Our Stories: Libby Gordon

Written by Nicola Cockroft.

Libby isn’t one to sit still. She bought a one-way ticket to the UK 15 years ago and hasn’t stopped since. An avid runner and cyclist, she also has a string of voluntary roles on the go, including helping run our Business Book Brunch, and has recently hosted a masterclass to impart some sage advice on coping with change.Libby Gordon

Why does she volunteer so much? “I’ve got time to give and I like giving it. I love meeting people and hearing their stories.” It’s something she’s always done, ever since she was a kid. Her parents were part of Forest & Bird and so she was often out litter picking or planting trees. She’s carried that on into her adult life with a long list of charities and community groups that she supports, both in her local area of Tooting and beyond.

When she started to miss her connection with New Zealand a few years ago she joined her first NZBWN Business Book Brunch, which she now volunteers to help run for the network. “They’re a great learning opportunity. I love that it’s not just about listening to someone else, but getting involved in the discussion and helping myself and others think about how to apply the things we learn.”

“I enjoy talking to people who are interested in more than just what’s in front of them.” She thinks it takes a certain type of person to uproot their lives – leaving behind their family, friends and everything they know that’s familiar. Although not every Kiwi that has done that will have the same outlook, she says there’s a common desire to get up and do something different and she’s interested in speaking to others who share that type of attitude.

Our Stories: Fiona MacDonald

Written by Jen Hacker.

Fiona Macdonald is one of those rare people that knew what she wanted to do from a young age. As an avid outdoor sports fan in her teens, Fiona was keen to promote the beautiful country and landscape and knew that a career in tourism was for her.FionaMcDonald

“People who work in tourism boards tend to be incredibly proud and I was, I still am, an incredibly proud kiwi,” she says. “Working in that industry is a great way to show off how great your country is.”

One of her early career highlights was when former Prime Minister John Key personally chose to give tourism the senior ministerial platform that it so richly deserves. Key was one of the few PMs to choose to become the Minister for Tourism and Fiona, who was working at the Ministry of Tourism at the time, believes that showed the importance of the sector. “It’s really one of the best outcomes that a country’s tourism board can ask for,” she says. “It helped elevate the industry on New Zealand’s radar and it’s now taken very seriously.”

After moving to London in 2011, Fiona now calls both NZ and the UK home so it’s fitting that she’s putting that same sense of national pride into her current role representing Britain. As the Senior Manager for Business Events at VisitBritain - the UK’s national tourist board, Fiona works in attracting international events to the UK as part of the government-wide ‘GREAT Britain’ campaign.

Review: Book Club Brunch - Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race

Written by Shayna Manchanda and Veronica Lysaght.

Author: Reni Edlo Lodge 
Reviewed by: Shayna Manchanda and Veronica Lysaght NZBWN book club Race

Two reviews by two different NZBWN women of age, colour, and life experience.

Review by Shayna Manchanda

Until George Flyold’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement, I hadn’t heard of this book. When I first read the title, I was taken aback, which of course is the point. Its deliberately provocative. Reni wants you to sit up, take note and listen. She’s a journalist and this is a great click bait title.

Reni talks about what initiated her original blog post (with the same title back in 2014) and led to the publication of this book. She then goes on to tackle a lot of crucial and complex topics: the history of slavery and racism in Britain, structural racism, white privilege, the feminism question, how race and class are intertwined, and offers advice on what white people can do to fight racism.

This book is well-written and easy to read. Having said that, it took me a while to read. Because it elicited a very emotional response from me. This is Reni’s perspective and its steeped in emotion. It made me tear up, it made me angry. It made me sad. It made me frustrated. It made me hopeful.

Our Stories: May Lee Allen

Written by Bronwyn Huband.

In 1972 a petition was presented to the New Zealand parliament, asking for Te Reo Maori to be recognised as an official language. It took 15 more years for that to become a reality, and now the Government is aiming for one million New Zealanders to speak Te Reo by 2040.Maylee Allen

This month we caught up with May Lee Allen, on her role at Haka Works and her own ambitions for helping us all to take more of an interest in Te Reo. May Lee grew up in Papakura, South Auckland, and at primary school she was introduced to Kapa Haka, igniting her passion for Maori culture.

What's the Goss?