Two key appointments for Tātaki Auckland Unlimited

Tātaki Auckland Unlimited is announcing two key appointments in its Destination rōpū (unit). 

Michelle Hooper MNZM has been appointed Head of Major Events and Karen Thompson-Smith Head of Tourism. Both were born and raised in Tāmaki Makaurau and bring extensive expertise to their new roles.

Hooper served as Tournament Director of the groundbreaking Rugby World Cup 2021 (played in 2022) – an event celebrated globally for supercharging women’s rugby. She has also orchestrated events and managed teams for renowned entities such as World Rugby, Fifa, America’s Cup, New Zealand Olympic Committee and Team New Zealand. She was recognised for her contribution with a King’s Birthday Honour in 2023, becoming a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to Sport. 

“With Auckland’s reputation for delivering major events at an all-time high, following the Fifa Women’s World Cup 2023, we have a great opportunity for really showcasing our competitive advantage as a people and a region on the world stage,” Hooper says.

Spirit and values of Auckland

“We must continuously deliver events that reflect the spirit and values of Auckland and Aucklanders – a region where tradition and progress harmonise and thrive. Events help inspire our people to achieve on the world stage and grow Auckland’s international reputation and visitation as a world-class destination by demonstrating what great looks like.”

Thompson-Smith has worked in the hospitality and tourism sector for three decades, including with Tourism New Zealand for several years before joining Tātaki Auckland Unlimited (formerly Ateed), where she led the Destination Development team.

Karen Thompson-Smith

Since 2022, Thompson-Smith has worked as the Destination and Sustainability Manager at TAU.

“I’m looking forward to joining the leadership team and revisiting the Destination AKL 2025 strategy, advancing it out to 2035 to provide direction, leadership, and guardianship for our region – not just as the gateway to Aotearoa New Zealand but as a standalone visitor destination,” she says.

“We will work with tourism sector stakeholders and foster strong partnerships which support growth and sustainability of Auckland’s tourism industry.”

TAU’s Destination rōpū spans major events, business events, and the visitor economy. It works with the local businesses and operators, as well as national and international partners to promote Tāmaki Makaurau as a compelling destination.

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