Celebrate the Y25 of 2022
Passionate about addressing racism and discrimination at a systematic level, Adibah Khan strives to encompass the voices of diverse communities within her work. A New Zealand-born Bangladeshi Muslim, she holds a Bachelor of Health Science, a Master of Global Health as well as a Master of Health Leadership and Management. She is a co-founder of the National Islamic Youth Association, is a Leadership Network Member for the Asia New Zealand Foundation and has worked part-time in various World Bank-funded public health projects in Bangladesh as well as for the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 response. Adibah hopes to contribute toward addressing inequities in child health outcomes and improving access to healthcare in Aotearoa.
Amber Clyde empowers girls through skateboarding. On a weekly basis, she teaches skateboarding in a friendly environment where girls feel safe and get to progress at a comfortable level. They are also taught the correct safety measures and skatepark etiquette to prevent injury. She is the creator of the female-only skate competition Girls Skate NZ - Skate Comp. In its 3rd year, it is still the only female-only skateboarding comp that provides more than one heat for women, opening up many more opportunities for competitive female skateboarders. Amber has just been asked to be the female rep of action sports in NZ for an upcoming xgames-styled event and has become a public speaker to lend her voice for other wāhine in sport.
As a member of the Māori & Deaf communities, Cha’nel Kaa-Luke (Ngāti Porou, Nga Ruahine, Ngāti Ruanui) advocates for a more accessible Aotearoa for the 23,000 people across the motu who use sign language. A proud queer wāhine Māori Turi, she championed accessibility at the NZ Youth Parliament General Debate Assembly in 2019 and contributed to MSD’s recent Social Cohesion Framework consultation process, as well as continuing to raise awareness for further Deaf/ Disabled rōpū. Since starting university, Cha’Nel has advocated for access to NZSL. She gives her time to make recreational spaces more accessible, like when she interprets for renowned Drag Queen Anita Wiglit and in Māori arts spaces.
Emilly Fan firmly believes that everybody should have a basic understanding of our energy system and methods of decarbonisation. With a degree from Harvard in Environmental Science and Public Policy, she has worked globally with the Natural Resources Defence Council, IKEA, and the UNDP, and locally with the Ministry for the Environment. She directed the MIT Energy Conference and attended the 2021 UN COP26 conference in Glasgow as part of the Harvard delegation. Emilly is passionate about addressing climate change by promoting cross-sector decarbonisation and energy education. Her long-term goal is to combine private and public sector expertise to tackle climate change at the New Zealand and international legislative level.
ChangemakeHER Hawwa Niyaz is ready to empower young women! Passionate about all things diversity, climate change and mental health, she sees youth and women representation as vital. Proud of her Muslim heritage, she wants to pass on the true narrative of her religion and culture to avoid serious misunderstandings and singular stories. Her passion for the environment comes from seeing the negative effects of climate change first-hand in her home country the Maldives. Her involvement in many ‘by youth for youth’ projects has developed her understanding of the challenges and the mindset required to address them - that of determination, strength and humility.
Hetal Patel comes from Gujarat, India and grew up in Ōtaki, where she was heavily involved in her local school and queer community. Hetal wants people to be comfortable being themselves and to live their lives authentically. She wants them to know there are spaces for them to belong and that they are not alone. In high school, she championed mental well-being initiatives, representation in the arts and the introduction of rainbow policies around gender-neutral toilets, uniforms and support systems. Hetal is now heavily involved in the Otago Asian Law Students' Association where she mentors younger Asian Law students. A champion of decolonisation in legal and academic spaces Hetal hopes to see more opportunities for the Asian and queer community, to help create a better society.
Jaskiran Kaur Rahi
Being patronised by teachers in her first coding class at a young age lit a fire in Jaskiran Kaur Rahi. She knew she didn't want any other young women to feel uncomfortable and have their excitement dulled. So Jaskiran founded Spirit & Soul with the mission to empower young women to be the best that they can be. Spirit & Soul’s projects range from opportunities to learn from inspirational women, sharing empowering stories, boosting wellbeing and mental health, and exposure to a world of different career options. Their events and online content have reached young women and schools all around NZ over the last 4 years. A humble yet ambitious kiwi of Sikh heritage, Jaskiran's passion really comes to life doing this work.
Jess Collins of Te Tairawhiti and Taranaki whakapapa is a multi-dimensional ringatoi (artist), activist, matakite and romiromi practitioner. She has a Bachelor of Māori Visual Arts from Toioho ki Āpiti (Massey University) and is doing a Masters of Creative Practice. A founding Kaitiaki of Te Pahī o Āio Nuku Charitable Trust, Jess has worked alongside numerous communities to share mātauranga Māori through her mahi toi practices. Jess is passionate about uplifting hauora Māori through the revitalisation of pūrākau (historical indigenous narratives). Jess is currently working on a kaupapa called Pūrākau ki te Ao, which centres on creating large-scale murals in mainstream schools. She is also curating the touring exhibition; Waitangi, Whytangi, Whywetangi.
Katja Phutaraksa Neef
Half German and half Thai, Katja Phutaraksa Neef has recently gained a Bachelor of Global Studies majoring in Sustainable Development & the Global Environment and is completing her BA Honours in Geography. Her interests are strongly focused on the social aspects of land governance and how to mitigate conflicts through social and environmental justice at a grassroots level. She has been selected as an ARTivist in residence by The International Center for Advocates Against Discrimination, where she will be creating a series of art pieces that explore human rights themes and participating in an Online Human Rights Advocacy Course for artists and creatives. She believes that the way to create lasting and transformational change is by campaigning for laws and policies that are informed by Indigenous values.
Lily Holloway is a queer writer, editor and champion of arts accessibility and amplification of queer voices. Their first chapbook (short book of poems) was published in 2021 as a part of Auckland University Press' AUP New Poets 8. Their other work can be found in both local and international publications such as Cordite, Peach Mag, Landfall, Poetry New Zealand Yearbook, Starling, Out Here: An Anthology of Takatāpui and LGBTQIA+ New Zealand Writers, and Best New Zealand Poetry. Lily is a founding editor of eel mag, an assistant editor for a fine line, and sits on the boards of the New Zealand Poetry Society and the Same Same But Different queer literary festival. They are one of six poets selected to undertake an MFA in Creative Writing programme at Syracuse University starting later this year.
Lushomo Thebe migrated from Zambia to Aotearoa and is proud to call Kirikiriroa her home away from home. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws (with Honours) and a Bachelor of Business (majoring in Finance) and is the 2022 President for Waikato Students’ Union where she oversees the organisation and represents 12,000+ students on the University of Waikato Council. Passionate about African migrant rights, she is one of the founding members of the Zambians in Aotearoa Association which supports Zambian families migrating to Aotearoa. She also wants to see more representation of BIPOC wāhine in the legal field. Lushomo was one of the organisers of the Kirikiriroa Black Lives Matter Solidarity March and is an honorary member of the Golden Key Honours Society.
Mardiya Abdulaziz is a kiwi born Somali whose family resettled here in 1997 via a Kenyan refugee camp. Mardiya has a passion for community development, which she has channelled into leadership roles on the Executive of the New Zealand Refugee Association, the Board of ChangeMakers Resettlement Forum and as the former President of Vic.Without.Barriers at Victoria Uni. Often the youngest and one of only a handful of women in these organisations, Mardiya has used her intercultural communication skills to build trust and inspire change. She has worked with HOST International NZ and SMART Start Business Ltd. Most recently, she’s accepted a role with My Fund Action and will complete her Bachelor of Early Childhood Education this year.
Having grown up in Niue, Menorah Coombe is a proud Pacific wāhine who is passionate about the welfare of Pacific people. Her numerous contributions to Auckland’s health sector included leading a collaborative, patient-focused project with the Long Stay/Complex Patient SWAT Team; trialling a self-management app, myCOPD, for people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease; and being part of the Patient-Focused Booking Team, delivering appointments at times whānau/patients can attend, which lead to a reduction of non-attendance at appointments, and improved equity of access to care. People are Menorah’s priority. Community, kaitiaki, and love are the core values that guide her professional and personal direction.
Michelle Prasad couldn't speak for the first five years of her life. Now she is a trailblazer. In late 2020, after volunteering over 2000 hours for various charities, she founded the Good Start Foundation to gift scholarships to students who serve their community in and out of school while also maintaining their academic potential and success. Michelle believes in being authentic and is described by many as an inspiration who thinks outside the box. She is heavily involved in the community – as Vice President of the Auckland Student Volunteer Army, a youth council member of the US Embassy, a UN Youth High Schools Ambassador and fundraising for charitable events. Michelle is a law student with a passion for politics, and she aspires to be a trailblazing lawyer and the first Fijian-Indian Prime Minister of NZ.
Molly Doyle started filmmaking at age 14, writing and directing a short film called A Fishy Tale. Her film won an award in Wellington’s Roxy5 film competition sparking her passion for filmmaking. Recently Molly directed and produced a short film, Comic, about a female comic book club challenging gender stereotypes. It was screened at over 7 international festivals and due to its success, it is being developed into a TV series. Dedicated to sharing knowledge, Molly hopes to create a community of young filmmakers ready to make our industry more inclusive and diverse, able to take their stories to the screen. Co-creating a group called Wellington Young Women and non-binary filmmakers, she dedicates her time to telling stories that uplift, inspire and create conversations.
Nele Kalolo is all about achieving equitable opportunities and outcomes for Māori & Pasifika in Aotearoa. Her work predominantly focuses on guiding and advocating for Māori and Pasifika youth. From being an organiser for the 2020 Empowerment Festival & March to becoming a FORMAT mentor for Southseas Healthcare, Nele creates safe spaces for youth. As an ADHB Rangatahi Cadet and Pasifika representative for PHARMAC, she creates pathways for young people to contribute toward achieving equitable health outcomes. Nele is currently setting up a social enterprise 'WaiLagi Ltd', which will ensure ancestral knowledge is held and nurtured in all spaces by guiding Pasifika to navigate social issues & mental health using indigenous practices.
Nikki Singh is an NZ-born Fijian Indian with a background in public health, ethnic identity and intersectionality. Nikki sees herself as one woman trying to make change through academia, the pursuit of equity for vulnerable populations and advocacy for young ethnic people, particularly women. Her diagnosis of autoimmune disease has also made her an advocate for unseen disability and understanding the lives of those struggling with health. She has previously worked in Sexual Violence Prevention so creating cultures of consent and healthy relationships is important to her as well. Nikki strives to create change, not for herself, but for other young ethnic girls, particularly Asian and Pacific youth, an intersection that is often missed. She is led by her faith, kindness and empathy for others.
Being interested in people, and how they think and interact, led Rana Arif to work on multiple projects including Te Tiriti in our Language pilot, the Waikato Rangatahi Opportunity and ongoing work with the Refugee Orientation Centre. An NZ-born Middle Eastern wāhine with whakapapa back to Iraq & Syria, Rana lived in the United Arab Emirates for 14 years, before moving home to complete high school and uni where she graduated with a double major in Human Development and Human Resources. She is passionate about community & youth development, especially in relation to empowering ethnic rangatahi. She has previously connected year 12-13 students with civics education providing the opportunity for young people to engage and explore civics and politics in a non-judgmental space.
A passion for the revitalisation of te ao Māori and improving outcomes for all tamariki and rangatahi drives Reihana Dougherty in her mahi and her life. Reihana is the Board Secretary & Leadership PA of Beckenham Te Kura o Pūroto. A Māmā of a 7-year-old son, she also works with Leadership Lab on the Puāwai programme as the Care Experienced Tuakana which seeks to promote the strengths & leadership of young people. She sits on the Oranga Tamariki Youth Advisory Group, and advocates for young people to be at the table in all aspects of decision-making, including through the creation of Te Rōpū Pūmanawa. Reihana is part of the steering group that developed the Te Waipounamu Regional Youth Council for VOYCE Whakarongo Mai.
Sala McCarthy-Stonex was raised amongst indigenous populations in Tuba City, Arizona (Navajo Nation) and Lāʻie, Hawaiʻi (Kānaka Maoli). She returned to NZ in 2020 after completing a Juris Doctor, Masters in Public Administration, and BA in Political Science. As an educated young woman of colour, Sala always struggled to find a balance between being a product of both the society in which she was raised and the rich cultures and traditions that are fundamental parts of her identity. Due to this, Sala works hard to create and hold space, break stereotypes, and inspire. She works for a consultancy that provides Te Ao Māori advice to the private & public sectors. Sala has whakapapa to Ngāti Whitikaupeka, Ngāti Tamakōpiri, Ngāti Pikiao and Whakaue, as well as Hawaiʻi, Samoa & Tonga.
Sherry Zhang 章雪莉
An accomplished storyteller, writer and journalist, Sherry Zhang, tells stories across many different forms - theatre, poetry and journalism. Sherry's family is from Fujian, China and she is a second-generation Chinese-NZer. Believing that finding a balance between movement and stillness is really powerful for creativity allows Sherry to better champion stories and voices from our vulnerable communities. Sherry also relishes opportunities to talk with artists about their dreams for our Queer communities and about ways of decolonising creative structures and upholding her role as tauiwi (non-Māori). She is working on using her skills to take representation in media past being seen and into pushing for more intersectional, culturally specific, and rainbow-affirming content.
Te Ao Mārama Nepia
Te Ao Mārama knew that she didn’t want to work a 9-5 job so she launched her own business, The World of Light, with the mission to inspire people to illuminate the world by using their strengths, skills and passion to create their dream life. Te Ao Marama was raised on her marae, the daughter of a chief, she was at every meeting, event and celebration. She sees Omaka Marae as a second home and a source of education. Now actively contributing to the revitalisation of te ao Māori, Te Ao Mārama is dedicated to supporting rangatahi like herself to become the best versions of themselves. She teaches many kura huna such as mau rākau, mau patu, haka fusion, māori meditation, mihimihi and more. The biggest lesson she teaches rangatahi is simply how to stand head up, chest out, chin high.
Te Rina West
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and this definitely rings true for Te Rina West who grew up sheltered in the bosom of her iwi, Te Arawa. From a young age, she represented her hometown, Rotorua, and Aotearoa in basketball. She was also an active member of her community through Manu Korero, Kapa Haka, and as the ‘Face of Rotorua’. Te Rina has volunteered with many charities including Plunket, Women’s Refuge, KidsCan, FoodBank, Heart Foundation and Sunset Breakfast Club. She is a past senior ambassador of the Rotorua Lakes Youth Council and the Rotorua Youth Voice which facilitated the Future Leaders Forum and the community Glo-walk at the Redwoods. Giving back to her people is an intrinsic response to all those who have supported her throughout the years.
Tiana Mihaere, of Waitaha, Kāti Mamoe, Kāi Tahu, Ngāti Kahungunu ki te Wairoa & Rangitāne whakapapa, is passionate about the hauora of takata whenua. Tiana is in her 4th year of a Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery program and has received a Diploma in Rongoā Māori from Te Wānanga o Raukawa. She holds mātauraka in rokoā rākau, mirimiri and romiromi and continues to learn from tohunga rongoā. She is a staunch advocate for Hauora Māori and traditional ways of being. Tiana is a founding Kaitiaki of Te Pahī o Āio Nuku Charitable Trust, leading the kaupapa Mana Rakatahi ki Moeraki which aims to uplift the next generation of leaders in Moeraki. An elected Whānau Representative on Te Rūnanga o Moeraki, Tiana is a leader in her community.
Wednesday Davis loves being in, on and around the ocean. She believes the greatest environmental challenge facing Aotearoa is the disconnect between science, politics, and the public. She sees a strong need for blue leaders, community action, and kaitiakitanga to protect and sustainably manage our oceans collectively. She has recently completed a Masters in Marine Science, researching multi-species foraging associations of whales, dolphins and seabirds. Wednesday is an educator at Experiencing Marine Reserves, working with rangatahi and community groups to teach them about the issues local marine and freshwater ecosystems face. Through experiential learning, Wednesday hopes to inspire people to become ocean kaitiaki.
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About the YWCA:
The YWCA is a proudly feminist organisation and has been supporting women and girls challenging gender inequality in Aotearoa New Zealand for over 140 years.