This paper is drawn from research undertaken from 2009 to 2013 as part of a project, involving girls and women from Malaita in the Solomon Islands. The research identifies cultural elements that serve as barriers to girls and women wanting to participate in community leadership or mentoring roles. The methodology implemented for the research project was ethnographic and uses stories from observations, individual interviews and focus groups. The author’s role as an outsider with ‘insider knowledge’ played a significant role in the ethnographic research process and data collection phase, demonstrating the significance of the wantok system, its reach and how it can be used to gain access, get ahead and support families. This paper the wantok system is used within communities of the Solomon Islands and how this system advantaged the research process and the data collection phase by enabling the researcher to freely access stories specific to the research project.