#WomenCrushWednesday : Rosalie Norton

YWCA Hamiltona and Shama hosted an Ignite Weekend Retreat earlier this year. It was here YWCA Programmes Coordinator Zeta Mohn got to meet an amazing group of young women including Rosalie Norton - an incredible young woman with a better vision for living.

On the 1st of March, YWCA and Shama came together to take a group of young women away for a diverse bonding weekend. Among those young women was Rosalie Norton; teen lifestyle blogger, foodie, big sister and entertainer. Rosalie is an amazing young women who is always striving to live her most authentic life, taking part in community events and supporting other young people through her blog Just Me Rosalie.


Tell us a little about who you are!

My name is Rosalie Norton and I am 14 years old. I am a New Zealander of Pasific island descent. I live with my mum and 12 year old sister and I am a year 10 at high school. I started blog writing when was 12.

What inspired you to create your blog?

I was inspired to create my blog because I realized that things I was interested in might help other young teens around NZ. Writing had always been a hobby of mine, so blog writing was also another way to express myself.

What does living authentically mean to you?

As teens we are still finding who we are, so sometimes it's hard to just be yourself. We tend to do things that aren't so comfortable because we think it will help us fit in. So to me living a true authentic life means that you are always true to yourself and what you believe. You live life to the fullest and always put your best self forward.


What do kindness, confidence and bravery look like to you?

Being kind is being a helping hand and respecting your peers thoughts and feelings.

Being confident is staying strong through tough times and standing up for what you think is right.

Being brave is stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new things that you know you might not be good at.

How have you overcome the normal fears that people have and gone public?

A big part of it was having to get over the fact that not everyone will like what I have to say. You have to focus on the ones who you want to help and the people who care and want listen, rather than the ones who don't.

If you could give one piece of advice to all women what would it be?

Never lose sight of who you are because you are beautiful, strong and worth listening to no matter you age, race or appearance. You be you, because you can change the world.

Check out Rosalie’s blog about her Ignite Retreat experience here.
Give her a follow on Instagram here.

#WomenCrushWednesday : Jessica Emily Quinn

In early February, Hamilton YWCA Programmes Coordinator Zeta Mohn attended a ChangeMakers event by Untapped with Briony and got to meet and chat with Jess Quinn who shared her amazing story of survival and empowerment.

After facing huge adversity losing her leg to cancer at 9, Jess has created the Transparency around Retouching Photographs of Models petition, an online petition asking that the government make it illegal for media companies to post retouched photos without stating they are retouched.

Jess believes that by making embedding this into law we can combat unrealistic body image ideals in advertising and the media, and it will inspire brands to question how they promote their products and services and what effect this might have on the people they are targeting.

The Transparency around Retouching Photographs of Models petition is currently at 6000+ signatures but more are needed to make a true difference.

We were lucky enough to keep in contact with Jess and speak to her about who she is, what inspires her and how she wants to make change in the world.

How did you come up with the idea of the Transparency around Retouching Photographs of Models petition?

I had an image of mine photoshopped which opened my eyes to the fact that image retouching is still going on. For me, I am all about encouraging people to be comfortable in their own skin, to celebrate their diversity & differences so to have images in the media portraying people with this false “perfection” shows unrealistic standards of beauty. I wanted to put my foot down. When I did an interview on the conversation I said that people should have to disclose it

What is your Y behind this petition and the other amazing stuff you do?

Growing up I felt different, for obvious reasons. Once I got a bit older I realised that I wasn’t the only one that grew up feeling “different” and that “different” was all around me. This "normality" that we’ve been taught to believe is “beauty” isn’t actually the norm and often doesn’t exist. It’s a curated version of what a brand or publication wants you to believe. Once I realised this I made a conscious decision that I didn’t want to let young people grow up feeling that their differences were abnormal. Our differences make us beautiful, they make us unique, they are our stories and our stories, and who we are as people, are what should be celebrated. So this became my why and I want to spend the rest of my life helping change this space. 

Where do you want to see advertisements in the media in 5 years and what developments do you think should be made before then?

I want to see all people represented, I want less focus on how we should look and more focus on who we are as people and what we can achieve. There are some amazing things coming at the moment celebrating people’s strengths. I believe storytelling is an incredible way to sell products. How do we want our consumer to feel when they are using/wearing a product? Themselves, happy, accepted, proud? Not, inadequate.

There really are some incredible changes happening, brands like Aerie celebrating diversity, Nike using campaigns to celebrate people’s abilities and successes, MissFQ using covers that haven’t been retouched. The world is changing and I can’t wait to see where it keeps going. The best thing people can do is decide what they want to allow, both as a brand and a consumer. 


What is your favourite part of your role?

The best part is that I get to speak from my heart, I get to spend my days using my story and the things I have learnt to help others, the messages and comments I get on the daily make every part of it so worthwhile. I feel so honoured to be able to use my platform to be a voice for change. There’s not much I don’t enjoy but I do feel a huge responsibility to be cautious about how I word things and what I put out into the world because young people in particular can be so easily influenced by the people they look up to. I’m also educating myself while I try educate others but it’s easy for people to think you have all the answers once you start getting louder and louder with your message but I try be clear that I am also learning while doing and I think that’s ok. We don’t all have the answers and solutions but together we can find them.

What is the best piece of advice you could give to women out there?

Be yourself. I know that’s so simple but that’s the point. In a world full of noise around who you should and shouldn’t be, the best thing you can be is yourself and go after whatever it is that sets you heart on fire. If you meet some turbulence along the way, which you will, take the lesson and continue. Life is far too short to hold ourselves back due to adversity. And never forget to lift other people up, we are all in this together and the best thing we can do is to support each other. 

What would you go back and tell the 13-year-old you now?

Nothing. I think I’d leave her to figure it all out. I know that sounds silly but every bout of turbulence my life has presented me with has gotten me where I am today. I think I’d just say, “Little Jess, you’ve got this”. 

What do you think we need to do as women to support each other more?

Just be kind. I think while we are on this global journey of self-love we need to rid the mean girl concept. Every single human is fighting a battle we know nothing about, the best thing we can do is be kind to one another. To encourage the good you see in others and to call out when someone is causing harm. And remember, you don’t need to have a “following” to influence change, we are all influencers, and we are all change makers. 

 You can hear sign Jess’s petition here.

You can hear more about her journey and work here.

YWCA + Shama Ignite Retreat

Earlier this month YWCA Hamilton and Shama came together to run the Ignite Retreat for young women in the Waikato. This is how it went.

The YWCA of Hamilton and Shama have been collaborating for Ignite for years to bring a diverse range of young women together to up skill their life skills. At the beginning of March 2019, we came together and took it up a notch by developing the first-ever Ignite Retreat. This was a weekend away for young women 14-17 years of age with the aim of building self-confidence and teamwork skills.


The weekend was held at First Step Outdoors and run by the incredible instructor Kate Parr. The girls were able to test their skills at rock climbing, abseiling, flying fox and caving. For many, this was their first time attempting these activities, like Rana, one of the participants said: "I actually feel like I’m more physically, like before didn’t know I could do stuff like that but ... I consider myself pretty good now, and yeah, I feel more confident.”


We were also lucky enough to have Jodie, formally from WILSS (Waikato Institute for Leisure and Sport Studies) come in and do a healthy cooking class with the young women. Basing the cooking class around healthier alternatives, Jodie was able to teach the girls that what's good for your insides can taste delicious and be quite simple to make.

Over the weekend the girls were forced to learn tolerance of each other's habits and also how to trust each other and they all came out with new friends. Rosalie, another participant, said “I really liked being able to meet new people … I normally just stick on the side but I was just able to communicate with other people and actually make friends.”


Sharing this experience with these young women and watching the bonds created between them cross all boundaries including culture, age and background was truly heartwarming. These girls were faced with challenges that some had never been faced with and they banded together to help each other achieve their personal goals and make it through. I am so proud of our girls and cannot wait for the next retreat - watch this space!

Zeta Mohn, YWCA Hamilton Programmes Coordinator

#WomenCrushWednesday : Kiwi Birth Tales Founder Jordyn Gregory

Passionate young kiwi Jordyn Gregory is smashing her goals while forming a community of support for new mum and dads. At just 25 she has created a podcast Kiwi Birth Tales with huge followings around New Zealand. I chatted with Jordyn about her life, passion, journey creating Kiwi Birth Tales and her latest Podcast (featuring local Hamilton mum Caitlin).


First could you tell us a little about yourself?

I grew up in Tauranga and studied a Bachelor of Management Studies through Waikato Uni when I left school, when I was 22 when I moved for Brisbane for a Graduate HR role, after that year they promoted me to a role in Sydney so I made the move there. I then progressed into a Human Resources Business Partnering role supporting 500 team members across a support functions team (Australia wide). I love my job and have always been so career driven / focussed, but mid last year my Partner Joe got offered a contract in Italy playing Water polo so we decided to leave Sydney and move here for the season (I had never been to Europe before). We are living in Recco, Italy - a small town of 10,000 people by the beautiful sea. I am freelancing on different HR projects as well as contracting for my previous role, my work have been so supportive of me doing this which is incredible! I plan to go back there after the season and we see ourselves back in Tauranga in the future. 

What is Kiwi Birth Tales?

Kiwi Birth Tales is a Platform for Kiwi Mums and Dads to share their pregnancy and birth journeys, to support and empower one another. I have a Website and Instagram to support the Podcast which is coming up 20,000 listens in just a few short months. 

How did you come up for the idea?

I have always been curious about pregnancy and birth, I had considered studying to be a Midwife when I left school but decided I wanted some more life experience first. I loved listening to other birth story podcasts and YouTube videos and when my friends started having babies I realised there was nothing similar in New Zealand and a real lack of resources online. 

What is your Y (purpose) behind Kiwi Birth Tales? (Why is it important for others?)

I want Kiwi Mums and Dads to feel empowered in making decisions about their pregnancies and births, I want to create a community where families can share and learn with one another and never feel isolated or alone. It is important to me that we normalise birth and talking about the reality of birth in New Zealand. 

Where do you want to see Kiwi Birth Tales in 5 years?

I want to see Kiwi Birth Tales continue to grow and gain awareness through sharing unique experiences of NZ pregnancy and birth. It is my goal to create a Platform that becomes an extremely valuable resources to families when they are preparing for pregnancy and birth and in 5 years I hope the platform is a go-to recommendation from friends and family to all pregnant women / families. 

What is your most favourite and least favourite part of your role?

My favourite part about being the host of KBT is hearing each story, enjoying the differences and feeling so privileged that these families are willing to share their experiences with me. My least favourite part is having too many emails in my inbox and not enough time to interview everyone all at once. I am currently booked until the end of April and have so many Women waiting to share their stories - I wish I had the means to put my time into it on a Full Time basis. 

Jordan Gregory Kiwi Birth Tales

What is the best piece of advice you could give to women out there?

You're experience is never isolated and if you are feeling lost reach out to a community, search for an online platform or resource you can use to connect. 

What do you think we need to do as women to support each other more?

I could go on for days with the answer! To put it simply I think we need to care about each other like we would our own loved ones - a kind message or comment can change how someone feels about their day or their week, just like a negative one can. I think we should be building one another up and sharing our experiences as much as possible, strong women support other women. 

Please tell us a little about your latest podcast: Caitlin, Kyrie & Kemba.

Caitlin’s episode is so beautiful, she is an incredible woman and I am so grateful she took the time to talk with me. Caitlin discusses the birth of her first daughter Kyrie, and then falling pregnant and losing her baby boy at 38 weeks. Caitlin talks about finding support in her partner and family and wanted to share her experience to help others who may have been through or are going through something similar. I am in awe of Caitlin and think she is such a brave and compassionate Kiwi Mum. 

To listen to the Kiwi Birth Tales latest podcast on local mum Caitlin, head over to @kiwibirthtales on Instagram (link in bio), or the website.

TW: Caitlin, Kyrie & Kemba covers birth, loss, grief and support mechanisms. If these are triggers for you please take precautions when listening in or avoid.

If you are interested in getting involved with Kiwi Birth Stories please message Jordyn on her Instagram or email kiwibirthtales@gmail.com top submit your story.

Jahvaya Wheki: Life since Outward Bound

Jahvaya Wheki was one of our Outward Bound Scholarship Recipients in 2017, turned Programmes Assistant at YWCA Hamilton. She talks about how her Outward Bound experienced kicked off a journey she never expected…

Since Outward Bound I have been embarking on the journey that you call life. Although it’s been difficult nothing to me has even been as hard and challenging as Outward Bound. Applying for the scholarship to attend Outward Bound was a leap of faith and I knew I wasn’t loosing anything by applying.

Since that time the YWCA has played a key part in my development and to where I am today. I am currently in Colombia, Medellin a part of an internship here in a company called COMFAMA, a non profit organisation that caters to the needs of the people here. I am here for 3 months and am working in the travel department as part of my degree studying tourism and Spanish and I get to travel to amazing parks here and create a purposeful beneficial journey for people around the city. I love my job here and I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today without ywca. Last year I was having a gap year and learning more about the real world. The YWCA has supported me in many ways, supplying me with work and allowing me to be involved with holiday and after school care programs.


One day I was working at the University campaigning for the YWCA where being involved with many conversations I was encouraged to enroll in university. The YWCA was super supportive of me and even encouraged me while I was working there to go and enroll! Although it was last minute 3 days later I was attending university. Through this time there were many opportunities and applying for a scholarship to attend this internship seemed like a dream. But I took a leap of faith and applied. I thought well it’s ok if I don’t get it, I’m not losing anything. Finding out i got accepted was a very emotional heart felt moment where I knew I would face a new challenge and be fully immersed in a different culture facing many trials but growing in independence and confident to learn more about the world and learn more about myself. 

Grabbing opportunities as they come is very important and contributes to a person’s success! From my experience and personal development I am extremely grateful for the role the YWCA has played in who I am today and it’s because of them and making the most of opportunities as they come that I am where I am today.

Sometimes opportunities don’t present themselves easily that’s when it takes time and effort to search for them and make your own!  

You can read Jahvaya’s original Outward Bound blog post
here. To find out more about our Outward Bound scholarships head to www.ywca.org.nz/outwardbound.

#WomenYouShouldKnow: YWCA Legends Anne and Carole

This year two members of our whānau reached their twenty year tenure with the YWCA Aotearoa. I had a chat with Carole, manager of YWCA Whangarei and Anne, manager of YWCA Hamilton, both whom have become well respected and integral members of their local communities, to find out about the highs and lows of their two decades with us.

Carole, manager - YWCA Whangarei and Anne, manager - YWCA hamilton

Carole, manager - YWCA Whangarei and Anne, manager - YWCA hamilton


What has been the best thing about working with the Y?

Carole: The People- From those I work with, alongside side, meet, network with, support and assist. I spend a great deal of my time/life at the ‘Y’ so that’s important to me. Love the YWCA Purpose.

Anne: The ever-changing variety of work and personal contact which comes from being a small part of a national and international YWCA movement making a difference for women and families.

What has been (or is) the biggest challenge you have encountered in your journey?

Carole: Accessing funding especially for the hostel. We wanted to add more rooms back in 2006 which would have been a huge asset then but even more so now, but funding the project was not possible without funding assistance. There is such a need for accommodation such as the YWCA hostel and emergency housing yet little funding for such an important and necessary aspect of people’s lives. It is an essential basic need. People need a place to sleep, rest and have personal space where they feel safe.

Anne: The upkeep of rundown old buildings has been one of my biggest ongoing challenges.

What are you the most proud of in your time working with the Y?

Carole: The workshops we have run and continue to run for young women to build self-esteem/positive body image. The YWCA Northland ‘Women of Distinction’ awards we held in 2010 to recognise and acknowledge women who had made a commitment and a significant difference in her community and/or the larger world, and whose achievements demonstrated vision, creativity and initiative, our stand against Violence-the White Ribbon and Say No to Violence events we have held and been part of.

Anne: Helping to organise the Pacific/Australasia YWCA RTI (Regional Training Institute) held at the now-defunct YWCA of Rotorua. Carole also attended this. Seven countries and the World YWCA President attended this RTI, held at Waiariki campus. Contributing to several young Hamilton/Waikato YWCA women's attendance at quadrennial World YWCA conferences held in locations ranging from Brisbane, Nairobi and Zurich; Pacific RTIs (Fiji); the World AIDS conference (Vienna) and UNCSW, New York.

Anne became a life member of hamilton ywca in November

Anne became a life member of hamilton ywca in November

We’ve all fought and won battles at all stages of our life so far and can learn from and listen to each other’s challenges and how to overcome them.

So much has changed in time you’ve been working at the Y and in the women’s movement, especially in the last couple of years with the groundswell of #metoo and the changing political landscape for gender equality. What are you hoping to see in the next few years for the women’s movement?

Carole: Personally I would like to see a decrease in family violence and substance abuse.

Anne: I'd like to see intergenerational women progressing forward together, expressing a variety of views and opinions. We've all fought and won battles at all stages of our life so far and can learn from and listen to each other's challenges and how to overcome them.

If you could give one piece of advice to yourself when you started at the Y, what would it be?

Carole: Three things: never assume, your voice matters, you can learn something from everyone.

Anne: Quickly learn how to prepare successful funding applications (and how to move on from the declined applications!). Build long-term, authentic relationships.

Carole and Anne, we thank you for your wisdom and the amazing work you have contributed in your two decades of service. We’re excited to see what comes next for you both.

You can learn more about the work they are doing on over at the Whangarei and Hamilton pages.

Want to support the movement? Donate today!

Hamilton YWCA & Women's Refuge Christmas Drive

Words by Zeta, YWCA Hamilton

DECEMBER IS HERE! And we want you to get in the holiday spirit!

Inspired by the Waikato Women's Fund's Suffrage Event in November we are extending our annual food drive to include sanitary items.

It’s estimated that hundreds of women are affected by period poverty every year because they simply can’t afford the increasingly high price of sanitary products.

We will be open from 8.30am-3pm every weekday leading up to Thursday Dec 20th, collecting food and sanitary items for Waikato Women's Refuge - please get involved and help out our local women!

125 Years of Women’s Suffrage 

On the 19th September, YWCA of Hamilton, National Council of Women Hamilton and Zonta threw an event to celebrate a magnificent milestone of 125 years of women’s suffrage.

Words by Jaime Macfie, YWCA Hamilton

Imagine yourself, 125 years ago, with no voice for anything political. Imagine you are one of more than 30,000 women banding together, writing appeals, signing petitions, doing everything they can to advocate for the women of New Zealand to have a say.  

On the 19th September 1893, New Zealand was the first country in the world where women could vote in parliamentary elections. This was a ground-breaking moment, not only for women in NZ, but it inspired suffrage movements for women all over the world.   

New Zealand suffragists

New Zealand suffragists

In the lead up to this, there were 32,000 women who signed the largest petition ever to be presented to parliament (270 metres long). The Legislative council, followed a few days later by the Governor, passed and consented the bill and The Electoral Act 1893 was created. This act gave women in New Zealand the right to vote and they would get their first chance at this on 28th November 1893.   

So you may be asking, “What is suffrage day? And why should we, and do we, celebrate it every year?

Suffrage day is an opportunity to not only commemorate, but also further develop the chance to gain equality. We should celebrate suffrage day to not only remember how far we have come as a country, but to continue to find ways to make further progress that benefits our women.  

Suffrage day reminds us that not only is it important to vote, it is important that women continue voting today and in the future. In the 2011 general election, more than 80% of women voted, compared to approximately 77% of men. Although this statistic is from a couple of elections ago, we can see the shift and affect that women’s suffrage has had over the years.

women’s suffrage petition

women’s suffrage petition

We can even see the impact that women’s suffrage has had on the members of parliament, and the working-women. In 1893, the percentage of women in parliament was 0%, and the percentage of working women was 26%. In 2013, the percentage of women in parliament was 34%, and the percentage of working women was 58%. Fast forward to the 2017/18 and there are 120 members of parliament, 38% of which are women. This is the highest percentage New Zealand has had since women have been allowed to stand for parliament in 1919. 75% of the Green Party are women, and 46% of the Labour Party are women. (Women leaders? Jacinda, Helen and Judy)

Slowly, but surely, women are making a place for themselves within parliament. Not only are they doing this by being involved in different parties, but also there are more and more women holding some significant positions within the New Zealand parliament. This currently includes Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy, Deputy Speaker Anne Tolley, Assistant Speaker, Poto Williams, and our third female Prime Minister - Jacinda Ardern.

One of the most well-known and influential individuals who was involved with the suffrage movement is Kate Sheppard. She argued, “We are tired of having a “sphere” doled out to us, and of being told that anything outside that sphere is “unwomanly””.  Throughout her time fighting for this right for women, she had some brutal opposition. Male writers were recommending women to go home, be with their families, cook meals, and to attend to the domestic affairs for which “nature designed for them”. 

She co-founded the National Council of Women (NCW) and was the organisation’s first president. 

Kate Sheppard’s legacy and influence remain greater than ever, and she is still thought of today as being the driving force behind the women’s suffrage movement.  In 1991, Kate Sheppard was put onto the NZ $10 note. On the left hand side in the background, we can see a white camellia flower. These flowers were given out to the members of parliament who supported the suffrage bill when it first passed, and now these flowers have become the symbol of the fight for women’s suffrage.

Kate sheppard portrayed on the New Zealand ten dollar note

Kate sheppard portrayed on the New Zealand ten dollar note


On the 19th September 2018, The YWCA of Hamilton, NCW Hamilton Branch and Zonta put on an event to celebrate a magnificent milestone of 125 years of women’s suffrage. This event showed us the continuing support that has been going on for women in our community over the many years. 

There were three speakers on the day who all talked about how we can support women in our community, and how we need to get more women involved in politics, and why it is important for women to vote. It was great to see so many people attend the event, both men and women, and I hope everyone went home with new information to share. I know I did!

YWCA Hamilton Board

The women before us have all worked so hard to get us to where we are today. Let’s continue the fight, and keep showing our communities that our say is important, and does matter. We have come so far in 125 years, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for women.

- Jaime Macfie

You can see more images from the event over at Hamilton YWCA’s Facebook page, or find out more about YWCA Hamilton and the incredible work they do here.


Want to support the movement? Donate today!

#EMPOWERED at Waikato O Week

Words by Riikka Anderson, YWCA of Hamilton

Hamilton YWCA O Week

Hamilton YWCA O Week

This year for the first time, the YWCA of Hamilton is expanding our programmes and workshops to students at the University of Waikato. We will be running one-off workshops once a month at the halls of residence on variety of subjects ranging from practical life skills to self-defence, from healthy cooking on a budget to Money Savvy and mental health.


To start this journey we were present at the TGIF Party at the O Week on Friday 23rd February. Our aim was to increase the students’ awareness of who we are and what we do. As a part of this promotion we ran several competitions: two on the day and two online. The (not so) Mini Prize was drawn from among those who gave us their email addresses. Thanks to this competition we now have over 150 emails for UoW female students! 


The two competitions on Facebook and Instagram are still running. To participate, students need to like our Facebook page or follow our Instagram account and tag someone who has #EMPOWERED them.

It was great (and very hot) day at the Village Green! It was awesome to meet so many young women and talk to them about issues we all face as women. We will definitely go back next year and look forward to seeing more of those who will join us this year!

If you are based in the Waikato and interested in getting involved, check out the YWCA Hamilton info page