Congratulations to A Better Start board member Sharon Shea, who has been appointed as the first-ever permanent Māori Chair of the Bay of Plenty District Health Board.

“I feel honoured to bring a tangata whenua perspective to the board’s leadership and to support the whole community,” says Sharon. “I believe that being the first Māori Chair is an important signpost for our community in terms of working in partnership to benefit the greater good.

“As a child born at Tauranga Hospital, and then as young woman at Tauranga Girls’, I could not have foreseen this leadership opportunity and am very grateful for the opportunity to give back to our community and contribute to building a better Aotearoa.”

Sharon grew up in Mt Maunganui, before leaving for Auckland University where she gained a Bachelor of Arts – Bachelor of Legislative Law. She then studied Comparative Social Policy at Oxford University, topping her class in achieving a first-class honours degree.

She is an experienced governor and has been Acting Chair of the BOP District Heath Board since March 2020, when Sir Michael Cullen stepped down due to health reasons. She has worked in the health sector for nearly 25 years and has held senior management roles at multiple levels in the health system. She owns and runs several companies as well as sitting on a number of Boards.

She has served on the board of A Better Start E Tipu E Rea National Science Challenge since 2020. A year earlier, she was awarded an MNZM for her services for Māori health and development.

Sharon has strong whānau and whakapapa connections to the Bay of Plenty. Originally from Te Puna, her iwi are Ngāti Ranginui and Ngaiterangi and her hapū is Pirirakau.

She says the Covid-19 response, achieving health equity, and good financial stewardship were high on the Board’s agenda.

“In particular, our Board is dedicated to keeping people in the Bay safe from COVID-19 and improving health equity for those in our community, that need support the most,” she said.

“We are a Board that are serious about being responsible financial stewards of the health system and we are working hard to ensure investment into frontline services is prioritised.”

BOP Māori Health Rūnanga Chairperson Linda Steel congratulated Sharon on her appointment.

“Sharon’s leadership is exemplary of the many skillsets she brings to the table and as a highly-skilled wahine Māori as the figurehead for both the BOPDHB Board and its Te Tiriti o Waitangi partner, Te Rūnanga, we are extremely proud of the Minister’s appointment.”