As an agent of change in New Zealand, 19-year-old Amy advocates to end modern slavery along with a group of youth advocates. She mobilises support for modern slavery legislation and urges politicians of all parties to consider this legislation as a priority. "I think anyone, anywhere, should have the right to freedom," Amy says.
Q&A with Amy
lightly edited and condensed for clarity
What is your favourite food to eat?
I think my favourite food is feijoas. They’ve just come into season, and I’ve been enjoying snacking on them and using them in my baking.
What is your favourite thing to do for fun?
I love going to the beach. It is my favourite place to recharge and process all of the things that are going on in my life at the time.
Who is your favourite actor/singer/dancer/influencer?
Jacinda Ardern is my favourite ‘influencer’. I admire the way that she ran our country over the past couple years and think that she is a fantastic leader to look up to.
What is your favourite memory from your childhood?
My family lives next to a river and when I was young my grandma would take me down and go whitebait fishing with me. It isn’t a very active activity so my favourite part would have had to be hanging out with my grandma and catching up with her about how we’d both been doing.
What would you tell a future Changemaker?
My advice to future changemakers: be bold and have courage. Be bold in your actions and have the courage to take the next steps, even if they terrify you.
What would you say to yourself 5 years ago?
The same advice as I would give to future changemakers!
What is the issue you advocate on and what made you decide to take on this issue?
I advocate for the introduction of Modern Slavery Legislation into New Zealand law. It didn’t take much convincing to get me on board with this project. I think anyone, anywhere, should have the right to freedom.
Why is ending violence against children and the issue you advocate on so important to you?
Children are our future. They should have the most positive upbringings that they can.
What difference would you like leaders to make to create real change on the issue you advocate on?
Obviously, within New Zealand, I would love them to take more notice of Modern Slavery Legislation. Our current advocacy action is pushing politicians of all parties to consider this legislation as a priority ahead of the upcoming election.
What would you say to leaders if you had the chance to talk to them directly?
New Zealand leaders: make Modern Slavery Legislation a priority! World Leaders: listen to youth perspectives more often. We have things to say, and I think the world would be a better place if you listened.
What is something you hope to accomplish in 5 years?
Advocacy work: have modern slavery legislation passed.
Personal: finish my degree and find a job that I really enjoy.
What is the most encouraging thing that has happened during your work with this issue?
I had a conversation with my degree head, and he allowed me to speak to my entire degree cohort about my advocacy work. It was cool but also terrifying – the lecture that he asked me to speak at was my first ever in-person lecture for that class (which also means everyone turned up!).
What five words would you use to describe why the issue you work on is so important to you?
Courage, Children, Justice, Accountability, Compassion
What is the funniest thing that has happened during your advocacy work?
I can’t think of a specific moment, but I have had so many casual funny moments with my team. We are always laughing and having fun with each other.
What challenges have you encountered in your advocacy work?
I struggle when people aren’t open-minded and are very set in their opinions. I have learnt to move on and not take it personally, but it was definitely something that I struggled with at the beginning of my advocacy journey.
Do you advocate alongside other children and young people, and how do they inspire you?
I work alongside a group of youth advocates here at WVNZ. They continuously motivate me to do better and dream bigger.
If you could pick one personal memory or achievement around ending violence against children, what would it be?
When we counted up the final number of submissions – that was a really cool moment and achievement with my team. We had gathered over 3000 submissions which smashed our goal and was proof of our hard work over the previous couple of months.