Pera Barrett – Ko wai au? Who am I?

Tūwhitia te hopo, mairangatia te angitū

Feel the fear, and do it anyway

Tēnā koe. Here I am in bullet point form because your time is as important as mine. If you want to know more about something in particular, just reach out.

Nō Ngāti Raukawa Ki Te Tonga, Te Ātiawa Ki Whakarongotai, Ngāti Toa Rangatira. These are the tribes I descend from and contribute to the future of.

Nō Otaki au, iaianei, e noho ana au ki Tawa. I’m from Otaki, but live now in Tawa, Wellington.

Ko Pera Barrett ahau. I'm Pera Barrett.

I have a wife and two tamariki aged 9 and 6, and will always put whānau first.

I founded and look after Shoebox Christmas Aotearoa.

I founded and host a podcast called Paperback Guerrillas – though I haven’t recorded an episode in a while. I do have another podcast I’m working on at the moment.

I deliver Te Tiriti and Equity training, in particular for the Health and Technology industry.

I work for Te Wānanga o Raukawa developing new pathways to contribute to Māori in tech.

I founded and look after a community platform called Koha Tree

I founded and look after a community platform called Koha Tree

I work 2 days a week as a Digital Equity Lead for Te Whatu Ora (Health New Zealand).

I was a Digital Product Owner for BNZ and am still that for Shoebox Christmas as we transform the platform it sits on, and build out its rangatahi leadership element.

I’m a proud member of the New Zealander of The Year alumni.

I’m an even more proud finalist in the 2023 and 2024 Hapori Matihiko Māori Tech awards.

I’m a director of Kapiti Island Nature Tours and Kapiti Island Honey.

Every now and then I write stories.

I’m studying whakairo (carving) at Te Wānanga o Raukawa as another form of story telling.

I publish thoughts for my children I think worth sharing here.

Every now and then I rap under the stage name Percieve (spelt incorrectly intentionally).

My 9-5 mahi at the moment

I believe in being open to doing the best work I can, for the biggest impact in areas I'm passionate about. 

The intersection of my passions, strengths, and effectiveness sits between strategy, people leadership, and digital product leadership/delivery. Technology and Māori focused outcomes are where I can deliver unique value. Before my work as a digital and tech leader, my roles were focused on strategic-level leadership. I bring a considerable unique and diverse mix of experience, networks, and exceptional leadership skills to any role I step into.

Right now, I have a few different roles – you can read more about them above.

Shoebox Christmas

Shoebox Christmas connects members of the community with tamariki through low decile schools and community groups and providers such as Women’s Refuge centres across Aotearoa. These community members prepare and deliver a shoebox-sized Christmas present to the child they’ve been matched with via the school or community service. I founded the Wellington kaupapa in 2014 and have since scaled and expanded using Design Thinking, Human Centred Design, Lean principles, and Agile delivery frameworks (between work and whānau). Last year Shoebox Christmas delivered 15,800 christmas smiles to tamariki across Aotearoa, so they know the community has their back.

This year we’re coaching and mentoring a group of incredible rangatahi (young people) to lead their own projects, locally. We’ll equip them with transferrable pukenga or skills to carry with them out in the world, and enable Shoebox Christmas to grow and make a difference in more little lives at the same time.

Stationery Starter Packs

I also run the Stationery Starter Packs project which creates and delivers college or intermediate starter packs to kids beginning college that could do with a hand. The bags are filled with the stationery they need for their first year at ‘big kids school’. This project came about after a young girl used her wishlist for Shoebox Christmas to request stationery because she knew her whānau couldn’t afford her stationery for college the next year.

You can sign up to help via the Shoebox Christmas page above.

My podcast

I founded and host a podcast called Paperback Guerrillas. The point of this exercise is sharing the stories of Māori and Pasifika women and men who are thriving in their lives, so others can hear how they go to that point, and where possible, replicate their strategies to succeed in life (success being living a life they love).

Digital Product Owner mahi

I work with super-cool and super-smart development teams and use Design Thinking to figure out the right problem to solve. I use Lean principles to figure out the right thing to build, and agile frameworks to help them figure out the right way to build it, then lead them in that build through to delivery. I enjoy all stages of the software delivery lifecycle from problem definition and learning from users, to customer communications strategy, and analysis after delivery to learn, adjust, and improve.

Before this, my roles were mostly strategic leadership-based. Read my CV if you want to know more.

My books

When I have time, I write stories. I do this because I enjoy the process, and because it’s a useful way to make people think about issues I believe worthwhile considering.

I self-published The Man Who Writes the Dreams – Pera Barrett. It’s a story about the power of following your dreams. I wrote it for my daughter and then published it to show her she can be whatever she wants to be. If she wants to write a book, she can too. If she wants to paint pictures, she can. You can read more or buy a copy here.

I also write short stories, The Cleaners was published in Landfall in 2019. This is part of a collection I’m writing to provoke reconsideration of stereotypes and bias.You can read The Cleaners for free here.

Other writing

I publish thoughts I think worth sharing here on my website and have a monthly section in the Otaki Today.

Here are some of my most recent pieces.

You can find more of my writing on this website, that was kind of the point in building it.

Hip hop, rapping, and music

When I was younger and cooler, I made hip hop to express myself, protect my mental health, and use my voice and pūkenga (skills) for something I enjoyed. Lately, I’ve been enjoying other ways to fulfil those three objectives, so haven’t been making much music. You can hear what I have made here.

If you’re interested, here’s the music I listen to working out. The music I work to. The music I listen to when carving or making things (also the music I listen to when my children are with me).

New Zealander of the Year alumni

I’m privileged to be part of this rōpu (group) of amazing leaders, focusing their amazing skills towards making the world better. We’re in the early stages of forming and working out how we best moved forward with the most impact. Miriama Kamo is our patron and I’m excited to work alongside the likes of Stephen Tindell, Sir Ian Taylor, Dame Margaret Sparrow, Dr. Anne Salmond, Kendall Flutey and others to launch this waka.

Speaking at events

Every now and then I speak at events, conferences and other situations where my story or a part of it might add value. Click below to read more about things to consider if you’re interested in having me along to an event.

Where does the name Pera come from?

Pera is short for Aperahama Rangihiroa John Barrett. Among others, I’m named after my great, great, great, great grandfather Te Rangihiroa, a rangatira who fought alongside Te Rauparaha. I’m from the tribal confederate of Ngāti Raukawa, Te Ati Awa and Ngāti Toa Rangatira. I grew up in Otaki and am living in Tawa, Wellington with my wife and two beautiful kids.

Why did I make this website?

I initially made this page to house the thoughts I want to pass on to Huhana and Kāhu, and the things I think are worth holding on to after I’ve shared them.

If you want to know anything else just drop me an email on the contact form, or check out the articles/interviews below.

Stuff article 2019

“I was lucky enough to split my holidays between Ōtaki and Kāpiti Island. My great-great grandfather, Wi Parata, owned land there and 20 years ago my father set up Kāpiti Island Nature Tours, which I’m a director of. Our job as guardians of this beautiful island is to share it in a sustainable and respectful way.”

Interview – being a tech problem solver

“Take people with a need. Find people with an ability. Put them together. Solve a problem.”

Māori economic development strategy work

As Wellington Region, New Zealand and the World continues to adapt to this new post COVID19 environment, this strategy provides a platform able to incorporate new paradigms, challenges and opportunities that have emerged during this un-precedented time in our history.

NZ Herald article 2018

“I feel like I have to live twice as good because someone else lost that opportunity,” he says. “It gave me an appreciation and gratitude for still being here; it helped me develop urgency and to realise we are here for a finite time and if I am to help others I should do so now.”

Stuff article – Stationery Starter Packs

“I met a little girl who said she wanted stationery for Christmas because she knows her family is under pressure and is going to struggle when she goes to intermediate. There was a 9-year-old girl who was worrying about something she shouldn’t have.”