MEET THE TEAM



Naomi Hughes – Grad. Dip. Econ., BMS, MMS
Ngāti Maniapoto
Managing Director, Lead Editor, Programme Manager

Naomi is a founding director of Aotahi and the Managing Director at Aotahi. In addition to her general management role, Naomi is the editor for all education programmes and publications produced by the company and project manager for a number of the company’s contracts.

Originally from Piopio, Naomi completed her tertiary studies at the University of Waikato. She graduated in 2003 with a Masters in Management Studies with First Class Honours in Economics, a Bachelor of Management Studies with First Class Honours, majoring in Finance and Māori Resource Management, and a Graduate Diploma in Economics. She also holds the National Certificate in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (NCALNE) qualification, having completed this in 2015.

In regards to other business interests, Naomi is also a director of Around Twelve Limited. This is an online shoe business that she and her sister, Kimberley Cody, established in 2005 to cater to men and women with large feet. She also owns and manages a number of rental properties, predominately within the Waitomo District, and is currently a Director for Te Kupenga o Maniapoto, the Asset Holding Company of Maniapoto Iwi under the Māori Fisheries Act 2004.

Erin Gray – BBS (HRM)
Ngāti Te Puta, Ngā Rauru
Director, Contract Manager, Assistant Programme Manager

Erin is a director of Aotahi. Her duties are managing a number of the company's contracts, assisting with programme delivery management, and building and forming relationships with external stakeholders. A long-time resident of Piopio, Erin is passionate about people and has a strong community focus. She completed her Bachelor of Business Studies at Massey University, where she majored in Human Resource Management. Now Erin applies her skills to her husband’s rural contracting business as well as in her role at Aotahi.

Erin and John have three children Ngakau, Mahlee-Jaye, and Hahana.

Ariana Te Huia
Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Kāi Tahu
Programme Administrator

Ariana Te Huia has been working for Aotahi Limited for approximately 10 years. She has a background in banking as well as administration. Ariana assists in managing the programme delivery contract Aotahi Limited currently holds with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

In 1996 Ariana returned to New Zealand after living in Sydney for two years, and her desire to learn Te Reo Māori led her to Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. After completing a Diploma in Te Tohu Mātauranga i Te Reo Māori, Ariana had a brief period as a kaiawhina (teachers aid) for the Te Ara Reo programme, then held a student administration position for two years before joining Aotahi Limited.

At present, Ariana is based in Te Kuiti. She has a teenage son.

Dr Lee Churchman – MA, PhD
Resource Developer, Team Leader

Lee is from the central North Island, having grown up in and around Taupō. He holds an MA with first class honours from the University of Waikato, and a PhD from the Collaborative Programme in Ancient and Mediaeval Philosophy at the University of Toronto. At Aotahi, Lee is responsible for leading and co-ordinating the writing teams, as well as being a contributing writer himself.

Prior to working at Aotahi Lee taught philosophy for many years at Universities in New Zealand, South Korea, and Canada. He has extensive experience in course design and delivery, as well as the writing and production of textbooks and other course materials.

Lee has been married to Bernadette for nearly 20 years. They have two sons: Serge and Hal. He is interested in effective design, business ethics, cultural pluralism, and the use of information technology in education.

Abbe Putaura – Cert 3 & 4 (Personal Training and Fitness)
Ngāti Te Puta, Ngā Rauru
Co-ordinator: Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs

Abbe was raised in Piopio and lived in Australia for six years until returning in 2020. Prior to joining Aotahi she worked in the fitness industry for five years. Abbe’s responsibilities at Aotahi include helping local rangatahi find employment in the local area, meeting with employers, and providing pastoral care for rangatahi once they are employed.

Abbe and her husband live in Te Kūiti. Her interests include sports and fitness. She plays league and trains people at the local gym.

Renee Kumeroa – Dip (Business & Management) Dip (Frontline Leadership)
Accounts Administrator

Renee is originally from the Hauraki area and spent 30 years living and working in Australia prior to returning to Aotearoa in 2017. In Australia, Renee worked in a logistics and procurement roles in the mining industry where she was responsible for shutdown planning and facilities management. At Aotahi Renee is responsible for managing budgets, accounts administration and assisting with project management.

Renee lives with her partner in Piopio. They have four children, two of which live in Australia. She is interested in sports, particularly netball and touch rugby.

Shayle Manawaiti
Ngāti Maniapoto
Kaiwhakahaere: Education & Business

Shayle is from Te Kūiti. After working in the hospitality industry in Northland, she returned to the King Country in 2017, where she took up a position at Te Kūiti Kohanga Reo.

At Aotahi, Shayle works with rangatahi and schools through the Smart Waikato SSEP (Secondary Schools Employment Partnership) programme. She assists people into employment under the Ministry of Social Development’s License to Work programme.

Shayle has a great passion for Te Ao Māori, sports, and spending time with her whānau. She is a mother to two young boys.