DAY 1 at Festival for the Future 2018


Festival for the Future returned home to Wellington in 2018 – the first time in five years. Back in 2013 it was held at Te Papa, with about 300 attendees. This year was quite the step up!

Only securing the main venue (TSB Arena) in April – just months out from the event date, put Inspiring Stories – our organisation and team under immense pressure. A new city, multiple venues, the risk of adverse winter weather, and an extremely short lead up time – the odds were certainly stacked against us.

What happened in those three short months in the lead up, and unfolded over the Festival weekend of 27–29th July was nothing short of remarkable. By all accounts, the 2018 Festival was a huge success – attracting more than 1,200 people from across the nation. Wellington turned on the weather. The atmosphere was incredible, and the feedback has been extremely positive.

This post is a summary of the Friday night opening at the Festival. Having 1,200+ people turn up to your party is a hard thing to describe, and nothing quite prepares you for the buzz of the opening night!!

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Friday night theme...
Our roots - the history and culture context of what makes us who we are as a national today.

Dr. Meihana Durie, Head of Te Pūtahi-a-Toi at Massey University's School of Māori Knowledge, took to the stage first.  “Ka mua, ka muri – you must look back in order to move forward.” He acknowledged the settlements and history of Wellington. He acknowledged Kupe and his pioneering spirit endeavouring to bring new land and opportunity to his people. And finally he challenged us to find our fish. Professor Durie likened the kaupapa of this hui to the legend of Te Ika A Maui. Where an opportunity presents itself, do not let anything stand in your way. Instead, go forth unto the horizon, to the depths of the ocean and find your fish. Find your passion, make it a goal and get it. The wero (challenge) had been set.

Next up was Vanisa Dhiru, the President of New Zealand's National Council of Women. Vanisa spoke about culture and identity and what that meant to her. She spoke about the suffrage movement and how the fight for equality isn’t over. The 2018 Festival for the Future marked the 125th Anniversary for when women in Aotearoa New Zealand presented the petition to Parliament to secure the Right to Vote. Vanisa talked of how we need to change our language and how we talk about women, and what creating a gender equal New Zealand will take.


Then Jill Day took the stage. Jill shared her story of how being a teacher who saw children living in squalor led her to become the Deputy Mayor of Wellington. Jill's spoke about her passion of wanting to create a system where children - particularly those in Wellington - did not fall through the cracks. She told us of her love for language and Tikanga Māori and how she dreams about making Wellington the Te Reo Māori capital of NZ. 

Next up we heard from Guled Mire. Guled’s mother fled Somalia during a civil, for New Zealand. He shared his experience with racism, feeling discouraged by teachers, dropping out of school, heading back to Africa and then returning to New Zealand. Guled lives to prove his teachers wrong and make his mother proud, which led him to his career in public policy. He wants to help create a world where no one has to live through his experience, and everyone gets a fair go.

Last up we had Guy Ryan, CEO of Inspiring Stories and the Founder of FFTF. Guy did an epic wrap up of all the speakers. He summarised some of the significant challenges that New Zealand has overcome throughout history, and that often as a tiny nation we punch well above our weight. He shared his vision for a future where no young person takes their life, where everyone has a home and their basic needs met, a future of plastic-free oceans, and a future of clean energy. It was an inspiring way to wrap up the night!

#FindYourFish #StrongerTogether #KiaKaha #FFTF18