After almost six years Pat Snedden has stepped down as the Chair of A Better Start E Tipu e Rea National Science Challenge. Pat’s influence on the Challenge and it’s direction has been enormous and we are hugely thankful to him for this. Pat’s commitments have grown considerably and now include Board Chair of Auckland District Health Board. The recent Covid-19 pandemic has added considerably to this workload.

Almost six years ago Jane Harding and Professor Wayne Cutfield approached Pat Snedden to consider becoming the Board Chair of a completely new initiative; A Better Start E Tipu E Rea National Science Challenge. They approached him because of his celebrated leadership skills in District Health Board leadership and Treaty negotiation. After careful consideration Pat only accepted the role if the Challenge was serious about addressing equity and properly engaging with Māori and Pasifika. This was indeed the direction the Challenge leadership team wished to take and Pat accepted the Board Chair role. One of Pat’s first tasks was to assemble a Board in which he wanted to ensure had strong Māori and Pasifika representation. He achieved that with a strong, experienced and committed Board.

Pat has been with the Challenge for virtually the entire Challenge journey to date. He was a critical player in our first formal Challenge application and interview with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and again through the midway application and interview process. His respect as a Challenge Chair who understood and was committed to Vision Mātauranga was recognised by MBIE and other Challenge Board Chairs. Pat was seen as a leader amongst Board chairs in this space.

“It has been a real privilege and pleasure to work with Pat and I know my fellow deputy directors Barry Taylor and Gail Gillon echo these sentiments,” says ABS Director, Professor Wayne Cutfield. “There are many things we have learnt and admired about Pat. He gives his absolute all to activities he commits to like A Better Start.

“He is a man of action and makes things happen. He sorts issues out in a flash, often by phone, then and there or if he needs to, will travel and discuss issues face-to-face at short notice. He is passionate about what he believes in across all of the roles he takes on. His passion and drive is to improve the health, well-being and success of Māori, Pasifika and those less advantaged in our communities. He has held the Challenge accountable to that view which is embodied in the key priorities of our research. He genuinely cares about the communities we live in and the teams he works with. He has an infectiously positive personality, which keeps our team fizzing. He is very inclusive, which is seen in transparent and considered Board decision making.”

Pat will be sorely missed. He has helped to set the Challenge on a successful path. We all wish him every success in the activities that he continues to pursue.

Mā te huruhuru, ka rere te manu – Adorn the bird with feathers so it can fly.