The Panel - Te Ranga

The 12-member Panel is an independent advisory group appointed by the Government.

The members come from many walks of life, different ethnicities and regions. Collectively they bring knowledge and experience in community engagement, local and central government, media, education, politics and Māori society.

Their role is to listen, record and consider people's views on a range of constitutional issues.

Emeritus Professor John Burrows QC (Co-chair)

“We often reconsider and change specific laws, but this constitutional review provides an opportunity to review the most basic and fundamental law of them all.”

Professor Burrows, who has just completed a term as a Law Commissioner, has led or jointly led several Law Commission reviews including the Presentation of New Zealand Statute Law, Privacy, the Official Information Act 1982 and Tribunals in New Zealand. He has extensive legal experience and is the author of the leading text Statute Law in New Zealand.

A law lecturer for many years, Professor Burrows is a well-known commentator on New Zealand’s legal system. He enjoys presenting legal topics to both lawyers and the general public.

Sir Tipene O’Regan (Co-chair) (Ngāi Tahu)

“Our constitution is a kākahu (cloak) that shapes the way we run our country. I want New Zealanders to think about whether our current constitution will meet the needs of the very different world our great-grandchildren will inherit.”

Perhaps best known for leading the negotiations for two of the largest Treaty settlements (Māori Fisheries and Ngāi Tahu), Sir Tipene O’Regan also has extensive governance and commercial experience. He was deputy chairperson of Transit NZ, a director of TVNZ, chairperson of Sealord and has served on boards in England, Norway and Australia.

He holds two honorary doctorates in commerce and one in literature. He was the assistant Vice-Chancellor at the University of Canterbury and is currently chairperson of New Zealand’s Indigenous Centre of Research Excellence. With an insatiable appetite for knowledge and strategic development, Sir Tipene is a sought-after public speaker.

Sir Tipene brings more than 40 years of governance to the co-chair’s role and visionary leadership.

Peter Chin

“New Zealanders views will form the basis of a report which I hope will inspire the Government to make decisions that shape and guide our country to be what we want for generations to come.”

Peter Chin is a first generation, New Zealand-born Chinese and lived all his life in Dunedin. He served as a city councillor for 15 years including six years as mayor. Mr Chin practised law for more than 45 years and has been actively involved in the community including the performing arts; education, community welfare, Rotary and the Chinese community. He formerly chaired the Gambling Commission, and currently serves as a trustee of Asia New Zealand Foundation and the Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust.

Mr Chin’s New Zealand heritage and work with the Chinese community introduces an understanding of the cultural diversity of New Zealand to the Panel.

Deborah Coddington

“Our role is to connect with people and not be afraid to ask basic questions. The review is important and exciting – giving New Zealanders the opportunity to see that we do have a constitution; it’s interesting not scary and importantly, it reflects on our everyday lives.”

Deborah Coddington who is based in the Wairarapa has a long-established journalism career, including feature writing for North & South and Metro magazines. Education and child abuse are issues that capture her attention as well as finance and business. As a journalist Ms Coddington is a generalist with a broad knowledge of New Zealanders. She gained political experience serving as a list MP, learning the mechanics of government and representing individuals’ needs and concerns.

Understanding how to connect with a reader in plain language, enables Ms Coddington to bring to the Panel an ability to engage everyday New Zealanders in the constitutional review.

Hon Sir Michael Cullen

“The work of the Panel contributes to the level of debate about our constitution – the rules under which our government operates – and what type of changes to the system people would like to see.”

Sir Michael is currently the chair of New Zealand Post and principal Treaty Claims negotiator for Ngāti Tūwharetoa. As a long-serving member of Parliament, including Deputy Prime Minister, Attorney-General, Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Minister of Finance and Leader of the House – Sir Michael has an intimate knowledge of how the machinery of government operates.

His extensive experience as a politician brings practical knowledge of constitutional matters to the Panel’s work.

Hon John Luxton

“New Zealand has led the way in asking people to have their say about the nation’s governance. What sort of country do we want to have in 2050?”

Mr Luxton, a former Minister and electorate MP, is currently a farmer, company director and consultant. He has expertise in government, governance, Crown-Māori relations and community connections. Mr Luxton has experience in co-management, as co-chair of the Waikato River Authority and representing farming, as chairman of DairyNZ, and other interests alongside Māori interests.

With a practical and pragmatic background in business and government, Mr Luxton sees a need to ensure New Zealand has a shared vision for the future with democratic principles at the heart of that vision.

Bernice Mene

“The Panel is wide-reaching and engages with all communities – encouraging various views and voices. It should activate people to think about New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements; or cause them to further educate themselves on how the nation works, its structure and what it will look like in the future.”

Bernice Mene is a qualified secondary school teacher and represented New Zealand at an OECD education forum as a guardian for the Secondary Futures Education project. Other work encompasses career counselling for tertiary students and elite athletes, project management for sporting organisations. Ms Mene received a MNZM for services to netball, having played ten years for the Silver Ferns and working within the media, public speaking, and television presenting as well as governance work for community groups.

Ms Mene’s passion and work centre on young people, education and health, and her strong public profile connects her with many different communities.

Dr Leonie Pihama (Te Ātiawa, Ngā Māhanga a Tairi, Ngāti Māhanga)

“The constitutional review is an opportunity to create a nation that is healthier for all and clarify the relationship between tangata whenua and te tangata tiriti – affirming their place in our future.”

Dr Leonie Pihama is a mother of six and a grandmother of one. Her work focuses on the community as well as researching Māori and indigenous education with an emphasis on Kaupapa Māori. Dr Pihama is a director of Māori and Indigenous Analysis Ltd and a research fellow at the University of Waikato. She has lectured in policy analysis, Māori women’s issues and was director of the International Research Institute for Māori and Indigenous Education, University of Auckland. She served on Māori Television’s establishment board and worked in film and media production.

Dr Pihama’s expertise connects her with a wide-range of communities and iwi, which enables her to relate to people throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.

Hinurewa Poutu (Ngāti Rangi, Te Āti Haunui a Pāpārangi, Ngāti Maniapoto)

“The constitutional review is a small part of the bigger picture. It is a good stepping stone to not only review our constitution but to consider what our aspirations are for Aotearoa New Zealand.”

Hinurewa Poutū is a doctoral student at Massey University and a teacher at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Mana Tamariki. She is a graduate of kura kaupapa Māori, with an academic and work record in studying, researching and teaching te reo Māori. She taught media studies in Maori while working as a presenter and Māori language consultant on various television projects. The content focused on children, youth, sport and cultural diversity.

As the youngest member Ms Poutū adds a youthful, vibrant and bicultural perspective to the Panel, which is keen to engage rangatahi in the conversation.

Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith (Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Porou)

“We are all busy grinding through the everyday and it’s a privilege for us to be asked to participate in a conversation about the constitution, which is about the bigger picture – a colourful patchwork quilt of ideas.”

Linda Tuhiwai Smith is professor of Education and Māori Development and Pro-Vice Chancellor Māori at the University of Waikato. Her academic work focusses on education and health, as well as kaupapa Māori research. Professor Smith has published widely in journals and books, including writing Decolonising Methodologies Research and Indigenous Peoples.

She was a joint director of Ngā Pae o Te Maramatanga, New Zealand’s Māori Centre of Research Excellence and a Professor of Education at the University of Auckland.

Professor Smith’s confidence in the power of young people and their aspirations, and her negotiating experience will engage communities and help them see the benefits of participation.

Peter Tennent

“What’s important to us about being New Zealanders, how do we want to see the nation in 50 years and beyond, and what do we need to do to ensure that happens? That’s what this process is all about.”

Peter Tennent is a former mayor of New Plymouth and encourages community involvement and public engagement. He was nominated for World Mayor in 2010 and judged to be in the top ten world community leaders. Mr Tennent was pivotal in rejuvenating New Plymouth economically, socially, environmentally and culturally – negotiating with all parties to find a pathway forward from significant historical issues. He trained as an accountant at Massey University and spent much of his life as an hotelier and in public roles.

Mr Tennent’s leadership, drive and enthusiasm for New Zealand add positive energy to the Panel.

Dr Ranginui Walker (Te Whakatōhea)

“The constitutional review is an opportunity for people to improve rules for the exercise of public power to benefit future generations of our grandchildren.”

Dr Ranginui Walker was a member of the New Zealand Māori Council and the World Council of Indigenous People. He and has written six books, including the best-selling Ka Whawhai Tonu Ake: Struggle Without End. He was professor of Maōri Studies at the University of Auckland and retired as Pro Vice-Chancellor (Māori) in 1997. He has extensive experience as an auditor of tertiary educational organisations for the New Zealand Universities Academic Audit Unit and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and is currently a member of the Waitangi Tribunal. Dr Walker was awarded the DCNZM in 2000 and received the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in non-fiction in 2009.

Dr Walker brings to the Panel considerable experience of working with people at all levels of society as well as a deep knowledge of New Zealand and Māori history.


The Panel is supported by a secretariat based in the Ministry of Justice.