Festival for the Future Day 3

Waking up to another fine day in Wellington and another day of Festival for the Future- doesn’t get much better than that! 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.

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Sunday morning theme...

Against the odds – adversity, courage and resilience

Charlotte Hoonhout is a para-athlete and entrepreneur, who uses her experience to advocate for people living with disabilities. She was born with cerebral palsy but hasn’t let that stop her from being ambitious. She brought a message of hope and resilience: if you fall, people will be there to catch you. She also spoke very honestly about her struggles with anxiety and some of the systems she’s put in place to help herself and others manage their mental health.  

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Rachael Elder of Inspiring Stories, brought out the emotion in the room when she shared some of her darkest days. Through the tremendous strength she displayed she showed the room what courage and resilience looks like. She told the room that space needs to be made for difficult stories.

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Steve Pirie of Wonder & Wander spoke about his journey with failure and success and how it took a toll on his mental health. He offered the audience a few focus points: fear, failure, forgiveness & freedom. What is your fear really afraid of? What can you learn from this failure? Who do you need to forgive? What does internal freedom look and feel like for you? 

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Whaiora Patrick brought hope to the stage as she told the audience how she went from suicidal to the happy, healthy and thriving mother she is today. After being asked the question, ‘what are you doing with your life?’ at one of her lowest moments, Whaiora started to rediscover that life was a gift, filled with endless opportunities. She encouraged the crowd to “be the role models you wish for”.

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Sunday morning panel theme...

Tackling discrimination, racism & prejudice.

Sunday morning’s panel was all about addressing discrimination, racism & prejudice. The panel was led by Guled Mire, founder of Third Culture Minds and an advocate for refugees and minority groups within New Zealand. He brought the audience straight into the conversation with comments like, “There’s nothing casual about racism” & “I can’t stop being black; I’m black for life”. Bilal Nasier shared his story and the stigma about coming to New Zealand by boat. He spoke of how his father was verbal abused for not speaking good enough English when he in fact spoke 3 other languages. He brought some of the issues and pressures refugees face to light. Dr Robbie Francis, co-founder of The Lucy Foundation, spoke to the discrimination and prejudice experienced by people living with a disability. She shared that disabled people make up the biggest minority in the population but often they are the last to be asked to participate. She highlighted that disability can affect anyone of any race, religion, or socio-economic status. Dr Arama Rata, Senior Research Fellow at the National Institute of Demographic Analysis, spoke about historical issues of racism and discrimination and how we need to know our history to avoid the mistakes of the past. She encouraged the audience to find people that share common threads with them and work together. Suzannah Jessep from Asia New Zealand Foundation spoke about her time spent abroad and how despite the many differences between cultures she witnessed, overall she felt an overwhelming sense of compassion and commonality with people she met abroad. She spoke about the importance of learning from those who are different to you both for the education of your mind and heart. 

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Saturday afternoon panel theme...

Regional Economies and the future of work

This panel was led by Tamati Shepherd of PwC, the discussions focused on existing small scale businesses, socially responsibility in business, opportunities for regional industries, and access to work in the regions. First Rachel Taulelei, CEO of Kono, one of New Zealand's top 100 companies and Maori owned, spoke about the future of work. She talked about opportunity for people from diverse backgrounds, and making business decisions that respect both the past, present & future. Aaron Hape, of the Provincial Growth Fund, spoke about investment in regional New Zealand and the continued government commitment to establishing more industry in regional New Zealand. Graedon Parker of Organic Mechanic, spoke about the socially responsible entrepreneurship. He shared his experience with starting a kombucha business and how that impacted his understanding of land stewardship. Marlena Martin coach of the Kawerau Future Leaders programme, shared about some of the struggles of finding meaningful employment in regional areas.

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Sunday afternoon speaker theme...

A powerful force for change- 1000+ actions for impact

First on the stage was a very energetic Chris Gallavin, Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor of Massey University. Chris started by describing his unique position within his family, as the only one working in academia and within his work, holding a position of power but being still enthusiastic about making real change. He brought specific ideas to the audience about changes he wanted to make to the university space. He wants more solutions based learning and argued employability will come as a result. He also talked about the need for everyone to be able to engage in conversation and learn from each other, even when they have a difference of opinion. Chris concluded with a call to arms, seeking input from those in the room to work towards developing more practical university curriculum. 

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Next up Takunda Muzondiwa captivated the audience with her spoken word poetry. She spoke through her poetry about her experiences with discrimination. She urged the audience to act responsibly and educate themselves as much as they can with history and culture so they can be culturally aware and sensitive to those around them.

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Then Vuki Vujasinovic of Sling & Stone, talked about finding your passion and working hard to make it happen. He talked about his business experience and trying to be everything to everyone, but deciding it was ultimately best to be really good for those that truly matter to you and to your business.

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Festival was drawn to a close by the young and very inspiring Lucy Gray. At just 12 years old, Lucy took on the responsibility of coordinating a school strike for the climate in Christchurch. She spoke with passion about the need for climate action for the benefit of future generations. She encouraged people to make their own changes to help the environment and to get out there and take the action you see needs to be taken in the world, regardless of age. Lucy then sang a song she had penned. She was incredibly brave and comfortable up on the stage and show the audience that anyone can be a changemaker. 

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Festival wrapped up later on Sunday afternoon, to a buzzing audience eager to take what they had learnt and take action.