10 Days of Heroines

Te Wāhi Wāhine o Tāmaki Makaurau / the Auckland Women's Centre are lucky to work with incredible wāhine every day. In our '10 Days of Heroines' series we are putting the spotlight on some of the incredible wāhine we have worked with recently, highlighting the wonderful mahi these women undertake in our community.

Stacey Morrison

“We grew up without #reoMāori but reclaim for our kids & our ancestors. Kōrero for those who never got to kōrero”

We’ve admired award-winning te reo champion and broadcaster Stacey Morrison from afar for a long time – and now she’s even more of a heroine to us since we’ve seen her in action in person. She always holds the space for our WWTM community kōrero events with impressive warmth, integrity, understanding and charisma. Our audiences have the true privilege of being welcomed by her into a conversation among friends, and she puts our guest speakers at ease by always knowing exactly what to ask, and how to ask it. As she says, “incredible women celebrate incredible women!”

Michèle A’Court

"There is a tear in the fabric of the patriarchy and we're going to push on through and change the culture."

Comedian, author and social commentator Michèle A’Court is our heroine because her feminism is fun and smart and serious all at the same time – and she’s great to hang out with! She reminds us of the importance and value and joy of hands-on parenting (and grandparenting!), while she’s also broken glass ceilings in the traditionally male-dominated sphere of stand-up. We are hugely grateful for her support of WWTM, donating her time and creativity to our annual Feminists are Funny fundraiser, always curating the most amazing line-up to make it one of our favourite evenings.

Khylee Quince

“Racism isn’t our problem to solve [as Māori]. Different voices are really important. Being a good ally means… showing your face. Using your voice.”

Mixing humour and imagination with straight talk and action, Associate Professor Khylee Quince is our heroine for helping to change law education and the justice system (a massive task!) so they serve everyone better, including Māori. For example, thanks to her efforts and leadership, judges are now often informed about the lives of the people they’re sentencing.

At AUT, Khylee is the first Māori Dean of Law in the country, and Chair of the NZ Drug Foundation. Earlier this year she offered a blueprint for change-makers in her WWTM kōrero with Stacey Morrison. We stan!

Qiane Matata-Sipu

“I hope indigenous wāhine really understand how powerful they actually are”

Visionary storyteller & photographer Qiane Matata-Sipu is our heroine for giving hope and joy by flipping hierarchies and proudly celebrating indigenous excellence. By showing diversities of success, her #NUKU100 project is “changing the narrative for and about kickass indigenous women” a far-sighted goal, which are nothing less than a cultural reset for Aotearoa New Zealand, and beyond, ensuring indigenous women step forward and are finally rightfully acknowledged.

And through grit, determination and artistic smarts, Qiane and her whānau successfully campaigned to save their whenua at Ihumātao from developers, against all odds. Tautoko!

Mahvash Ali

“I want to leave you uncomfortable, because right now we all live in a world where ethnic cleansing, and words that reflect the idea of ethnic cleansing, are acceptable.”

Journalist Mahvash Ali is our heroine for irrepressibly challenging stereotypes, lazy thinking and intersectional sexism which – as a hijabi (a Muslim woman who choses to wear the hijab) – she sees all too often. A vivacious break-out star of the WWTM Muslim women forum in 2019, The Project current affairs producer and self-confessed coffee addict ensures people keep their eye on the real issues. In June this year, she wrote a thoughtful, important piece on a controversial counter-terrorism conference, reminding readers that “Women are agents of change. So let’s empower them…” LESSHGO!

Huhana Hickey

“We need not to be afraid of activism… We’ve got to get stronger. Society has to pick up its game.”

Activist and lawyer Dr Huhana Hickey – “Dr Hu” to her fellow sci-fi fans – is our heroine for fighting the social and financial barriers that our society throws up for people with disabilities. She served as the first openly disabled Housing NZ board member, and whether she’s petitioning for more institutional power for disabled people, serving on the Welfare Expert Advisory Group, or championing legalised medical cannabis (which helps with her own MS-related pain), Dr Hu always calls it as she sees it, pulls no punches and gets down to the nitty-gritty of what’s needed. Put Dr Hu in charge and the world would be a better place – for everyone.

Hinemoa Elder

“Science alone isn’t going to save us… It is our stories, the meanings and the trust that telling those stories begins to build, that will inspire us do whatever it takes to restore our celestial waka, that is, Papatuanuku.”

Psychiatrist, te reo champion, brain researcher and now climate advocate Dr Hinemoa Elder is our heroine for showing the strength of drawing on multiple knowledge systems at once, including mātauranga Māori, and her generosity in sharing her own journey as part of this holistic kaupapa. In health, she developed a tool that assists children and rangatahi recovering from traumatic brain injury by recognising the importance of cultural and whānau knowledges. And, as she explained in a WWTM kōrero last year, Indigenous people have a leading role to play in combating the climate emergency: contributing geographical knowledge, communication technology and aroha –  “unashamed emotional caring energy.”

Alison Towns

“Victims of violence [having] to hide or suffer homelessness in order to ensure their safety from a family member runs counter to human rights and social justice expectations: that people have a right to be free from violence; that offenders should be held accountable; that victims of violence have a right to live in their homes”

Clinical psychologist Dr Alison Towns is our heroine for her superb research and advocacy in the important and difficult area of gender violence. Along with others, her advocacy was instrumental in encouraging Aotearoa NZ to pass a much-needed anti-strangulation law in 2018. She’s now advocating for better legal protection from stalking. We’re also incredibly grateful for her research demonstrating why gender equity is important to prevent violence, and how youth education can help to uncover “girlfriend ownership” practices informed by entertainment media.

Here at WWTM, we’re honoured and proud to work with Alison in the Coalition for the Safety of Women and Children. Thanks Alison!

Tracey McIntosh

“Every positive social change in the history of humanity – whether it be the abolition of slavery, dismantling of apartheid, gay liberation, marriage equality – right up to the moment of change, people believed it couldn’t happen. Our work can create transformative change.”

Leading social scientist Professor Tracey McIntosh is our heroine for shining a light into the “care-to-custody pipeline” for women prisoners and for pointing to the structural and systemic causes of societal challenges – often, she says, the issue is “good people working in bad systems”. In her measured, matter-of-fact voice, she doesn’t shy away from stating difficult truths: “If harm is not to be repeated, we need to practice a profound level of radical honesty at state level and individual level.” Words to remember and act on.

Kiriataahua Te Maapi Pene

“I te mutunga iho, ko te aroha te mea nui, aroha ki te atua, aroha ki te tangata, aroha ki te whenua, aroha ki te katoa. In the end, aroha is all that matters, aroha to spiritual connection, aroha to people connection, and aroha to connection with the land”

Our rangatahi coordinators Kiriataahua Te Maapi Pene and Gabriella Makerita Hinetū Brayne are our heroines for their manaakitanga and deep whakaaro in how they go about encouraging rangatahi wāhine to work together and support each other to bring about fantastic futures. We’re in awe of their achievements: Kiriataahua working as a youth worker for Rānui135 in her local community, and generously sharing about te ao Māori while teaching us te reo. Both Kiriaatahua and Gabriella also facilitate Tuia Te Papa wānanga with rangatahi for WWTM, with a focus on hauora and manaakitanga.

In everything they do, they lead with the values of tika, pono and aroha. They show the power of whakawhanaungatanga, of connection. Mīharo!

Gabriella Makerita Hinetū Brayne

“Violence prevention kaupapa must be centered in a greater fight for liberation against colonisation, capitalism, and carceral violence. As a rangatahi of Māori and Pasifika whakapapa, embracing Te Ao Māori and Te Ao Moana has been one of the most healing, restorative and empowering journeys. Whakapapa reminds us of the mana and mauri we carry; consent culture is about recognising our inherent dignity, sovereignty and aroha which connects us all."

Our rangatahi coordinators Kiriataahua Te Maapi Pene and Gabriella Makerita Hinetū Brayne are our heroines for their manaakitanga and deep whakaaro in how they go about encouraging rangatahi wāhine to work together and support each other to bring about fantastic futures. We’re in awe of their achievements: Gabriella keeping people safe and having fun at festivals through Consent Club, and supporting youth-led campaigns for reproductive justice. Both Kiriaatahua and Gabriella also facilitate Tuia Te Papa wānanga with rangatahi for WWTM, with a focus on hauora and manaakitanga.

In everything they do, they lead with the values of tika, pono and aroha. They show the power of whakawhanaungatanga, of connection. Mīharo!