Who inspires you?
And those quotes you see on Instagram that speak to your soul. You know, the ones on philosophy, Te Ao Maaori, love, wellbeing, opportunity, growth and connection.
Where is your favourite place in the Waikato?
Taitua Arboretum and Raglan.
What’s the best thing you bring to Seed Waikato?
An indomitable spirit. There’s this fountain of strength, purpose and passion that flows no matter how hard things get. And things get hard.
What do you spend your time on?
I live and breathe Seed Waikato! But another big passion of mine is philanthropy, so I also do some work with Philanthropy New Zealand as a Youth Advisor and sit on their Board, strategising around how we can support more young people to contribute to the space.
When I’m not working, I love spending time with husband talking about the universe, watching a good documentary on Netflix, gardening or supporting my friends in their adventures.
What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?
When I graduated from the University of Waikato, I was invited to be the student speaker. My intuition told me I needed to use that platform to talk openly about my lived experience with mental distress. I have never been more nervous in my life. There was 1000 people there, and I talked about how I overcame my crippling drug-induced psychosis and bipolar, which ended up creating a safe space for many others to open up about their mental health journey since then.
You can watch it here if you want to.
What’s the coolest thing you’re working on right now?
Growing our little pēpi. He’s due at the end of August, and I’m so excited to become a māmā.
What colour crayon would you be?
Yellow. Lots of energy.
What inspired you to start Seed Waikato?
I was on the RYLA course and met Ryan O’Connor and Stacey Fifield (shout-out), and we were talking about what it means to be young in the Waikato. We decided to ask some other young people what they thought, and found that a bunch of us wanted opportunities to connect and grow. So we decided to create something. It’s grown so much in such a short time thanks to the time and passion of so many volunteers.
On a personal level, after my experience in the mental health system and overcoming addiction and mental health challenges, I want to support and empower as many young people as possible to recognise and step into their potential.
What does Seed Waikato mean to you?
You. The young people of the Waikato.
Get in touch with Gemma via firstname.lastname@example.org