Resilient Trailblazer – An Interview with Maisy Bentley

10 March 2019

19 year old Maisy Bentley has dedicated a big part of her life to many different causes that she holds dear. She has drawn upon her own personal experiences to reach out to other young people and advocate for them on a local and international stage.


Described as a ‘trailblazer’, Maisy has been concerned with social justice from a young age and has taken a particular interest in women, young people and mental health.

“My work in relation to women has involved a number of roles and projects. The most recent was being appointed as a Young Women’s Christian Association Aotearoa National Ambassador. This entails working to ensure young women who need them most know about their programmes, bringing the perspectives of young women to their decision making, as well as participating in events and meetings such as the International Women’s Caucus on their behalf. The most exciting part of this includes being their only delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women in New York, the United Nations organ for gender equality,” she says.

Another achievement was being a member of the True Love campaign team for Prepair NZ, a registered charity that raises awareness about emotional abuse and how to combat it. It focuses on teaching young women how to foster healthy relationships, starting with self-love.

Maisy Bentley

“The True Love campaign was a campaign firstly aimed at raising awareness around true love and emotional abuse. It was also designed to raise funds for the charity by selling t-shirts, identifiable by their single red or pink rose, an everlasting and universal symbol of true love. The team designed the t-shirt and all the communications and educational content to go along with it. We did hours of research and a ‘pitch in a box’ to one of New Zealand’s biggest fashion retailers Glassons and managed to get the t-shirts stocked in every store around the country. It was a huge moment for us and we were able to reach thousands of young women across the country and raise thousands of dollars for the cause,” says Maisy.

Promoting positive body image is also very important to Maisy. As a sufferer of anorexia for many years, she has shared her story so that she can be a voice of inspiration for others facing similar challenges. She has spoken about and advocated for young women and mental health on TVNZ’s Re: (Re: is TVNZ’s socially-driven alternate news brand that creates video content covering important issues that affect young New Zealanders), Dear Em (Dear Em “shares real talk from real girls to get through the good times and the bad, together”), as well as at events such as the International Leadership Alliance for Women and the Women in Law Committee.

Maisy has continually supported other rangatahi in their endeavours to create positive impact and has featured in a TEDTalk entitled Don’t ask for permission. This aimed to empower its listeners to ‘stand up and do something about it’ next time they see an issue or discover a passion, to view their world as their stage, to realise that they don’t need to ask for permission in order to act.

Minister Peeni Henare and Maisy Bentley

Minister for Youth Hon Peeni Henare and Maisy

In recognition of her commitment to other rangatahi, she was a named as a recipient of an Outstanding Youth Champion Award at the New Zealand Youth Awards 2018.

Maisy has been involved in UN Youth since 2016 when she attended the New Zealand Model United Nations (NZ MUN).

“I was blown away by how much I learnt from key note speakers, other students and special workshops but also about the confidence, empathy and communication skills I gained,” she says.

From there, she was selected as a delegate on the UN Global Development Tour. She travelled to six different countries including the UK, Denmark, Belgium, Switzerland, France and the USA. The delegates met with business, government and NGO officials to learn about sustainable development goals, the circular economy, business ethics, international crisis response and the future of agriculture. Her final stop was New York, where she attended the International Youth Assembly at the UN headquarters and had the opportunity to speak with Helen Clark about her work at the United Nations Development Programme.

“Since I returned, I have given many volunteer hours to UN Youth, from running our leading civics education events such as NZ MUN, to being part of the operations team and writing for our youth platform on topics from Refugee Day, all the way to friendship in an era of polarisation,” she says.

Amazingly, Maisy fits all of her volunteer and advocacy work around a busy university life. She’s currently in her third year of study at Victoria University of Wellington where she is working towards a Conjoint Bachelor of Law and Arts, majoring in Development Studies, with a Minor in Māori Studies.

We asked Maisy if she had any advice for other young people seeking to make a difference.

“I’ve been told time and time again that the things I want to do or the lifestyle I want don’t mix with a certain career, that certain problems are too big to solve, and the urge and passion to change them isn’t enough. But, there are people out there who have done it, who have faced the same adversity and triumphed. You sometimes have to seek them out and where they’re not there, be that person. You will of course have to make sacrifices but define your bottom lines and don’t budge because you can do it,” she says.

Maisy has proven herself to be a resilient, powerful young woman and the young people of Aotearoa New Zealand are lucky to have her on their side.