Queenstown’s Community Advocate - Amanda Mulqueen
Amanda Mulqueen, a long-time resident, knows Queenstown inside and out. Born in Mosgiel, Amanda moved to New Caledonia aged seven, immersing herself in a vibrant, multicultural environment. She grew up in a tiny village and is fluent in both French and English. After her final high school years boarding in Dunedin during the 1980s, she relocated to Queenstown, where she has resided ever since.
Amanda has built a bustling household with her partner and three boys. Their home has also been a welcoming haven for home-stay students and the family enjoy embracing diverse cultures and nationalities.
Her volunteer journey began in 2020. Amanda owned and operated Habebes cafe, and was determined to help her team who were on sponsored work visas navigate the challenges they faced during the pandemic. She started volunteering with the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) and became deeply involved in the organisation. Amanda was elected to the Board and then Chairperson, marking her first foray into community governance. She was recently elected to the CAB National Board as one of two South Island representatives.
Her knowledge of the Queenstown community has made her an invaluable asset to the town and the CAB team.
“I was drawn to the diverse and varied nature of the role, being able to provide immediate help to people in need.
“Living and working in central Queenstown, I have witnessed the town’s transformation and understand the issues that migrants and residents face.”
“Many seek advice on immigration, tenancy, employment, and legal matters, which can be more challenging for people with limited English proficiency,” Amanda says.
Amanda acknowledges that these issues have persisted for years and require long-term solutions. Over the past year, Amanda has fostered collaboration with external agencies and focused on building a network to address these issues and credits CAB for its ability to connect people to a range of resources and organisations.
Amanda herself has experienced the housing crisis, having lived in her car and overcrowded flats during her time as a hospitality worker. However, she remains optimistic about the future, and credits initiatives such as the Queenstown Lakes Housing Trust and the involvement of the Mana Tāhuna Charitable Trust in addressing housing issues.
Amanda is passionate about her work and takes pride in helping others. She finds purpose in her volunteer work, which complements her psychology diploma studies and future aspirations in counselling and legal roles.
When asked about her biggest challenge, Amanda mentions the difficulties faced by young people who encounter legal issues, emphasising the need for court support and translation services. She believes that communities need to work together to address systemic issues rather than relying on “ambulance at the bottom of the cliff” approaches.
“I encourage others to consider volunteering as a way to find purpose and give back to the community. The value of meaningful work goes far beyond financial gain and everyone’s contribution, whether paid or unpaid, is so important and worthwhile.”
Volunteer South engages and supports both tūao volunteers and volunteers involving organisations and community groups in the Southern region of Aotearoa, New Zealand. For more www.volunteersouth.org.nz