Our NEXT Women of the Year supreme winners and category winners have overcome hardship, hurdles and adversity to get to where they are today – and learnt a lot along the way.
Ruth Money was the deserving recipient of the community category last year. She sold her award-winning marketing agency in 2012 and has chosen to dedicate her work to helping victims of violent and sexual crimes and families of murder victims.
She says while at times it's difficult to keep going, there is one thing that spurs her on.
“Some days it’s overwhelming to see so much injustice and to work unpaid to fight for these people because no one else is. But I remind myself it’s important.”
After overcoming the death of a young family member through gang violence and then becoming a teen mother, NEXT Woman of the Year supreme winner in 2014 Sita Selupe rose to action, founding her own ground-breaking school to help transform the lives of Maori and pasifika children.
“When life deals you some stink cards, you have options – as much as you think you don’t. You can choose to see the positive and do something good out of that situation or do nothing.
"Someone helped me when I was down and out, and it’s awesome to be able to help others when they need a helping hand.”
She attributes her success to becoming wiser with age, and good peers.
“My confidence in myself has become stronger with age, and being able to surround myself with exceptionally talented and smart people.”
NEXT Woman of the Year 2013 and former successful marketing manager Julie Chapman believes that money isn’t everything.
As the founder of KidsCan she works to transform the lives of New Zealand’s most needy children, providing food and essential clothing to kids in the lowest decile schools.
“You’ll never get rich working for a charity, but I love what I do. I love getting up in the morning, it’s not work to me,” she says.
Julie Bartlett, NEXT Woman of the Year 2012, founded Starjam, a performing arts program for disabled children. This year she launched SOUL, a Kiwi charity dedicated to replacing prejudice and discrimination with respect and empowerment, especially towards girls and young women.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Julie says the key to her success has been a sense of self-belief.
“In a way, doubters have spurred me on to say ‘I’ll show you!’. I have an unswerving belief in human potential, everyone has got potential. It just comes back to how you see your limitations. If you think ‘I can’t do one more thing’ you won’t be able to do one more thing.”
If you think you, or someone you know, could be the 2016 NEXT Woman of the Year, click here to enter.