Have you ever sat in a room with Anika Moa and talked about periods?

If you were one of the Bay of Plenty's 200 brightest, young female minds you could say yes because when the Wāhine Kākano festival promised warts-and-all conversations it gave you warts-and-all-conversations.

Or as Moa puts it, "We're all sisters here, we get it".

This Saturday,Toi Ohomai hosted Wāhine Kākano - a festival aimed at growing the next generation of female leaders and thinkers.

Sarah Cowley, (left), Jess Quinn, Anika Moa, and Dr Jackie Blue at the Wāhine Kākano festival at Toi Ohomai. Photo / Ben Fraser
Sarah Cowley, (left), Jess Quinn, Anika Moa, and Dr Jackie Blue at the Wāhine Kākano festival at Toi Ohomai. Photo / Ben Fraser

Young women, aged 16 to 22, filled a lecture theatre for panel discussions, keynote speakers and countless giggles fuelled by Moa's straightforward humour.

"I think it's good to spend a day off social media and actually connect with people."

Panellists ranging from Dr Jackie Blue to amputee model Jess Quinn hoped by sharing their experiences of life uncertainty, expectations, and pressures they could motivate woman in the audience.

"Success for me has never been a straight line, it has been up and down and particularly down," Blue said.

Wāhine Kākano 2019 is underway in Rotorua! MC Anika Moa, keynote speaker Lisa Tamati, panellists Jess Quinn, Dr Jackie Blue and heaps of others are serving up some real talk for our attendees 🎉🎉🎉

Posted by Wāhine Kākano - The New Zealand Young Women's Festival on Friday, 21 June 2019

"That is just part of life, but the bad stuff happens and sometimes it needs to, to get to where you are going."

Quinn said speaking to young women at events like this was a passion.

"They are all looking for someone to uplift them but there is so much negative noise around at the moment.

"If any of us can be a voice of hope for them then that is the dream."


Toi Ohomai chief executive Dr Leon Fourie was delighted he could support the initiative promoting women's achievements.

"We're passionate about providing innovative educational opportunities to ensure our wāhine and their whānau are empowered when choosing their life path."

Festival organiser Lizzie Marvelly said she was excited to be playing a part in preparing strong, smart and capable young women to take on the challenges of the future.

Following the festival's success in Auckland last year she said it was exciting to bring Wāhine Kākano to Rotorua.

"We want young women right across Aotearoa to be able to freely express themselves, share ideas, engage in challenging conversations and be part of a growing community of confident and strong women.

"That's what Wāhine Kākano is about."