Festival was a big fish

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Last weekend I made my way to Wellington for my first Festival for the Future. Being my first Festival I had no idea what to expect and was slightly apprehensive about spending my weekend inside with 1000 people I didn't know.

What I found was a group of amazing people, speakers and companies, all enthusiastically discussing NZ and the 'big issues' we're facing right now. There was continuous inspiration and it was obvious a lot of love and thought had gone into the weekend; bean bags, hula hoops, free Laffare coffee, endless bananas, the manaaki room, Youthline workers and lunch time meditation!

It got pretty heavy at times as we talked about governance, child poverty, the housing crisis, mental health and diversity. But it was also uplifting to see people of all ages engage with these issues, both calling for change and making a change themselves.

Of the many messages shared, my top 10 takeaways were:

  1. Set goals - we all know it, but it was encouraging to see so many young people engaging with the theme of getting to know your path and owning it to make change and I ended my weekend being reminded of my 'why'
     

  2. Listen and hear - and let people design their own lives to make positive change that sticks (exactly what we aim to do here at Curative)
     

  3. Enable others - considering how we do with others rather than do for or to - especially poignant to me as last year I spent six months working in Fiji creating change for the community, not with them. It felt like the locals were just putting up with us!
     

  4. Recognize that mental health is affecting everyone - everyone was talking about it. My fav conversation was with two ladies on the Future Leaders programme in Otaki who are planning to set up a space in their community for young people to encourage connectedness and provide a safe space. “Mental health isn’t just a pākehā issue, it’s a Te Ao Māori issue, it’s a Te Ao Pasifika issue, it’s a Te Ao Asian issue - it affects everyone” Josiah Tualamali'i
     

  5. Lean our NZ history - the majority of people really wanted to learn about the whole history of NZ - one that includes the Māori Wars. And it was acknowledged that as a Pākehā that would mean owing colonization and sitting with the discomfort that creates
     

  6. Trust the system - there was a call from many speakers to vote! That democracy and politics don't work if you don't trust the system, which means having a say and holding those in power accountable
     

  7. Or change the system - one of my fav examples was The Happy Milk Company - changing the dairy system one baby calf at a time by developing a portable milking system
     

  8. Become aware of gender imbalance - Alexia Hilbertidou highlighted gender imbalance at the highest level, that only 2% of CEOs are female, 4% are called Peter and 8% are called John
     

  9. Young people rock - young people are super engaged, interested and they want to make a difference in their communities - they just need the support and tools
     

  10. ‘Find your fish’ - was my favourite quote for the weekend. Opening speaker Prof Meihana Durie told the story of Maui and how he had encouraged his brothers to sail outside their comfort zone. If they had stayed in their comfort zone they would have caught the same fish everyday, but by going outside of it Maui caught something new and amazing, NZ.

 

These were my top takeaways, and there were plenty more stories, messages and personal stories shared. I certainly felt like I had found my own fish simply by being at Festival, and my only regret was I wanted to watch all the panels and I didn't make it to any workshops...

there's always next year right?

 
Sarah Wilson