Georgina Matthews of Tauranga, Aotearoa (New Zealand) is regarded as a Wahine toa—a heroine! While there were female skateboarders in New Zealand since the 1970s, Georgina is the first in her country to be sponsored and compete internationally, and she’s still skating hard over 20 years later.
Born in 1987, Georgina had always pursued action sports, including roller blading, “but one day my brother brought home a skateboard and that’s when the love of skateboarding all started for me” (Read). In 1999, her parents bought her a board for Christmas, and she also teamed up with two boys who lived on her cul de sac. They would skateboard together after school and on weekends, hitting up the 17th Avenue skatepark in Tauranga, motivating each other, and building ramps and fun-boxes.
As a result, Georgina simply competed against the boys in her age category. “There were no categories for girls so it’d just be me and 15 other boys,’ she recalls. ‘But in saying that, I’d always be in the top five and most of the time in the top three’” (Anderson).
15 months after starting to skateboard Georgina won NZ’s Skateboard National Championships at age 13 ahead of six other women, having never seen another female skater. One of those women was Stacey Roper and Georgina gave her a special shout out in her Manual Magazine interview. “Stacey and I have been great friends. Stacey travelled with me when we competed in the All Girl Skate Jams, Canadian World Cup, Globe World Cups, and all around the States and Australia. She is a big inspiration of mine, and she was one of the first competitive female skaters in New Zealand. Stace would tell me stories of growing up skateboarding in the ‘70s and ‘80s. She’s even taught me a few old school tricks” (Read).
In June 2000, the NZ Herald reported that, “Her parents, Ally and Janice, were so impressed by Georgina’s talents that two weeks ago they flew her to the Australian Girls’ Street Skate Jam in Melbourne to meet her idol, United States professional Jamie Reyes. Georgina fought her way to second place in the overall competition and won the best single trick title… But the highlight of the trip was sharing the limelight with Reyes, including interviews with Australia’s Extreme TV crew, and picking up a sponsorship deal with Gallaz.”
Georgina was starstruck when she met Reyes. “I’d read heaps about her in magazines… I got to see all her moves and how she does things and I’m going to try some of them out” (Bodger).
With the support of her parents, Gallaz sponsor, and some fundraising efforts, Georgina skated, competed, and travelled internationally. She also found more support from NZ Enjoi, Royal Trucks and Boardwalk Tauranga and even had the chance to travel to San Diego, CA in September 2000 for an All Girl Skate Jam, placing 15th in Amateur Mini Ramp.
Back in New Zealand, her skateboarding community was taking notice. NZ’s first pro Maori skater, Chey Ataria hosted a show called Aotearoa Skate on the Maori Television channel. Georgina was interviewed in 2003 for Episode 5, showcasing her skills, her friendly and positive outlook, love of skateboarding, and a pretty sweet vision of combining skateboarding and singing that might one-up Avril Lavigne!
Permission gratefully received from XS TV.
Georgina shared that, “If you watch old Aotearoa skate videos, you will see my dad in the background. Most weekends, he would take me to the skatepark. He would even know what I was doing wrong. [laughs] My entire family has always supported me. One year, even my nana and poppa travelled all the way to Melbourne to watch me skate in the World Cup! Love my family!” (Read).
In 2002 and 2003, injuries seemed to plague Georgina. Stacey Roper reported on the 2003 Globe World Cup in Push skateboarding mag saying:
“About thirty girls signed up to skate. Georgina Matthews had been ripping the whole weekend, looking at a solid placing with bennihannas off the kicker, huge melons, boardslides down the rail, and k-grinds etc. But she ruled herself out when she rolled her ankle half an hour into the warmup before her heat. She cried, I cried, Skippy [Louisa Hawton] cried, Lauren [Perkins] cried. It’s horrible to see that happen to George after missing last year through injury. At least she impressed Carlos De Andrade the day before. He was following her around with this funny awed look on his face. Quite cool, actually.”
2003 was also also the year the film AKA: Girl Skater was filmed, with female skateboarders on the Gallaz team traveling round Australia (along with their “mom” Dave Carnie, reporting for Big Brother magazine). This promo video was featured on Aotearoa Skate, a New Zealand feature on Maori Television and included footage of Georgina:
At age 16 she took 4th place in the Gallaz Skate Jam 6 at the 2004 Globe World Cup championships back in Melbourne, which was an invite-only to 12 skaters with Elissa Steamer taking the win. And, in 2005 she broke the top ten in the Global World Cup Street Rankings in 9th position, after taking 5th place at the Canadian West 49 Championships in Toronto, Canada.
Here’s some footage of a fun session including Matthews, Roper, Hilary Pearce, and Monica Shaw:
Georgina even made it over to the UK in 2010, participating in two of the three contests in the UK Ladies Skate Series, coming first at “The Phoenix Night” contest in Manchester and Peaches & Cream contest, which gave her the overall first-place ranking. Here’s some fun footage of her Manchester competition:
While she was there, she came 3rd in Mini Ramp at the Pioneer Skate Park in Kent in 2010 with hand plants and Indy Grabs, behind Australia’s Hilary Pearce and UK’s Danielle Mellor in the Free Skate. In the Over 18’s she was awarded first place for her 5-0 to 180 out, boardslides, and bs & fs 50-50s on the box. In February 2012, at the ‘Just Another Female Skate Competition’ in Melbourne, Australia Georgina took 2nd place behind Esther Godoy, and ahead of Shanae Collins.
Photos: Sophie Allen
Georgina never seemed to lose her momentum or passion for skateboarding, even while she was a professional singer, fronting the band, Daughters of Ally with her sister Jessie. Georgina became a sales rep and team manager for the NZ Globe skate team (2011-2013) and is still active in the NZ skateboarding community after more than twenty years since first stepping on board. She took first place in the 2017 Valonia Street League, 2nd place at the Mangawhai Bowl Jam in 2018, and there’s a rad video of Georgina ripping at her local park that same year.
In February 2022 for a Newsroom NZ article at the Alfred Cox Skate Park in Gisborne there was a report on the work of “Surely Skate,” a female-focused organization that encourages and mentors young skaters. Matthews was the oldest at the competition at age 34, but her performance garnered serious respect! She received affirmation from random folks who would remember her skateboarding as a kid, or from a parent of a young girl who had been inspired by her efforts. Georgina also took home a nice cheque for $1000 as winner of the women’s division.
In her February 2022 interview for Newsroom NZ, Georgina did allude to receiving some backlash from envious male skaters back in the day, telling her that she didn’t deserve sponsorship or overseas opportunities, and that she sucked. Even with some people apologizing years later the words had an effect, but she has certainly been vindicated and deserves all the recognition offered (Anderson).
Manual Magazine, NZ’s restored skateboarding publication interviewed Georgina in their April 2022 issue and she was described as skateboarding royalty, “humble and a constant and refreshing presence at every session she turns up to.” Georgina shared her progress, giving acknowledgment to friends and family, and fellow female skaters. She noted the impact of witnessing Elissa Steamer in her Toy Machine part for “Jump off a Building” as well as the all-girl video by Villa Villa Cola called “Going Nowhere Faster,” which she would watch on repeat (Read).
Georgina has certainly been that inspiration to NZ youth, and her presence has helped create inclusive and supportive skateboarding environments. And the female skateboarding scene in NZ is looking very promising!
- Anderson, Merryn. “Surely girls can skate.” Newsroom NZ. February 10, 2022.
- Bodger, Stacey. “Meet a natural-born skateboarding ace.” NZ Herald. June 29, 2000.
- Macbrayne, Rosaleen. “Young NZ skateboarder climbs world ladder.” NZ Herald. February 15, 2004.
- Read, David. “Georgina Matthews: Folklore.” Manual Magazine. April 2022.
- Roper, Stacy. “Gallaz Skate Jam 5.” Push magazine. Spring 2003, pp. 6-8.
Special Thank You to Jacob Powell from Waipapa Taumata Rau for your help!