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Amplifying Pacific voices on the Digital Council of Aotearoa New Zealand

Amplifying Pacific voices on the Digital Council of Aotearoa New Zealand

  • 20 Dec 2021
Julia HiRes20212

Julia Arnott-Neenee has been selected as a member of the Digital Council of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Being selected as the only Pacific representative for the Digital Council of Aotearoa New Zealand is the highlight of 28-year-old Julia Arnott-Neenee’s already remarkable career, and a role she will not take lightly.

“My role is to advise the Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications and Minister of Statistics Hon David Clark and Government on the digital strategy alongside six other Council Members,” Julia explains.

Of Samoan, Chinese and British descent, Julia is an advocate for the wealth of skills and values Pacific people bring to the workplace and is certain New Zealand’s technology sector would benefit from better diversification, something she will emphasise to the Digital Council. 

The Digital Council, set up by Minister Clark, explores maximising societal benefits from digital and data-driven technologies and utilising digital transformation to increase equality and inclusivity, wellbeing and community resilience.

“This is undoubtedly my biggest career achievement to date… as a representative of the Pacific community my role will be a critical bridge between community and the Government and I hope to do my best to amplify our voices at the table,” Julia says.

“I really never thought I would get selected, never in a million years - I had so much imposter syndrome about it, though with a push of friends and the Digital Council, I am glad I put my name forward.”

Having served as one of the Toloa Programme panel advisors for the scholarship scheme, Julia’s application to the Digital Council was endorsed by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples’ Pacific Capability Senior Advisor Ruta Lealamanua - something she is grateful for, she adds.

Aside from her role on the Digital Council, Julia wears several different hats, with her focus on increasing Digital Equity in Aotearoa, specifically for Māori and Pacific peoples.

The Auckland-based Julia says this focus evolved after working in the Technology sector across the globe, which included a stint as HP’s Global Social Strategy Lead in 2019, having previously landed a role as a Strategic Planner in the London office in 2017, aged 24. 

Julia is also a Co-Founder and Director of a social enterprise PeopleForPeople, a Trustee of Hi-Tech Trust, Board Member at Middlemore Foundation, Advisor to Start-Ups, Scout for a VC firm, Global Council Member to World Economic Forum AI and Humanity and will be stepping into a new full time role next year in the not-for-profit space.

The high achiever has many aims she wants to accomplish during her time at the Council, but ultimately, she hopes to champion positive change towards a more equitable future for Aotearoa New Zealand as a whole.

“I hope to bring new energy and fresh thinking to the group and make my community, my aiga and myself proud in taking up this opportunity.”

For Julia, her time on the Digital Council is an opportunity to stand up and be counted.

“A mantra I hold close is, ‘you cannot be found if you don’t put your flame up’.

“If we don’t put ourselves forward for these opportunities, if we don’t step into our brilliance, our potential, our power - no one else will do it for us.

“We must choose ourselves first in order for others to be able to choose us too.”