I grew up in Canterbury and attended Aranui High School. On my 17th birthday I opened my first small business called Stir Fry and Gourmet Foods. Since then I have started several businesses in the catering, building and social service sectors. “My work in the social service sector opened my eyes to the plight of solo-mothers, people with disabilities and the unemployed. I realised how degrading applying for the benefit can be and the power government departments hold over beneficiaries. If we had an Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) we would not need all those government departments and bureaucrats. If I had the UBI when I left school I would have been able to take more risks in business or maybe even attend university.”
I have an adult daughter, and as a mother and past President of the Linwood East Playcenter, I believe in the value of early childhood education. Recently I have been assisting a Nigerian NGO which provides a pre-school to children of subsistence farmers. The children who attend the pre-school are two years ahead of their peers. TOP’s free early childhood education policy will give our children the start they deserve.
While employed by Dominion Breweries first as an auditor and then as a hotel manager I gained an understanding of the impact of both drugs and alcohol on NZ society. To be honest it put me off drinking alcohol and made me realise we had criminalised the wrong drug. Patrons drinking sprits would often get aggressive but the guys that slipped out to the carpark to have a joint rarely caused any trouble.” The decriminalisation of marijuana would provide the police with more time to chase violent criminals like the double murderer who broken into my Kaiapoi home one night and to combat serious drugs such as methamphetamine. It would free up our court system and our prisons and provide tax revenue which could be used to educate people about moderation.
It wasn’t until a year after the Canterbury Quakes when my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer that I had a chance to stop and take stock of my life. I nursed my mother and then returned to university. I had already gained a diploma in applied social service and a degree in business management. But I had always been passionate about the environment so decided to round off my qualifications with a Masters in Ecology focusing on freshwater. For my masters I travelled all over the South Island sampling streams and realised how degraded they had become. The whole family was mortified when we realised we could not swim in most of our treasured waterways. It made me angry as hell but I didn’t want to become cynical or just give in. I knew that science held solutions to many of the issues we face both in freshwater and climate change. TOP’s evidence-based environmental policies really do address the serious challenges we face. Even better, TOP intends to give the environment rights within a constitution.
I love fossicking with my husband and daughter in the hills around Waipara and taking my dog Edison for walks.