Melanie Kerr - NZRDA Ambassador
I grew up on the back of a horse in Taneatua and Ruatoki in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. Living on a dairy farm, ‘beyond the confiscation line’ I developed an understanding of Maori language and culture, and am able to relate easily to folk from different backgrounds. After leaving high school, I lived for four years in the outback of Western Australia, where I worked on a gold mine, drove trucks and helped to run a 1.3 million acre cattle station.
Upon returning to New Zealand I worked as Puppy Development manager for the Royal NZ foundation for the Blind, Guide Dog Services. I then swapped dog-poo bags for air-sickness bags when I became an international flight attendant for Air New Zealand. It took a few years to realize that a fear of flying cannot be overcome by spending extended periods of time in a Boeing 747. A change of vocation was needed!
It came in the form of motherhood, when my two sons, Fletcher and Pierce, were born within a blink of each other (not twins, but nearly!) This saw our family returning to the BOP to “raise our boys rural.” Whilst living in Opotiki, I stumbled upon a career in radio, gaining the position of announcer in the ten-till-two slot. This job was to be the basis for the work I do today at TVNZ.
During this time I became involved with establishing ‘Kiwi Can’ in the Opotiki area. Kiwi Can is a values based programme that has been running in primary schools throughout NZ, for over ten years. I was the coordinator for the Opotiki area and am proud to say that programme is still running, enhancing the lives of many children in the district.
I now live on the Hibiscus Coast, and am currently a presenter for TV One’s Good Morning show. I still dabble in radio and am regularly working as an MC at various community functions and corporate events.
I am an ambassador for NZRDA and volunteer at the North Shore Branch. Over my time as a volunteer I have seen visible differences in the lives of the children who come to ride. I have been moved to tears by the strength and courage displayed by children, that if you were to pass them in the street, you would not believe what they are capable of.
My perception of what is possible for those living with disabilities has been shattered. Smashed by some kids on a pony! I love the work I do and am grateful for the many opportunities that come my way. People are my focus and so long as I am able, I will endeavour to use my powers for good, not evil!