News | 28 June 2022
Share on social

We Skate Pōneke: Mel's story

For Melissa Warner, the world is brighter, friendlier, and happier when she’s on her skateboard.

Person on a skateboard on a ramp.

The 22-year-old got serious about skating five years ago and says the traditionally male-dominated sport has benefited her in many ways.

“It’s given me a sense of belonging, and so many new friends of all ages and genders. It’s also a great form of exercise, as I strongly dislike the gym! I live and work in the CBD, so skating has helped me reduce my carbon emissions by driving less, which is great.

“It’s also benefited me mentally. It’s a great distraction when things just get a little too much. My confidence has also grown stronger through learning to skate.”

Mel became a skateboarding instructor with OnBoard Skate, offering free skating lessons across the city, and has since set up her own skate school, Skate Ed. 

Mel is passionate about teaching  tamariki, and especially wāhine, to master the skateboard.

“I think my biggest challenge when I started skating was the lack of diversity within the community. I never really saw any other wāhine or LGBTQI+ skating in Pōneke or in any local magazines, so for a while I felt quite intimidated by most skaters. But life is full of challenges, right? So, I wasn’t going to let that stop me.”

She loves the creative aspect of skating – where everyone has their own unique style and flair, and can just be themselves. 

And as well as benefitting her own life, Mel has witnessed others gain countless advantages through taking up the sport.

“Everywhere I go I can see how skating benefits other people. It has provided a safe community and rich culture for so many of us. 

“Running skate lessons in Pōneke, I am lucky enough to see how tamariki and rangatahi are able to grow their confidence and patience through active play.”

Two people skateboarding.

Wellington City Council’s Play and Active Recreation Partnership Lead, Alexi Trenouth, says it’s great to see how skating has made a positive difference for Mel, and she is excited to see the faces of other local skaters fronting our campaign, We Skate Pōneke.

“It aims to challenge negative public perceptions and break down barriers of skating stereotypes by celebrating the many benefits of skating – like growing confidence, inspiring new connections, enhancing physical and mental health, and being a sustainable way to get around.”

Mel is on the Wellington Skateboarding Association committee and was part of the focus group for the We Skate Pōneke campaign.

Alexi says Mel and others have been working with the Council to see better skate facilities in the city as well as see skateboarders represented across transport and urban design projects.

“It’s awesome to support our young wāhine to be heard at Wellington City Council and influence the future of the city,” Alexi says. 

Mel encourages everyone to give skateboarding a go. 

“Even if you just feel  a bit intimidated, I suggest you come along to a skate lesson.”

Skate Ed is now up and running, focusing mainly on tamariki and rangatahi. If you are interested in private lessons or a job as a skate coach, Mel invites you to get in touch at

Waa Hine Skate also has a variety of lessons for all ages running in Pōneke during 2022. Find out more about We Skate Pōneke at