Introducing the Candidates for Vice-President Women - Heather Vail and Jael Reiri.

The election of a new Vice President Women will take place following a ballot opening Thursday 1 October 2020. This week’s Tertiary Update profiles the two candidates.

Introducing Heather Vail

Women’s Vice President candidate Heather Vail is Senior Lecturer of communications at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology. Heather earned a Bachelor of Women’s Studies at the University of California at Santa Cruz, in the USA before moving to Aotearoa New Zealand from Oregon, USA in 2008, and beginning her academic career teaching on the Diploma of Bicultural Journalism at what was then the Waiariki Institute of Technology.

Heather has served as women’s representative at Toi Ohomai Mokoia branch, working with staff and union members to support annual women’s events, including Wāhine Kākano, a workshop empowering young women to gain confidence and have their voices heard within their communities, and currently teaches Professional Practice for Information Technology diploma students.

Heather says she is running for Vice President - National Women's Committee to further represent the interests of the NWC and women in our union and sector, saying,

“Recent events have made me all the more impassioned to be actively involved, and I know I can make a positive contribution. Helping others is what is meaningful to me in life, it’s what brings us joy and purpose even as we face struggles. There is a real need to recognise the impact of the pandemic on all of us, where both our personal strengths and institutional weaknesses come to the fore. I have definitely noticed its toll on my students. Also its glaring gendered impact, with women disproportionately affected, especially wāhine Maori and Pasifika. We need to own the power of identity and value workloads that allow us to live full lives”.

For Heather, her strengths stem from her academic background and personal outlook,

“I am a positive person, with a real drive for seeing positive outcomes. I always appreciate the good in people. With my journalism background I provide a listening ear, and ability to get the facts right and to analyse, while my background in women’s studies has been a bedrock for my approach working in the world”.

If elected, Heather hopes to act as a bridge between the role as advocate and activist, and the day-to-day experience of educators and working women,

“I appreciate and hope to build upon the excellent work of the former VP and the NWC. I’m also appreciative of our male colleagues who are supportive of what the NWC strives to achieve. I hope to be able to clarify some of the issues women currently face, and assist busy people in the sector to be able to know what is at stake and to add their voice and add their passion. I will be an advocate for reducing the gender pay gap and a bridge between our activism and day-to-day work”. Heather continued,

“Key for me is weaving both our Vision Statement for Gender Equity Strategy 2020-2023, as well as Te Koeke Tiriti, a guiding document for TEU, into the lives of all our members and colleagues. It’s about finding ways to value one another, bringing us together to lift each other up, on the power of standing together, and on the power of women’s voices in the sector”.

Introducing Jael Reiri

Women’s Vice President candidate Jael Reiri is a Lecturer in the Bachelor of Nursing Programme, Kaitiaki Māori, course co-ordinator of Whaiora and facilitator of Te Rōpū Whaioranga at Te Aho o Māui - Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT).

Jael began her career in education teaching at primary and secondary levels in both English and Māori, when she was a member of NZEI and PPTA, before moving into the tertiary education sector and joining TEU. Jael is the Māori representative for EIT, a member of Te Uepū, the Māori representative on the TEU National Women’s Committee and is currently studying toward a PhD in Māori and Education.

Jael says she is running for Vice President - National Women's Committee to represent all women in the sector, and to lead by example in ensuring wāhine Māori are represented in leadership positions outside of Māori representative roles,

“I currently stand as Māori representative within the NWC rōpū, providing a Maori perspective on issues covered by the NWC. I’m proud of my role within the rōpū, and the opportunity to represent wāhine Māori, but as a Māori woman, I want to see more Māori in leadership positions. I want to empower wāhine Māori and all women to realise their voice is appreciated and respected, as Māori, as women, and as leaders in all spaces”.

For Jael, her strengths stem from her bi-lingual and bi-cultural perspective, and her ability to forge relationships,

“Between my role as advocate for Māori and Pasifika students, facilitator of Te Rōpū Whaioranga, and my role within the NWC, I have experience making connections between many groups. In my roles, I work with staff and students from many cultures, and having those relationships lends itself well to developing relationships with members, the National Women’s Officer, NWC, and other committees within TEU. My role in developing these connections has helped to shape by personal and professional development and I continue to build strong relationships”, Jael continued,

“We live in a multi-cultural society, but we need to remember our Te Tiriti o Waitangi relationship and acknowledge the importance of te reo Māori and te ao Māori to our Tiriti relationship as a country. I hope to bring a bi-lingual view, together with my passion for and understanding of te ao Māori, as well as non-Māori world views, which I hope others can draw upon in realising that lessening disparities is about acknowledging Te Tiriti”.

If elected, Jael wants to champion both the TEU Gender Equity Strategy and Te Koeke Tiriti, which she cites as key documents for both TEU women, and the broader membership,

“The EmPOWERing Women in Union Hui really highlighted the importance of respecting and valuing the many roles and identities of working women, both at work and at home. It’s great to see Te Koeke Tiriti underpin the Gender Equity Strategy, and I see the Strategy itself as key to promoting equity and ensuring the mahi of women is valued and appreciated at work, at home and across the life-course”.