Wellington Scoop

Iona Pannett to be CEO of Birthright

News from Birthright
Birthright New Zealand is pleased to announce the appointment of its new CEO, Iona Pannett.

Birthright Chairperson Adrian Gregory says that Iona will be leading New Zealand’s oldest organisation that works in partnership with families led by one person, providing practical services and advocacy to government for better outcomes for children and their parents.

Mr. Gregory says: “We are very pleased to have appointed Iona to lead the organisation as we continue the work that Birthright has done for over 60 years. Birthright aims to celebrate the many achievements of families led by a single person. These families are resilient and are doing a great job of raising children, at times in very difficult circumstances.

“Iona brings extensive experience in advocacy, stakeholder management, policy making and the NGO sector. Furthermore, she has first-hand experience of leading a family as a single person,” says Adrian.

“It is an honour to join Birthright as CEO with its long and proud history of supporting families led by a single person,” says Iona. “We know there are significant challenges for families led by a single person. New Zealand has the third highest rate of single parent families in the OECD and children in single parent households are 6 times more likely to live in poverty than those in families with two or more adults.

“However there are many opportunities to support families led by a single person and as the numbers of such families grow from around 230,000 to projected numbers of 279,000 in 2038, the time is right to bring innovative ideas to the table to maximize these opportunities. It is critical that all families led by a single person can make a contribution to society and live independently whilst giving the wider community the opportunity to draw fully on their skills,” says Iona.

Birthright was formed in Hastings in 1955. The organisation has grown to include eleven affiliates around New Zealand, supported by a national Trust with its office in Wellington. At the core of the organisation is the belief that all children share the right to a good start in life and that supporting families will ensure greater success in achieving this “birthright”.

Iona will be taking up her role on Tuesday.


  1. michael, 24. July 2019, 11:57

    Is Iona staying on the council?

  2. Iona Pannett, 24. July 2019, 16:59

    Thanks for the question Michael. Yes I will be staying on Council as my new role is part time. I am fully committed to both my roles and note there are no conflicts of interest between the two as they concentrate on very different areas. My new role will also be noted in the Council’s Register of Interests.

  3. Chris Horne, 24. July 2019, 21:46

    Congratulations Iona! Your skills will continue to be invaluable to all Wellingtonians, and now also to single-parent families nation-wide.

  4. Roy Kutel, 25. July 2019, 11:34

    Is being a councillor considered a full time job these days? Surely it’s read a report now and again and add some sticky-note comments, raise a few questions with officers, turn up to a few meetings (say a dozen or two dozen a year) and vote when required. Must be lots of time to have a another job.

  5. Goofy, 25. July 2019, 11:56

    Roy: How many hours of self and council promotions and PR on social media etc?

  6. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 25. July 2019, 12:02

    Wellington City Councillors propably do 30-50+ hrs/week, Roy, depending on portfolio responsibilities and personal commitment.

  7. Roy Kutel, 25. July 2019, 13:43

    What do councillors actually do in their 30 to 50 hours a week other than read reports and sit in meetings? Don’t officers do ‘the work’? Isn’t that what officers are paid to do? After all they get paid over $100k each with, some e.g. Lavery getting 5x that amount (more than our Prime Minister gets paid).

  8. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 25. July 2019, 17:13

    • Formal meetings: full Council meeting (once a month); Committees (City Strategy Committee meeting 3 times a month involving all city councillors); various other formal committees and subcommittees – see WCC website for details of committees and their membership);
    • Briefings to all councillors by CEO and/or senior officers (c 1 per week) on upcoming issues;
    • Scheduled portfolio leaders’ briefings and meetings with relevant senior staff (c2-4 per month);
    • Ad hoc meetings and discussions with various officers to progress various issues or solve problems as they arise (c 1 per week);
    • Meetings with other agencies eg: GWRC; NZTA etc (varies according to portfolio – for me this includes LGWM Governance Group, Regional Transport Committee, Safe & Sustainable Transport Forum, etc)
    • Individual and group site visits for various reasons according to portfolio;
    • Official launches, openings and exhibitions (eg recently: new Manners St library & WCC service centre, new airport hotel, new Wellington Water service centre):
    • Commemorations, wreath layings, meeting visiting delegations and VIPs etc;
    • Discussions with affiliated groups eg: youth council, social services and voluntary agencies;
    • Presentations to service groups and schools as requested;
    • Meeting constituents and residents’ associations;
    • Report reading and following up where necessary;
    • Independent research on portfolio issues;
    • Advocacy on behalf of constituents (research, emails etc.):
    • Informal discussions with other councillors to compare views, socialise ideas, and seek support for various initiatives.
    Today, for example, I was up early and preparing for a meeting of the government’s Transport & Infrastructure Select Committee; attendance at that meeting in Bowen House; debrief and discussion with Mayor and several councillors; reading about 60 emails and responding as necessary, all told about six hours; then tonight attending the Gold Awards (annual business awards 6pm-midnight).

    Tomorrow: site visit to St James Theatre to observe heath & safety at work issues (as part of council’s commitment to injury-free construction), then more emails. And bear in mind that July is formally our mid-year break month, with no regular formal meetings scheduled.

  9. Roy Kutel, 25. July 2019, 19:27

    So lots of meetings and field trips. Thanks Chris.

  10. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 26. July 2019, 0:22

    Yep, that’s how most issues are progressed.

  11. Marion Leader, 26. July 2019, 7:54

    Chris, I have just looked at the council’s meetings calendar and see that there were no meetings this month of the type you mention. Do councillors get paid for having a holiday now as well as their three months off at Christmas?

  12. Roy Kutel, 26. July 2019, 9:28

    Three months off at Christmas? Well I never! Better off than teachers. Yes, Councillors are definitely part-time but get paid a full time super-living wage on the backs of us – the ratepayers. But you do have to do some door knocking and put out some face-book posts to get people to vote you in.

  13. Chris Calvi-Freeman, 26. July 2019, 19:18

    Councillors are paid a salary/stipend for each year of service, paid fortnightly, just like regular employees. I said previously that there are no formal council meetings in July, but plenty of informal ones as described in my previous posting. Regular salaried employees get 3-6 weeks paid leave depending on the industry and their terms of employment.

    There is a similar situation (as for July) for city councillors in Christmas and through January, i.e. no formal meetings but life goes on and issues arise are are dealt with. Marion, how or why did you form the impression that we have “three months off at Christmas”? Did you mean three weeks?