I am a Māori (Ngāi Tahu, Waitaha, Kati Mamoe) and Pakeha woman from Aotearoa, Zealand. I first moved to Australia in 2011 to study my Masters in Archaeological Science at the Australian National University. I stuck around to complete my PhD there, and I moved to Western Australia to become the Regional Manager for Shooting Stars. Now, I live in Gundungurra and Darug country in the beautiful Blue Mountains of NSW, with my partner Joe, a primary school teacher, our nearly-two-year old son, our dog, and four chooks.
I work for Shooting Stars, a not-for-profit, education program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls based in remote and regional communities in Western Australia. We empower Aboriginal girls and young women to achieve their dreams, while promoting their health and wellbeing.
I love working for Shooting Stars because I love my work, I love the organisation, and our team. Shooting Stars staff are all kick ass women, with integrity, and heart. Most of our team are Aboriginal (85%), and two other women are of Pasifika descent like me.
Why did you join Verve?
A Verve ad popped up in my newsfeed, and it was a no-brainer after a bit of research and a conversation with the lovely Alison. I don’t usually talk about my finances, (‘investment’ is a dusty word on my vocabulary shelf), but I’ve been telling everyone about Verve! I was excited to join. I had thought about divesting in the past because I wanted a super that invests in ethical companies and does good things for the planet. Verve is doing those things, and more, because it’s harnessing our collective power, as women, to invest in the future we want. Collective power of women? Say no more, I’m in.
How I define a wealthy life:
For me, a wealthy life is a healthy life of balance, of connection to people and place, of feeling strong in my body and flexible in my mind… with plenty of dancing, music, stories, laughter, and the ability to create something good for others.
I also believe there’s nothing stronger in this world than an educated woman with love in her heart.
Education gives us choices. Of course, education has been used as a tool for colonisation and assimilation in Australia and New Zealand, but that has begun to change. Education is becoming a means for Indigenous sovereignty and reconciliation on all sides. Education is power, but the love part is essential. Love, heart, aroha—these words describe a core value of mine, and I get to work for an organisation who values love, with women who value love, in a role that I kick ass in, because of my education.
If you could choose to have dinner with one amazing woman, who would it be and why?
If I could have dinner with any remarkable woman, I would invite my mum. She lives in Auckland and with the pandemic, it’s been too long. My favourite authors are Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Ursula K Le Guin. They’d be my runners-up.
Tell us more about your work:
I’m primarily responsible for our Yarning with the Stars project, which uses yarning circles, an Indigenous method, with program participants and their communities, to evaluate our program and gather feedback to improve the way we run it. We adapted to the COVID-19 outbreak by adding in one-on-one Zoom yarns with staff, our Board, and West Coast Fever ambassadors, where participants shared their stories, their vision for the Shooting Stars program, and their definition of success. It was an incredible experience for me to have the privilege to listen to these women’s stories. We hope to engage Aboriginal illustrators to produce comic strips for each woman’s story as part of a graphic novel.
One of the initiatives that’s come out of the Yarning with the Stars project is ‘Seven Sisters’, which we’re piloting this year, thanks to a grant from the Department of Health. In our yarning circles, the girls told us how some of the major barriers to school attendance are relationships, bullying and conflict, so we’ve designed a ten-week netball program teaching girls how to build healthy relationships and strategies to regulate their emotions within an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander framework. After the pilot we plan to adapt and expand to other Shooting Stars sites, and expand again to Netball WA’s clubs and associations.
A final pearl of wisdom:
My mum always said that it doesn’t matter what you do, it matters who you do it with, and I’m one of those incredibly lucky people who does their dream job, with their dream team.
Want to share your money story?
Are you a Verve Member? We’d love to hear your story. Every woman has a unique story, and every story is unique in its power to improve the lives of other women. If the idea of being profiled scares the hell out of you, then never fear! You’re not alone, our team will help you find your voice. Go on, send us an email and let’s do this: email@example.com