With only a week having passed since the close of LocalNZ, participants Hannah and Nyssa Payne-Harker and Oska Rego have wasted no time in continuing their engagement with local government at the Dunedin City Council.
Their work caught the attention of local media, with Dunedin Television doing a feature on the trio – see here.
For all other media relating to the LocalNZ workshop, see the media page on the website.
On Wednesday, 19 November the participants returned to Treasury for the final day of LocalNZ. With over 200 guests soon to be at Parliament, the group were under pressure to finalise their presentations – each person needing to turn three days of experiences into a product that highlighted their most important findings. Once this was completed, the group enjoyed a brief session with Mayor Celia Wade-Brown. She shared how Wellington is dealing with local issues, building on the information Deputy Mayor Justin Lester had given them the previous day.
The Beehive Banquet Hall proved an excellent location for the finale. The room is enormous, and what better location for a group of young people to share their thoughts on governance than Parliament. Following introductions from Kura Moeahu in te reo, Wendy and MP Paul Goldsmith (the event’s host), the participants each spoke, covering a range of issues that they had encountered over the previous days. The experiences of the previous few days had clearly lit a fire, and the participants put forward their ideas passionately, drawing on the wealth of knowledge they had accumulated throughout the workshop. One of the overarching themes of the presentations was leadership and was perhaps best exemplified by the analogy offered by participant Leah Wilkie: we can either lie in BED (blame, excuses, denial), or we can pick up an OAR (ownership, accountability, responsibility) and move the waka forward, together in unison.
During the Whanaganui River trip, documentarians Chris Barry-Goss and Matthew Barry worked tirelessly to capture as much footage as possible, with Chris subsequently editing furiously to produce a video record of the trip in time. The result was fantastic. The video will be on the LocalNZ website and is definitely worth a watch. We will let you know when the video and the documentary are public on YouTube in an upcoming blog.
Following the presentations, lunch gave participants and guests a chance to mingle. The quality of the group’s work left many curious to learn more, and the breadth of High Commissioners, MPs, Councillors, public servants. business people and many others left the participants spoilt for conversational choice. Soon though, the group were back to Treasury one last time for prizegiving. Here, Girol provided his feedback and gave each participant a certificate.
The McGuinness Institute would like to thank all our supporters and speakers and the organisers of the A Place to Live conference for contributing to the success of LocalNZ. This workshop would not have been possible without the help of all of you.
On a related note – below are a couple of Wanganui Chronicle articles that centre on the A Place to Live conference and also mention LocalNZ:
Day three started at the Treasury. The ventures of the previous days were over, with participants staying put at 1 The Terrace for the majority of the day. The plan was to hear from a range of speakers, have group discussions and work alongside Treasury staff – with an expectation that this would be the most challenging day of the workshop. It did not disappoint.
The speakers continued to exceed expectations, both in the quality of their words and their dedication in staying to field questions and engage with the participants. It was clear that the speakers were not just ticking a box; they were there to share their knowledge and hear from their audience. For speaker biographies, see here. The morning session involved speeches from Bill Moran, Dr Girol Karacaoglu, Jonathan Streat, Professor Jacqueline Rowarth, Ben Parker, David Rutherford, Lyn Provost, Councillor Chris Laidlaw and Anton Samoilenko. After consecutive presentations, each speaker joined a table of participants, allowing for closer discussion. The group also had the pleasure of welcoming Tania Tapsell, one of the youngest councillors in New Zealand local government, having been elected onto the Rotorua District Council at age 21. Tapsell spent the entire day with the participants, and her experience and willingness to help made her a valuable resource.
For the next session, the group organised themselves into a circle, and the speakers were seated – creating a more informal, discussion-based format. Firstly, they heard from Deputy Mayor Justin Lester, who gave insight into the current plans for Wellington’s economic development. This included an airport upgrade to allow direct international flights and the construction of a Middle Earth museum to capitalise on the international success of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit film franchises. Following Lester was Shamubeel Eaqub. Many present were familiar with Eaqub’s book Growing Apart: Regional Prosperity in New Zealand and his theory of provincial ‘zombie towns’, giving rise to extensive discussion regarding the future of small town economies and communities. The group’s recent journey was particularly relevant, as Wanganui is one town that has been singled out as being in decline.
Treasury staff, led by Clodagh Jolly and Toby Cooper, then joined the group to lead a ‘creative thinking tools session’. Participants learned different styles of brainstorming and tackling issues – taking assumptions and turning them on their head. The group was challenged to create new ways of producing ideas – a tiring yet valuable experience. This session stressed the importance of teamwork and how to efficiently maximise the potential of individuals while still maintaining a group approach.
The participants migrated to the McGuinness Institute for dinner and the evening session. A discussion of outputs with the LocalNZ designers ensued, followed by a particularly interactive talk from information designer Mark Baxter, who regaled the group with stories of growing up in rural New Zealand and how one can incorporate these experiences into the creative process. The presentation was, as you may imagine, very visual.
The next few hours saw a lock in of sorts, as the participants barricaded themselves in the boardroom and fleshed out the content for the finale at Parliament. This exercise tested group dynamics as well as the ability to produce bold ideas, putting into practice the lessons taken from Treasury. With exhaustion creeping in, the group had to work hard to reach consensus and thus a unified front for the following day.
Day two began early aboard a steamboat. Peter Hardy (in character as the early twentieth-century Wanganui businessman Mr Hatrick) took everyone up the river on a brisk morning. The group welcomed Hon. Tariana Turia to their midst, with the boat ride allowing participants an excellent opportunity to talk to the former Māori Party MP. Hardy gave the group a detailed history of the area and the river, which tied in nicely to Dame Anne Salmond’s address from the previous evening.
Upon disembarking, the participants launched into song for Turia before boarding the bus for Jerusalem (Hiruharama). The road was long, narrow and windy – but well worth it. They arrived and hurried from the rain for a powhiri with the residents and attendants of the A Place to Live conference. After refreshment, there was time to explore the area, with many taking the opportunity to visit the famous church and, venturing a little further, the grave of James K. Baxter – the man who made Jerusalem known to New Zealand.
Te Wainui a Rua, the school at Ranana, was the next stop. This visit was something special. The group received an overwhelmingly warm greeting from the teachers, parents and children, with the students subsequently performing a waiata. The LocalNZ participants responded in turn with their own song. Set in a sparsely populated area along the river, the school is modern and spacious. It was lovely to see the pride that the locals have for their school, and the participants enjoyed their time with them.
For lunch the group visited the beautiful Koriniti Marae, along with the A Place to Live conference attendees. They heard once more from Dame Anne Salmond and then from various experts furthering the discussion around the fate of the Whanganui River. Their time here also saw a workshop session, where Wendy sat down with participants and set the foundations for working on their upcoming presentation at Parliament.
Their time in Wanganui was drawing to a close, but first the group had the pleasure of witnessing the A Place to Live conference debate at the Whanganui War Memorial Centre. The moot: ‘small is beautiful’. The debate was hosted by Wanganui Mayor Annette Main and introduced by Nick Astwick from Kiwibank. The panel was made up of the mayors of Hastings, Gisborne and Clutha, Lawrence Yule, Meng Foon and Bryan Cadogan; the ex-mayors of Otorohanga and Carterton, Dale Williams and Ron Mark (now a New Zealand First MP); and the always entertaining Ginette McDonald (as Lynn of Tawa). These figures all had enthusiastic (and differing) arguments and ideas for the preservation and growth of smaller towns. Enlivening the debate was MC Kim Hill, who guided the discussion, directing frequent wry quips at debaters and audience members alike. The participants used the Q & A section to their advantage, putting forward several questions to help them answer the overarching research question for the workshop: Are the goals of NZ Inc the same as Regional NZ Inc – and if dissimilar, what would these differences look like?
The buses back to Wellington were filled with talk, and the designers sat down with participants to start mapping out how they might present their ideas effectively on Wednesday. Once they arrived, the only idea was sleep.
Having travelled from all corners of the country, on Sunday, 16 November the participants finally met and LocalNZ began. Over 30 young people arrived to spend four days answering the research question: Are the goals of NZ Inc the same as Regional NZ Inc – and if dissimilar, what would these differences look like? The group took advantage of the beautiful Wanganui weather to start things off in the garden of the hostel, with Wendy giving an introduction and the participants having a chance to eat and chat to one another. During this session Wendy explained how each of the Institute workshops follow the process outlined in the diagram below.
For the rest of the day, it was non-stop.
American Richard Louv kicked off the long list of speakers after being introduced by Professor Charles Daugherty from Victoria University. Louv is the workshop’s keynote speaker, and he did not disappoint. He spoke of the modern disconnect between people and nature and the adverse effect this is having on our physical and mental health. This prompted myriad questions for Louv, who seemed taken aback by the high calibre of engagement. The bar was set high for the coming days.
Participants then deviated somewhat, taking in the local art scene by visiting a local glass-blowing studio, where a demonstration was put on for them. This proved a welcome distraction as some participants began to realise how challenging the task ahead would be.
In the afternoon the group visited the Wanganui Opera House to attend the opening of A Place to Live conference. Dame Anne Salmond initiated the conference with an impassioned address on the Whanganui River Settlement – a topical issue, especially for the locals present. Salmond’s speech was both erudite and accessible, and the material covered may have resonated with participants, who were staying on the banks of the Whanganui River and were anticipating the journey up it in the morning.
Back at the hostel, Councillor Helen Craig and Jim Callaghan rounded off the day’s speeches with presentations that were very different yet both thought provoking. The participants engaged in a Q & A session with Craig and Callaghan and had some time to split into groups and discuss ideas – before the thought of a 7 a.m. start drove them to bed.