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Deidre Otene - Alumna 2008

Written by Rebecca Savory

For Deidre Otene, 2008 was a turning point in her life taking part in the Leadership NZ Programme and since then she has embarked on a new journey of passion and a dream job.

Ko Maungataniwha te Maunga
Ko Taapapa te Awa
Ko Ngatokimatawhaurua te waka
Ko Rahiri te Tupuna
Ko Poroa te Tupuna
Ko Hokianga Whakapou karakia te Moana
Ko Mangamuka te Marae
Ko Ngapuhi te Whare tupuna
Puhi Kai Ariki
Puhi Moana Ariki
Puhi Taniwha Rau
Ko Kohatutaka me Te Uri Mahoe nga Hapu
Ko Ngahuhi me Te Rarawa nga Iwi
Ko Deidre Otene ahau
Ko Tegen Atarangi Stillwell raua ko
Temanamai I nga Rangi Stillwell toku tamariki

Prior to the Programme, Deidre had worked her way up through multiple government department jobs, being recognised for her skills with many promotions along the way.

Starting in Work and Income as a case manager and most recently working as a Youth Offending Teams coordinator for Manukau City Council, she has had a fair amount of experience with helping people.

However it wasn’t until she joined the Leadership NZ Programme that she discovered where her true passion for helping people sat and how she could use her skills to make this passion both a reality and a career.

“I will admit that the Programme was actually life-changing for me, not just on a career level but on a personal level as well,” said Deidre.

“The Programme content, in particular the guest speakers who I heard from and engaged with, as well as the programme participants allowed me to explore what really was important to me and what direction I really did want to take.”

Following the Programme, she embarked on her new journey by moving to Queensland, Australia and working for The Benevolent Society and indigenous communities. Despite loving her work there, she returned to New Zealand in 2011 to realise her dreams in her own community.

“I was given the confidence to take the risk and plunge into my dream career and to do that in my dream setting, which is where I have worked my way to where I am now.”

Deidre joined a team of Manurewa community groups all working towards similar goals for their community, and is now based at the Manurewa Marae as the project manager for Taiohi Whai Oranga, a youth health initiative built on holistic needs of young people and their families.

Hoping to empower youth, empower the community and disrupt and overcome stereotypes, Deidre said, “It’s about taking risks and challenging the norms and working outside those norms to create positive change.” 

They turned the light on for me that when you’re passionate about something you can actually make it your career, and achieve the passions that have been placed in your heart.

Inspired in 2008 by the likes of guest speakers Judge Joe Williams, Bob Harvey and Sir Paul Reeves, Deidre has found great satisfaction in now working within her community and for her community.

“They turned the light on for me that when you’re passionate about something you can actually make it your career, and achieve the passions that have been placed in your heart. That’s what I’m doing now.”

As well as working full-time in her project manager role and supporting her family, Deidre is also studying for a conjoint Law and Arts degree through the University of Auckland part-time.

Deidre was awarded the Vodafone World of Difference scholarship for 2013, allowing her to continue her inspiring journey.