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.”