Wake up. Straight to TSB Arena for the final day of the Festival. Three days of sunny weather in a row. Incredible. Another day of exploring the big issues of our time, inspiration, and building ideas and skills.
Sunday morning theme...
Against the odds – adversity, courage and resilience
Matt Frost – a champion for diversity and inclusion, spoke candidly about his experience living with autism. He started by sharing a story from his childhood, "when I was three I could recite all the Prime Ministers of New Zealand, in order, but I couldn't tie my shoelaces" he said. Much to his parents concern, he ended up at the doctor being told that it was unrealistic for him to aspire to be anything. He talked about his issues with mental health, alcohol, and wanting to give up, but wanting to succeed even more.
All the way from Kaikohe and part of our Future Leaders programme, Aroha Lawrence, was born with Achondroplasia (a form of dwarfism). She spoke emotionally about being dismissed by the heath care system. She shared the ramifications on her mental wellbeing, and shared gratitude to her friends and whanau for giving her the strength to persevere. She spoke about reframing her perception of her disability, her journey to becoming comfortable in her own skin, and how thankful she is of the adversity she faced because it made her who she is today.
Ben Atkinson is a Chef and the Founder of Fill Their Lunchbox in Christchurch. He spoke about candidly about his challenges with mental health, how he'd lost his purpose, and how this led him to almost taking his own life. He talked about the moment he 'found his fish' - how he knew his purpose was to help people. He spoke of how Fill Their Lunchbox was his way to fuel disadvantage children to reach their potential. He talked about the struggle building and leading a business, shouldering the load, and the lessons he learnt about accepting help. He said although he is stepping away from Fill Their Lunchbox, he was still 100% committed to helping others - just in a different way.
Georgina Beyer, New Zealand's most famous transsexual trailblazer took to the stage and spoke about the institutional discrimination and social rejection she'd faced throughout her life. She talked about her journey from small-town rural New Zealand to the bright lights of the city streets to the glorified green chairs of Parliament. She shared her struggle with kidney failure and how this required her to forfeit her life to someone else. After four-years of dialysis, a close friend gave her a kidney. "I am as dangerous as I have ever been" she said. She stood proud and talked about what it meant to be the truest version of herself. Georgina was met with a standing ovation from the crowd, and wrapped up what was one of the most powerful speaker sessions ever!
Sunday morning panel theme...
Mental health and wellbeing – how can we build a more sustainable future from here?
Mental health and wellbeing is one of those things that everyone knows about, but very few people talk about. Our moderator for the panel discussion, Josiah Tualamali’i, is a remarkable young leader who was appointed to the Government's panel for mental health and addictions inquiry. Josiah led the discussion. Toni Duder from Rainbow Youth talked about mental illness in the Rainbow community and touched on some of the work her advocacy work her organisation is doing to empower Rainbow youth. Then City Missioner Murray Edridge talked about the connection between homelessness, drug and/or alcohol abuse and mental illness, highlighting the need for a more holistic intervention. Ezekiel Raui spoke about the barriers to effective mental health dialogue among young people while Clarissa Chandrahasen shared an uplifting story about turning her experience in a mental health facility into an award winning play.
A poll on whether mental wellbeing should be taught in schools was met with an almost unanimous “yes” from the audience. This lead to discussion on whether teachers should have training in mental health and whether they should share this responsibility with the student’s whanau. Toni commented on the role of single sex schools in mental health and wellbeing, which sparked debate amongst the crowd.
Saturday afternoon panel theme...
The future of housing – how can we actually make housing accessible, affordable and sustainable?
Dr Oliver Hartwitch of the NZ Initiative moderated the panel. Our panelists included the Minister for Housing Hon. Phil Twyford, CEO of PreFab NZ Pamela Bell, Architectural Designer Jade Kake and young Maori wahine Anahera Pickering from Whangarei. They discussed the housing crisis shedding light on a time where houses were homes, shelter and security - not investments. They talked about how house prices are more than ten times the average household income and how they are three times more unaffordable than a generation ago. They touched on the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act and how owners need to be more responsive to tenants stating that housing is the single biggest driver of inequality and poverty today.
Pamela expressed her frustration with the disconnect between building companies and their target market, saying "there is no discussion about what consumers and buyers NEED". "There is no dialogue" she exclaimed. Jade talked about drawing from technical, social and cultural expertise to empower people to take a pivotal role in the design of their own communities. She said that we should support Māori communities and organisations to undertake culturally appropriate and environmentally, socially and economically sustainable development within their rohe.
Then Anahera took to the mic and spoke about how not meeting the criteria for help from Work and Income left her on the homeless at 18. She talked about being on endless waitlists and never knowing when she'd have the next roof over her head. She told the crowd that living on the streets was often far better than living in a shelter surrounded by drug and alcohol abuse and prostitution.
Other workshop sessions running throughout the day
Sunday afternoon speaker theme...
Making it real, momentum and actions for impact
New Zealand's Minister for Climate Change, Hon James Shaw was first to the stage. He talked about how the enormity of climate change inspired his life mission, how leadership, action and structural change is necessary, and how we are all responsible for building a better future. He acknowledged the work of Generation Zero for their leadership with the Zero Carbon Act, and the importance of getting tangible targets embedded in law. He said that sometimes you need to "turn up to work willing to be fired every day" in order to push through the changes you want to see.
Latayvia Tualasea Tautai spoke about how leadership is fostered by service, and that we must be intentional about our work within communities, acting with authenticity, empathy and consistency. Latayvia also highlighted the fact that gratitude is integral to growth.
Thomas Nash was a part of the Nobel Prize winning team who worked to abolish nuclear weapons, talked about accepting your privilege and using it to redesign arbitrary social structures for the greater good.
Carina Esguerra talked about the kaupapa of Inspiring Stories, and her role as the Programme Manager of the Future Leaders programme working to support the development of rangatahi in rural and provincial communities. She also stressed the importance of having a team with complimentary skills sets, and some of the challenges that young people face in marginalised rural communities.
By all accounts the 2018 Festival was a huge success, and the return to Wellington has created a strong foundation to build on. On behalf of the Board and team at Inspiring Stories, we would like to acknowledge our amazing partners, speakers, facilitators, supporters and volunteers who all helped to roll up sleeves and help create one of the most epic events of the year. Absolute #Legends!!