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Source: Toi Mai Workforce Development Council (WDC)

Toi Mai Workforce Development Council (WDC) today announced the appointment of Dr Claire Robinson as Chief Executive. The appointment is a significant milestone in the establishment of the Workforce Development Council, which will give sectors including creative, cultural, recreation and technology greater leadership in the vocational education and training system.

Claire is currently Professor of Communication Design, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Massey University’s College of Creative Arts in Wellington. She is also an award-winning designer, an author, playwright, political scientist, and one of New Zealand’s respected political commentators.

Co-chairs of Toi Mai WDC, Rhonda Kite and Victoria Spackman, said: “We are thrilled that Claire will be leading Toi Mai and are excited to have her in our whānau. Toi Mai WDC faces unique challenges and opportunities because, although our sectors make a massive contribution to the economy and culture of Aotearoa, they don’t all currently have a strong voice in the vocational education system. As well as employers, we need to connect with the entrepreneurial, independent earners and volunteers who currently work in our sectors and bring the benefits of vocational education to life for them. Claire’s mana and understanding of our sectors will help us achieve this.”

Welcoming her appointment, Claire said: “This is an amazing opportunity. Throughout my career I have been passionate about promoting the value of creative, cultural, recreation and technology industries. As well as contributing massively to our economy, COVID 19 has highlighted the vital role that Toi Mai industries play to our personal wellbeing and identity. Toi Mai will give our workforces a much-needed platform that doesn’t currently exist. Taking action to improve equity and opportunity has also been a theme throughout my career. Another aspect of the role that attracted me is that a core purpose of WDCs is to improve outcomes for Māori – this is written into the legislation that underpins Toi Mai and sets an awesome precedent.”

Toi Mai WDC has also appointed Jenni Pethig to the role of General Manager Qualifications and Assurance. Jenni has been involved in the industry training sector for over 25 years and is currently General Manager, Learning Solutions at Skills Active.

Commenting on her new role, Jenni said: “I am really excited to be part of setting up a new organisation that will kaitiaki the taonga of qualifications and standards from Transitional Industry Training Organisations. I am also looking forward to being part of a team that will build new relationships and new learning opportunities for the creative, culture, recreation and technology sectors.”

Rhonda Kite and Victoria Spackman said: “It’s great to be announcing Jenni’s appointment at the same time as Claire’s. Jenni is coming to us from Skills Active, so she will be familiar to many people who we will be working with, and well placed to hit the ground running.”

The industries represented by Toi Mai WDC include graphic, creative and web design, Ngā Toi Māori, game and software development, museums and amusement parks, libraries and archiving, performing arts, film and music, hairdressing, make-up artistry, some skincare, journalism, radio and television broadcasting, information and communications technology and systems, recreational facilities/venues and sport.


Claire has worked at Massey University and Wellington Polytechnic for the past 25 years, the past ten on Massey’s Senior Leadership Team. Prior to this she was Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor (Business and Operations) of the College of Creative Arts (2010–2011), Head of the Institute of Communication Design (2005–2008) and a Senior Lecturer and Lecturer in the Institute (1996-2005). She has undergraduate degrees in Politics and Design from Victoria University and Wellington Polytechnic and a PhD from Massey University.

Jenni Pethig has been involved in the industry training sector for over 25 years. In her most recent role as General Manager Learning Solutions at Skills Active, Jenni led a team building and growing online and work-based learning channels, assuring quality, and developing standards, qualifications and resources for the recreation, sport, exercise and performing arts industries. She is passionate about creating accessible education pathways and innovative products that help ākonga, whānau, communities and businesses to thrive.

Workforce Development Councils are being established through the Reform of Vocational Education and will come into effect on 4 October 2021. They will set standards, develop qualifications and shape the curriculum of vocational education to ensure it meets their industries’ needs.


See the TEC website for further information on Workforce Development CouncilsToi Mai WDC and its Council.