Marianne Elliot


"I used to be a lawyer. I used to wear a wig called ‘Ringo’ and appear before the High Court of New Zealand. I loved that wig because it made me look older. For a 22 year old working on $500 million cases, looking older was a good thing. Watching relationships and lives fall apart over money taught me not to covet it. Accounting for my time in 6 minute increments taught me efficiency and professional accountability.

For many years I worked in human rights. I was responsible for developing a long-term strategy for human rights in New Zealand. I learned that people use stories to explain what human rights mean to them, and that politicians need stories to understand why human rights matter.

I also worked with the Government of Timor-Leste on the development of their own human rights strategy. In Timor-Leste I discovered the importance of listening and the value of a beginner’s mind: the ability to bring fresh eyes and curiosity to every situation and story.

I worked for two years with a human rights organisation in the Gaza Strip, learning everything I know about resilience from my Palestinian colleagues, and how humour can bring light to even the darkest story.

Later, in Afghanistan I headed up a new provincial office for the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan, where I co-wrote a UNIFEM report on Gender-Based Violence in Afghanistan. I learned the difference between striving for change and being of service. These days, I aim to be of service.

I’ve helped small NGOs overhaul their management and governance structures to make better use of their most valuable resource, their people. I’ve helped large development organizations streamline overloaded work plans and focus on those things they did better than anyone else. I’ve facilitated strategic planning processes for organizations and individuals, co-managed the merger of two crown entities and designed and managed national consultation processes."

Learn more about Marianne: MARIANNE ELLIOTT