Home' The Wellingtonian : May 26th 2011 Contents 12 THE WELLINGTONIAN, MAY 26, 2011
Making life better for others
Stephanie McIntyre: ''The 70s was very lively in terms of New Zealand music . . . I managed a band called Reel to Reel.'' Photo: REBECCA THOMSON
Rebecca Thomson talks to
Downtown Community Ministry
director Stephanie McIntyre
about working in the music
industry, the United States
presidential elections and how
the recession is affecting
What was it like being a university
student in the 1970s?
I went to Vic and I lived in Aro Valley. It
was a very vibrant student community in
the valley. It was a time of social change --
feminism -- and we were encouraged to
explore that. We were quite idealistic and
aspirational. We were influenced by the
hippie movement and counter-culture, and
were genuinely engaged with issues.
The Vietnam War was a big issue
Vietnam was a really big issue, especially
for young men. They really believed there
was a high chance of being drafted.
Have you always been interested in
I ve always been interested in fairness.
One of the things that influenced me was
feminism. When I was a student I was
challenged to think about gender issues
and how gender affected people around me.
I extrapolated other social issues from that.
You studied under Lloyd Geering.
What was that like?
I did a BA in English and religious
studies. We were the first intake into the
religious studies department with Geering.
He was incredibly intellectual, formidable
and pretty challenging, too.
Didn't you work in the music indus-
try for a while?
The 70s was very lively in terms of New
Zealand music. It was an era of touring
bands and I managed a band called Reel to
Didn't you see one of Dave Dobbyn's
very early performances?
Our band was in New Plymouth and we
saw this man performing. He was about 20,
but looked about 12. It was Dave Dobbyn
and he was incredible. I thought he d
What other music memories stand
I saw U2 play at the Winter Show build-
ings. I was about three people away from
the stage. And I ended up working for a
record company that owned Virgin Records.
I was probably one of the first people in
New Zealand to have a complete set of Joy
Then you went to work with the
That was before they were integrated
into the general police. I used to go on
patrol with them and talk about their
experiences, sort of like a councillor. They
would talk to me about the fatal accidents
they had attended, where the victims where
the same age as their own children.
That sounds tough.
It was an amazing experience. I got an
opportunity to learn about one-to-one inter-
action . . . and to develop listening skills.
Weren't you involved with the Hikoi
of Hope in 1998?
I was working for the Anglican Church
Social Justice Ministry and they were the
driving force behind the hikoi. Originally
there was meant to be a hikoi from the far
north and one from the far south, but New
Zealanders were captivated by the issues
and we ended up having seven hikoi from
all over the county.
You were in the United States during
the 2000 presidential elections. What
was that like?
I won a scholarship to a liberal theology
college in Boston. The election was extra-
ordinary. The media commentary was very
astute and detailed. You could see the cor-
ruption going on and how Bush was work-
ing with the Florida judges to halt the
counting of votes. Interesting times.
While in Boston you became aware of
There are thousands of homeless people
in Boston and they pretty much all gather
in the main park. Homelessness hadn t
been on my radar until then.
What about homelessness in New
When I got back I realised the problem
was much more significant than I d
thought. That s when I decided I wanted a
more hands-on role.
So you took up a role with the Down-
town Community Ministry. What does
the ministry do?
We provide support, advocate for people
trying to access services and try to influ-
ence policy-making decisions. We re work-
ing with people who are marginalised and
unable to access health, housing and other
What effect is the recession having
There s been a very rapid escalation in
hardship. Most interesting is the growth in
single-person households experiencing
problems. It s very expensive if you re living
alone. All the costs -- power, food, bills -- fall
heavily on you. These are people who have
not been in trouble with the law or had
huge fines. These are people who have $80
left after bills and that s not sustainable.
It must get depressing, dealing with
hardship day-in and day-out.
It is hard and sad to see people grappling
with these things, and it s disappointing
there s so much rhetoric about how people
on benefits are living off the pig s back. It
affects us, but we build resilience and we
have a great team here.
What are some of the positive
aspects of life in Wellington?
Well, I don t live here for the climate! I
love Wellington for its manageable size and
And we ve got a good council, which has
had some foresight with funding organis-
ation like ours and addressing issues such
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