Megan Fairley Kiwibank New Zealand Local Hero Of The Year Medalist 2022

Megan Fairley Kiwibank New Zealand Local Hero Of The Year Medalist 2022

Hello Chocolate Queens and Kings,

Gosh, this is an incredible honor, I have been nominated as a medalist in the Kiwibank New Zealander of the year Local Hero Of The Year awards for 2022.


The Local Hero Of The Year recognizes individuals who have made a positive impact in their corner of Aotearoa.  From Cape Reinga to Bluff, these Kiwi show selflessness and determination to make a difference. 

About 4 years ago I was made redundant from Cadburys Dunedin. At the time I was a Front Line Leader, and all of my energy went into making sure our staff were ok.  Our Cadbury’s redundancy was so incredibly hard and so many of us struggled as our family was ripped apart.  There was an incredible culture inside the Chocolate Factory, a culture of Respect, Kindness, Love and Laughter, the Chocolate Factory was our home.  After my redundancy I pushed on with my dream to start a business - Notion Fashion and continued to work while I would grow the business.  I soon started to struggle with depression and anxiety, and as a business owner I was treated very, very badly by people within the business community who clearly felt some kind of threat from a woman from a chocolate factory.  I didn’t even get a chance to start to heal from my depression before the nasty stuff started dragging me down the river towards the waterfall.  Even at my darkest point where I didn’t want to be alive any more the light in my tunnel was still miles away because the mistreatment kept coming, but when I look back something started to change in me, I began to fight more and more as I started to understand my mental illness. 

Fundamentally people need to make the decision to start to heal, fundamentally mental health starts and ends with how we as people treat each other.  Mental health is affected by human behaviour, and how much people actually care for each other in our society. We as humans need to feel valued and loved.

Project hope & beyond. - $15,999 Raised for Mental Health

My Counsellors would say to me “don’t lose your kind heart because of the hurt you have gone through.” It is so easy to become so bitter when you have been hurt by people, it takes a very strong person to stand up and fight not only for herself but for others.  This is leadership. In October 2021 I formed a team called Project hope & beyond. Of Ex-Cadburys staff and community.  I have always felt like there has been a lack of connection between the community and the ex-Cadburys staff, this comes from being talked down to by people.  This sparked the determination to start raising money for mental health in New Zealand.  The Project team fundraises money to support New Zealanders who are struggling as we do not want to see people go through the same thing we have.  The fundraising also sparks life in us, as we rise when we lift others.   

There is a motto that I would like to share to inspire New Zealanders who have been mistreated by others, and it comes from an inspirational Lady Michelle Obama.

“When someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. No, our motto is, when they go low, we go high.”

Huge thank you to the Project Hope main team, Dave Bettis, Peter Campbell, Fiona Dobber, Donna Bouma, Tabitha Bettis, Mila Jojic.

Who do we raise money for and how much? 

I am hope NZ - $8981

Life Matters NZ - $4045

Ronald McDonald House - $2398

Movember NZ - $575

Thank you to all the amazing people who I have met along this first part of my journey and who have given me the inspiration to keep living, and the courage to share my story.  I am so GRATEFUL!! I am a CHOCOLATE QUEEN, and I am damn proud to be a Chocolate Queen. Owning your story is the bravest thing you will ever do.  This Chocolate Queen is not just going to own it she is going to share this story to help others.  M xx  

Mental Health support: text 1737 - Never feel ashamed to reach out for support, you are amazing and brave, and I am proud to share this medal with you. 


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