Top role for our Shelley

A Te Awamutu-born leader is about to take the helm of one of New Zealand’s largest non-government organisations (NGO).

Shelley Campbell, 55, who affiliates to Ngāti Hine and Ngāpuhi, is one of Waipā’s top achievers. Her upcoming role with the Wise Group will be her fourth chief executive position.

Shelley Campbell starts her new role of chief executive at the Wise Group next month. Photo: supplied

Previously she was chief executive of Waikato Primary Health and the Sir Peter Blake Trust, and she is the current chief executive of the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Cancer Society.

During her time working at the Sir Peter Blake Trust, Campbell lived on Waiheke Island, away from her hometown.

“Sometimes you go into places like Auckland, and you do feel like a bit of an outsider, but you just have to quickly get really comfortable with who you are and the value that you add,” she said.

“One of the things that I have come to realise, is it is not about where you’re from or what school you went to … as long as you are comfortable with who you are.”

She takes up her new role with the Wise Group next month.



Campbell, who began her career as a social worker, says she never aspired to become a chief executive, but her passion for the health sector and its leadership opportunities led her to take up various executive positions.

“I do really care about health; I feel like we can’t sit back and complain about our health services if we are not prepared to get in and do our bit to try and improve them,” she said.

“What I do is just encourage ordinary people to be the best version of them, and to contribute what they can. We need all of us to use our leadership potential in order for this country to succeed, particularly in the health services.”

Her passion for people, the health sector, and the growing of leaders are reflected by the Wise Group. It is an NGO made up of a number of companies dedicated to social welfare, mental health, and the developing of opportunities.

She is to replace the joint chief executives Jacqui Graham and Julie Nelson.

“It is not like it is an organisation that needs to be fixed. It is already an amazing organisation,” said Campbell.

New Zealand has 20 district health boards, but on July 1, these will become Health NZ, a single health body, which aims to simplify the delivery of health services. At the same time a new Ministry for Disabled People will take effect.

Campbell, who worked on the health reform designs as part of a national panel, is looking forward to seeing Wise Group through its transition.

“The challenge really is, how do you work through the people and leaders, to transition it through these new health reforms to be in a better place?

“I love working with people, the building of teams, the building of leadership in people, I am really keen to be part of a larger organisation and looking at how we do that.”

Campbell has held a number of regional and national leadership roles and currently chairs Te Āho o te Kahu Co and co-chairs the National Māori Bowel Cancer Panel.

Her efforts have been recognised through numerous accolades, including being named an Honorary Captain of the New Zealand Navy in 2015, and received a New Zealand Order of Merit award in 2016 for her contributions to the health and disability sector.

“I just kind of love what I do, and I feel grateful to have found something in my life that I want to get up for every day. It makes a difference,” she said.

Campbell, who has four children and four mokopuna, returned home to Te Awamutu in 2017 when she started her role at the Cancer Society.

“Now I am back and am so happy to be living here. I love walking down the street and seeing people who I went to school with, or played netball with, or people who our kids did things together. It is a great community.”


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