Duncan 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 & Operations Manager
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.
Casper Gordon – Finance, Policy and HR Assistant
(They/Them or He/Him)
Hi! I’m Casper, or Cas, or CJ, or whatever else interesting you manage to come up with.
I was born in Te Kuiti but raised mostly in the small beach town of Whangamata, and since then have been moving around the place quite a bit. I’ve been (mostly) settled in Auckland for the past two years, however, and like it enough to stick around for a while longer.
My role here includes assisting with finances and such like, and fixing up old policies so they’re nice, shiny and up-to-date. Office stuff.
I’ve been involved with Rainbow Youth for just over a year now, coming to GQ, various events and bits, and just hanging out at the drop-in centre. I am extremely grateful for the friends who introduced me to Rainbow Youth as coming here helped me realise a LOT about who I am as a non-binary, sorta guy person. I’m pretty passionate about this place and the work it does, so I’m absolutely honoured to be able to contribute!
In my own time, I draw constantly, and do mundane crafty things while watching video game or art streams to rest my hand and stave off carpal tunnel. I dabble in playing guitar, rockclimbing, and find the most joy in a night out with good friends and good food.
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)
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.
OUR EXECUTIVE BOARD
Sophie Sills – Co-chair
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)
My name is Taine, and I am humbled to be back on the RY board, having served for two terms prior to this. My day job finds me working for the largest grassroots human rights organisation in the world, Amnesty International.
I’m 25 years old, and have been undergoing a transition from female to male for the last five or so years. RainbowYOUTH helped me to meet new people and learn so much about myself. I want to give my best hours to this organisation.
As the Gender Diverse rep, I aim to forge, strengthen, and recreate networks amongst trans and gender diverse youth throughout New Zealand. I hope to use my privileges to create and hold space for others.
For this board term, I anticipate hard work and challenges, but look forward to the growth and new structures that will develop over the year.
My greatest passions in life are cats, books, and drinking tea. With a background in biology, I’m interested in ecological conservation and sustainability. Please introduce yourself if you see me around!
Hamish Tait – Treasurer
(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
Hi! I’m Ryvre, one of the general board members for 2016/2017.
I’m a trans man born and raised in Auckland. I’ve been involved with RainbowYOUTH since I was 16.
I started as a member of GQ and soon became a facilitator. I’m now 19 and it’s my first year on the board.
I’m currently working full time and am also a part time student. I’m completing a bridging course in health science so that I can begin a Bachelor of Nursing next year. I really enjoy my job as a support worker so I’m excited to advance in the health industry! Aside from that I also enjoy gardening, going to the gym, and being outdoors.
I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store for RY over this coming year, and being part of the amazing team that’s helping it grow!
Emilie Rākete – Tangata Whenua Rep
I’m Emmy Rākete and I’m really happy to be on this year’s board. I’m a student, activist, wahine Māori and trans woman from Tāmaki Makaurau. Like everyone else here, I’m really excited to nurture and grow RainbowYOUTH’s ability to protect our young people. Part of that means that, in my role as Māori and Pacific Representative, I’m responsible for ensuring that Te Tiriti o Waitangi sits at the center of everything we do.
Outside of activist stuff, my hobbies are mostly embarrassing nerd shit – I’m passionate about collecting Dungeons and Dragons rulebooks from the 1970s + arguing about inane memes on the internet. Arohanui!
Joel Gatland – Gender Diverse Rep
(They / Them)
My name is Joel and I am one of the general board members for the 2016-2017 board term.
I have been a part of 2 different boards whilst involved in RainbowYOUTH and have been in the positions of Secretary, Vice Chair and Co-Chairperson before. Prior to that I was a facilitator for one of our groups, an intern and a shared experience representative.
I am 23 years old, genderqueer, and studying Mechatronics Engineering at AUT.
I was born in New Zealand, but spent 7 years with my family living in South East Asia and America. In my free time I skate as a referee with an Auckland Roller Derby league called The Pirate City Rollers. I also love the outdoors and spend as much time as I can kayaking, swimming, sailing, surfing, diving, and I am usually at my happiest while floating in the water at a beach.
I’m super excited to be a part of the RainbowYOUTH board this term, and can’t wait to see how the organisation will grow over the next year!
I’m Deb, one of the general board members of the 2016/2017 year.
I’m 26 years old and originally from California. I’ve been in Auckland for about a year and reached out to RainbowYOUTH to get involved with the LGBT community here. I’ve been helping with social media and I’m Local fundraising and I’m very very excited to dive into the great work this board does!
I’ve had many jobs over the years. Currently, I’m a manager over at Mexico where I talk about tequila too much and eat a lot of guacamole. Before settling in Auckland I lived and worked in Melbourne, Laos, Cambodia, Portugal and Indonesia over the past 3 1/2 years alternatively in hospitality and not for profit organisations. Back in California I was a residential counsellor in CA’s first and only LGBT care facility for foster teens and worked as a domestic violence crisis counsellor.
In my free time I like to read by the fire, do yoga, try new restaurants and bars and go on as many trips as I can get away with.
Hi, I’m Rachel, and this is my third term on the RainbowYOUTH board and my second term as co-chairperson. I’ve been on the board since April 2014 and have previously been secretary and treasurer on the board. Before being on the board, I volunteered at RY as a facilitator of GQ, as an intern, and as a shared experiences representative.
I grew up in South Auckland and currently live in a ramshackle old flat in Ponsonby with four awesome flatmates. I’m studying psychology, accounting, commercial law, and German at the University of Auckland after two years of studying mechatronics engineering. In my spare time, I enjoy learning Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate, playing Magic: The Gathering (like most of the RY team, I’m a bit of a geek), and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix.
I’ve seen a lot of growth by RainbowYOUTH in the past four years and I’m really excited to see how it continues to grow in my time here.
OUR EXECUTIVE ADVISORS
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]
(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: firstname.lastname@example.org