Festival for the Future Day 2

After an incredible opening ceremony on Friday night, the 1,200+ strong crowd arrived bright an early for the first full day of Festival for the Future. Wellington turned on the weather, and our friends at L'Affare turned on the fair trade organic coffee in full force.


Saturday morning theme...

Leadership in the face of big, complex and urgent challenges.

First up on Saturday morning was Sophie Handford, a passionate climate activist. She began by making the powerful argument for her environmental stand; she cares because it’s too important not to.

She talked about her journey, stepping up to become the national coordinator of School Strikes for Climate NZ. “We must come together and empower each other to change the world.” She shared about barriers and she shared about successes and how the strike ended up exceeding participation by about 5 times what they were expecting. 

We can be the generation that saves the planet.
— Sophie Handford

Sonya Renee Taylor & Anne-Marie Brook bounced off each other in a dynamic talk from two Edmund Hilary Fellows. Sonya shared her vision for radical self-love, performing spoken word and sharing about her movement The Body is Not an Apology. Anne-Marie shared about her work documenting the human condition so there would be relevant data to reference in accompaniment to economic data. She works to ensure that ‘how to get richer’ & ‘how to improve the lives of citizens’ don’t have to be isolated considerations.


New Zealand’s finance minister, Grant Robertson, shared his enthusiasm to see young people passionate about changing the world. He spoke about what the future of work will look like, encouraging those in the room to break the barriers between what we think is important and what we do for work. He encouraged the next generation of workers to invent the new world of work, to make it exactly what you want it to be. He left the participants with simple wisdom, everyone needs to keep learning throughout life, in every way.


Emily Muli brought to the stage a perspective from the Pasifika community and with it a beautiful song she wrote and performed. She talked about the progress the Pasifika community has made in Aotearoa and the optimism and ideas she holds for their future.

Let’s not talk around it; let’s talk about it.
— Emily Muli

The morning speaker session was hugely thought-provoking, bringing to the forefront the idea of stepping up to shape the future you want. Next up was workshops – with eight different streams to choose from!

Saturday morning panel discussion...

How can we accelerate climate solutions?

Saturday morning’s panel discussion was led by journalist Rod Oram and Lisa Mclaren of Generation Zero. The conversation was kicked off by Mike Smith who brought to the panel the perspective of indigenous people and land stewardship. His steps towards accelerating climate solutions were 1) anticipation 2) preparation 3) action. Next Elspeth Tilley of Massey University encouraged creative campaigning. She talked about how consuming and creating art induces a powerful reaction in us that can stir us to tackle issues in our world.  Maha Fier of Future Leaders Kapiti, brought a youthful but experienced voice to the stage. She spoke about relocating from the United States to New Zealand as a child because of her Dad’s concerns about Climate Change. She then contrasted this with her mother’s childhood in a polluted city in Pakistan. Her message: think local, act local. Secretary for the Environment, Vicky Robinson brought a refreshing take on the government’s action on climate change, by encouraging more participation from individuals. She talked about shifting the current ways things are done and looking forward to a future of collective actions for change. 


Saturday afternoon panel discussion...

How can we improve health and wellbeing?

CEO of The Prince’s Trust New Zealand, Anya Satyanand led the panel discussion about health and wellbeing which included discussions of workplace wellbeing, finding well being rooted in culture, accepting and valuing self as well at looking at some of the characteristics of depression. Mary Tiumalu from the Ministry for Pacific Peoples, talked about how connecting with stories from a person’s culture allows them to feel heard and acknowledged within their story. Andrew Barnes, founder of Perpetual Guardian, spoke about stress related mental illness and provided his solution: a 4 day working week. He believes that the 4 day working week can be a catalyst for increased productivity and better mental health for employees. John Fitzgerald of Massey University, talked about some common misconceptions of depression and suicidal behaviour and made the powerful statement that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety but rather meaningful connection. Kassie spoke of care for ourselves and for each other and and how hope is something we need to help people find.


The panel sessions ran concurrently with seven other workshop streams that happened throughout the Festival. You can check out the full Festival programme here.

Saturday afternoon theme...

Dreaming Big. Pushing boundaries for our future.

Andrew Barnes of Perpetual Guardian shared for second time, this time to the full audience of Festival. He jokingly apologised at the start to those who had already heard him share in the panels but after such a positive audience response to his first presentation, those who had attended the panel were keen to hear more. Andrew shared further his idea of productivity over ‘time-logged’. He shared some mind-boggling statements such as ‘Brits are productive an average of two & a half hours a day’ & ‘Being constantly interrupted at work is comparable to being under the influence of marajuana’. Andrew also shared how far reaching the idea implementing a 4 day working week has been, with representatives in countries such as Colombia & Russia praising the idea.


Next up Sharndre Kushor of Crimson Education, shared her own experience with her education and why she wants to help others personalise their education. Sharndre had a very balanced approach to education, following her interest in health to university but also considering future fields of significance by studying computer science. She encouraged everyone to consider their ‘cultural bias’, and explained that your inclinations from the family or culture you grew up with can give traits that can strengthen you as a student. She told the audience not to be beholden to the status quo or the law of averages but to work hard and be the exception.


Audette Exel of The Adara Group, then shared some lessons from her rich experience in humanitarian work and professional work across the globe. The Adara Group has been a trailblazer for neonatal care and quality education in some of the poorest countries in the world. Audette’s audacity has come of a life of rich experiences in diverse places and circumstances. A serial skydiver, she told the audience, controlled risks are great fun. She also shared a powerful lesson in showing everybody respect- even the cleaning lady (who in this story happened to be Audette!). In closing she encouraged to attendees not just to be individual change makers but to create a model that make your successes replicable and scalable for impact.


In closing for the day Asaeli Pene, of Future Leaders Whangarei, took to the stage to share his passion for enhancing communities and championing youth. Asaeli shared firstly about overcoming a complication of birth where he was expected not to walk, he joyfully showed that he didn’t have any trouble with this now by doing a little happy dance on the stage. He shared his passion for youth work starting from when he was 14 and started attending conflict resolution workshops to better his understanding of how to create peaceful communities. Numerous times throughout his presentation, he referenced his love for his sisters that was his primary motivation to create positive change. He finished by telling those in the room about the rap group he’s been collaborating with called Creative Minds, in order to bring positive messages to vulnerable youth, and he rapped an original piece, to which the crowd response was electric.


Feeling encouraged, empowered and energised by the experiences and advice offered by the range of inspiring speakers sharing throughout day 2 of Festival for the Future 2019.