Ruby Turnwald, one of our Whakatāne participants, caught up with the team to share her thoughts on the journey so far:
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m from Matatā and Tokoroa. Growing up, life was good but when I was 16, I was diagnosed with depression. I studied to be a makeup artist, but I didn’t stay with it instead I worked retail and managed several stores. When I was 22, my dad passed away. Shortly after I went to study Social Sciences but I couldn’t get into study, I’d rather learn hands on. I wanted to do something more impactful and creative. I found creative outlets; I made jewellery and I worked on a mural in Matatā. This led to doing Tuia through Mayors Taskforce for Jobs and the Future Leaders Programme.
My inspiration and motivation is my nieces; their positivity and outlook on life. They are so little but learning so fast. If we could all go back to that child-like mindset the world would be a better place. I want to lead a group of people and be an awesome role model for young wahine.
Tell us about your community, what’s great about it, and what are some of the challenges facing your community?
Matatā locals are known for their community spirit in Bay of Plenty, but we also have our issues. We live in a town where it's either wealth or poverty. There’s large gentrification, increasing wealth gaps, and property prices growing. Jobs in rural areas are really hard to find. The only jobs available is in the packhouse working 60 hours a week. Drug issues and mental health are also facing our community as with many other communities nation-wide.
Why did you join the Future Leaders programme and how has it benefited you or your community?
I joined the Future Leaders programme because I have always felt within myself I had a greater purpose. Simple as that - I just want to do good, it's part of me. I wanted to be open to more opportunities and pathways. I wanted to make new connections and I wanted to lead alongside other leaders.
From the mural project we’ve been able to start a charitable trust. It's called Mana Wahine Matatā . We work to empower and inspire young women in the region, teaching mindfulness, sexual education and self love among other things