MEET THE TEAM



Naomi Hughes – Grad. Dip. Econ., BMS, MMS
Ngāti Maniapoto
Managing Director - Small Business Development

Naomi is a founding director of Aotahi and a Managing Director at Aotahi. In addition to her general management role, Naomi leads all projects the company carries out in the area of small business start-up and education. She is also the editor for the programmes and resources produced by the company.

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.

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 people 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
Managing Director - Employment and Community

Erin is a Managing Director of Aotahi. She is responsible for leading the mahi the company carries out in the areas of employment placement, rangatahi pathways, and community development. Erin also takes the lead role in managing the delivery of programmes, and building and forming relationships with external stakeholders.

Originally from 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 Ngākau, Mahlee-Jaye, and Hahana.

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

Ariana Te Huia has been working for Aotahi Limited since 2006. 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' aide) for the Te Ara Reo programme, then held a student administration position for two years before joining Aotahi Limited.

Ariana is from Te Kūiti, but now lives in Papamoa with her fiancé. She has an adult son.

Dr Lee Churchman – MA, PhD
Team Lead - Resource Development

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 the development of programme resources.

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 over 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.

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 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 also works as part of the team that carries out employment placement work for the company.

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

Aroha Bidois
Ngāti Maniapoto
Kaiwhakahaere: Business & Employment

Aroha was born and raised in Piopio. She has a background in banking, administration, and real estate and is passionate about helping people grow financially. 

Aroha's main role at Aotahi involves assisting people into self-employment through various contracts the company holds. However, she is also involved in community and iwi development projects.  

Aroha lives with her partner Chris, a keen dog trialist, who manages Piopio Station. They have two young adult children, Creston and Sidney. Outside of work, Aroha dedicates her time to her whānau and community, holding the position of Treasurer for both the King Country Charity Dog Trial as well as Mōkau Kohunui Marae.

Dr Blair Nicholson - MA , PhD
Kaituhi: Writer

After growing up in Rotorua, Blair moved to Hamilton for his final year of high school and for tertiary studies at the University of Waikato. His qualifications include a Master of Arts with First Class Honours in History and a PhD in Literary and Cultural History. While studying, he worked as a research assistant and sessional assistant/tutor, during which he gained an appreciation for well-designed and well-written course material, and learned to deal with the alternative.

In his spare time, Blair pursues his interests in reading history and science fiction, gaming, writing history, and trying to force his hobbies on friends.

His role at Aotahi involves developing resources and writing content for the education programmes Aotahi is contracted to produce.