About us

The role of Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) is to ensure the vocational education system meets industry needs and gives a stronger voice to Māori business and iwi development. We will give our industries and employers greater leadership and influence across vocational education.


Success for us will mean employers - including Māori business owners - are confident that vocational education graduates are ready for work and that the future skills needs of their industry will be addressed by the vocational education system.  

As well as directly benefiting employers, we will improve confidence and outcomes across the sector. Providers can be confident their programmes are relevant to employers and endorsed by industry. Learners can be confident their qualifications will meet employers’ expectations and national industry standards.  

The industries we represent

Toitū te Waiora (Community, Health, Education and Social Services) Workforce Development Council represents industries including Care Services, Disability Services, Education and Educational Support Services, Funeral Services, Health Services, Public Order Safety, Regulatory Services, Skin and Nail Therapy Services, Social Services, and Urban Pest Control.  

What we will do

We will work with industry and employers to understand the skills that are needed. This information will be passed to education and training providers, who will be expected to create learning programmes that will give people relevant skills to address future workforce needs. 

We will lead the development of industry qualifications, set industry standards and assess training provision against these industry standards. Where appropriate, we will set and help with capstone assessments at the end of a qualification. Industry standards will be consistently applied across the country, and across all modes of learning, whether on the job (such as apprenticeships), on campus or online. 

We will also endorse vocational education programmes prior to them being approved by NZQA. 

Who we will work with

As well as engaging with industry and employers, we will work collaboratively across the vocational education sector. We will engage with Regional Skills Leadership Groups (RSLGs), Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs) and Providers (Te Pūkenga, Wānanga and Private Training Establishments (PTEs)). 

We will also engage with a range of parties to help inform and prioritise their service delivery. These include the Ministry of Education (MoE), Advocacy Groups, Learners, Te Taumata Aronui, Government agencies and schools. 

Our name

Our Name - Toitū te Waiora - Protecting and preserving health and wellbeing now and in the future.  

"Toitū" is often referred as the elevated kōrero and thinking in relation to our health and wellbeing: 

  • Toitū Te Oranga Wairua - Spiritual 
  • Toitū Te Mauri Ora - Life principle 
  • Toitū Te Waiora - Uplifting Health and Wellbeing 

Our name has been gifted from Te Kāhui Ahumahi members who also presented the following waiata which incorporates Te Whare Tapa Whā model of health (Durie. 1984).  


ToitūToitū          (Sustainability)  

Toitū te waiora e....  (protect/preserve wellbeing) 

Toitūte Tinana  (physical/body) 

Toitūte hinengaro  (mind/intellect) 

Toitūte wairua  (spiritual) 

Toitūte whānau  (family) 

Toitū te waiora e… (protect/preserve wellbeing)  

Nā Wini Geddes/Brenda Smith 

Our logo

Our logo is an image of a taura whiri, a plaited rope. The taura whiri, plaited rope has been used as a metaphor by kaiwhaikōrero (orators) to connect whānau groups through a shared ancestor and to acknowledge a leader’s ability to bring people together. It has been applied to various situations where elements come together in unity. The taura/rope is made by plaiting aho (strands) made from rolled muka (scraped flax strands). Creating a stronger taura (rope) than the aho could on their own.  

Our logo colour relates to Māori culture and the connection between people and nature.  The use of purple links us to colours only found in berries, linking us to the domain of rongoa, medicinal plants, such as the Tawa berry. Purple is also widely and globally used to represent faith and spirituality, te taha wairua, our spiritual well-being.

Who we are

Our Council 

David Waters – Co Chair  

David Waters is the Chief Executive of Ambulance New Zealand and the Chief Executive of Ambulance Authorities, the peak body for ambulance services in New Zealand and Australia. He has previously held a number of senior roles in the health and public sectors. He was previously chair of the interim Establishment Board for the Health, Community and Social Services Workforce Development Council. 

David holds a number of governance positions in the health sector in New Zealand and Australia including chair of the Aeromedical Society of Australasia, and chair of advisory committees for both Weltec and Auckland University of Technology. He is also a director of the Australian Stroke Alliance, QA Health Ltd, the Global Resuscitation Alliance, the Global Paramedic Leadership Alliance and Presbyterian Support – Central Region Building committee. 

Winifred (Wini) Geddes – Co Chair 

Winifred (Wini) Geddes, Ngāti Awa, Ngaitai ki Tōrere, Ngāpuhi, is a director of Tāne Mahuta Aotearoa NZ Ltd, a whānau-owned company envisioned to train, qualify and employ rangatahi to work on their own whenua. With the Kaupapa Māori LWYE™ Learn While You Earn industry-based training model, the tauira (cadet) not only gain qualifications, operational and organisational skills leading to management, but also access to in-house Kaihautū Pastoral Care service, health advocacy and a Drug Testing and Rehabilitation Unit (DTRU) for the workplace. Visit www.tanemahuta.org.nz website. She is also director of Tū Ora (NZ) Ltd, which operates whare-māire providing bi-cultural clinical health services, psycho-social advocacy. DTRU and training in the caring professions. 

Wini holds a number of governance positions including two Workforce Development Councils, a Mataatua District Māori Council delegate to the NZ Māori Council, Chair of the Whakatāne Māori Committee, President of Pūtauaki Māori Women’s Welfare League and Trustee to Iritana Hoāni Nuku Ahu Whenua Trust. In an advisory and support role, Wini has recently accepted firstly, the Resilience to Nature’s Challenges (RNC) – a rural research programme that supports outreach to policy and practice leadership that enables resilient outcomes for rural Aotearoa; developing an integrated framework for assessing resilience to natural hazards in consideration of climate change, environmental recovery, rural value chain impacts, intervention tools/resources and marae resilience. Secondly, not only as a Massey University Master of Science student, but also supporter of Te Toi Whakaruruhau o Aotearoa, an EQC funded centre for Mātauranga Māori Research Excellence encouraging innovative research across science and social disciplines, building Māori research workforce capability in the fields of earth science, hazards, emergency management, disaster risk reduction governance, recovery and resilience. 

Nō reira, he hōnore ahau ki te āta ara pai mō ngā mokopuna a meāke nei. 

Dr Garth Bennie 

Dr Garth Bennie was the Chief Executive of the New Zealand Disability Support Network, the peak body for disability providers across New Zealand. He has been retained in a role as project manager for some workforce related projects. Dr Bennie was previously a District Manager for Special Education with the Ministry of Education and has also held a number of other senior roles focusing on the disability sector and special education. He gained his PhD in social work and social policy with a focus on disability studies. 

Garth is currently a director of Careerforce, the industry training organisation for the health, wellbeing, social and community sectors and has previously held directorships with a number of other organisations focusing on the disability sector. 

Glenn Barclay 

Glenn Barclay has held executive level positions in a range of organisations including having been National Secretary of the Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi (PSA) and Executive Director of the New Zealand Association of Occupational Therapists (NZAOT, now Occupational Therapy New Zealand Whakaora Ngangahau Aotearoa). His roles have included more than thirty years of working in unions and ensuring that collective employee voice is heard. 

Glenn has held a number of governance positions including being a board member of Workers’ Education Trust – Kaimahi Mātauranga and PSA Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi, a member of the State Sector Retirement Savings Scheme Advisory Board, a lay member of the Ethics Committee, NZ Society of Physiotherapists, and chair of Thorndon School, Citykids Childcare Centre, and Awarua Childcare Centre. 

Gwendoline (Gwen) Tepania-Palmer 

Gwendoline (Gwen) Tepania-Palmer ONZM Te Aupōuri, Ngāti Kahu, Ngāti Paoa, is a long-time advocate of Māori health who has held numerous directorship and leadership positions across the health sector. She is currently on the board of Fire Emergency New Zealand, Waikato Lotteries Community Grants, Ngāti Hine Health Trust, a Māori Primary Healthcare Organisation based in Northland, and is chair of Kotui Hauora, a partnership board between Northern Iwi and the Northland DHB. 

Gwendoline was previously on the Auckland District Health Board for nine years, including time spent as interim chair and deputy chair, and on the Waitematā District Health Board for nine years. She has also held governance roles with the New Zealand Health Quality and Safety Commission, the Northland Community Lotteries Committee, and a number of charitable trusts.

Dr Maria Baker 

Dr Maria Baker 

Dr Maria Baker Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa, is the Chief Executive Officer of Te Rau Ora, a kaupapa Māori organisation focused on strengthening Māori health and wellbeing. She gained her PhD in Māori Health and also holds a number of nursing and mental health qualifications.  

Maria has worked in Māori health for more than 25 years and has previously held senior positions focusing on Māori Health Workforce Development and Māori mental health. She has experience working across a range of organisations including NGOs, Iwi, Māori organisations and district health boards.

Maria Ngawati 

Maria Ngawati 

Maria Ngawati, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Porou has more than 20 years’ experience in Māori health and education including positions with Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, Unitec Institute of Technology, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and AUT University. She has done extensive research and analysis in the nexus between Māori health and education and is currently completing professional doctorate study focusing on higher health education for Kura Kaupapa Māori students. 

Maria is a director of Te Pūtea Whakatupu, a philanthropic organisation legislated for the advancement of Māori education and training opportunities, is a member of Ngā Pou Mana - a Tangata Whenua Māori Health organisation, and is also a trustee and project manager for her marae, Te Rito.

Matthew Tukaki 

Matthew Tukaki, Ngāi Te Rangi, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, is an experienced leader who is a champion for Māori health and social development. He is currently chair of a number of entities including the Ministerial Advisory Board at Oranga Tamariki, the National Māori Authority Ngā Rautahi O Aotearoa, Māori Spectrum Working Group, the Ministry of Health Māori Monitoring Group and the New Zealand Māori Council Auckland District. 

Matthew is also the former Chair of Suicide Prevention Australia, CEO of one of the world’s largest and oldest employment companies, Drake International, and Chair of Deakin University CSaRO. 

Matthew has also held a range of senior executive positions in Australia and New Zealand in companies focusing on recruitment, workforce development, media and marketing. 

Sean McKinley 

Sean McKinley has held chief executive positions in several organisations across health, education and social services including Te Whānau Tupu Ngātahi o Aotearoa -Playcentre Aotearoa, New Zealand Social Workers Registration Board, and New Zealand Psychological Society. 

Sean is a member of the interim Establishment Board for the Health, Community and Social Services Workforce Development Council. He also has experience on health sector boards, having been a ministerial appointee to the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand and the Optometrist and Dispensing Opticians Board. 

Tofilau Talalelei Taufale 

Tofilau Talalelei Taufale is the Pacific Health Development Manager for the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board, a position he has held for the past 10 years. Tofilau previously held senior roles at William Colenso College, where he was Senior Director of Curriculum and Hastings Boys High School where he was Dean of Pacific students and vocational studies. He is also a director of USO Bike Ride, an award-winning not-for-profit organisation established to promote health and wellbeing for Pacifica through cycling. 

Tofilau holds a number of governance positions including being a trustee of HB Youth Futures Trust and St Joseph’s Māori Girls College Trust board, co-chair for the National Bowel Screening Program Pacific National Network and the Pacific representative for the Central Region Workforce Development Hub.  He has also held advisory roles with the EIT Pasifika Education Reference Group and the Hawke’s Bay Ministry of Education Pasifika Reference Group.  He is also a highly regarded Pacific leader for the Hawke's Bay community. 

Our leadership team

Donovan Clarke, Chief Executive 

Donovan Clarke is a proud Māori leader and has whakapapa to Waikato-Tainui, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Manu and Ngāti Te Ata. He is a fluent Te Reo speaker and is well connected to both Iwi and Pacific leaders across the motu.  

Donovan is an experienced Senior Executive with a proven history of leading transformational change and improving accessibility. Prior to joining Toitū te Waiora, Donovan was Chief Executive Officer of Central Kids Early Education. He also brings executive Primary and Secondary health experience to the role, having led significant change projects across primary care, mental health and addictions and the disability sector. Donovan was previously in the NZ Police for 14 years.

How our Workforce Development Council was established 

Extensive consultation with industry and the vocational education sector took place prior to our WDC being stood up on 4 October 2021.  

The establishment of WDCs was led by WDC Interim Establishment Boards (iEBs) that were made up of industry representatives, a number of whom were subsequently appointed to the permanent WDC Council. The main role of iEBs was to oversee the legal establishment of WDCs, which occurred through an Orders in Council (OiC) process. 

Our Order in Council  

The iEB was responsible for consulting with industry and developing an OiC that outlined the name of our WDC, industries represented, governance arrangements and other core aspects of their WDC. More than 200 people and organisations provided feedback on the draft OiCs. This engagement helped ensure our WDC was established in ways that will best meet industry needs.

Once approved by the Minister of Education, OiCs were sent to the Governor-General for signature. On Monday 10 May 2021 Her Excellency the Governor-General, Patsy Reddy, gave Royal Assent, passing in to law, OiCs establishing the six WDCs. The legislation came into effect on 11 June 2021. 

See the Community, Health, Education and Social Services OiC. Note, we had not selected a Māori name by the time our OiC was submitted, hence our OiC does not refer to us as Toitū te Waiora.