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Whaiao - Education for Sustainability Otago is excited to announce the appointment of two co-chairpersons, Rachel Wesley and Dr Ian Hall, for the next two years.

“Ian and Rachel have very strong backgrounds in governance and leadership, as well as in education and bi-cultural practice, respectively,” Dr Barry Law, Director of Whaiao, says.

“Whaiao is driven by local people working together for a sustainable future.

“Therefore, the quality of the appointees can only enhance our efforts to promote sustainability education, training, and public awareness across a range of key areas, including biculturalism, primary industry, water and tourism.”

Like the landscape of the Otago region, the network of organisations involved in Whaiao is diverse and includes mana whenua, educators, students, researchers, non-profit agencies, local government leaders, businesses and community members.

These partners have been working under a United Nations University mandate since January 2020 when, following an initiative led by Otago Polytechnic, the Otago region was named a United Nations Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) for Sustainability.

Dr Ian Hall: “I’m excited to be involved in Whaiao. I see my appointment as an opportunity to combine my passion for education with engagement in a broad range of community activities.”

Rachel Wesley: “I understand Whaiao has established a bicultural framework – a first for any RCE in the world. I have a strong interest in hapū development, and environmental kaupapa, so the partnership model Whaiao has with mana whenua is of great interest, too.”

Rachel Wesley: background

Rachel’s passion ranges from cultural resource and heritage management, to hapū development and Resource Management Act and environmental kaupapa. Along with raising her whānau and her employment as Chief Executive at Aukaha, Rachel is undertaking a PhD through the University of Otago, weaving together different strands of ecological “knowledge” in order to reframe the archaeological understanding of resource use by early southern Māori.  

Dr Ian Hall: background

Ian is an experienced educational leader, having held leadership roles at a range of institutions, both in New Zealand and internationally. He also has extensive governance experience of a number of companies and not-for-profit organisations, and is currently chair of the Establishment Board of Trustees for Te Kura O Tākaka Kara (a new State primary school in Wanaka), and Chair of the Board of Mount Aspiring College.

Whaiao - Education for Sustainability Otago will hold its next full meeting on 7 May in Dunedin.

For more information about Whaiao, visit


Published on 20 Apr 2021

Orderdate: 20 Apr 2021
Expiry: 31 Oct 2021