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.

Our Stories: Mariken O'Donnell

Written by Jen Hacker.

While many are struggling to find the positive from months of isolating, Mariken O’Donnell found her silver lining right at the start. The Mum of Mariken ODonnelltwo says that lockdown has had unexpected benefits for her family. “My son has severe allergies,” she says. “He was really sick at the beginning of the year and then COVID hit and he’s been really healthy!”

On top of juggling family priorities, her own business and volunteering on the NZBWN board, Mariken has become a keen advocate for allergy awareness in recent years. She volunteers with UK-based charities, Anaphylaxis Campaign and Allergy UK. “My objective in being a mum and doing all this is to raise awareness that it really is life-threatening,” says Mariken.

“People tend to think that if you’ve got anti-histamines or even an epi-pen that it’ll just be fine, but that’s just not true,” she says. “If someone says “I’ve got a nut allergy” then we need to go “This is serious. Let me protect you”.”

Mariken has also started a social media page, Nutfree Adventures, to show the community that allergies don’t have to stop you from living a life that you love. “As long as you’re vigilant and prepared, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t lead a full, adventurous life.”