversation on planetary health. 

Hauora: What is a specific project that you are currently working on for HPF and how is it progressing?

Leanne: One of the core accountabilities of my role is looking at how information technology will shape the future of work. For some time now, HPF has successfully been operating in a hybrid work environment (even pre-Covid), so when the pandemic arrived, the team were prepared operationally to continue their work from home. 

One of the impacts of the pandemic, and the shift that has occurred in regard to the future of work, is the increased focus on remote work.  We are constantly assessing our flexibility, adaptability, and agility as an organisation, to respond to our workforce needs.  Whilst we are in a good position now, we can improve further to ensure our ‘readiness’ for the future state.  

Hauora: With Covid-19 having such a major impact on the way we work, what sort of direction will HPF likely be heading into the future?

Leanne: As we begin to shift into the Covid recovery phase, there will be a new set of workforce challenges to address.  There are a multitude of scenarios that can occur in our recovery phase, but the important thing for us is to leverage our insights from the past 12 or so months, maintaining our health promotion priorities and principles, to steer the organisation through uncertainty, and emerge post recovery thriving in our ‘new normal’. 

The significance of health promotion in our recovery is critically important.  HPF was founded on two key documents.  These documents represent our purpose, and will continue to provide our navigational compass in these uncertain times.  Namely, they are the Ottawa Charter, and Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The Ministry of Health recently released its framework, to apply Te Tiriti principles in the health system. Our strength lies in serving these principles, for the wellbeing of our global family.

From left, HPF’s Office manager Emma Frost, Leanne and Comms Advisor Lavinia Ngatoko take a break from conference duties at Eat Street, Rotorua.

HPF’s priorities and principles (based on our foundational documents) will see us emerge from the current workforce challenges stronger, and with renewed perspective.

Hauora: You have been taking quite an interest in new technologies and the need to adapt to these changes in technology. How important is it for organisations, including HPF, to be learning more about these advances in technology?

Leanne: A personal interest area of mine, is looking at how Industry 4.0 will impact on the health promotion space, and in particular how new technologies can support addressing things like the sustainable development goals, which in turn, connect to addressing the social determinants of health. Technology, coupled with indigenous knowledge on planetary health, can contribute significantly to global climate challenges.  The future digital landscape will impact how we live, work and play, so allowing time and space for critical thinking and conversations, knowledge-sharing etc now, is important to the future of workforce development across all industries and sectors.

Hauora:  How encouraged are you to see Mātauranga Māori or Te Ao Māori being increasingly acknowledged in Aotearoa as a way to enhance and inform fields including science, conservation, business, government etc… How influential is HPF in this space?

Leanne: I think we are on a pathway to greater understanding of our obligations under Te Tiriti as a nation.  This next phase, or transition, builds upon the work of many others, past and present, who have laid the foundations for us to now move forward into a shared future.

Leanne, centre, at our AGM, 2019

I acknowledge all of those leaders that have made this possible, and I look to the future with optimism and hope for all our mokopuna.

One particular Waitangi Tribunal report, Ko Aotearoa Tenei, is the first whole of government report that provides a series of recommendations in addressing the work of more than 20 government agencies. It covers multiple areas of reform, in relation to Te Ao Maori and Mātauranga Māori, and I’d encourage those who are not familiar with the report, to take a moment to read it HERE.

HPF has also done some amazing work in the health promotion global community to advance and privilege indigenous peoples’ voices and indigenous knowledge. At the World Health Promotion Conference co-hosted by HPF and the International Union for Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE) in Rotorua in April 2019 the ‘Waiora – Indigenous Peoples’ Statement for Planetary Health and Sustainable Development’, was released alongside the ‘Rotorua Statement WAIORA: Promoting Planetary Health and Sustainable Development for All’.

In the Indigenous legacy document, conference participants called on the health promotion community and the wider global community to make space for and privilege Indigenous peoples’ voices and Indigenous knowledges in promoting planetary health and sustainable development for the benefit of all. These documents are being widely promoted and disseminated, both nationally and internationally, to support a wide range of settings, from community, to governance, and policy. 


The conference theme of ‘Waiora: Promoting Planetary Health and Sustainable Development for All’ also reflected the indigenous focus of the conference, which was attended by more than 1000 delegates from around the world and Aotearoa. Also notable was that it was the first time te reo was made an official language at a world conference.


HPF continues to highlight the vital role of indigenous knowledge in helping to combat the climate crisis, with our Executive Director, Sione Tu’itahi co-chairing the IUHPE Global Working Group on Waiora Planetary Health and Human Wellbeing, which originated from the world conference in Rotorua.


Hauora: Is there anything you’d like to add?

Leanne: If you’re interested in knowing more, or becoming a member of the Health Promotion Forum of NZ to stay up-to-date on any of the issues discussed, or to make the most of the benefits we have to offer, please do reach out to me via email at or Emma Frost at