Hey Anna! Irene speaks so highly of you, your mahi, and how lucky we are to have an advocate like you in Prepair's corner. You're a member of the Prepair Advisory Board. With so many charities to choose from in Aotearoa - can you tell our readers why you choose to support Prepair?
There are three ‘whys’ behind my choice to support Prepair.
The first is simple; I believe in Irene. Therefore, I believe in Prepair. I’ve had the privilege of knowing Irene for three years now. Her wholeheartedness and determination to carve a path that feels right for her and the people she wants to serve isn’t something you come across every day. So it feels right to support Prepair, given it has been such a big part of Irene’s life since we met.
The second ‘why’ relates to Prepair’s kaupapa. Navigating human relationships is a huge challenge, especially when it comes to romantic ones. The importance of self-love (and how to live it) is something I am still learning about every day. We can’t take it for granted that young wahine of Aotearoa know what self-love is, let alone how to practice it. Prepair plays a key role in filling the knowledge gap.
Finally, I’m a big advocate of the mantra, “surround yourself with those who are better than you”. When I unpack those words, I see the importance of supporting Prepair. As an organisation, it is working in areas and with people who I would never touch in my own mahi. I’m super proud to support that work, knowing how important it is to the well-being - mental and physical - of our nation.
You quit your job as a lawyer in exchange to do work that matters. Amazing! What influenced this change? And what are you working on now?
One of the free tools on Prepair’s website is a values exercise. Irene and I must have known each other in another life, because undertaking a values exercise was a pivotal moment for me back when I was a lawyer. Although the legal world gave me super valuable analytical and professional skills, I discovered my values were misaligned with my life as a lawyer.
Most recently I’ve been working with social enterprises and private organisations, running workshops and providing consulting services in strategy and soft skills. I’m about to join the team at PwC’s Experience Centre. The team specialises in experience design, and I’m excited to dive into a whole new world of learning!
You came across Prepair during the early set-up stages. What is the one thing that stands out about Prepair as it has grown over the years?
There have been many great aspects of watching Prepair grow over the years! Perhaps one thing that stands out in particular is watching a crowd of Prepair whanau step into the space created by Irene.
What I have loved to see is how intentionally Irene selects the team around her. This has translated to tangible success that goes far beyond the number of followers Prepair has on Instagram - the creativity of the Glassons Rose Tee campaign; and the workshops Irene has led around the motu. Irene very deliberately finds people who have skill or flair in areas she does not, or does not have time for. That is a hallmark of a great leader.
What would you tell another person or organisation considering to support Prepair, too?
I’d advise them to get to know Prepair through its online presence. Prepair is on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and of course spreads its kaupapa via its resource-rich website. Then, I’d ask them how they might be best placed to support Prepair - is it financially, via volunteering, or simply spreading the word to a particular friend of whanau member?
Irene and her team are super responsive, so once you have thought about where you sit and are unsure how to proceed (e.g., wanting to give your time or gifts-in-kind) - ask the team. After all, they are the ones closest to the organisation’s needs.
What is it like being involved in a culture like Prepair that is driven by passionate women? And what kind of social change do you see Prepair making?
Super inspiring! It reminds me of the privileged position I am in, surrounded by people who love me and who have the space and energy to drive change. Being involved in Prepair helps me do that; I see a side to passion and activism that I might not access otherwise, and opens my eyes to some of the darker sides of Aotearoa. Those two things really motivate me to do my bit to create change.
As for social change, Kiwis have traditionally prided themselves on toughing it out in silence, or providing comfort in the form of “she’ll be right”. Alongside this sits tall poppy syndrome - a disgust for people who trust themselves and aren’t afraid to show the world what they can do.
What this means is that we have girls who don’t speak out, or even recognise that they need to speak out, in the midst of toxic relationships. We have girls who don’t show themselves self-love, because what’s the point of singing your own praises if you get shut down by your mates as a bragger?
We are slowly making a shift from these dangerous attitudes. I see Prepair as playing a crucial role in that shift.