Harnessing the power of the crowd

3 min readApr 20, 2021

The ActionStation story through the words of Laura O’Connell Rapira.

Laura and another person on two sides of a yellow banner saying ‘Absolutely Positively Sexual Violence Free Wellington New Zealand’
In 2018 presenting a submission from the ActionStation community to Wellington City Council towards the vision of Pōneke becoming the country’s first sexual violence free city.

Laura O’Connell Rapira (Te Ātiawa, Ngāruahine, Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Whakaue) is a campaigner, fundraiser, writer and until 2021 the Director of ActionStation.

She started her career organising events, before moving on to fundraising for non-profits. She founded RockEnrol, a youth-powered campaign to get more young people out to vote and then joined ActionStation when it was founded in 2014 as one of the first staff members, with Marianne Elliott. She was campaign director, then a co-director, and became sole director in 2018. Laura left ActionStation at the end of 2020 after six and a bit years to take up a new role at the Foundation for Young Australians.

She gave countless hours, blood, sweat, and tears to all the kaupapa (causes) in leading the small ActionStation staff team. Laura always gave 200% to unleash the power of the crowd through digital and community organising, effective collaboration, values-based storytelling and creative campaigning.

ActionStation itself in that time has grown up and now is a community of over 200,000 members working together with hope and courage towards a vision for a fair, flourishing Aotearoa across economic fairness, climate protection, human rights, global peace and honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Laura has in a short time become a role model for a generation of activists. Her story interweaves with the story of the growth of ActionStation so here are a few of her recent (and not so recent) interviews, speeches and writings that tell this story.

Nuku: //055 Laura O’Connell Rapira

Feb 2021 (recorded at the end of 2020)

In this podcast episode Qiane and Laura discuss some of the recent highlights of ActionStation, like the move to make Matariki a public holiday and shifting the political conversation on mental health. What makes a campaign, what can a whole lot of different kinds of people do to contribute to change, and how do we look after ourselves as we do it?

The Fold: Turning words into action

Dec 2020

Duncan Grieve, Managing Editor from the Spinoff, was never sure how to categorise the non-partisan, member-funded, people-powered, multi-issue organisation called ActionStation. He asks Laura about ActionStation’s ‘theory of change’ and what she thinks its impact has been in Aotearoa.

The whakapapa of ActionStation

Dec 2020

A conversation between ActionStation co-founders Marianne Elliott and Megan Salole with outgoing ActionStation director Laura O’Connell Rapira. They talk about the whakapapa of ActionStation, how it started up and the ‘why’ of ActionStation in the beginning.

TEDxChristchurch: The future can be awesome — but not without activism


Laura imagines what it was like for a young person in 1980 fighting for gay rights, the impact of that action in the present day and what our future could look like when we come together to act towards a shared vision.

Writings on The Spinoff


In her time at ActionStation Laura has written opinion articles across a range of kaupapa, for example:




Community campaigning organisation bringing people together to act in powerful and coordinated ways to create a fair and flourishing Aotearoa for all.