Toni | Waikanae

“I think the woman that influenced my life the most was my nana, she was awesome. She was one of those formidable ladies that was probably a women’s libber before women’s lib came around. So we always grew up with the idea that girls could do anything, and not to worry about what other people thought.

My nana was from an old Māori Wellington family. So she was quite well respected in her community and she just was just a kind person. If a neighbour was short of food that week, or anything particularly, I lived in her their house for quite a number of years when I was little, so if anybody in the community needed anything specifically my Nan would either take stuff to that family, whether it was blankets or food or pickles or relishes or whatever, and never expected anything back. So, subsequently when of course she passed away, there was this just big massive funeral and it just amazed me how many lives in the community that she had touched without us being really aware of it I suppose, because she was just her.

I’ve been brought up with a strong sense of family. My family, I’ve got two young daughters, and I think we’ve always just looked after family as a whole, whether it’s people in the family going through hard times, whether it’s the joys of life and things. Everybody had just always rallied round. Coming from the large family we’ve always just been there for each other and I think that the family that we have grown up with, we’ve been quite privileged because it’s not so much like that these days unfortunately, but we have a very strong feeling of where we’re from and who we are.

I think it’s awesome. I think over the years more and more ladies have become prominent more so – hopefully the old boys clubs going to, you know, be fragmented even more, but it’s great to have ladies out there doing their thing for whatever reasons behind them doing it. I think we need more of them, and I think if we can empower our younger girls in their 30s and 20s and even the teenage girls, to actually do it for themselves and get out there and stand up and be counted, then we’re going in the right direction.”

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