Southern GWN's Coordinator, Heather Milne, has worked SGWN since 2019. Thanks to her broad and exceptional skillset and her work setting up and growing the Christchurch Aunties network, Heather has been offered a great opportunity to lend her skills to He Waka Tapu, an organisation providing tāne with resources and support.
We took the opportunity to sit down with Heather for an informal exit interview to hear her thoughts on her time with SGWN and her next adventure.
Tell us a little about your family
I live with my husband Dan, and two children, Cam and Elise.
What was your first job?
Well, my very first job was as a checkout operator at a supermarket when I was at school. An interesting lesson in how people can treat each other after a bad day!
What attracted you to the role of SGWN co-ordinator?
I liked the inclusive family atmosphere of the public sector, growth and learning opportunities, and a way to use my skills in a really positive way to help develop the committee and activities.
What takeaways or development benefits did you get from working in GWN?
Before I started the role, I had no idea of the positive work being done in the public sector for diverse groups. People are working hard to ensure their voices are heard. I've also been inspired by colleagues who I am definitely borrowing leadership tips from.
Tell us a little about your new opportunity
I'll be working as Brotherhood Coordinator at He Waka Tapu, a kaupapa Māori organisation in Christchurch. The role involves setting up a new programme to provide tāne with practical donations and support. It will be based on the Christchurch Aunties model, which is a charitable trust I have set up for women and children who have experienced family violence and vulnerability.
How did you get interested in this line of work?
In 2014, I helped a woman who had moved to Christchurch for her safety. That experience opened my eyes to everyday challenges for many people in the community. I also discovered that there is a large number of people in the community who want to help. My skillset lies in mobilising people for positive impact through effective communication. So I set up the Christchurch Aunties. We now work with over 11 organisations in Christchurch, helping thousands of women each year with practical donations and we have 4,000 'Aunties'.
What is your passion and how did you get started with it?
Photography is definitely my passion and obsession. I started studying photography after the earthquakes and found that it was my way of dealing with the trauma that was all around us. I've always been very open about my mental health, and photography is something that continues to be a key tool in my toolbox to help me deal with anxiety and depression.
Thank you so much for your hard work for SGWN, Heather. Tino koa ana i te rongo pai kua hau mai! We look forward to following your success.