Former miss Aoteroa and champion for rangitahi
Marlena is a proud Maori woman of Tuhoe and Te Arawa decent. She is a marathon runner, and a mother of 2 children under 2. Since 2018 Marlena has led the Kawerau Future Leaders as the local coach of the programme and has done so with aroha (love) and manaakitanga (great care). Marlena has a strong passion to support rangatahi to succeed and create positive change. She has spent over 18 years working in a number of industries – including multimedia, banking, healthcare, fashion, and hospitality – with her focus always being on making positive connections and serving others.
As well as working with Kawerau Future Leaders, Marlena has recently been granted funding by Creative Communities to deliver "The Pounamu Project"; an empowerment and wellbeing programme in schools for rangatahi. Marlena has facilitated confidence workshops in New Zealand and Australia centered around modelling and cultural identity. Marlena mentored national boxing title-holder Maea Hay as part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters programme in Rotorua, as well as a number of other youth-focused programmes. Marlena modelled in the Virgin Australia Fashion Festival, she has also featured in a number of fashion shows in New Zealand. Marlena was crowned the winner of Miss Aotearoa New Zealand 2012-2013 - a national ambassador for women. "Me awhina, me tiaki kia kaha ki te tautoko i ngā rangatira mo āpōpō. We must support our future leaders”.