Alison Mau is one of the country’s most respected broadcast and print journalists. In her two decades at TVNZ, Ali hosted shows across the spectrum including Newsnight, Breakfast, One News At Six, and Fair Go and Seven Sharp. Since 2014 Alison has hosted radio programmes for RadioLive, including the evening current affairs show RadioLive Drive in 2017. In radio and in her weekly masthead opinion column for the Sunday Star Times and stuff.co.nz, Alison regularly advocates for the rights of women and minority groups, on issues like gender pay equality, LGBTQI rights, refugee quotas and physical and sexual violence against women.
She is the author of First Lady (Upstart Press 2015) the memoir of Elizabeth Roberts, the first person to undergo gender reassignment surgery in New Zealand. Alison was named finalist in the 2017 Women of Influence Awards for her work mentoring young women in broadcasting, and in the LGBTQI community.
Sharnay Cocup is a committed youth leader whose work has included establishing the Taupiri Youth Group which has put in countless hours on projects such as restoring the Taupiri Mountain walkway. She is the 2017 Women of Influence Young Leader and has also won the Kiwibank New Zealand Local Hero of the Year, the Waikato Youth Volunteer of the Year, and the Like a Boss category award in the inaugural Waikato District Council Youth Awards.
Shannon Mower is very passionate about issues pertaining to women’s rights – especially our reproductive rights. She wants the government to recognise that abortion is a health-care issue and remove it from the Crimes Act and further alter the restrictive conditions that women must adhere to when seeking an abortion. Shannon completed an Honours degree in Criminology in 2017 and in 2018 will undertake a Masters in Criminology specifically researching the clients of sex workers within a decriminalised context.
Melissa Lama is a young Pasifika leader from Ōtautahi. She is a board trustee member for the Pacific Youth Leadership and Transformation Council that encourages young Pasifika to take part in democracy. Melissa is the only daughter from a big Tongan family, a position that gives her much cultural responsibility. She is a fluent speaker of the Tongan language, is married to a New Zealand-born Muslim convert and has two young sons.
Mengzhu Fu is the Youth Project Coordinator at Shakti Youth, which focuses on eliminating family violence in Asian, Middle Eastern and African communities in Tamaki-Makaurau (Auckland). Mengzhu has an MA in Social Anthropology which was a feminist ethnographic study of Asian migrant youth survivors of family violence and it highlighted the structural violence in survivors’ lives related to poverty, housing and immigration. With the Shakti Youth team, they work to mobilise leadership among migrant and refugee background youth to build violence-free futures and to end all forms of discrimination.
Judy O’Brien is the Programme Coordinator for the Sexual Abuse Prevention Network, a community organisation that works with schools, businesses and groups in our community to educate and create open dialogues about sexual violence and teaches strategies and skills to prevent it. She is a trustee of the board for OuterSpaces, which operates as the parent organisation for four LGBTIQ+ youth groups based in Wellington, as well as being a facilitator for the OuterSpaces group Tranzform, a peer support group for gender questioning and gender diverse young people. Judy is passionate about cultural change and strongly believes in a community responsibility approach to fostering a safe and civil society in New Zealand.
Amber Marie Smith will co-MC the Women’s March hui. She was born in Aotearoa but from age 13 was raised in the UK where she attended the University of the Arts, London. She wrote and directed a short film about child trafficking that screened at the BFI London and was chosen by Creative Skillset for their 2007 Best of the Best Selection. Amber Marie returned to Aotearoa in 2009 where she works in the Film & Television industry on projects such as ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘Consent: The Louise Nicholas Story’. In June 2017, Amber Marie co-founded The Granary, with the intention to create digital content and to encourage, facilitate and support creative storytelling. Amber Marie is involved with a variety of women’s groups here in Wellington including Women’s March Aotearoa, National Council of Women NZ, Women in Film & Television, UN Women, TechWomen and the Awesome Women’s Network.
Susie Ferguson will co-MC the Women’s March hui. She is a journalist and broadcaster, currently co-presenter of New Zealand’s highest rating radio show, RNZ’s Morning Report. Before moving to New Zealand, Susie was a war correspondent for 6 years and covered major world events including the 2003 invasion of Iraq. She’s reported and presented from around the world, including numerous times from Afghanistan and Iraq, Lebanon, Sierra Leone, Mozambique and the Balkans. She’s also covered the immediate aftermath of disasters including the 2004 Asian tsunami, 2005 Pakistan earthquake and presented rolling coverage on RNZ following the 2011 Christchurch quake. Susie’s originally from Edinburgh, got her honours degree from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and postgraduate diploma from the University of the Arts London. She’s lived in Wellington with her family for 8 years.
Rebecca Stewart the co-founder and General Manager of Pomegranate Kitchen (who provided pre-ordered picnic options for the hui), a catering social enterprise which trains and employs cooks from a refugee background. Language barriers and the lack of local experience means it can be very difficult for former refugees to find the right training or job opportunities, so Pomegranate Kitchen provides a way for them to use their existing skills and enter the job market. Enabling them to share fresh and authentic food from their cultures is our way of recognising the rich contribution former refugees make to our society, and making sure our city is a welcoming new home. Rebecca was born in Wellington and studied a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Victoria University and a Master of Public Health at the University of Melbourne.