Duncan Matthews - General ManagerDuncan Matthews – Executive Director


Hi, I’m Duncan, the Executive Director at RainbowYOUTH.

I started out life down in the Waikato, got a Bachelor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences from Waikato University, moved to Auckland to be a software developer.

My passion is working with other people, helping people to achieve what they’re capable of, and constantly learning about anything and everything.

Like many other people, I walked past the door to RainbowYOUTH a few times before finally having the courage to walk in! Having been involved with RY for 6 years now, I’m so happy I did. RainbowYOUTH is an amazing organisation, not only for what it achieves in the community, in schools and nationally, but in the way 10 young peers can come together and govern an organisation of this size.

As ED, I get to work closely with each other person you see on this page. If you get the chance to work with or make friends with any one of them, take it! RainbowYOUTH has an amazing bunch of volunteers and staff behind it, each of whom has made me a better person for knowing them.

Have any ideas? Comments? Get in touch!

Find me on LinkedIn: Duncan Matthews.

Toni Duder – Communications Manager & 2IC


Kia ora koutou!

I originally hail from Dargaville in Northland but went to boarding school in Auckland from 13-18. I’ve lived in Auckland ever since!

I’m in charge of the communication stuff that goes on at RainbowYOUTH – managing social media, websites, design. I also manage staff and make sure all of our services run smoothly.  I also am the project manager and creator of RY’s I’m Local Project.

I’ve been an out lesbian since I was 15, and it’s been a bumpy but very rewarding road. Outside of my work at RainbowYOUTH, I’ve got my Masters in Screenwriting at the University of Auckland and try and get as many stories out of my head as possible. My other interests include podcasts, history, cats, books, beaches, spending time with whānau – the usual!

Morgan Butler – Support Manager


Kia ora whānau, ko Morgan taku ingoa!

I’m the Support Manager for RainbowYOUTH, my role involves looking after the groups and interns, but also providing direct support to young people who contact RainbowYOUTH. I’ve nearly finished my diploma in Youth Work and am looking forward to using my skills in my job.

I was born in Australia but my whānau quickly moved to New Zealand when I was three. My New Zealand roots are from Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Tainui and Ngāpuhi. A lot of my whānau are involved with volunteering for many types of community, so I wanted to follow in their foot steps.

I lived in Hamilton for most of my life, and being a young queer I found out about a queer and trans* group called Waikato Queer Youth (WaQuY)! I started helping out and volunteering for WaQuY when I was 14, and that’s really what got me in to wanting to help out with our community. When I moved to Auckland to study I started volunteering for RY, and they say if you stick around enough people will start to pay you… What can I say, they started to pay me 😀

Outside of work I have a cat named Alaska and she is beautiful and sassy. I live in West Auckland and I love it! I enjoy going to Muriwai, either for a swim or to take my cat for a walk on the beach. I enjoy watching the Kardashians, long car rides, finding new places to climb/swim, or just going to the Domain late at night and looking at the city lights.

Anahera Foley-Paama – Communications and Office Coordinator


Kia ora, ko Anahera toku ingoa. Ko Te Arawa raua ko Ngāti Maniapoto, ko Ngāi Te Rangi oku iwi. I was born in Whanganui but will always call Auckland my home. At the moment, I’m just finishing up my Undergraduate degree in Psychology.

My role at RainbowYOUTH is Communications and Office Coordinator which means I get paid to be on our social media (like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) alllll day. Sort of. I promote all of our events, projects and campaigns, coordinate our education and professional development workshops, help direct our educators, and respond to some of the queries you guys have for us.

Outside of work and study, you could say I’m one of those awful 90’s babies that has an iPhone and lives for Netflix, and be absolutely correct. My favourite things in the world include ice cream, people watching, old-school music, winning the lotto and puppies/dogs (not cats). My favourite places to be are with a good group of friends at Lake Pupuke or looking at the city lights from Northcote Point.

I am super excited to be working at an organisation that I’ve long fangirled over, and alongside some of the best people I know.

Melanie Govender – Auckland Schools Coordinator


Kia ora! I’m Mel or Melanie (but never Melissa).  

When I’m not stuck in traffic singing the wrong lyrics, or attempting to procure the love of a fluffy animal; I nanny, dabble in art-making, and frequently plan tattoos and travel.

I grew up in South Africa as a questioning, rebellious Indian girl, and it was only until the age of 17 that I met my first queer-identified person.  Moving to Aotearoa over a decade ago not only exposed me to queer culture, but also gave me the opportunity to become a part of the RainbowYOUTH whanau.  Joining as a member in 2012, I later became a facilitator for I.D. and then secretary to the board. 

I recently completed my Masters in Educational Psychology and it’s wonderful being back at RainbowYOUTH (and as staff to boot!). 

I’m very excited that my new role as Auckland Schools Coordinator allows me to work alongside youth, teachers and other professionals to promote knowledge about our community, create safe spaces for youth, and belong to a force vying for wider social change. 

Velvl Ryder – Grants Coordinator


I’m a Ukrainian-born, Auckland-raised wanderer and dreamer, who has been lucky enough to finally get my dream job. I’ve been involved with the international LGBTI community for almost a decade now, helping organize online projects, movements and events with my friends across several time zones. I’ve always loved working with people, and Rainbow Youth gives me the opportunity to learn more about and branch out further into the NZ LGBTI community.

I’m in charge of getting grants and funding for all the amazing projects that Rainbow Youth has planned, and I cannot wait to make the ideas of this tireless team a reality. Here’s hoping my persuasive skills honed as debating captain haven’t gotten rusty since high school.

I’ve been trans for as long as I can remember – the further back I think, the more clues come to the surface – but I have been officially owning the term for just over two years. I am not completely out to my friends, but the confidence that Rainbow Youth gives me to be myself will see that change this year, I’m certain.

In my spare time, I write. Endlessly. I work on anything from freelance blogs to short stories to commissions, and do everything in my power to promote the work and creativity of the LGBTI community. I’m currently running a crowdfunding project with a friend of mine to help trans youth. I live with a cat and two dogs, and on the weekends get to return home to cuddle my fat chihuahua and take the occasional roadtrip with my mum.

Madie Brownlee – Rainbow Housing Support Worker


Kia ora whānau!

I’m Madie and my dream is to own a dog and llama farm where the sushi is always fresh and the chicken nuggets never run out. So to buy my farm I’m working as the Rainbow Housing Support Worker here at RainbowYOUTH and Lifewise! My role is to support young people with issues of, and around, homelessness in the Auckland area in whatever way I can. I am humbled and excited to have the opportunity to help people in our community.

I was lucky enough to enter this role after I ventured into RainbowYOUTH to complete my Social Work degree last year (and I was curious to see what happens here) where I was promptly introduced to my second whānau, the RainbowYOUTH team. I grew up in Whangarei (Dubcity hard) where my beautiful (original) whānau live with the beautiful Mr Bentley, our little Shih Tzu Maltese treasure child. My whakapapa lies in Mangamuka in the gorgeous Hokianga where my whānau are fortunate enough to be from.

When I’m not in the centre you can find me wandering K’rd with a ham and cheese bun from the Bake Pod, binge watching terrible TV shows or lying in the sun somewhere. If that’s not enough info on me here are three facts about me that may or may not be interesting; I can fold fitted bed sheets, I have a silver medal for competing in the NZ Nationals for Karate, and I once ate 73 chicken nuggets in half an hour.  Impressed yet?  Then you should meet me and the rest of the team 😎

Nathan Bramwell – Regional Coordinator Tauranga & Hauraki Area


Hey folks, I am joining RY to serve the Bay of Plenty and Hauraki region. I have worked in the community with and alongside RY in my role as Youth Services Manager at Waikato Queer Youth for quite a few years. I am passionate about empowering gender and sexually diverse communities, promoting sustainability and laying the foundations for resilient youth.

I love to laugh and challenge myself, when I am not with my family or my mates you may find me collecting Lego, binge watching TV shows, reading, writing or trying to write, most likely playing on some console, always scrolling through Pinterest and wishing I was visiting the next beach or backroad campsite.

I am excited to join the RainbowYOUTH team and continuing to contribute to the community and fostering pathways a better future.”

Lee Grabarek – Rainbow Cultural Competency Developer

(They/Them or He/Him)

Hey there!

I’m the Rainbow Cultural Competency Developer at RY. Working in conjunction with Ara Taiohi, I have the amazing opportunity to help create a website and webtool that other youth organizations in New Zealand can use to better understand and support rainbow young folks. In other words, my job is to help rainbow folks feel welcomed, seen, and heard regardless of place or people!

I’m originally from Connecticut, a tiny state on the east coast of the States, but have called New Zealand my second home for the past few years. I’ve just finished my undergraduate work, studying youth, social justice, and geography at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. As my senior thesis, I interned at RY studying experiences of New Zealand’s rural queer youth and contributing some of my research to the I’m Local Project.  I feel incredibly lucky and eager to get back to work helping rainbow young people in New Zealand!

In my own time, I love to be outside. Whether that be running, tramping, cycling, or kayaking, you best believe that I’ll be spending my days off exploring this incredible country’s landscapes. And when I’m not outside, you’ll probably find me spending time with my friends, reading, watching Netflix, or working out at the gym.


Sophie Sills – Co-chair


Kia ora,

My name is Sophie and I am fortunate enough to be joining the RainbowYOUTH board this year.

My family hails from Dargaville, Auckland, Tauranga, and Scotland, but I have lived in Auckland my whole life. I am studying a Master of Arts in Gender and Critical Psychology at the University of Auckland, doing research about what it is like to be queer in sport. In the past, I have also done research with young people about rape culture, social media, and activism.

I am passionate about social justice and feminism, and when I am not reading about them at University, I am reading about them on Tumblr. I spend the rest of my free time playing football.

I’m excited to contribute to the work RainbowYOUTH does, and continue the hard work of the previous boards who came before me.

Taine Polkinghorne – Co-Chair


(He / Him)

Kia ora, my name is Taine, and this is my fourth term on the RainbowYOUTH executive board. I am humbled to have been elected into this position by our membership until mid-2019.

I’m 26 years old, and have been undergoing a transition from female to male since about 2011. This organisation has been the axis of my life for many years, helping me to meet new people and learn so much about myself.

As co-chairs of the board, Sophie and I work closely with Duncan, our executive director, as well as each of the staff, and the six other board members you see here. We are in a privileged position to be able to do this mahi; it has always been a team effort, and we build on the work of others who came before us. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for RY.

My greatest passions in life are cats, books, and drinking tea (preferably all at once). With a background in biology, I’m interested in ecological conservation and sustainability. I’m now working towards a Master of Public Health at the University of Auckland, with an ultimate life goal of serving the queer and gender diverse community.

I’m happy to be contacted on [email protected] Otherwise, please introduce yourself if you see me around!

Hamish Tait – Treasurer Hamish_Web

(He / Him)

Hi, my name is Hamish, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be back on the RY board as Treasurer for the 2016/17 year.

As Treasurer I am responsible for having oversight of RY’s finances and contributing to making financial decisions for the organisation.

By day I work as a tax advisor at a large accounting firm. I graduated from the University of Auckland with law and commerce degrees in 2015, have been admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand and am currently undertaking my Chartered Accountant qualification.

In my spare time in enjoy driving my Subaru, seeing the sights of Auckland, and reading. I am Auckland born and bred and currently live in Forrest Hill.

Ryvre Thompson – Secretary


Kia ora! I’m Ryvre.
I’m honoured and excited to have been elected as Secretary for another year on the RainbowYOUTH Executive Board.
I’ve been involved with RainbowYOUTH for four years now, with a few different involvements in my time here, including facilitating, organising a RY event (the masquerade ball), and as a member of the Executive Board. I’ve been Secretary since November 2016 and have loved every moment in the role so far. As Secretary, my role is to minute the Executive Board meetings and send out the appropriate information to staff / board members ahead of and after each meeting to ensure things run smoothly.

Outside of RainbowYOUTH I study full time at the University of Auckland, hoping to advance in a role within the health care sector. I also work part time as a Community Support Worker.
In my spare time, I enjoy exploring New Zealand, working in my vegetable garden, and going to the gym.

I’m looking forward to continuing to contribute to the amazing work that the RainbowYOUTH team does, and seeing the organisation grow!

Lucy Cowie


Kia ora, my name is Lucy and I’m really excited to be joining the RainbowYOUTH board this year!

Back when I was first coming out, I came along to GQ and ended up meeting people who I still see all the time today. I’m looking forward to seeing another side of the organisation, and hopefully playing a role in supporting the staff and volunteers in the cool work they do.

I’m currently at the University of Auckland studying clinical psychology and tutoring stage one psychology. In my spare time (and when I want to avoid studying and marking), I watch trashy TV shows and attempt to play soccer. I’ve recently started converting a breast cancer screening truck into a tiny house, so I also spend a lot of time on youtube researching how to DIY things.

If you’d like to get in touch with me, flick me an email at [email protected] or say hi when you see me!

Laura Olsen


My name is Laura Ann and I am one of the 8 board members who want to make a difference in the RainbowYOUTH community.
I am a Youth Programmes CoOrdinator by day at Youthtown Inc and a karaoke amateur by night.
I like to go out and spread my social butterfly wings on the weekends but I also love to play  a part of an alternate universe and follow the Assasin’s Creed. (or any fantasy PS4 games really…)
I live out west with my girlfriend and two dogs and five cats, I am a fan of animals as you can tell.
I am a big believer in this whakatauki:
“He aha te mea nui o te ao?
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.”
This proverb is partially the reason why I wanted to be part of RainbowYOUTH’s executive board because of the importance of people and identities within this community.


Nick Laing


I am really excited to have the opportunity to be part of the RY board in an adviser role. I am passionate about young people and I think that the work that RY does to provide safe spaces for young people to be themselves, and to develop and grow is awesome.

I trained as a social worker and have worked in the health sector since, mostly in leadership roles for the past ten years. I’m currently General Manager Operations at New Zealand AIDS Foundation.

I’m from Auckland and live with my husband and our two griffons. If you see me round please say hi or you can email me on [email protected]

Toni ReidTR

(They / Them)


I’m Tones and I’m super proud to be invited to be part of the governance board in an advisory role. 

The for youth,by youth philosophy has echoed through my mind since I first started attending RY groups 10+ years ago. Since then I’ve kept that philosophy close to me as I went on to train as an Occupational Therapist then took on various roles ranging from clinician, coach and team leader in mental health services and addiction services. 

I’m currently in the fortunate situation where I’m able to apply all my learnings through my experience with Rainbow Youth (as a facilitator, board member and service user) and my time in mental health & addictions in my day job at Lifehackhq as Programme Development Lead. 

You can get in touch with me via email: toni.reid@ry.org.nz