NZPopCon speakers 29-30 August

Close-up of microphone from speaker's perspective with audience blurred in the background.

Details on the 2023 NZPopCon keynote speakers and special panellists are below. Click here for the full programme and here for the presentation archive. 


Ganesh Nana is the current Chair of the Productivity Commission Te Kōmihana Whai Hua o Aotearoa. He was appointed to this role in December 2020 following 22 years as a Senior Economist at the consultancy Business and Economics Research Limited (BERL). Ganesh believes economics is fundamentally about people and their communities, and is best reflected in our collective role as kaitiaki o taonga. Born, bred, and educated in Te Whanganui a Tara, his interest in economics originally emanated from his love of numbers, which in turn arose out of his passion for cricket. 

Associate Professor Sarah-Jane Paine (Ngāi Tūhoe) is Growing Up in New Zealand’s Research Director.  She is an experienced Kaupapa Māori epidemiologist and has been involved in an extensive range of projects investigating ethnic inequities in health and the determinants of health across the life-course. Sarah-Jane is a Senior Lecturer at Te Kupenga Hauora Māori, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, teaching Māori Health and Kaupapa Māori research methods.

Associate Professor Collin Tukuitonga is the inaugural Associate Dean (Pacific) and Associate Professor of Public Health at the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences in the University of Auckland. He was the Director-General of the Pacific Community based in New Caledonia for seven years until December 2019.   He has previously led the NZ Ministry of Pacific Affairs and worked with the World Health Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland.  He is a Niuean New Zealander and strong advocate for improving health and wellbeing of Pacific people in the region.

Associate Professor Celia McMichael is based in the School of Geography, Earth and Atmospheric Science at The University of Melbourne. She is a human geographer with a background in medical anthropology and international health and development. Her current research focuses on environmental and climatic change and human migration, including migration and planned relocation in the Pacific Islands. Celia is a contributor to the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change. She has worked and collaborated with the World Health Organization, International Organization for Migration, UNFPA and other international agencies, and currently works closely with Pacific co-researchers.

special panelists on Indigenous Data Sovereignty


Ms Kirikowhai Mikaere (Te Arawa – Tūhourangi, Ngāti Whakaue) is a leading Māori data and information specialist focused on harnessing information to empower indigenous community development. She is a consultant with over 20 years’ experience advising Ministers, government agencies, tribal, community and private sector organisations with practical statistical analysis and innovative place based data solutions. Ms Mikaere is currently the lead technical advisor to the Aotearoa New Zealand National Iwi (Tribal) Chairs Forum – Data Leadership Group, leads the independent trust Te Kāhui Raraunga and holds governance positions across the private sector and government, including with her tribe (Chair – Tūhourangi Tribal Authority, Trustee – Te Pumautanga o Te Arawa), Māori Health provider Manaaki Ora Trust (Deputy Chair),  the New Zealand 2023 Census Programme Board, and is a Ministerial appointed member of the New Zealand Science Board.

Donna Cormack Photo_sq

Associate Professor Donna Cormack (Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe) is a researcher and teacher at Te Kupenga Hauora Māori at the University of Auckland. Donna’s research focuses on racism and its impacts on health, issues of Māori data sovereignty, data justice and data harms, and transformative and anti-colonial approaches to research and teaching in Māori health.


Dr Sam Manuela is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Auckland. Sam primarily has an interest in measuring ethnic identity derived from Pacific knowledge, and how this can inform and combine with traditional psychology methods. He is a committee member of the Pacific Data Sovereignty Network. 

After-dinner speaker


Perlina Lau currently presents RNZ World Watch, and stars in the hit TVNZ comedy Creamerie, now in its second season. Perlina began her screen career with the web series Flat3 in 2013, going on to co-star in follow-up Friday Night Bites, which was nominated for two New Zealand Television Awards. She has worked for BBC News, for Paul Henry’s morning show, and TV3’s Story.