After four years in an emotionally abusive relationship, Irene is teaching women about relationships, emotional abuse and self-love. All the things a gal needs to help prepare (or Prepair) her for love. She is a superstar mum and the older sis many need to have an honest chat with and get straight up answers about relationships, emotional abuse or self-love. Read more about this amazing wahine and make sure you are following @prepairnz on Instagram!
How do explain what you do to strangers?
I’m like the older sis every gal needs to help her navigate relationships, emotional abuse and self-love. My friends also call me the ‘wise grandma’ too. I’m the gal that people say is wise beyond her years lol. My work is carried out across various platforms most commonly known is Prepair NZ.
Where did you grow up and what was it like?
I grew up in Te Awahou, Foxton.
My Dad was the man who fixed everyone’s lawn mowers and supports countless community events. He is passionate about supporting our people.
My Mum is super introverted. Always buried in a book, taking care of the household or looking after the elderly in the community.
I was always a homebody. Mum and Dad used to joke that most parents were trying to stop their kids from sneaking out to parties. They were trying to make me go.
It sums up a lot of who I have become today and where I draw my character from. I didn’t appreciate Foxton when I was younger. Since having my own baby I’ve moved home with my whanau. We bought a beautiful old villa and surprisingly don’t miss the hustle and bustle of Wellington.
What does a normal day look like for you?
Every day is different but a few things are consistent. I always sing a few songs, watch some nursery rhymes or play with daughter before the day starts.
I’m working hard on fueling my body with the energy to match my vision. So, apple cider vinegar before breakfast and New Zealand breakfast tea in the morning.
Then it’s a mixture of content creation, meetings, planning talks and workshops, snuggles with my bub, recording episodes for my soon to launch podcast and hanging out with my fam. I’m the type of gal that gets lots of energy from my work. I work really hard to be present for my whanau. As soon as Everley is down for a nap I dig into some work.
When you were 15 what did you think you would be doing now?
No way. I was in my first high school relationship at 15. I do wish I had met someone like me then. The lessons I teach today would have helped me find self-confidence, understand my worth and feel a little more secure in myself. I invested way too much in what others thought of me.
Can you explain what Prepair NZ is?
We teach young women about relationships, emotional abuse and self-love. All the things a gal needs to help prepare ( or Prepair her for love.)
What inspired you to start Prepair NZ?
It’s everything I needed when I was younger. I didn’t have an older sister or an organisation like Prepair growing up. My lack of knowledge around emotional abuse and self-love led me down a rocky road when I was 19. I spent four years in an emotionally abusive relationship without even knowing the behaviour was abusive.
I launched to help prevent other gals from having this experience. I see emotional abuse as a trap for so much of the potential that lives within young women. I wanna see my sisters live out their purpose instead of being stuck, hurt and isolated.
Is Prepair NZ your full-time job?
I do many things! Right now I’m contracting with the team who look after our national domestic violence prevention campaign, It’s Not OK. My partner and I also have our own business that we run. I LOVE being busy! Prepair is something I work on part-time.
Why do you think NZ has one of the worst rates of domestic abuse in the world?
Domestic violence is a complex problem. Two problems I see that I’m trying to solve in my humble capacity:
We don’t talk enough about emotional abuse. This is how physically violent relationships start. It’s subtle and has no physical signs. If more people knew about emotional abuse they could make better informed decisions about relationships before the abuse escalated.
We focus a lot on the problem and not the vision we’d like to see. I incorporate self-love and empowerment to my work because I believe people need a compelling reason to take action or speak up. We’ve got to get better at painting a picture of what we want to see too rather than focusing purely on how bad a problem is.
If you think your friend is in an emotionally abusive relationship, but she doesn’t think so, what is the best way to help them?
I cover this in depth in an upcoming episode on my new podcast: Journey Gal Podcast.
My #1 tip is: When you raise the conversation focus on the behaviours and not your friends' partner.
Our first emotional response is usually to put down the partner saying things like, “You deserve better” or “S/he is such a ****.”
There is nothing in that approach that empowers your friend or supports her to choose better. You must remember that your friend is in love. Attacking her partner will only cause her to protect and potentially distance herself from you.
If you could change one thing in the current world what would it be?
What is something you think people don’t know about you?
Hmmm. I’m very introverted. I’m more comfortable speaking on stage to thousands than one to one. I also need a lot of time alone.
What does beauty mean to you?
Owning your story, standing in your power and being authentically you even in the face of adversity.
Thank you Irene! xx
You are an amazing older sis, the messages you put into the world are so needed and we can't wait to listen to your podcast!
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