Sarah Lee - election statement

Sarah Lee

Ko Te Arawa tōku iwi, ko Sarah Lee tāku ingoa, tena koutou! It’s been my privilege to serve the membership as an Internet NZ Councillor for the last 3 years.

Coming from a community development background with a digital literacy focus, the first year on Council was a steep learning curve. There is a lot to absorb for new Councillor’s, however, grasping that knowledge and adding to it along the way has increased my capacity to make meaningful contributions towards realising our vision of a better world through a better internet.

I am eager to apply what I’ve learnt to the next 3 years, providing some continuity and stability at the governance level as we navigate our way through the proposed InternetNZ group restructure.

I’ve worked hard on Council devoting many hours as a member of the Grants Committee and Chair of the Māori Engagement Committee over the past two years. While I am immensely proud of the progress made on both sub-committees, there is important work still to do that I would like to see through to completion.

With the support of staff, the Grants committee have continued to review and improve policies, processes and outreach. Our efforts have been rewarded with a significant increase in the quality and quantity of applications received over the past 12 months. Developing and implementing a grants impact framework is on our current work plan, which is an area I can offer skills and experience to.

I continue to support the Councils strategic goal of increasing our grant’s funding pool to $1m by 2020. This will enable more New Zealander’s to shape the growth of the internet as well as its development and use, which is critical if we are to maintain an open internet for the benefit of all.

I’ve been a key player in the establishment of our Māori Engagement Committee, accepting the position of Chair when it was formalised in December 2015. An internal strategy was developed with the guidance of external Māori tikanga experts. The vision ‘Internet NZ is effectively engaged with the Māori community, collaborating in a spirit of genuine and open engagement’ expresses what we aspire to achieve.

An important first step towards realising this vision was taken when Councillors and staff attended a two-day nation-building training with Takawai Murphy at Hongoeka Marae last year. We held our first Internet NZ Council meeting on a marae (at Hongoeka) the day after the training. Several programmes are in place to support and develop our understanding of Te Ao Māori through a whole-of-organisation approach. The committee are very close to implementing a Māori stakeholder outreach plan. Existing relationships with Māori stakeholders, coupled with my understanding of te reo Māori me ngā tikanga would contribute to a successful outcome in this important phase of our development.

In my day job I work as a marketing and accreditation consultant for the 20/20 Trust. I’ve been employed in a number of roles during my 6 year tenure with the organisation. I currently support the ICDL team with the KiwiSkills programme (digital skills for jobseekers), which includes supporting a Department of Corrections digital literacy pilot for female inmates.

Enabling the disadvantaged, digitally disconnected and often marginalised communities across the country, I am incredibly proud of the grass-roots programmes offered by the 20/20 Trust. Our work is not done until every New Zealand citizen has access to the internet and the digital literacy skills to use it. There is considerable alignment with Internet NZ around enabling access, an area I actively contribute to and am passionate about.

Living in the South Island in rural Marlborough, I have personally experienced accessibility and affordability issues that face rural communities. This has naturally stirred my interest in the RBI initiative and I advocate for rural communities at every opportunity. I am the only person on Council who lives in the South Island and I will actively work on increasing our membership numbers from the South over the next 3 years.

This is a very important and exciting time to be part of Internet NZ as it continues to mature and grow. With the internet now a fundamental part of many New Zealander’s daily life it is vital we continue protecting its potential and promoting its benefits.

I believe the Council are heading in the right direction by reviewing the current group structure. While this structure has served the group well, we need to remain open to more efficient ways of working if we are to stay agile and relevant on the fast-changing internet landscape.

If re-elected I will continue to bring aroha, integrity, passion and commitment to the role. It would be an honour to represent our membership for a second term.

Experience and skills include:

  • Governance experience from a diverse range of Boards (10 years)
  • Cross-Government relationship management
  • Event and project management
  • International ambassador for youth health
  • Mother of two gamers

You can read more about my roles and experience on LinkedIn here.