Robinson becomes first-ever Māori Barbie doll

Melodie Robinson with the Barbie doll based on her. Photo: Supplied / Melodie Robinson / Max Lemesh/RNZ.

Sports presenter and journalist Melodie Robinson has become the first New Zealander to have a Barbie doll made in her likeness.

The Mattel brand is celebrating its 60th anniversary and International Women's Day by releasing a line of Barbie Role Models featuring dolls in the likeness of 38 women from around the world.

They are known are 'sheros' and include Mexican artist Frida Khalo, American aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, Chinese Prima Ballerina Yuan Yuan Tan and Australian conservationist Bindi Irwin.

New Zealand sports journalist and presenter Melodie Robinson is among the women chosen.

It's the first-ever Māori doll for the brand.

Melodie says she was chuffed about it, and hoped the doll would inspire young women to pursue careers in rugby or sports journalism.

She says it was also a win for Māori.

"I've had so many Māori women ringing me and saying this is great, there's a Barbie that looks like me, and there's actually not a lot of toys out there for Māori girls that has curly hair and that beautiful brown skin."

Melodie was a Black Fern, playing 18 tests between 1996 and 2002.

During her time on the field she also studied journalism and began working in the press gallery at Parliament.

In 2002 she begun working for SKY Sport and presented and commentated for the Super 12 and NPC. She also regularly hosted Super Rugby and the ITM Cup build-ups, the ANZ Championship and international netball buildups.

"Many Māori girls and also Pacific Island girls play rugby and some of them get to be Black Ferns and they have also got that career option now of being a commentator or Rugby presenter," says Melodie.

She says the Barbie was initially going to be a Black Fern, but when Mattel learned more about her work as a sports commentator and journalist, they went with that instead.

"I'm pretty proud - she could be a journalist, she could be a presenter, but she's also an analytical commentator - and there's not that many females in that role in sport around the world so it is still an aspirational pathway.

Melodie says her two sons were eager to get their hands on the doll and she was anticipating the wear and tear that most Barbies go through.

Melodie has also set up The Wonderful Group, which is about empowering women in sport media.

-RNZ/Leigh-Marama McLachlan.


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