Awa Associates

Awa are a multi-discipline, multi-ethnic team committed to supporting your business or organisation develop the right systems and tools to better deliver, understand, monitor and improve the social impact of your work. Our team of associates are specialists in social & cultural policy, research and evaluation, communications, workforce development, and infrastructure service support.

Our strengths-based approach means our work is client-led, with a strong focus on producing innovative solutions and meaningful outcomes for your organisation and the people, audiences and communities you engage with. Our associates' strengths lie in their extensive networks and experience in the public, private and philanthropic sectors, and in working and engaging with high priority populations including Māori and Pacific peoples.

Together we can make a difference, contribute to the success of others and enable change for a better future.

Our Mahi

Awa Associates can provide guidance, training or service delivery in our key areas of expertise:

Research & Evaluation

  - Outcome frameworks

  - Planning & reporting

  - Formative, Process & Outcome evaluations

  - Kaupapa Māori research & evaluation

Workforce Development

  - Public Health mentoring

  - Cultural competency packages

  - Professional development planning

  - Infrastructure support

Connecting Communities

  - Community action & engagement

  - Capacity building & empowerment

  - Local leadership enhancement

Social & Cultural Policy

  - Inclusive & transformative

  - Led by client/community

  - Robust & systematic approach

Directors of Awa Associates

Directors of Awa Associates

Awa Associates first Directors hui

Awa Associates first Directors hui

Indigenous Gambling Harm Symposium

Indigenous Gambling Harm Symposium

Working hard!

Working hard!

Building cultural competency

Building cultural competency

Awa connects with stakeholders

Awa connects with stakeholders

Supporting Maori Leadership

Supporting Maori Leadership

Mana Wāhine in Action

Mana Wāhine in Action

Awa presents with NZ Human Rights

Awa presents with NZ Human Rights

Celebrating the PHA Māori Caucus

Celebrating the PHA Māori Caucus


Awa Associates are able, agile and accountable.

This means we operate as a 'plug and play' organisation where we deliver tailored and timely solutions and results. A strong research and evaluation component is attached to all our projects to ensure best practice and monitored outcomes.

Vision: Indigenous peoples are leaders in sustainable social, cultural and environmental practice


Connect, share and grow future Māori Leadership across community aspirations

Stimulate community engagement and influence in systematic conversations for change

Establish a culture of quality and excellence in workforce development and public policy platforms

Mission: Realising indigenous aspirations through innovative and creative solutions



Manaaki Tāngata

Taking a collaborative and responsible approach to our work and in our engagement with whānau and communities. This acknowledges a reciprocal and mutually beneficial approach to learning.



An inter-generational approach to environmental, social, economic and cultural development and sustainability.


Mana Wāhine

The unique power of indigenous women in (re)claiming their rightful whakapapa, whenua, and mana.

Our Approach


Get to Know Our Directors

The word Awa in the Māori language means “River” and for us it conceptualises the strength of relationships and connectedness with family, community, the land and the environment. In the same way that streams come together to form rivers, and rivers in turn flow to the sea, Awa is about bringing together knowledge, skills and expertise while harnessing the power of people and momentum to solve complex social and systematic issues.

Suaree Borell Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Maniapoto, Samoan

With eight years’ experience in designing and conducting research and evaluation programmes in the wider public service areas of health and education, Suaree brings a wealth of knowledge and understanding to Awa Associates. Suaree's extensive qualifications include a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sociology, Honours in Sociology, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Political Science. Having recently led the development of a set of targeted Public Health Competencies for the gambling harm minimisation sector while managing a national workforce development service, Suaree is skilled in innovative delivery of competency assessment and training modules. She continues to support Māori health outcomes in her range of projects related to health, education and corrections.

Papatuanuku Nahi Ngāpuhi nui tonu


Papa brings fifteen years of relevant experience to the Awa team. She has expertise in health service contract management, developing engaging communication approaches, writing, policy development and community action. Papa is particularly passionate about indigenous innovation and exploring what lies on the horizon. Papa holds a Masters degree in Health Science with First Class Honours and is a regular presenter to the United Nations indigenous and health committees in Geneva and New York.  Her current board work includes positions on the Medical Council Professional Conduct Committee and the Planetary Wellbeing Coalition. Papa joins Awa for the chance to work with thought leaders excited about shaping the future of Māori development.

Layla Lyndon-Tonga Ngāti Porou, Nuiean, Ngāti Hine

Layla’s skills, knowledge and experience coupled with leadership capabilities make her an excellent communicator between funder, stakeholder, contractors, and client interfaces. Her local and National governance experience over a period of years demonstrates a level of dedication and commitment to systems processing. She has been responsible for the provision of expert opinion, guidance, mentoring and professional supervision in a number of health settings. Layla has post-graduate qualifications in Health Science, majoring in Mental Health & Addictions with an undergraduate in Māori Health, her recent experience in research and evaluation particularly among Māori NGO’s offers depth to her public health knowledge base.

Hector Kaiwai Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Maniapoto

Hector has a Masters in Māori Studies with First Class Honours and has worked professionally for the last 15 years in policy, workforce development, and as a kaupapa Māori researcher and evaluator.  Hector’s portfolio is varied and diverse having worked in areas such as interpersonal violence, resilience, whānau ora, hip hop dance and music, positive youth development, physical activity and nutrition, social marketing, sexual health, literacy, tobacco, the media, alcohol, gambling, mentoring and fire safety. Hector has guest lectured and tutored for a number of years in ethnomusicology at the University of Auckland.  He has also guest lectured in research and evaluation at Massey University and was part of a team that delivered public health and evaluation training throughout the country.

Karly Brett Ngāi Tahu, Scottish, Spanish

Karly brings valuable knowledge of capacity-building to the team, her time working in the problem gambling sector across voluntary, public health and infrastructure roles has built a solid foundation for introducing innovative ways for knowledge translation and information dissemination to a broad range of audiences. Karly is passionate about Māori Public Health - particularly around healthy public policy and whānau empowerment. Having completed a Bachelor of Health Science majoring in Health Promotion, Karly brings a unique community development and resiliency-building lens to our projects. Her eye for design and application of social marketing concepts results in attractive and user-friendly resources for our clients.


Connect with Awa

If you wish to book a time with Awa Associates to discuss innovative workforce development, healthy public policy or quality research and evaluation, or are seeking an experienced and credible force to help advance your community aspirations - connect with Awa today.

Kia ora! Thanks for your message - we will be in touch soon.



Phone: 09 418 1800 




4E/4 Saint Paul Street

Auckand Central, 1010