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While studying at NZ Broadcasting School, Melissa landed an internship and then a job at Prime News'in 1999. In 2001 Stokes moved to Breakfast as the Christchurch reporter, and in 2004 she headed to Auckland to report for TV One's 6pm bulletin. For two years, she was based in London as 1 News' Europe Correspondent based in London, covering stories such as the conflicts in Israel and Syria. She began presenting across several TVNZ news shows in 2010, and in 2019 became the anchor of 1 News' 6pm weekend bulletins.
Melissa lives in Auckland with her husband Dave and their two sons.