The Best Is Yet To Come
With the current change we are experiencing in our world, we believe it is important to recognise the gravity of the situation but also equally as important to recognise the possibilities as we reshape our futures.
This is a time to re-evaluate our lives and choices personally, but also look at the world as a whole - what changes do we believe need to be made? With this in mind, we bring you The Best Is Yet To Come. We chat to our friends & leaders within their industry and discuss their hopes for how we will reshape and evolve moving forward...
Bailey Wiley, Musician
I believe we are all searching for a constant sense of belonging. To feel enough. To be enough. To standout enough. Be mindful enough. Creative enough. Nurturing enough. But fuck me. When is enough, enough?
I'm a creative and mostly known for my music but I want to bring light to something else. The process of 'transition'. The notion between motherhood and then back into creative industries as professional women. The reality of that notion; the baggage that comes with it and how we can advocate for women going through it.
Sacrifice. Courage. Finding freedom.
To step into motherhood is the ultimate sacrifice. The paramount expression of selflessness. I found putting my identity and sense of self on hold was the hardest part. Letting go of the old and in with the new - It's like swimming in an ocean with no legs. Yet every woman that chooses to have kids seems to be doing it. Surviving or thriving is the question? In the end 'the hustle' was the thief of my joy. And here we are again.
Is what I'm doing 'enough'.
Second thought. Don't get caught in the fast lane phase. You're going to miss all the good parts. Life just becomes a watered down version of its self and fuck that. This is not an adaptation of a future idea. But more so a reminder for the present to pipe the fuck down when life throws it's curve balls. Creating space to future endeavors.
The truth is, I believe we're all just surviving. Sometimes putting one foot in front of the other is all we have capacity for and that's okay. I like to describe motherhood as feeling 'weathered'. It feels like you can age tremendously throughout these storms. The fatigue. The loneliness. The guilt. The weight gain. The forgetfulness. The list goes on, followed by the 'transition'.
The spreading yourself too thin transition. The bottle feeding transition. The daycare transition. The 'cry it out' transition. (Unsure if this one's for me or the kid)
I'm finding the balance for transition is compassion.
- Express compassion when the storm comes.
- Show up.
- Support goes the distance.
- Comparable suffering serves no one.
I like to come back to the story of 'The Tortoise and the Hare'. God that hare looked great prancing around but in the end homeboy fell flat on his face. Point being, it must be exhausting always trying to win your own race. Not only do we need to find compassion for woman in 'transition' but we need to find compassion for ourselves. In all walks of life. Again. Don't be the thief of your own joy.
You are enough.
Tory Whanau , Pakakohi, Nga Ruahine, Ngati Takou
Over the last few weeks we've seen several concerning stories of the abuse that many women in politics face. This has ranged from anonymous accounts messaging local councillors and calling them hurtful names, right through to our own Prime Minister receiving death threats. As a political candidate myself, while on the lower scale, I've also received anonymous abuse. And I am sure this is certainly not limited to the field of politics. Women in senior positions are constantly facing the wrath of those who still struggle with seeing women at the decision making table. Only yesterday we saw an insecure CEO make sexist and racially charged comments toward the successful and inspirational Nadia Lim. One can forgive those reluctant to put themselves forward for such roles - this behaviour is exhausting and doesn't belong in this century.
So how can we make it a safer environment for women and in fact other marginalised communities across these industries? I've reflected on what has given me the courage to take on roles such as Chief of Staff for a political party and potentially Mayor of Wellington. This may sound a little cliche but it has been due to the strength, courage and guidance passed down by those wahine toa before me. I had the privilege of learning from leaders such as Metiria Turei and Marama Davidson who always led with empathy and passion regardless of the abuse that was hurled their way. I've seen Golriz Ghahrahman fight for the vulnerable right after being told she ought to hang herself, and provide me with direct support when I've dealt with questionable behaviour. And of course, I've seen our Prime Minister lead with grace while holding the most difficult job of all.
There's a lot we can all learn from these amazing women. For those of us in a position to teach, we absolutely must pass down our knowledge to the next generation. We must empower them to go down that difficult path for the betterment of our society. We must show them that it's possible to walk through the thick fog of adversity and come out stronger on the other side. It's not going to be easy - but we have an exciting future ahead of us.
How many of us subscribe to the story that there isn’t enough time?
There never seems to be enough time, no matter how many sacrifices I make. I have cancelled more dinner dates, yoga classes or early nights, than I care to remember. But regardless, there still isn’t enough time. Is this story true? Is there really not enough time?
We live in a society which is addicted to busy. We even have a hashtag - hustle culture. Some of us wear it like a badge of honour. I myself have for so long subscribed to this notion that there is never enough hours in the day to do the things I need to do. It is so embedded into our culture it’s hard to see where the story ends and our lives begin.
However, If the last two years have taught me anything it’s that time is non linear. It can feel long. You can stretch it. I was reminded of those long school holidays where you ached for something to do, somewhere to go. The potency of boredom. It occurred to me I hadn’t been bored in years. Any space that does present itself, is filled with podcasts, playlists and social media. We are the upskill generation. It was during this pandemic induced boredom- heavily pregnant - unable to day drink, travel, or run, and without the skills (or patience) to bake bread or knit that I was forced to sit in the boredom. And I learnt this is how you stretch time.
I realised I - like many of my peers- felt I needed to earn rest. That every space in my mind needed to be crammed with self care quotes and insightful conversation starters. Even my hobbies were less about relaxing, but more about being productive.
When we are chronically busy, there is no time to absorb our environment, to marvel at the magic of the mundane, or even to engineer serendipity. I wondered how many flowers in bloom in my drive way, how many bird songs outside my bedroom window, how many meaningful connections with friends I had missed from not being present. Unconscious. So absorbed in busy I wasn’t able to absorb the majesty of life.
The capitalist system has been deliberately designed to keep us so busy that we don’t look up long enough to notice that some of the best things in life are free. All they require is our attention. There are ways to spend time meeting ourselves, our friends and our environments more intimately. This probably doesn’t mean we should all quit our jobs and start wearing bamboo shoes (no diss to bamboo shoes). It means we can begin to stretch time by attuning our attention and living more consciously. Being more deliberate with where we attune our attention.
I believe each aspect of our lives could benefit from this attunement. Although on the surface multitasking makes it appear that we can do more, are we truly doing less? Sending a text whilst bathing our babies, do we rob ourselves the joy of being present in the experience, thus are really doing less? experiencing and absorbing less authenticity, joy and purpose?
I think we are on the cusp of change. A collective sigh of post pandemic exhaustion is pushing so many of us to the edges of the city to live, and with hybrid working becoming a reality for the first times in generations, this is all possible. I believe we need to continue to sigh. To accept we’ve been exhausted for years. That in order to do more, we need to do less. To live more deliberately. To participate consciously.
This is the change I seek.
The days of multitasking will be behind us. We will bask in boredom and from that space notice a cloud the shape of a harmonica, from behind it a symphony of bird song. In the playground of our imagination daydreams will become antidotes at dinner. We will live more fulfilled lives, not from entire life upheavals, but from the opportunity to change our relationship with busy. This is how I see the future. Not profoundly different. Just simpler.
The Department of Arts is a creative agency and we do festivals, well we “did” festivals. We started with parties which lead to gigs and eventually gigs built into festivals. On days when the current shit-storm of a situation burdens my brain I reflect on a time in a small Wellington flat where we once methodically draped multiple rolls of two dollar shop tinsel over a nylon string canopy. The vigour at which we undertook this pursuit was hard to comprehend for bystanders, however, within our small triangle having an extreme passion for setting the perfect party scene was of the utmost importance.
Ask yourself why would we try to build a creative agency away from our hometown’s in the middle of covid? The answer being - an interest in making other peoples night’s epic. We then discovered that not only were we talented in our respective fields of design, fabrication, and installation but together as a unit we could produce work that stuck in people's hearts. Better yet, as we became equipped with a proper workspace, tools, systems, and processes we found ourselves in a position to develop our own culture and “to win creative freedom for good people with great ideas.”
As makers of things and producers of experiences our work (as I am sure is the same for other creatives) crosses over multiple industries - Events, advertising, sponsorship, furniture, film/tv, products, and soon to be virtual meta-spaces??!!! Change Is needed across all fields and It can be daunting when looking at required changes on the macro level, however, two positives I always come back to is a) change is inevitable and B) change happens from within. Allow me to make three quick points on what issues we see and how we try to change them from within.
Burnout Culture - You know the old adage “do what you love and work everyday non-stop until you hate it and have had every ounce of your identity sucked out of your soul in exchange for the ever elusive dollar.” As a manager of a small creative team I am highly aware of the pitfalls of having creativity on a conveyor belt. The best ideas take time to develop. Rubbing the head of your golden goose (Designer) harder and harder in the hope that he releases more golden eggs isn’t the way we try to approach things. Effective time management to stop projects piling up, empowering our creatives to say NO, and having a policy of healthier people make better Department of Arts Team members has helped us navigate the stresses of starting a business in the creative industries we love. We encourage conversation on Hauroa (mental, physical, social and spiritual well-being) and we make time to look after ourselves first and then others.
Supporting Young People - Defend our rangatahi! A bad manager can have a real and lasting effect on young people’s self-esteem, their approach to working in a team, and how they will manage other people in the future. As I always say, too much tough love leaves you alone on Christmas Day. What we need is a high standard of work expectations matched with high amounts of empathy. I believe we should really value younger people - they have the best ideas, the most passion, and the most potential. We are all learning everyday and the best way to keep a beginner's mind is to be around a beginner's mind.
Reusability - We are all addicted to the shiny thing, the new concept, the never before seen. We want originality and we want it today, tomorrow, and the next day. The problem we regularly struggle with is that in making custom artworks/things/products it is unavoidable that you produce custom waste. The energy and cost in reusing materials, repurposing, or even storing past projects often does not hold its value for many clients. We see festivals like Splore taking the lead in sustainability and reusability and find it extremely inspiring. We ourselves are working on creating artworks that can be repurposed and reused for many other events. A lot of work to do here in general… (sorry I don’t have all the answers!).
Honestly for us the future looks bright. Fortune favours the bold and the bold live here at the Department of Arts. I see us being leaders in an event space that is screaming out for festivals that combine both experience and community. I see the possibility of building a creative collective with a strong moral compass, impactful work, caring culture and an ability to both laugh and cry when either is needed. I am grateful for what we have been able to achieve so far and my hope is that our work might one day spark a life changing epiphany for someone else. I see us being the change we want to see in our world.
My heart has beaten almost 2 billion times. I have burned 1378 candles on all my birthday cakes. I have travelled around the sun 53 times - that’s about 50 billion kilometres. The moon has circled around me 706 times. I’ve been on the internet for over 31 years.
And today, I am 19,301 days old.
The reason that I am telling you this is that we live for around 30,000 days.
I’m almost two-thirds of the way there.
So what have I done with my time? This is something I’m asking myself more and more. Not to punish myself for not achieving enough, you understand, because I’ve done a lot. But it’s more so that I can focus on the things that I enjoy doing and want to carry on doing. And it’s so I can figure out what I can stop doing to make space for more of this stuff I love doing.
Because making space is actually creating time.
I spent one day being a postman. I hated it. I stopped doing it straight away. I’ve spent about 2200 days in my life being a DJ. I loved that, but gave it up because I had other things I needed to finish, and I just couldn’t do both things together. Such is life sometimes. There are seasons for things, and that was my season as a DJ. I’ve spent 4000 days being a dad - which is an ongoing journey that is ever-changing, bringing its own joys and challenges. But the biggest chunk of my time - 12000 days - has been spent being a psychologist. And I’m asking myself now: is that something I could somehow change to make space for other things? I’ve really enjoyed becoming an author in these last 2 years, as well as speaking and creating videos. And I’m wondering what needs to change for me to do more of that in my life. To create time.
We humans are fantastic at going on auto-pilot. But unless we make time to check in with ourselves to figure out whether what we spend our time on is really what we want to be doing, then that time can just slip by.
So what does this mean for me?
I know that multi-tasking means I end up doing each thing less well than if I gave it my full attention, and then moved on to the next thing. I need more of that in my life. The good news is that the odds are in my favour still. Out of 100,000 people born on the same day as me, approximately 91,065 are still living. So, I’m making some changes in my life for connection, joy, and meaningful work and service. I’m going to create that time, but it also means that I need to stop doing other things to make that space.
How are you going to spend your 30,000 days? What will you stop doing so you can create space and time for things that bring you joy and connection?
Join me as I launch my new newsletter and we can talk more. I can’t wait to see you there, and I can’t wait to hear what you’ve been thinking about and how you’re going to bring that forward in your life.
Olivia Scott, Author and Coach
We definitely do grow finer with age. We have so much to learn from our elders. Part of growing up is also realizing, maybe we don’t know everything after all. And that the best is yet to come.
I have had to unlearn so much I thought to be true, in order to learn it again. What I thought was important, turned out not to be. Who I thought I was, wasn’t, again and again. Things I thought I wanted, I got and then realized actually felt quite different. Things, success, places and people. Or rather, it didn’t give me the feeling I thought it would. Part of my journey so far has been realizing that there is nothing that exists externally that will change how I sit with myself. That is completely up to me, and that acceptance all begins to beautifully fall into place with grace and… age.
‘Wherever you go there you are.’
Something I have also realized is that what society teaches us to be fulfillment, actually isn’t. Busy doesn’t equal productive. Real success isn’t measured in things. But this is where things get fun, as it’s empowering and confronting all at once. Once we strip back all our traditional, societal learnings, what are we left with? We can do whatever like. Things that are truly important, the intangible things that we can’t see, really are the things that matter. Our energy, relationships, the way we make people feel, our connections, nature and community. Connecting with things authentically and telling the truth is a real currency. And I love that our generation isn’t afraid to be blunt about this. I believe transparency is the way of the future.
I think what we often crave from life is more intimacy and real conversation. We must be honest with ourselves as a starting point, before asking this of someone else too. With the world being flipped on its head these past few years, everything we thought was safe has changed, and we have no choice but to see ourselves from a new (and more vulnerable) place. What is truly important now? We have learned that we can survive uncertainty, change and loss. We are still here, but what do we know to be true? People are our most valuable resource. Our connections, communities and positive impact are remembered.
The best gift we can offer ourselves is authenticity and we give people an opportunity to meet us there. From there, smile at the stranger, pick up the rubbish on the sidewalk, let people in line before you, hug your friends tighter, say what you really want to say. Connectedness creates ripples, and real change.
Coco Solid Musician, Writer, Director, Producer and Artist
My idea for the future is nothing flash, it is simply a love-letter to options.
I often get asked what needs to change, and how can we go about changing such things. I'm not sure if it's my Saturn heavy chart, the fact that I was born into many change-craving contexts and cultures... or if I just have a knack for being artfully disgruntled. I would say it's a mixture. Maybe I am the futurist equivalent of that hating-ass friend, when you ask them where you should eat or what you should wear - at least you know they'll never lie.
When people asked me to reimagine what needs to change, I don't need a dark night of the soul to come up with answers (although I've had plenty of those). My autopilot go-to's are: authentic inclusion, demystifying, mana motuhake, access and now, a deep necessity for disruption. Sometimes I like to take frameworks and business models that have endured (sometimes for centuries) and I examine every single choice that comprises them. And with a dead-ass serious face, I usually suggest we do something similar to the opposite. I mean they had a good run but they're not really working are they.... otherwise we wouldn't be in the social smorgasbord of tight binds that we find ourselves in.
I recently said to a friend, "it's giving 'shit show'' but again that depends who you are, where you're from, and the values that you hold dear. Many of us have seen the world as a shit show for quite a while now, so we have a bit of an edge in terms of being apocalypse-adjacent as this is old news. This is not the pilot, for many of us this is Apocalypse season 6. I like to think of myself as an awkward hybrid between being Genesis-ready and completely deluded/unprepared. But a curious thing seems to be happening to me where the intuitive, inherent spirituality (that I needn't force anymore) has started to seep into what we'll call "my professional life". I see my market value and my consciousness mingling in the same room, more and more. I think this is because people are scared and they want to be around people who do not give a fuck or have nothing left to lose. To be clear, I have a few things that I don't want to lose. But I'm also no stranger to losing everything I've ever loved in a single moment. So maybe that's part of my appeal whenever romantic 'change' discourse revs up.
People like me when we are pushed up against the wall, we reach for our most unusual tricks that will help us survive. Could be time traveling to the point before someone pushed you against the wall. It could be having lasers installed in your retina, that can burn through the sleeves of the person holding you against the wall. It could be having acid pellets in your jean pockets that will melt the wall behind you and lead you to the exit. These are just some of the options that I personally would float.
I think we needn't data-cap our imaginations in fear of what others may think, that's the old timeline. People need to have a bulletproof sense of humor in the face of a world that is simultaneously becoming the biggest joke inexistence and the unfunniest story ever told. People need to transcend the traditions and addictions that have led us into this snooze fest of a hellscape. I choose not to dwell in the hellscape-mentality myself but I'm aware of it, in a 'where I really don't wanna live' reference kinda way.
I would like the tāmariki to have more than a fistful of grisly options as to how things might turn out for them. Basics like clean water might be smart, seeing as we and the planet need it to stay alive. Not meeting a violent demise because of someone's colonial lust for territory could be another? Hey I'm just riffing. I hope that people can be safe. People have what they deserve. People have access to their birth rights and their dreams. I'm not sure how that's going to happen at a collective level, we seem so... distracted. But I know where I have any leverage, privilege or any power to create, I'd like to think anyone who engages with me and my mahi can at least walk away feeling like they've got options.
Bonnie Ryan-Vance, DJ / Writer / Neurodiversity & Mental Health Advocate
…If you didn’t know better you’d say the gods of comedy and tragedy had a hand in it.
Zadie Smith (Intimations, 2020)
I remembered these words early on a Sunday afternoon. Though an assignment I accepted without hesitation only days before, writing something that would appear under the optimistic heading ‘The Best Is Yet To Come’ in the shadow of the government announcement suddenly seemed peculiarly paradoxical. Elation to deflation in under three seconds. Everything wanted and worked towards by those in the industry, the events that served as the light at the end of 2021’s impossibly long lockdown tunnel for almost everyone I know - disintegrated in the time it takes for a traffic light to change.
Months earlier, I had been contacted to contribute a piece for this same series; at the time an impossible task. On a page in the back of a notebook I used last year, I had scrawled “not my defining characteristic”; the only idea I had tried to develop, now a strangely comforting sentiment. I used that phrase a lot during introductions, a light-hearted retort to the frequent DJ question that followed my name, but of the utmost importance. The idea of my worth being tied to how I choose to pay the bills hadn’t become more appealing when it went from mundane office employment to music selection.
When I was growing up I had a little game that I played when one of my parents drove through the tunnel in my hometown. The music from the radio would always cut out on entry, and I would continue singing the song to myself, trying to keep the time perfectly so that when we emerged, and the radio turned from static to song again, I was in the right place. Many of my memories are about music, though I was not raised in a musical household, never played an instrument, and never undertook education on the topic; until only a few years ago I wouldn’t say I had any skill related to music at all. I probably wouldn’t have said I had any skill or talent, period. I battled through school with minimal effort, unable to absorb spoken information (something I still struggle with) but a human sponge when it came to criticism, which was extremely harsh, and often; something that bothers me deeply to this day. Told I would not be anything, or succeed, because of my apparent insolence, I told myself that, too.
My parents always encouraged me to be myself, even though I was a really weird kid (something I never grew out of) and they probably fretted a bit that I’d do something bizarre, but as life went on I felt like I didn’t know what that was. Autistic people, women in particular, often use ‘masking’ as a survival skill socially to hide the traits that draw negative attention to them, and these became so deeply ingrained I could no longer distinguish what was genuine.
Finding my place in music was how I found myself. Cliché, but for a reason. My ridiculously vast - and sometimes unbelievable to others - knowledge of songs and the like which I had always considered a useless trait was suddenly not an embarrassing by-product of my newly discovered (but long standing) neurodivergent status, but something to be proud of, and I didn’t need to pretend to be anything or anyone. I couldn’t pretend, or focus on anything else, or I wouldn’t be able to do it properly. It required me to be totally present, focused on how I feel, an impenetrable bubble around me and the booth. The more I did this, and the less I worried about what other people thought, the more engaged I was, and the more engaged the audience became. It didn’t mean the end of outwards negativity, but that didn’t matter anymore. The confidence in selecting songs grew, the confidence in my being grew, and the rest just ceased to matter.
Music, my life, entwined to every part of my being, isn’t about a job, but about feeling. Everything is. When we connect with ourselves, and better ourselves, we are building foundations for a better future. You can do all you want outwardly, and try to fix everything around you, but unless you work on you, there is no point.
When we connect with art, it touches us. It’s emotional. Selecting a soundtrack based on what I feel and connecting with others through it is indescribable; it is those moments of inimitable unity that tided me over months of total isolation. Everything in me is driven by feeling. I cry in TV adverts. I get goosebumps listening to the same song thirty times in a row. That is my character. I’ve learned to take responsibility for the things I need to and let go of the things I can’t change. That’s what defines me. It doesn’t go away when I can’t play at events; the outlet simply changes; the desire to connect only grows. On the top of the piano in my room - my current learning project - I have ‘HOPE’ spelled out in old scrabble pieces. Nobody can take my music, nobody can take my hope. If I keep my attitude right, everything else will fall into place, and my best will always be just around the corner.
Not so paradoxical after all.
This music’s the only thing keeping the peace When I’m falling to pieces
Lil Peep (Star Shopping, 2017)
Robyn McLean, Founder and Marketing Director of Hello
Sure, I get why it might not be dinner conversation, but after years of dealing with gross tampons that often leaked, were expensive and uncomfortable - changing to a menstrual cup was life changing in so many ways but it also got me thinking. Here was a product that was reusable for years and was more comfortable - why isn’t everyone using them?
If you’d told me five years ago I’d give up my job to start a sustainable period product business I would have said you were bonkers. Being an evangelistic preacher of sustainable period care options isn’t exactly rock and roll. But we need to talk more about periods and the innovation that is happening in period care.
If you have a period and use tampons or pads - you’ll go through about 11,000 - 16,000 in your ‘period lifetime’. That adds up. Who wants to hand a wad of cash each month to big business in order to use their cheap, bleached products for a few hours before sending them to landfill? Not me!
When I founded Hello. (a play on ‘Hello Period’) with my best friend Mary, we wanted to show people that sustainable period products could be amazing. And when I say amazing, I mean so good that I’ve never looked back since making the switch. The tampon aisle in the supermarket has not seen my face in years.
The period product industry has had a serious lack on innovation or thought put into it for too long, but that’s changing. If there weren’t great alternatives to single use then sure we have to stick to the status quo. But times have changed.
Why do we need to rethink the period products we use? They might look soft and natural - but tampons and pads can take more than 500 years to breakdown in landfills. At Hello. Our goal is to rid the world of 1 billion single use tampons and pads by 2025. Four years in, we’re on track to smash that goal.
The Hello Cup is our hero product. One Hello Cup is the equivalent to over 2000 single use tampons or pads. Our Hello Disc is even more exciting - it holds the equivalent of 5 tampons, you can’t feel it when it’s in and - drumroll - because it sits so high - you can even wear it during sex. Hello good times, see ya later period laundry.
I’d love to see all people with periods rethinking the way they manage them; to ditch those single use period products and try some of the innovative products that are not only more comfortable but so much better for our precious planet.
My ultimate dream - cue beauty pageant speech - is to see tampons and pads relegated to museum displays showing ‘how people managed periods before 2022’. Not quite world peace (and of course that’s always a goal too), but it’s something I believe can be-come a reality.
Theia, Music Artist, Waikato-Tainui, Ngaati Tiipaa & Ngaati Amaru
Pai Maarire ki a taatou! He uri teenei noo Waikato Tainui ~ noo Ngaati Tiipaa, noo Ngaati Amaru. Ko Kukutai, ko Karaka ngooku whaanau, ko Theia ahau.
It has been a few years since I officially took my first steps in the music industry and in all that time, battling what has often felt like insurmountable challenges as a young Māori female artist. The industry as a whole – by its pure inaction alone – tells us that our music is not valued as much as music made by men. This is reinforced constantly when you listen to commercial radio, when summer festival line-ups are revealed, even just last year when a social media post for the Aotearoa Music Awards chose only to promote performances by male artists.
I am lucky to be surrounded by hard-working women, who refuse to accept that music made by women is inferior to that made by men. In the times when I have felt like giving up because I can’t break through the barriers, my team’s resilience and refusal to accept defeat, has pushed me along and held me up. Even encouraging me to release my TE KAAHU reo Māori compositions. This project is dear to my heart, and while she’s sonically different to the music I create and release as Theia, she is an expression of my identity.
Earlier in my career, I was worried that being pigeon-holed as a Māori female artist would mean facing even greater marginalization in what was already a tough space. And yes, that is true. It is a hard space to navigate. But this journey has given me such strength. I have learned from my tūpuna wāhine, from other female musicians and from my managers and am more determined than ever that I won’t disappear quietly into the sunset.
I acknowledge we have seen ground-breaking shifts when it comes to the championing of te reo rangatira in music and I applaud those who have worked hard to raise the voices of Māori artists. I also acknowledge there are genuine efforts to address the serious gender inequalities that plague the industry, but there’s a long way to go.
Based on my own experience of working with my all-female management team, what I deem critical to bringing about change is the need to have more women and of course of utmost importance to me, our wāhine Māori, working across the industry: radio programmers at the big commercial stations, who make decisions about what songs are played. Record label executives, who make decisions about which artists they sign. The funding bodies, which make decisions on who receives financial support to release music. Music supervisors and publishers, who secure sync deals for artists. Festival bookers and promoters, who decide on line-ups. We female artists making music in Aotearoa deserve to know that we are being represented and guided by other women who believe in us. The same applies for us as wāhine Māori. And for those Pākehā who hold positions of power, the onus is on you and those who employ you, to step up and embrace the use of te reo Māori and to also include tikanga in your daily practices. What I’m asking for seems like such a simple shift, I can hear people saying none of this is really a big deal. But for those just like me - this is career-making - or career-breaking.
Ngaa manaakitanga, Theia
Friends of Tonga (FoT) is a volunteer-led, non-profit organization, which is headquartered in the greater Washington D.C. area. Our board of directors hail from Tonga, the United States, and New Zealand. FoT was founded by a group of returned Peace Corps Volunteers who had served in Tonga as a way to provide disaster relief after Cyclone Gita slammed into Tonga in 2018. However, our mission quickly expanded and now seeks to connect all people with a vested interest in the welfare of the Tongan people and to partner with local Tongan organizations to support, enhance, and amplify educational initiatives, and opportunities in the Kingdom of Tonga.
To date, FoT has supported the construction of the first cyclone and earthquake-resistant early childhood center in all of Tonga, funded over 50 scholarships for high school education, designed and implemented a pen pal program that connects Tongan students with international classrooms, and created a video-read aloud library to support English language learning that has been recognized by the United States Library of Congress. We are now marshaling an international relief effort in response to the Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha'apai volcanic eruptions and subsequent tsunami that occurred on January 15, 2022.
It is our firm belief that Pasifika communities are largely overlooked in the United States of America and across all western-industrialized countries and that the challenges these communities face are often invisible to the world at large. Specifically, many view the Pacific Islands as an idyllic honeymoon or holiday destination, while largely ignoring the social and environmental impacts that the islands face. We believe that this invisibility stems from many factors. For example, in the United States, the Asian-Pacific Islander rubric is used as a way to group Pasifika communities. This rubric categorizes all Pacific ethnic groups under one definition, which removes any nuance between the different cultures that are represented geographically within Oceania. Lumping all Pacific Islander groups with Asian groups does not give the former adequate representation, while causing confusion to the wider public regarding cultural and geographic elements that are unique to Pacific Islanders and not found in or near continental Asia. This also unfortunately causes a disparity in how money is allocated to these groups of peoples by not addressing the specific set of challenges the Pasifika community faces: most urgently climate change and public health.
The threat of Pasifika communities becoming the first climate change refugees is becoming an ever increasing concern and without bold world-wide coordination to curb climate change, this inevitably will become a reality. Climate change is a slow-motion disaster. Our inaction, as a global community, has sent the message that it is acceptable for Pasifika communities to be collateral damage for our incessant need to continue consuming at our current (and unsustainable) rates. This is unacceptable. Responses to the specific set of challenges these communities face are urgent and can include a wide range of interventions. These include supporting and building infrastructure that is weather-resistant, public health interventions, and providing the tools and education for Pasifika communities to compete in a globalized economy. Moreover, funding and aid should not just be given after crises but should be proactive to ensure that these communities are able to weather whatever storm.
Friends of Tonga believes that the inequality experienced by the Pasifika communities compared to industrialized nations should be recognized and steps taken to mitigate it. This begins with communicating to the broader community that a problem exists, that it matters, and that it should be addressed. We seek to provide programming to advance literacy rates for Tongan students, so they can be empowered to force the rest of the world to take them and their communities seriously.
Friends of Tonga has always viewed itself and will always view itself as an ancillary to Tongan-driven community efforts. This can be seen in the way our programming has been designed and implemented, which is driven by community leaders and has to be formally requested. Likewise, our disaster relief to assist the Tongan communities affected by the recent Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai volcanic eruption will be driven by Tongan organizations and local stakeholders that can best guide equitable and responsible resource allocation to target communities with the most need.
If you are interested in making a donation to Friends of Tonga, click here.
There’s been a problem in the finance world for a long time – the advice has all been aimed at people who are already wealthy, and just need to know how to keep managing their money well. How to get wealthy in the first place? A mysterious secret. Even to just get comfortable, take the pressure off so you can relax and enjoy life some more? Nope, nobody wants to tell you.
This was the frustrating situation I found myself stumped by a few years ago, as a journalist in my late twenties, sick of feeling stressed about money. Nobody seemed willing to talk about money in plain English, or to acknowledge how hard it is to save just $20 a week when you’re starting out, or to talk about the easy ways to invest money. It all seemed complicated and overwhelming. I suspected it didn’t need to be that way, but I didn’t know where to start. Thankfully, as a journalist, my job can be boiled down to “find out stuff you didn’t know before, then explain it to other people”. So I persuaded my bosses at the time to let me dive into the personal finance area, and figure it out.
Five years later I can tell you that there’s so much more people could be doing to reduce their money stress, if only someone told them how. Ten minutes to change a couple of settings on your KiwiSaver, and without putting in any more money, you can have hundreds of thousands more when you retire. (The easy way to fix this is by going to fundfinder.sorted.org.nz, which is an independent website that helps you figure it out in only 15 minutes. You’re welcome!). Or you can learn how to negotiate a pay rise, and put the money into investments like shares. So many people feel locked out of housing now, but options like shares investing mean you can still have a financially secure future even if you’re renting forever. But nobody talks about it, or tells you how. It’s easier to help the people who already have money in the bank, than it is to help people take those first small steps to financial security.
This attitude is finally starting to change, and I think it’s because new generations are so good at getting on social media and questioning the status quo. It’s hard to ignore people when they’re as vocal online as millennials and Gen Z tend to be. Younger generations have figured out that the only way we’re going to get change is by noisily pushing for it. It’s getting better, but we still have so much further to go to make everyone feel included and welcome in these important conversations about money and financial security. Personally, I’ll take it as a sign that change is here when the first page of Google image results for “stock market investor” is no longer just older men.
Litia Tuiburelevu, Writer and Researcher
In year 13 I made several paintings for my art portfolio inspired by stills from David Lynch’s films Mulholland Drive and Blue Velvet. I thought they were pretty good, and I spent the best part of a year pouring my creativity into them. One afternoon our pālagi art teacher went around the class to review each student’s portfolio progress. She leant over my shoulder and stared at my surrealist paintings with a puzzled expression. “These are great”, she said “but I think you could make them a little more Pacific.” Before I could respond, she shuffled to the next student, and I was left questioning my own interests and instincts. What did she mean by ‘more Pacific’? Was I supposed to decorate my canvas with frangipanis and coconut trees? Was it not enough to just paint what I liked? I still think about that moment almost a decade on as I consider what it means to tell a ‘Pacific’ story for the page or on the screen...
I was recently in a film workshop where the facilitator asked us to write down the premise of our dream Pacific film. I thought about writing something grand like an Oceanic mythological epic or gritty drama because they seemed like the ‘right’ kind of Pacific stories to tell (and would be very cool, don’t get me wrong). I ended up writing “a chill coming-of-age indie with island kids kinda like Dazed and Confused”. No death. No brutality. No violence. No warriors. No trauma. Just island kids hanging out being their weird and wonderful selves for 90 minutes. It’s a pipe dream, but one I keep longing for given the overwhelming whiteness of the coming-of-age genre. I can already hear the nay-sayers (“But what are the stakes? Where is the drama?”) which are oftentimes film-speak for “but where is the trauma?”, as though our stories are only valued when we cannibalize our pain into heavy-handed narratives. Isn’t our joy, our whimsy, and our fun something to be captured, too? Maybe not, says Lana Lopesi, because that’d mean recognising us in our full humanity. Our ‘Pacificness’ (whatever that may be) isn’t defined by our proximity to pain, nor is it neatly packaged into hibiscus flowers and big smiles. Some of us are strange. Some of us are grumpy. Some of us are awkward. Some of us are hilarious. Some of us are ditzy. Some of us are annoying. There’s no single Pacific story. When Pacific artists are forced to make their work more explicable and easily digestible for the white gaze we rob it of its instinct, its riskiness, and its creative potential. Nothing progressive is ever generalisable. I’m interested in exploring cinematic pockets that Pacific peoples, especially women, seldom see themselves in. It’s not about repopulating brown characters into white worlds or squeezing ourselves into the dominant frame; it’s about creating our own pop-culture imagery where we’re afforded the freedom to create as we please. SIS the show is a wonderful example, as is Rose Matafeo’s Starstruck, and the ever-groundbreaking work of the FAFSWAG collective. Expanding our creative canon means a release from the shackles of the representation agenda™, a slick corporate trick more concerned with respectability politics than affording us story sovereignty. The gatekeepers will always circle like vultures, but the worst is when we internalise that logic and weaponise it against our own.
I like that many Pacific artists deeply consider how their communities might receive their work, subverting the deification of the ‘auteur genius’ who says and does whatever they please without any relational care for how our collective stories are brought into the world. But our work can’t be everything to everyone at once. It’s not all meant for me. It’s not all meant for you. It's not even meant for all of us. And that’s ok! The ancestor’s past, present and future are always waiting in the wings to give us a flick behind the ears when needed. Let there be conflict because conflict is generative- just free my people from the representation™ burden.
Wajd El-Matary Wellington Store Manager, RUBY
I’ve always joked to my friends about my incredible memory.
I can remember any date, any time, any conversation - any memory I want to relive, I bring back to the surface. I’ve spent plenty of time wishing it worked the other way, though. The ability to forget certain memories would be a dream come true. The March 15th attacks are a memory I’d like swiped from my brain. Surely there must be a way to remove just one day from my existence?
It took me nearly a year to process the events of that day, as well as the unbearable aftermath. The grieving, the pain, the illness. The memory loss it triggered my beloved mother to have. I spent a lot of time reevaluating my values, my beliefs, my trauma - how could I co-exist with this lump of coal sitting inside of me? I felt numb and trapped, but yearned to fight through this consistent pain that every ethnic minority feels at one point whilst living in Aotearoa; I don’t belong here. I was so proud to be living here, so proud to have been born and raised here - this country provided asylum for my parents who lived through the gulf war. I felt so privileged and welcomed. This side of Aotearoa was one I’d never seen, but to my parents - absolutely nothing had changed. My mum reflected on racism she endured when she first came to Aotearoa as one of the first Arab migrants, and my dad reflected on his inability to assimilate. Late nights were spent learning how rugby worked so he had a way to korero with his other staff at work. My heart ached hearing these stories.
I felt the need to earn the right to live here. As an arab woman, I have had my fair share of existential crises, but this took it the other way. I felt the need to be loud and proud, I am an Arab woman of colour who is compassionate, kind, caring, hard working and gives back to my community - why do I need to fight to show you my existence is valid?
I was always fascinated with te ao Māori growing up. My mum adored kapa haka and all things te reo, and taught me that we shared similar values to tangata whenua. After the attacks, after leaving a relationship that wasn’t pushing me forward, and after moving back home to Pōneke after studying down south - I felt the urge to reclaim my identity. I wanted to use my cultural positionality as someone who was able to escape the harsh identities of my culture, to further support tangata whenua. I began the process of learning te reo Māori earlier this year, and have never felt more of a connection to my ancestors. Being from a background where I know exactly what it’s like to lose your whenua, your reo, your mana to colonisation, made it a simple decision for me. As I attended rallies about reinvigorating te ao Māori, it felt clear to see - we are living on stolen land, and no one is free when we live on stolen land. This power charged my ambition for being an ally to the cause and using my privilege to help wherever possible.
Trauma is unbearable, and grief is something we never wish to go through. I’ve made the terrible mistake of trying to ignore my grief, instead of living through it and acknowledging its pain - you are so much more than the grief you carry. Unlearning patterns and behaviors that are toxic isn’t easy - we are grief machines powered by fueling our own egos and emotions. I highly encourage you to look inward at what you need to unpack - what do you see? What do you feel? How will you use your past to fuel your motivation to create a better tomorrow? What positionality do you currently hold in your society, and how can you use this positionality to strengthen the whenua you’re on?
We need to change how we’re consuming clothing.
From the time I got my first Eftpos card at age 12 up until I turned 24, I expected clothing to be cheap. My attitude toward the cost of clothing was that a t-shirt should cost no more than $10. I would shop for events rather than for pieces I could see myself wearing repeatedly. There was never any consideration for what I was purchasing and I would always buy more than I needed because, well, it was cheap. I bought a lot of stuff. In 2007 I wanted to be Lauren Conrad, and that meant buying an overwhelming amount of chunky belts and anything in electric blue.
I’m sure social media has exacerbated our need to consume. TikTok and Instagram have us feeling like we need to keep up with the latest, and it often feels like we’re being sold something every time we login to our go-to social platforms. Trend cycles, which once spanned over 1-2 seasons, have become ultra-fast. What was “on trend” two weeks ago, seems as if it could be overtaken by a new trend in just a matter of days.
Whether it’s throwing in an extra blouse because it’s “good to have options” or indulging in a cheeky 2 for $30 deal because “you’re practically saving money” - rapid trend cycles paired with fast fashion’s low prices have warped our perception of consumption, and it’s an issue for a few reasons:
Extra low prices encourage over consumption. If you’re only spending $10 on a brand new t-shirt, your connection to that piece it is likely minimal, and you’re less likely to hold onto it, replacing it with another new t-shirt soon after. A friend recently said to me ‘if you’re not investing in it, you’re not invested in it’.
As the price of fast fashion pieces continues to fall, so does the quality. When that $10 t-shirt beings to wear out after a handful of wash cycles, it gets replaced by a new t-shirt. The more low quality clothing we consume, the more waste we produce.
Where does it go? That $10 t-shirt is likely to end up in your donation pile. And thanks to fast fashion, and our consumption habits, op shops are facing a mammoth amount of donations, much of which ends up as textile waste as op shops just don’t have the resources to sort through all of it (a lot of the fast fashion pieces simply aren’t up to re-sell standard anyway).
These unbeatable prices are harming small businesses. Smaller fashion brands that create quality, long-lasting pieces can’t keep up with low prices and massive sales set by fast fashion brands. We want to lift our small businesses up, and expecting them to match prices of fast fashion pieces, will only hurt them.
There is a person behind each piece of clothing that we wear. Consumers have become so far removed from the process of how a garment is made, that we don’t always consider the impact our purchase behaviour has on the humans who made the clothing. Clothing manufacturing is a female dominated industry, with the majority of garment workers, globally, being women. Female garment workers are often facing mistreatment that includes abuse, poor working conditions, low wages, forced overtime, or even forced labour.
Ideally, fast fashion brands would stop producing more clothing than we need - but since I don’t see that happening anytime soon, it’s up to consumer behaviour to make the change. And change IS possible. We can drown out the trend-cycle trap by cultivating our personal style. Shield yourself from rapidly changing fashion trends by curating a wardrobe stocked with timeless looks and things you love.
Do an audit of your wardrobe. Take note of the pieces you wear the most, and the pieces you don’t wear at all. Having a clear idea of pieces you already own helps us to be clear about what we do and don’t need.
Sometimes putting space between you and an item of clothing is all you need to realise you don’t really want it. Trust me. It’s incredible the amount of times I’ve stopped myself from making an impulse purchase by putting it on hold or putting it back on the rack and walking out of the store, only to realise I don’t really want it.
The next time you feel an urge to purchase something new, stop yourself to think about WHY you’re buying this and what will this item bring you long term?
I should mention that the purpose of this piece isn’t to shame anyone who purchases fast fashion pieces. Whether it’s due to price, sizing, or location - if clothing from a fast fashion brand is all that’s accessible to you, I get it. Shopping at a fast fashion brand doesn’t make you a bad person, and you can still tweak your consumption habits, starting with the tips above, to make your purchases work better for your wallet and the planet.
Sophia Malthus Law Student and Influencer
I was in an appointment with a health practitioner whom I had not met before. While working on my body, she looked over to my support worker to ask “does Sophia go outside much?”. A combination of disbelief and the urge to yell “GTFO” swept over my support worker and myself. This lady, a mere five minutes after I had greeted her and welcomed her into my home, had stripped me of all the independence I still had.
I broke my neck at the age of 19, which left me 87% impaired and paralysed. Using my brain is almost entirely how I exercise my independence, however, this stranger, privy to my paralysis, had deemed me incapable of speaking for myself.
Why do those who have little experience with disability automatically underestimate our intellectual capabilities based on an uneducated and superficial analysis? It is well and good to make sure there’s a ramp into the salon, but what use is the ramp if the hairdresser doesn’t consult me about what I want?
I understand that disability is a spectrum and that I cannot expect everyone to have a deep understanding of all the different abilities that they may come across. Nonetheless, I do think it is a reasonable expectation that people living with disabilities are spoken to as communicable beings, and are given the opportunity to respond as communicable beings.
Tip: approach every disabled person as if they were Stephen Hawking; rich, famous, articulate, and more hilarious than one would expect. Then, if they don’t live up to this, nobody gets offended, and you make a super cool new friend (think VIP treatment at concerts, priority parking, floor-length mirrors in the disabled toilets that will show off both of your fresh fits for the 'gram).
Let’s remember that accessibility encompasses a lot more than universally designed infrastructure; it’s just as much the physical environment as it is the social environment. And please, if you happen to bump into the aforementioned practitioner, let her know that I do go outside. After all, how else would I laugh about the silly things people do with my fellow disabled friends if I never left the house?
essa may ranapiri, Ngāti Wehi Wehi, Ngāti Pukeko, Ngāti Takatāpui, Na Guinnich, Highgate
THE SHAPE OF TUHI TO COME
A man sits in a room, a pen in his hand he is marking a manuscript. It is safe to assume he is pākehā. It is sad that it is safe to assume he is pākehā. He’s not necessarily a man though. The shape fuzzes slightly. Could be a women. Things aren’t that dire I guess. They are running red lines through Māori words noting this should be in italics every time they come across one of our kupu. There is someone else in the room, you don’t often see them but they are holding the bag full of money. Whenever you try to look directly at their face it fuzzes. It distorts. Anachronistically the bag is full of pennies, there is little flakes of blood on the rim of each piece. They are definitely pākehā. Almost certainly a man. They are in control of the money here. They get to decide where our kupu go. Pūtea, is what it comes down to, the theft and occupation of whenua is what it comes down to. Both of them have the Crown tattooed onto the backs of their necks.
This is a fanciful depiction one that conjures a story of Dickensian whimsy. I am writer what else does writing look like?
There are many things I would have change about the structure of literature in Aotearoa, and it all starts with who is in power, who is in the decision-making seat. This seat is overwhelmingly taken up by pākehā people. It feels strange to me and it won’t stop feeling strange to me, that the public life and health of our tuhi depend largely on the whims of pākehā. So yes, one thing that needs to change is who gets to make decisions about our writing on Māori whenua.
And yes I’m saying we should be hired to be editors and that some reflection of Te Tiriti partnership should be present in all publishing houses. But I’m not just saying this.
The health of our art of our writing is directly related to the health of our land. Do Māori have sovereignty have the ability to kaitiaki our whenua properly? No, in the overwhelming majority of cases we do not. In the form of the colonial nation state of New Zealand, the Crown maintains its poisonous influence over us, limiting us in every way conceivable.
On the wall in our lounge we scrawl in crayon the phrase LIVE LAUGH LOVE LANDBACK it all depends on that last phrase.
And I don’t say this to discourage attempts or cast a negative cloud over any positive changes that may be happening today but a healthy writing scene in Aotearoa one where our words flourish where expression reflects the whanaungatanga I know it can, is one that is not situated on the oppression of our people one that does not depend on the continual occupation of our land.
There are people in a room, the room is their ancestor, the room is their safety also. There are shoes lined up outside of the room. And there are people all gathered around a large sheet of paper, working away at it with felts and vivids and pens. Their work twists and turns, each kupu responding to the next. There is waiata, drifting in the air mixing with the bird song. Outside there are people creating new street signs with new names, people drawing new borders (less wall and more guide) on a map that is finally the right way up. The mouth of the fish reaching towards the cold north the tail pulling towards Rarohenga in the south. There are people carving and dancing and weaving words.
And in the cooking pits where they once held money bags they hold onto dirt that is too good for them and like their harbinger they cook and cook and cook.
Supporting community and uplifting each other feels more important than ever to me at the moment. My energy and the energy around me feels both low, yet full of fresh ideas and a much needed reset.
I see people really supporting each other in all industries - I have especially been focussed on how this pandemic has been changing the fashion industry. Supporting local, re-sharing work and working collaboratively has taken a real focus and being used in a way to really uplift each other.
We all know that the fashion industry needed a big over haul. We have slowly been seeing brands do this over the past few years which is great, but it can still feel at times a bit performative and has a long way to go for sure. Brands have been trying to work on getting good green credentials, but there are some missing parts to the puzzle to make this feel authentic. The pandemic has definitely had a huge part in making change and I think it’s also pointing to a more community focused approach. People have had to stop, reassess, adapt and now it’s showing us that there’s no time like the present to buckle up and work together to uphold and support each other.
Consumers are definitely showing up strong and are getting more savvy and conscious with their money. Fashion companies both big and small see this and have been at least trying to take steps in the right direction. I love it when I see companies listening to what their consumers and community are asking for and making changes. At times it feels like brands are still not able to let go to the idea of being perfect; working too quickly on something that needs genuine thought and care and rushing through the process just to tick a box.
Everywhere I look it feels like everyone has an organic line or is ‘this’ certified or ‘that approved’ or showing more ‘inclusivity’. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely think this is heading in the right direction but I can’t help but feel like it lacks a bit of genuineness sometimes and its hard to know what to trust. Personally, to get my trust, I want the whole story and that includes the bits that you aren’t doing so well. It might not be easy and there will definitely be some growing pains. It’s definitely not easy to be vulnerable!
I know for sure that I need to practice this more. I have been learning that trying to hold up a high level of perfection is hard and just isn’t realistic. I have to accept that being perfect sometimes sits in a space off fear of getting it wrong, but being safe gets in the way of making mistakes that are actually pretty valuable when you are trying to grow and make change. I think the new model to look to for being sustainable, is to stop striving for perfectionism and let the gaps and flaws show. Then we can show there is willingness and space to grow. Companies are going to need to get uncomfortable -and get comfortable with being uncomfortable!
Please stop shouting your green credentials at me. Take a risk. Let’s talk about what you are NOT doing so well at and ask for help. There are whole amazing communities of people out there willing to support you in this process - some are even experts in the fields that you aren’t doing so well in. Bring these experts in the community along for the journey and give them a platform to shine alongside you. Collectively, together we might just find in time…that this brings a much more holistic approach to bettering the fashion industry.
Ashley Emiko, Ngāti Kahungunu and Rongomai Wahine.
Kia Ora, my name is Ashley Emiko. I am born in New Zealand, raised all over the world.
I am a proud indigenous woman with a mixed ethnic background of Māori, Persian and German. My roots are Ngāti Kahungunu and Rongomai Wahine. I work in mental health full time and am in my third year of my double Bachelor of Law & Sociology, minoring in psychology. I also work as a model and social media content creator! I am very passionate about people and the world we live in, people growing and being their best selves is something I absolutely admire!
Some things I hope for now and in the future are;
I’d love for people to realise just how amazingly unique they are and have the confidence to go out and do the things that feed their soul. Too many people gate keep their own potential.
I want everyone to take a chance for their own happiness! Apply for that job you dream about even though your brain is telling you that you’ll never get it, start that business you’ve always wanted to do deep down!! Try something new, don’t be afraid to tell that person you love them, leave that toxic relationship, don’t worry about what others say about you. You only live on this earth once and life is too short to be confined to a comfort zone!
I believe that the health and well-being of our society should be a priority. Both physical, and mental. Unhealthy lifestyles and eating habits have dominated our culture. The most noticeable reasons to me are the convenience of fast food chains, high prices for nutritious food, outdated beauty standards, and substance misuse and addiction. But I believe that we can make a change. I hope that people can understand how valuable their health and bodies are. Taking care of our health and wellbeing will lead to a longer, more fulfilling life. Lastly, I hope people can start making our environment a priority. We all need to value our planet a bit more. Some things we can do to help is reduce and eventually eliminate the use of plastics, swap out disposable utensils for reusables, don’t support large scale companies that contribute to the destruction of our ecosystems, and support causes that will fight for the protection of our current ecosystem. We can all play a part to benefit our planet that we call home, even just by practicing mindfulness and awareness.
These are things that I believe we can do, these improvements for our future are definitely possible, I have faith that we can, and we will do these things to benefit not only our future, but pave the way for generations to come!
Heidi Brickell, Artist, Writer, Te Reo Māori revitaliser
The Polynesian ancestors who first discovered these islands and over time became Māori were explorers, perhaps the most innovative ones in all of human history and definitely the most expansive in their reach. They were the first humans to leave the stability of living on land to navigate the vast expanse of ocean that covers a third of our planet. They were traversing Te Moana-nui-ā-Kiwa (also known as The Pacific Ocean) for five thousand years before any other peoples developed their own versions of technology to enable them to do so too. When those first ancestors discovered this whenua, between eight and twelve hundred years ago, they brought with them a language that had evolved off the back of the ocean. Five thousand years of communication centered around a relationship with water
Maybe you can imagine how its metaphors to express feeling and human experience and relationships and all of the other more abstract ideas that every language has scaffolded off, of its landscape and the materials used for everyday survival. Pacific languages share this unique basis, so different from the material histories that the English language is grafted from.
The chunks of land we call Aotearoa broke off from the Gondwana super continent eighty million years ago. And they were among the last ones on earth to be settled by humans. So, similarly to the languages evolve as new situations require new approaches, the trees, the plants, the dinosaurs, the birds, the bugs that evolved here in symbiosis which each other are genetically unique among their type species of the world. And when our Polynesian ancestors discovered these islands, they brought with them an ocean language. That language evolved for around another millennium, adapting all the while to express intimate relationships with this idiosyncratic landscape and all that was needed to use and sustain its sources of food, shelter and other resources. And much of that is again embedded in the everyday metaphor and idiom used to express relationships and systems too.
That’s a tiny evolutionary history of where we live, in answer to a question about my own journey in learning te reo Māori. I talked about all this there though, because I want to express the richness and importance of our indigenous language for deepening a sense of belonging to this place. I always wanted to learn Māori as a child. I descend from Ngāti Apakura, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāi Rangitāne and Ngāi Rongomaiwahine, Ngāti Airini (Ireland) me Ngāti Kotirana (Scotland) through my mother. She never taught me to speak Māori though. Neither had she been taught it by her mother as those generations internalised the messages that te reo Māori wouldn’t help you survive in a world dominated by Pākehā here. As an adult now, most of my work over the the past ten years have been within Māori governed spaces. As I began to increasingly to spend time in these spaces, I grew to recognise how fundamentally Māori my mother is, in her relational orientation and in the way she connects things in her mind. I’ve also experienced affirmation for ways of thinking and doing things in Māori spaces that had been negated in some of the Pākehā governed institutions I’ve been through. I don’t want to put these spaces into heavy binaries, but these experiences have given me a tacit understanding of how cultural bias operates.
Back to my own beginnings, I picked up pieces of the reo from school and all through childhood. When I went to high school I finally had the opportunity to learn to use the reo more coherently. I had incredible teachers who not only taught me to articulate my thinking through the delineations of Māori language, but in doing so they also passed on a lot of history that I’m often surprised other people aren’t aware of. There is so much knowledge that embeds itself involuntarily in the way you think when you learn te reo Māori, and sometimes it takes a while to see it. At some point though, you get a sudden recognition that your brain is using new tools to understand a situation. It’s pretty mind-blowing digesting Aotearoa’s indigenous language.
I’m a visual artist and I spent my early adult years entirely focusing on that, but by the time I finished an MFA (with many detours in between) I missed te reo so much that I took an immersion course and ended up studying and working further in the field of Māori Medium (language) Education. In 2014 I assisted on a research project about Māori Language Health, and for this special, important language, this repository of deep knowledge that was engineered out of use by colonising policy makers over the approximate two hundred years of tauiwi settlement here, the statistics seemed to spell doom. But at the same time it seemed in my everyday life, like more people were speaking te reo around me. I was starting to see parents talking to their tamariki in Māori at the supermarket, I would run into the odd fluent speaker in a bar, and drunkenly make note of some novel pickup lines. I wondered if I was just noticing these things because I could speak too now, and had just never noticed them in the past. But now it’s very clear that a wave was just starting at that point. It’s amazing to see the uptake of te reo in this country in the years since then. Languages need speakers to live. And the more people that speak, the easier it is for others to speak – I say this with a caveat that I’ll come back to in a minute. More people speaking creates a population that creates demand for resources and makes it viable for companies to create them. And having those resources makes it ever more appealing to speak te reo, as its resources cater to an ever wider range of diverse individuals.
I have always encouraged everybody who lives here to yes! Please! Learn to speak Māori. It’s such a cool, cool language, and it will expand your mind. As a desire to make things right with our atrocious colonial history in Aotearoa and to embrace te reo Māori is growing, there is a justice issue of access which becomes more apparent. There are so many Māori who are still living with the inter-generational impacts of two centuries, of what can only be likened to a relationship with a narcissistic abuser in the form of settler government. Robbing, physically abusing, lying, using, befriending and then discarding, humiliating, degrading, and always with the message explicitly conveyed (in so many historical documents if you go and have a look for them) that “You are inferior to us” has imposed some profound trauma on so many of our people. Socio-economic status and the laws and norms that protect that status quotient are a massive perpetrator of that. This means that many Māori today don’t have the privilege to be studying or picking up night courses while they are still carrying those impacts.
I personally believe that it is so important for as many people as want to and can, to learn te reo Māori, to support its growth, to enjoy it, and enrich themselves with it. But it needs to be about relationship. It is fundamental to recognise that if you are blessed with any of free time, money, educational advantage, and freedom from shame and heartbreak every time you try to use a language that you feel you should already know because its connected to your identity, how painful it can be for the survivors of colonisation – survivors of abuse by a Pākehā Crown – to watch members of the group that has inflicted all that mamae acquiring your cultural knowledge when you don’t have the chance to. I don’t have a direct answer for what to do about this, except to say that for tauiwi learning te reo it should be done in a way that is committed to ultimately achieving the co-governorship that Māori were promised in Te Tiriti. Privilege and inequality have existed as long as humans have and the world isn’t fair. I know this, and I still feel gratitude everyday, for example, where the lives of everyone I know have been spared from corona virus, while I still have the knowledge of how the rest of the world is suffering and the injustice of that. I also feel grateful for the lock-downs, which I personally love, as they afford me so much time on my own terms, even though I wouldn’t trade that individual gain for all the suffering of many if the choice was mine. I think its okay to feel thankful for all the privilege you have in the one life you get. I don’t think guilt is productive, but gratitude is. Because generosity, empathy, humility and respect are what spills out of it.
Like my mother, who speaks no Māori, but still infuses every environment she enters with distinctive Māori aroha, manaaki and openness, Māori people themselves are carriers of so much of what the language expresses, whether or not they speak te reo. And their voices and perspectives should always be centered and not side-lined in any space to do with their taonga and in other spaces too, because they have so much to bring to it. For tauiwi blessed with the opportunity to learn te reo, it should be gone about with a willingness to understand structural privilege and with commitment to playing your part in redistributing it. In my experience, the richest personal relationships are the ones in which power is shared and mutual respect is fostered. Learning te reo can be a beautiful pathway to embark on building those kinds of relationships between Tangata Whenua and Tauiwi.
Dr Morgan Edwards, Specialist Anaesthetist
The medical profession has a problem. People don’t trust us like they used to, and it’s impacting our health. I can clearly remember where I was sitting when I first contemplated this. A pregnant person had heard from their friend - “did you know that your baby is more likely to grow up and be a drug addict if you choose an epidural in labour?”. “Oh no, that’s not true,” I reassured. “It doesn’t make pharmacological or physiological sense. Plus, you could never even study that! Trust me - I’m an Anaesthetist, it’s my job to know and understand this!”. But my ample qualifications to dispel this absurd myth didn’t reassure.
The heads swiveled between us two. Who was right?
It was the first time I cognitively stepped outside my echo chamber. It was warm and privileged in there. Surrounded by other like minded scientists and healthcare professionals, we believe what we read from credible sources. We know how to appraise the literature. We trust those in authority. Questions we have are answered swiftly by easily accessed experts. The world feels safe. Health officials can be trusted. Scientists are our friends. Drug companies provide well researched and very necessary tools.
Doesn’t everyone accept this? No. On the outside, everything is different.
There are two enemies to good science and healthcare going on in parallel.
First – the erosion of trust in the doctor-patient relationship. Our primary health care system (of which GP Specialists are the cornerstone) is grossly under-funded, under-resourced, and undervalued. One of my best friends is a GP in a small town in Aotearoa. She’s a mum of 2 young kids + 2 big step-kids. She’s a partner in her practice and (like her Grandpa before her) is a selfless, dedicated and relentless GP. Whenever I talk to her she is anguishing over one patient or another, permanently thinly spread, wanting to give more of herself to each and every person she sees. She achieves wonderful outcomes for those in her care, but I always know she wants more. More time. More funding. More support from the system in which we work. Whilst other practitioners have the luxury of charging the wealthy for hour long consults (during which time they establish trust simply by listening), GPs have to take a history, examine, diagnose and treat in 15 minute slots. They’re on a treadmill and it’s not sustainable. We all deserve better.
There are especially large disparities in trust along socioeconomic and racial lines (often for good reason), and building trust among vulnerable and marginalised patients is particularly important. We need successive governments to invest in this fundamental truth. Listening to those groups and ensuring what we provide is fit for purpose. Te tiriti ō Waitangi mandates it.
What is especially concerning right now is the evidence that these low levels of trust weaken the ability of governments and public health agencies to respond to pandemics like the one we are in. We literally have the solution to this pandemic (vaccination, contact tracing, isolation of cases, and mask wearing). Getting people to trust us on this truth is the problem.
Which leads onto our second enemy - the war on information. “There is so much conflicting information out there, I can’t work out who to listen to”. Yes, we are in a pandemic of information, and – frustratingly – misinformation. As Doctors, we are partly to blame. We deliver soundbites in person, in an hurried clinic appointment attended by a terrified person who only hears every second word. We communicate to colleagues in clinical speak, with dictated letters that never see the light of day (or at least not our patients’ eyes). They have so many questions – and we leave them to fill in the gaps. They turn to friends, whānau, and increasingly – the internet and social media.
The age-old adage “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” rings in my ears. Individual doctors, colleges, and societies need better digital accessibility. We need to be more fact-based, research-based, and authority-based. We have to make the information simple, and make it available to people wherever they are. We need clear, transparent communication. We need to disclose conflicts of interest, build long term relationships, and break down power differences with the public and our patients. We need to be visible, and loud.
But we, the people of Aotearoa have a responsibility too. We need to expect – nay, demand more of those we listen to. We need to be selective about what, and who, we allow to fill our feeds. We need to demand accountability from those who make confident statements. If someone is making claims that counter what you’re hearing from your doctor, ask them for the relevant peer-reviewed literature. Anecdotes are easy, lazy, and scientifically irrelevant. We have a hierarchy of evidence in science, and now – more than ever – we should be relying on this to inform our choices, because our lives and livelihoods literally depend on it.
In the future I dream of an Aotearoa where our healthcare needs are met. Where people expect change from the government. Where they demand transparency and credibility from information sources (and know where to look). Where they work in partnership with their doctor to achieve holistic health outcomes. Where COVID-19 is a thing of the past.
Right now, Aotearoa has a problem.
The problem is COVID-19. The problem is disinformation.
You and I are both the solution. The best is yet to come.
Helen Yeung, Founder of Migrant Zine Collective
The past year has given a lot of time and space to reflect on my growing relationship with activism, in particular, the sustainability, accessibility and compassion behind what we consider ‘doing the work.’ With the rise of everyday activism on social media and the increased availability of politically-charged knowledge, we’ve all become well-versed in language on mental health, trauma and institutional forms of oppression surrounding marginalised communities. However, beyond the buzzwords and reposts, I invite others to contemplate how this actually manifests in our relationships and day-to-day lives?
The past two years have been a roller coaster ride. After leaving a long-term relationship, I struggled with post trauma and have been navigating my own survivor-ship. To make matters more difficult, my beloved grandmother passed away following a long battle with her health. Like many others in diaspora, I faced the harsh reality of not being able to be by her side during her last days. This time of my life has been tumultuous, and I have been feeling more isolated from my communities. The activist circle I once felt was home no longer seemed safe or accessible to me as it was muddied by abuse enablers, apologists, and those who side-lined, dismissed and gas-lighted Asian women and non-men. I struggled to attend meetings or follow up with lengthy email threads. The criticism, ableism and sanist language rooted in the responses of my peers left me disheartened and retraumatised.
I felt defeated and isolated in a space which previously shaped my ideas and choices for over half a decade since my teens. While my activist and feminist circle was anchored in violence prevention for migrant women of colour in Aotearoa, I came to the realisation that I never had genuine security, care or solidarity from the community organisers I held dear to me. I found solace in Kai Cheng Thom’s book “I Hope We Choose Love” in which she unpacks the intra-community violence rooted in social justice movements. She said, “The social justice activists that raised me to believe in the possibility of a revolution that would change and save the world? Sometimes it seems like the most painful cuts of all come from within my own community: Call-out culture. Lateral violence. Puritanical politics. Intimate partner abuse. Public shaming. We know so much about trauma but so little about how to heal it.”
What became most harmful was not necessarily the gendered-racialised oppression I experienced from day to day, but leaving a community that failed to operate with compassion and understanding for the multiple overlaps of trauma of others. Symptomatic of other leftist movements, it was a community which operated solely on compliance culture and replicating the hierarchies and forms of violence they fight against. The gatekeeping of knowledge, selective forms of accountability and punishment, and approaching social justice work from a god’s eye view no longer aligned with my values as I grew to hold space and love for myself.
While I don’t have a simple answer to how changes could be made in activism, I do encourage others to rethink their relationship with movement work and their communities. For instance, how can we better support the women of colour, queer, trans and disabled folks around us? What does accountability with compassion look like? Who is included/excluded in your movement work? What are other ways we can carry out movement work beyond traditional understandings of activism and organising?
I end my thoughts by recommending “Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good Book” by Adrienne Maree Brown, in which she talks about making social justice and liberation work pleasurable, while reclaiming happiness under oppressive structures. She says, “Liberated relationships are one of the ways we actually create abundant justice, the understanding that there is enough attention, care, resource, and connection for all of us to access belonging, to be in our dignity, and to be safe in community.
When I first started out in this industry around 2004, I was lucky to find like-minded creatives and arts photographers who dabbled in fashion photography like Russ Flatt, Greg Semu, Richard Orjis and Karen Inderbitzen-Waller. They taught me that you can still have creative power and artistic merit within the parameters of someone else’s brief.
Rachael Churchward and Grant Fell who both started Planet Magazine in the early 90s and subsequently Black Magazine, were both generous with their time, advice and support as a young creative coming up. Rachael and I connected with our Samoan heritage - something we both silently agreed played a hand in helping us traverse the sometimes polarising realities of our professional lives.
Chris Lorimer who now lives in Sydney, was a stylist I had assisted for three years. His work in supporting the collective rather than the self was always something that appealed to me. Chris championed exciting emerging designers who challenged the status quo and was someone who really championed sustainable fashion designers at a time when it was unfashionable - like Kowtow and Laurie Foon of Starfish. He was a pivotal part of organising group shows at New Zealand Fashion Week that helped emerging designers who otherwise would not be able to afford to show.
Viva editor Amanda Linnell took a chance me on as a freelance stylist in 2008, and 13 years later my ability to navigate creativity within the parameters of a commercially driven magazine is because of the lessons she’s taught me along the way. She’s taught me the power of getting the mix right as an editor and is part of the reason why she surrounds herself with good people who are smart and creative. People with both complementary left and right brains are a rarity in our industry.
It’s encouraging to be surrounded by a team who are collectively working together to raise each other up and view life with a critical perspective. Since we launched the first quarterly magazine of Viva in September 2020 - during a global pandemic - we’ve discovered that this glossy extension of our weekly magazine has the power to dive deeper, and to celebrate new creatives and new voices on a much bigger scale.
In Māori and Pacific Island cultures especially, everything is done for the collective rather than the individual. When you spotlight a young creative from this heritage, the significance of it is palpable. It is a representation of who you are and where you come from.
As a journalist I’m comfortable at getting the mix right now. The people I choose to work with are by design rather than happenstance and you become better at realising this with time. People who are good at their jobs and who aren’t concerned with their own ego. People who want to see others succeed.
I’m inspired by this next generation’s ability to eradicate the feeling of tall-poppy syndrome I was surrounded by when I first started. Of course there are contemporaries too; creative friends who help lift each other up and who I share ideas and concerns with over DM. You know who you are. x
Without that handful of people willing to selflessly guide me toward my own sense of security as a creative person, I may have been doing something else with my life right now, possibly not as happy or fulfilled.
What Is Possible?
It’s possible to be really good at what you do without bringing others down. It’s possible to share ideas with those around you and to platform creatives without trying to tick a tokenistic box.
I think about the teams behind the camera or a story and implore these people to check their privilege and ego before they put something out there.
I’m learning from photographers like Hōhua Ropate Kurene, Matt Hurley, Nicole Brannen, Samiira Wali, Geoffrey Matautia – a new generation of photographers who not only are brilliant at what they do, but also celebrate each other’s successes.
Designers like Natasha Ovely from Starving Artist’s Fund who was planning her own group show last weekend pre-lockdown, Campbell Luke and Havilah Ardense. Designers who come from humble backgrounds yet are some of the most talented designers I’ve seen in years deserve our time and attention.
This week Viva announced its commitment to supporting rising artist’s as part of Tautai’s Fale-Ship Residencies for 2021, now in its second year. My personal love of art created by Tagata Moana combines all the things I love about this initiative – mentorship, platforming awareness of genuine talent and community.
Every ‘brand’ – whether you are a designer or a magazine – is trying to foster a community right now. But when you exclude others from this based on economics or race – what is the point? When you aren’t paying creatives or people for their time and energy, what is the purpose?
The changes I believe that need to be made therefore are about raising the collective consciousness by genuinely supporting others without expecting anything in return. To remind yourself of what legacy you want to leave behind.
I’m inspired by Mother of Murder Haus Joshiua Venus Blacklaws who has worked with RUBY previously. In our latest issue of Viva Magazine – Volume Five they are photographed by Hōhua Ropate Kurene. When I ask them about what attributes make a true creative collaborator, I’m inspired by their answer. Aged 22, I know people twice their age who could use this pearl of wisdom in their everyday life.
“Being a part of a collective means learning that collective comfort and input means collective success…a true creative collaborator will be creating not for themselves but for the benefit of the whole.”
When you apply this thinking to everything you create – the possibilities are endless.
I don’t want your representation.
I don’t want your diversity.
I want your celebration.
I want unapologetic existence. I want joy. I want love. I want change. I want equity and justice. And I want to see this loudly. I want to hear it quietly. I want you to want joy for me, too.
I want you to want to see us joyful, to see us in our complexity, in our humanity.
This might sound vague. This might sound specific. But that’s the beauty of nuance and our different lived experiences.
A couple of years ago, I wrote an article about how the future of fashion isn’t representation. I was sick of the buzzword being thrown around without concrete action that the word has lost its gravitas. I could be ‘represented’ without actually being included. I’ve seen so many instances of ‘diversity’ for optics – add a darker skinned model to a campaign or cast a model that’s a size 12 for a ‘plus sized’ range – and yet still adhere to the palatable Eurocentric standard of beauty. It’s frustrating to keep seeing the same type of ‘curvy’ be ‘represented’. Hopefully after reading this, you’ll start noticing it too. How the same ‘fat’ body appears in diversity efforts. That we are further reinforcing the idea that only the ‘acceptable’ type of fat people belong in these spaces.
I’ve come to realise that most of the efforts around representation and diversity across the board, in different industries, are lacking in nuance, in understanding the complexity of the situation. Systemic and systematic change takes time. It takes effort. It takes uncomfortable truths and discussions. It takes people with privilege and power to give some of that up to make space for others. It takes passing the mic on, giving people your platforms, and giving people the agency to tell their own stories. For the record, there is no such thing as the ‘voiceless’. We all have a voice but not all of us are heard, not all of us are given the same opportunities as others to be heard.
So how do we address this problem? How do we start creating change? So far I’ve only painted a picture of doom and gloom, of anger and pain. And part of me felt like I needed to apologise for making you uncomfortable, for being honest about how I feel, about a lived experience that is shared by so many of us. Yes, even people you know. People you consider friends. People you care about.
It sounds simplistic, but the more I spend time with this thought, the more I’m convinced that we need to start with the basics when it comes to impacting, driving, and creating change.
And that starts with making space for our joy. For fat people joy. For marginalised communities joy. To go beyond being represented and included to celebrated.
To be wanted in these spaces.
Last year when the ‘summer of activism’ happened (in our case, winter) and the whole world ‘woke up’ after George Floyd’s murder, there was a solid week of effort, of making space, of people saying they were ‘muted and listening’. Social media activism grew bigger and I genuinely believe that the way we are going about it now is unsustainable but that’s a conversation for another time.
My point is that last year, people started seeking BIPOC creators to follow and ‘learn’ from, brands started including more BIPOC in their online marketing and content, and there was an abundance of infographics and ‘resources’ shared. Readings, podcasts, movies, educators were suddenly on trend. Which is a start, yes, but I noticed that a lot of the information and resources being shared were only in the context of BIPOC pain and suffering. It’s not enough to consume content only about tragedy and trauma. We need to make space for joy.
I recently went to see In the Heights at the movies, the film adaptation of the groundbreaking Broadway production by Lin-Manuel Miranda. I watched it with my friend Angela, who also migrated from the Philippines with her family. It was phenomenal to see a culture similar to ours on the big screen. While the film isn’t above criticism and we definitely need to acknowledge the colourism in it, for me it felt like a start.
A couple of days later, I went to go see it with my entire family – my parents, brothers, auntie, uncle, cousin – the whole Auckland contingent! It was important for me that we all saw the film on the big screen because it’s not everyday that you get to see immigrant joy on the big screen, that we get to see Latinx people fall in love and have hopes and dreams outside of stereotypes they have been boxed in.
It’s so powerful to create space for joy and celebration. We are heading into a post-pandemic world where we have the opportunity to rebuild, dismantle, and create new systems, ways of living, ideas and beliefs. To make space for joy is one of the most radical actions we can take if we’re brave enough to do so.
Eden Willow O’Leary, Mental Health Advocate
I grew up in Hawke’s Bay and had a typical Kiwi upbringing. My siblings Tyla, Reid and I were brought up to be authentic, honest and ourselves. We were all about fish & chips on the beach, Saturday night watching the All Blacks and days filled with sporting activities where my siblings were among some of my best mates. For the past four or more years I have suffered from severe anxiety and depression and I wasn’t open about that to anyone but my family.
Tragically on November 24th 2020, I lost my older brother, my best friend, someone I looked up to, to suicide. Reid’s death was a silent suicide, which some refer to as ‘the black dog’. No one knew he was in such a bad place. That comes from the stigma surrounding men thinking it’s weak to speak. He suffered without friends and family knowing and, when we did, it was too late. Whenever we said goodbye, Reido and I would always say “see you on the other side”. I just never thought he’d get there so much sooner than me. The loss of Reid sparked my passion and advocacy for mental health.
One in seven people in New Zealand have anxiety. About 25 percent have poor mental wellbeing and sadly 654 took their own lives last year. In its $1.9 billion Wellbeing Budget the government allocated no funding at all for mental wellbeing - but it’s going to build a brand new cycling bridge across the Waitematā Harbour at an estimated cost of $685 million.
What baffles me is if a child is born with cancer for example, society responds by offering help and asking if there’s anything they can do. But if a child is born with a chemical imbalance or a genetic predisposition towards mental illness society will either act clueless or cast a lifetime of shame on the person. Counselling sessions cost about $130 a pop. Many can’t afford that or are not ‘sick enough’ to see a therapist straight away. This has to change.
I can’t fathom someone in a dark place reaching out for help and being denied because of their finances. Should we not care about our communities? Should we not want to help everyone? Personally, I believe that it’s complete ignorance that the government is doing nothing to help. People are dying. Mental health isn’t being taught in schools because it’s thought it will encourage people. Encourage people to what? Stand up and say they aren’t okay? It’s okay not to be okay. I truly believe we can make a big change in the mental health system if we continue to shout. You have to start small to be able to achieve things on a larger scale. All therapy in New Zealand should be funded. I don’t believe it should be considered a luxury. No matter what walk of life you come from you should be able to see a counsellor and discuss your health, whether that be physical, mental, spiritual or emotional.
I still hold on to hope that our system will change. We can help our loved ones and possibly prevent as many families as possibly go through what my family has. My life has completely changed in the past seven months. While I can never have my Reido back, I will continue his legacy. I created my platform to be able to openly and honestly talk, rant, yell and cry about mental health. I use my Instagram profile to connect with others and to try to promote the taboo and stigmatised subject of mental health. A key factor that influences the stigma of mental health is ignorance – and this has a lot to do with mental health being taboo in many environments.
Public perceptions and belief about mental health are influenced by knowledge, the degree of contact with someone living with it, people’s personal experience and the coverage of mental health and suicide. People who live with it are the strongest people I know and I commend them for waking up each day and persevering. I think those who lost their fight with mental health are nothing but brave and I hope they’re happy and at peace.
When talking about suicide we often say the person who died “committed” suicide. You should avoid saying someone “committed” the act because it associates suicide with a crime or sin. Instead, use language such as “died by suicide or suicided”. My family and I are trying to get rid of the term “committed” within our community because there was once a time when suicide was considered a crime. With research I have discovered that if someone did die by suicide many years ago they could be refused a funeral or even have personal possessions confiscated. There was also huge shame cast on the loved ones’ family and friends. This is disgusting. This is why we need to use different terms and fix our language.
Where to get help:
Sonya Prior, A Forever Rubette
At the back of my parent’s wardrobe, next to folded sweaters was a weathered red, biscuit tin that I routinely rummaged through. I grew up as an only child for eight years so had a lot of free time to cultivate my nosiness. In the tin were photos, letters and medicine, specifically my dad’s. Sometimes it would just be my mum and I at home, with my dad simply being away. Not on business and never explained where. Just away because he was sick. This happened a lot before my brother was born in 1999. Any questions I asked were often met with more vague explanations that I learnt to stop and wait out bouts of missing him. His beloved uncle, who was the closest person I had to a grandpa, passed away when I was eleven, maybe twelve. I remember sitting next to my dad with my brother at his feet, thinking he’s going to go away soon. He did but this time I knew where to go for answers. I stole one of his pill bottles, typed it into yahoo answers and my chunky Dell computer screen read Schizoaffective Disorder. Confusingly, it made all the sense and none of it at the same time.
The conversation around mental health has and continues to change but I would be lying to say stigmatisation is gone and adequate support is available. You only need to look at the recent, respective conversations surrounding Naomi Osaka and Mike King to see how broken the system is. Like anything that deviates from what is considered ‘normal’, we have this overriding panic to neatly package and manage it with a one time fix. Mental health like any aspect of our personal health is continual. My mental health medley includes mostly dormant anxiety, high functioning depression and am a recovering bulimic who relapsed earlier this year. My finger keeps hovering over the backspace button because a part of me still feels embarrassed in admitting this. That is societal conditioning. That is generational trauma and the way to break it is to speak up and share. Humankind has shared stories since the dawn of time and now is no different. So here I am saying what I struggle with so maybe somewhere in the world, someone will read this at a time in their life when they feel no one understands and they don’t matter. You matter. The best is yet to come.
I sincerely believe that the best is yet to come for mental health. It has to because what we have now isn’t good enough. I will be the first to put my hands up and say - I am not a health professional nor do I claim to be, I only understand mental health through my personal and family history. I worry this is the case for most people because I don’t recall learning about mental health at any stage in my education within our core curriculum. Prime numbers and terrible dioramas I remember but I don’t remember ever learning about emotional wellbeing and mental health. Why not? Children understand so much more than we give them credit for and I think it’s important to include them in the conversation so they don’t think being condemned to silence is part of being an adult. Nearly 40% of young people who seek counselling through Mike King’s Gumboot Friday are 11 years old and younger, which illustrates the necessity to foster emotional intelligence young. There is no shame in children needing help to understand their wellbeing, the greater shame is seeing it and denying it.
With any expanding conversation comes the risk of misinformation and trivialisation. I think this comes with the territory of trending in a digital age. There has been a steady rise of Instagram ‘therapists’, not all qualified, since the outbreak of COVID-19. This area of social media is vastly unregulated and cannot be viewed as a replacement for professional, medical advice. It’s a double-edged sword. On one side speaking about and reframing mental health makes it okay to do so. It breaks the societal guard of shame and silence allowing those who suffer, personally or in support of, to feel less alone. It allows us to better articulate mental health and our varied relationship to it, which I think is necessary. On the other side, there can be an almost predatory nature to it in the means of profit over sincere help. Be wary of ‘therapists’ who repeatedly centre the narrative around themselves and offer emotional guidance through a paid-for subscription. Is it about them or you? Are they even qualified to do so? Does it feel performative? What I will say is do your research. Seek out peoples’ credentials and then research those too. Understand that someone who may have a positive impact on you now may not in six months and it is always within your right to choose what works for you. I routinely give my social media a digital colonic and if I can’t unfollow people for whatever reason, the mute button is a gift. Mental health support through Instagram is always going to be surface level. I don’t mean that in a negative way but it has to reach and resonate with so many and in doing that, dedicated personal care is impossible. Social media is a tricky landscape. I don’t believe a beige tile with a copy and paste quote will save us but I do believe mental health can be a silent killer. One that isolates and distorts. If we can read something online that sparks something in our real lives, if we can articulate how we feel and share that or support and say I understand when a struggling loved one comes to us, then that is a very good place to start.
So much has changed since I first learned about mental health and we still have a long way to go. We need to create the world we want to live in. For me that world is one that values and honours equality and supports the vast spectrum of people coexisting with one another to feel seen, heard and respected. There is no one way to live and for the most part, I don’t care how anyone chooses to live their life as long as it doesn’t come at the expense of another person or community. I have the greatest admiration for people who speak up and out about mental health from regular folks to people on the world stage like Mike King, Naomi Osaka and Prince Harry. Mental health doesn’t discriminate, people do. Our engagement and understanding of mental health are changing but we need governing bodies, workplaces, schools; we need the systems in which we exist, which can and do create mental illnesses to support and protect us. Speaking up and coming together is so important but how far can we grow in superficial, hostile environments? Mental health isn’t a trend, it is a necessity to our basic human rights. Creating the world you want to live in is also about sharing yourself with that world. So keep speaking, keep sharing, keep connecting until there is so much noise that society can’t ignore what is necessary. No profit is worth another person's life. That will always be true so take care of the people that fill your countries, all of them. Protect trans lives, refugees, immigrants, indigenous people, women, men, unemployed, employed, homeless people and our young minds.
I could go on about mental health forever. If you haven’t already guessed, I’m an oversharer particularly after growing up with so many sides of myself in the dark. Keeping yourself in the dark suggests you should be, that you aren’t deserving of the light and I don’t believe that. If we keep reading, hearing, seeing one way of being we lose the opportunity to learn from so many more wonderful perspectives that shape and uplift our world. I’m currently watching The Me You Can’t See where Prince Harry says, ‘pain that doesn’t get transformed gets transmitted’ which reminded me of Carrie Fisher saying ‘take your broken heart and turn it into art’. When we hold on to our pain, when we define ourselves through it we lose sight of the joy and strength that comes from it. I don’t wear my pain like a badge of honour but I let it guide how I treat others. To be kinder and softer where previously I may not have been. I understand joy is not always mine to hold so when I feel it I’m grateful and try my best to not be expectant or greedy. I’m doing my best to transform the pain I hold so I don’t pass it on. Sometimes it feels like I’ve watched my dad die a hundred times. Each time he comes home he’s slightly different. The dad I have now is but isn’t the dad from when I was five or ten or seventeen. I have loved him all the way through and each time he has come back stronger. He’s made me stronger. Besides my mum, he is the strongest person I know and when he doesn’t feel it, he has us and the changing landscape of mental health to keep him and us going. I know every time I come back to myself I’m a little different from before. Maybe that’s transforming, maybe that’s how we each make art.
Where to get help:
No one can argue with the fact that books are incredibly special. They are the product of an author’s creative mind spilled out amongst the pages over countless hours, weeks and years. And to think that the actual writing of the book is just the beginning! Next the book is shopped to publishers. Then enters the editing team who copy-edit, proofread, index in conjunction with other important checks. There’s also the cover artwork design, the distribution of advanced copies to press, book sellers and reviewers around the world all in an effort to ensure the word is spread about this upcoming release. The final book copy then heads to the printers and is shipped around the globe to bookstores who unpack and processes ready for sale. Eventually, the publication date arrives after years of work. It’s a long, intense process, involving countless eyes having already graced its pages. And yet when it reaches the consumer, why do we immediately expect a discount?
The sad fact is that the book trade has fallen victim to a consumer expectation of discounting. For so long here in Aotearoa our isolation has kept us booksellers relatively safe from the threat of the bigger global market of discount bookselling. Until now. I started writing this on the first day that Amazon opened their Australian distribution services to customers here in Aotearoa. Amazon and the Book Depository (also owned by Amazon) are the creators of this very consumer expectation that books should be discounted. The fact that you shouldn’t pay full price for a book is their founding business model. But when a books true value is what most other retailers rely on to operate, then we must look at the true cost of this small discount at the checkout. And ask ourselves why if we are willing to pay that little bit extra for free range eggs every time we go to the supermarket because we care about the chickens welfare, do we not see the same value in a book knowing it has come from a business that values its employees?
It comes down to conscious consumerism at the end of the day. And I am not in this instance wishing to dismiss the fact that not everyone has the means to make this choice, but I am talking to those who can. There is a shift happening right now in which we expect our moral values to be reflected in the businesses and the people we support, yet, Amazon continues to be the world’s number one retailer. And if price continues to trump moral consciousness then independent booksellers simply will not win. We aren’t even playing the same game. An independent bookstore will never have the buying power or be able to cut its costs to offer Amazon prices and free shipping. This cutting of costs comes at a significant human and environmental price. I am not going to relay the details as it is likely you are aware of the many claims of staff mistreatment and stock dumping that take place at Amazon, and if you are not, I suggest having a quick google. But we also must understand that what is driving the demand for these price cuts is us, the consumer. We must acknowledge the degree in which we choose overconsumption, instead of buying a little less at the true cost of the product.
There is tremendous value in supporting your local retailer. Not only does your money continue to circulate in your local economy, but they each offer something different and unique, whether that is the passionate staff, the curation, the ambiance, or the complete experience. All of it comes at a cost to the business and to maintain that level of service, the retailer needs to be able to sell their products at full price. There is also plenty you can do to support your favourite local retailer for free, like tell your friends, share your purchase on social media, or leave a google review. Positive word of mouth will continue to be invaluable to retailers.
For the best to come, it is imperative for Aotearoa’s consumers to see the value in buying from a local retailer in place of resorting to the likes of Amazon. Most of that value lies within the knowledge that you as the consumer holds all the power here. Bookstores are a special kind of magic, and when you support an independent seller you know you are feeding the mouths of your fellow book lovers, not shooting Bezos into space in a particularly phallic looking tin can. We need to continue to choose free range booksellers.
Sacha Young, Costume Designer
I have always had an interest in the power of clothing and how it makes me feel. I believe clothing is an extension of who we are and how we present ourselves. Intentional or not, it guides us in a first impression of how we view others, and others view us.
I work in the film industry as a costume designer in which I feel incredibly grateful to be in my line of work that I absolutely love. It’s a job that teaches me about history, cultures and deepens my appreciation of clothes in new ways.
I get to dig deep into the characters in a script and dream up their wardrobe. I specifically design each piece of clothing and footwear that belongs to each character. I love this part of the process the most as I get to research and break down the script before sourcing the clothes.
During this process the questions that I am asking are; Where did their clothing come from, was it inherited, bought or was it made? Is it new or old? How does each item make them feel? How are they presenting themselves when wearing different items, to different places, seeing different people. What colour clothing do they wear, does it help portray different moods or have specific references or help guide you on their journey?
The best thing about this process is being so intentional about each item that makes up their wardrobe. Each item is so important to help build their wardrobe to essentially help us know them better. The costume helps the visual storytelling in so many ways.
The intentional nature of the way I work always leaves me questioning my habits (and the wider societal habits) of the way we shop and build our own wardrobes. How intentional are we when we are purchasing clothing, footwear and accessories? Where are we shopping? Are we buying new or second hand? Do we ask ourselves how this item makes us feel? What colour is it and does that affect your mood or vice versa does your mood affect the clothing you are wearing! Is it an extension of who we are? Of how we want to present ourselves? Where will we wear it? How often? Do the company values align with our own values? What is the composition of the fabric? Is the fabric organic or sustainably sourced? Will the item last or is it fast fashion, made for one season only?
I believe all of these elements should come into play in how we approach building our own wardrobes. We need to start asking ourselves harder questions before buying and being intentional with our purchases. In film, clothes have the ability to transport us to different eras, and in real life, I believe clothes have the ability to transform us into better people.
Dr Lee Mathias, Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit
To say that I am passionate about health and healthcare would be an understatement. I am a nurse and have been for 50 years. Seems a very long time to have not achieved what you set out to as a raw 17-year-old student nurse. Healthcare systems are large complex organisations which, for the most part operate 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Requirements of personal healthcare don’t wait for anything, not time and not random viruses. One of the key challenges for all healthcare systems in 2020/2021 is meeting all those ongoing health needs amid a pandemic.
And that is what brings me to my overall “yet to come” moment which is access. That is, access to everything healthcare from health promotion and education, to screening, of healthcare professionals especially healthcare professionals of your choice, access to complex services especially diagnostics which can mean a fast and accurate diagnosis and access to the right and best medicine for your diagnosis.
Over the years I have contributed to all over those key areas and I still focus on three which are hugely important and, which I believe, are best achieved by the private, entrepreneurial sector to effect change.
Firstly, access to healthcare professionals – I am an original shareholder director of Tend.NZ, a digital first full primary care service which offers access to doctors and nurse (and eventually the whole range of healthcare professionals) over a “long day” 0700 – 1900, but even that may increase. To do so, download the App Tend.NZand register. You can also enrol if you are needing a permanent general practice. From then on you can access primary services from both nurses and doctors via your phone. If you need to be seen in one of our clinics, you can make your appointment at a time that suits you and the practitioner of your choice. That is the sort of access I have been dreaming of!
Secondly, I have been involved with a diagnostics company as a shareholder director – yes, I just love start- ups! For almost 11 years. That company PICORDX aims to provide low-cost blood testing for economies in developing countries where people have not traditional had access to simple blood tests. We make miniaturised, multiplexed ELISAs – sounds confusing maybe but that is a well-known technology. We have made a difference because of both the miniaturisation and the multiplexing meaning we can offer up to 8 tests for biomarkers at any one time. Pictor tests have been in the market in India for some years.
Of course, like many blood test manufacturing companies, we have a Covid test – more specifically for SARS Cov2. Our test is so far unique as it can differentiate between naturally acquired Covid and vaccina acquired Covid. That will make a huge difference when assessing antibody levels and the rationing of vaccines as will have to happen in some countries. Our Covid test is currently being assessed in US for FDA regulation, and we are talking with organisations like GAVI which focuses on vaccines in 3rd world countries.
And my last big focus is access to medicines in my role as the independent Chairman of Medicines NZ which is the industry association for the innovative pharmaceutical companies. This is largely a lobbying role, especially of government and PHARMAC – the government’s purchasing agent. My key goals are to get Pharmac into the NZ healthcare system so that when service specifications are being designed ALL aspects of care and treatment can be included. The current system doesn’t allow this meaning that, quite often, the best treatment course can not be offered, that the most economically efficient course can not be followed costing more to the patient, family and wider whanau, the community including employers and, last but not least, the healthcare system especially DHBs. For someone like me, in business, but also with a health economics qualification and a doctorate in governance, this is frustrating. The caveat (on my challenge) is that unless the government is willing to take healthcare seriously and make a larger appropriation for medicines this is unlikely to happen, which will be so disappointing to New Zealanders.
So, I haven’t bitten off small challenges during my career – Birthcare was hard because it was new territory for the public sector as that was the first public sector contract for healthcare services to be let to a private provider. Labtests was really hard because the incumbent was recalcitrant and made every effort to thwart the establishment of an efficient and effective service to the people of Auckland. But, as I have always underestimated the time it takes to get large scale change in health services, I may just have to stay around for a while yet.
Look after your own health; stay safe out there; get your vaccination when offered and WASH YOUR HANDS!
'It’s November 2019 and someone tells you that in a year from now the world will be unrecognisable. They tell you that it will have suffered and changed and adapted beyond anything you could’ve imagined. The way we work, socialise, live and travel will have gone through dramatic deconstruction and now resemble a new normal. They will tell you it was tough but it was worth it because the change needed would save lives.
'The changes needed were far reaching, they were systemic, they required a global effort but they saved us. And now we have evolved to live in this new normal. But Covid19 is not the only global emergency this world is suffering from. Our climate crisis is just as detrimental and yet the approaches we have taken to mitigate the two are incomparable.
'For Covid, the approach was immediate. As of today we will: shut boarders, set restrictions, go into lockdown. For our climate crisis, our approach has been “we will set some targets”, aim to have done X in the next few years, next ten years, next twenty…
'What we did for Covid, when we sacrificed life as we knew it, was to save lives - human lives. What we need to do for our climate crisis affects so much more than just human lives. Our climate crisis impacts the lives of every living thing - our flora, fauna, marine life, birds, mammals, everything. And there is no vaccine for climate change, there is no quick fix. We can't just jab the planet with something to make it more resilient. In fact, jabbing the planet, with little considering the consequences, is part of what got us into this mess…
'There is going to come a time when we, and future generations, look back on the way we treated this planet and be horrified. We will be horrified that we thought it was ok to do what we wanted without consideration for other living creatures. That we could act in a way that destroyed whole ecosystems, killed who species. Imagine having to explain what a frog is to younger generations? The way we currently live has a rate of extinction nearly 1,000 times the natural rate. By mid-century, as many as 30 – 50% of the world's species will have disappeared. This is a crime against nature.
'Here in New Zealand we are beyond lucky. We look out the window and see green for miles. We have a climate that is not just tolerable but enjoyable – winters aren't too cold, summers aren’t too hot – but the way WE live impacts other, less fortunate communities and countries.
'The World Bank estimated that three regions (Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia) will generate 143 million more climate migrants by 2050. People are forced from their homes because the climate has become unlivable – whether that’s literally the climate causing too many temperature related deaths or that sustaining a food economy becomes impossible.
'This isn’t the first time civilisation has lived a certain way, accepted a certain norm, that now horrifies us. We used to think owning people, owning slaves was acceptable. To be able to treat those slaves however we wanted was our right. We used to think it was acceptable that women had no rights, that they were not intelligent enough to contribute to democratic decisions so we simply won’t let them vote.
'We used to think it was all good to drink and drive. We have accepted certain unacceptable things because that was the norm and the way we treat our planet today has become one such unacceptable thing.
'This isn’t me, on some high-horse, telling everyone they should be doing more. This is me encouraging everyone to have an open mind when it comes to change. We have experienced unimaginable change with Covid and we have survived. We have experienced change for good through recognising previously accepted evils and pushing back. We must start acknowledging the way we treat our planet as the ‘crime against nature’ that it is and actively embrace the change needed. It will save lives.
'The business sector has a large part to play in reshaping this world and those leaning into that, thinking about their legacy and how they can innovate in this space, are the business we should support. RUBY is one such business. When I saw what was being offered on their website with their ‘rent or recycle’ feature I was filled with hope. A business offering solutions that make them less money but creates better outcomes, is a business we should recognise. With the digital capability we have today there is simply no excuse for more businesses not to be creating opportunities like this for their customers. And I know this feature isn’t it where the journey stops for RUBY, clearly the best is yet to come.'
'When 'things' - objects, products, disciplines, places, etc, are viewed in isolation, problems arise. We see this happening in western medicine, in governance, and in our homes. When we start to understand the entire system, the light goes fully on, and we go from the parts to the whole. We start to understand that what's really important is to understand how living beings, social issues, and environmental issues aren't separate things, they are all interconnected. If we continue to make things from materials that don’t have an end of life strategy - biodegradable or better yet restorative and regnerative, we're not dealing with the full picture, we're doing things in isolation, and 'design' is operating in isolation, and is not doing its job properly.
'I’m passionate about the future of education as a powerful space to question, expand, and explore the boundaries of fashion as a subject that intersects with many other subjects and fields of impact - from psychology to agriculture and biology (to name a few). I am deeply committed to disrupting the education models of the 20th century - that most of our universities are still based on, to the systems thinking of the 21st century.
'We desperately need to reconsider and reimagine the entire fashion system, and its relationship with the dominant economic, political systems and paradigms of our time. This is where change can and must occur.
'I’m excited and proud to support practitioners who are actively seeking to challenge traditional ways of working, questioning the very definition of their discipline. My own work is about expanding the field to build connections between practices that propose alternate value systems and different ways of thinking, doing, and being fashion. I am heartened to be in good company with a small but powerful group of people that are committed to this work. It’s time for a deep examination and reimagination of the fashion system as part of nature, a ‘whole place’ that honors and is conscious of all worldviews and different modalities of time.'
'Tap water and referendums. They can’t save us.
'Early last year, I locked-down in Level 4 with a friend of mine, who had been temporarily evacuated from his life in China.
'One day in our bubble, I found my friend-in-exile at the kitchen sink slurping water with the fervor of a lost man in the desert. I don’t usually question people as to why they drink water, but on this occasion his insatiable Autumn thirst compelled me to ask.
'My friend replied breathlessly, water dripping from his chin, “I’ve just read that drinking water every 15-minutes can protect you from the coronavirus. The water washes any Covid-droplets you may have inhaled into your stomach, instead of the lungs. The spike proteins are then deactivated by the stomach’s gastric acid.”
'His convincing use of “spike proteins” and “deactivated” had me reaching for the tap. I too began sipping on the fifteen.
'Between swigs, I texted this breakthrough discovery to a friend. Why doesn’t everyone know about this, I remember thinking, earnestly. I began adding friends, colleagues and family to a group chat named, “111: Critical Medical Announcement.”
'Before I issued the alert, my friend’s text reply came, “James, what you’re really saying is that the cure for Covid-19 is tap water. Do you stand by that?”
'This was Whatasapp at its most chastening. I did not deserve those two little blue ticks.
'I called out to my flatmate, “Where did you read that water thing again…?”
'There are many lessons in this story.
'The first is to always check your source material.
'The second is that human-beings are pretty adept at responding to immediate problems. Not so much my flatmate and me, but other more sensible people.
'With the outbreak of Covid-19, New Zealanders diligently adopted bubble life. Nanogirl went viral in a helpful way. And scientists, the world over, took the lens caps off their microscopes and got to work on a vaccine. (A vaccine that would turn out to have a more complicated scientific formula than H20.)
'While Covid-19 has been a global nightmare, it has shown how seriously we take an immediate threat, particularly with the right leadership. Humans are hardwired to fight or flight.
'Conversely, we’re not so well set up as a species to respond to longer term challenges. Climate change is perhaps the most treacherous example. That threat to the planet is looming, ethereal, and so we’ve sort of let it ride. It’s only now, after being warned by scientists for about 40 years, that we’re beginning to listen.
'So for a more promising future, we need to find ways to help us make decisions today that better value tomorrow. (We also need to be judicious when using online sponsored content as a source of critical medical information.)
'There are a couple of good ideas floating around Parliament at the moment that might just help. The first is a suggestion to extend the parliamentary term from three years to four years.
'The argument goes, the shorter the term of parliament, the shorter the term of thinking. This means difficult issues get neglected by politicians, or sent to referendum. And we don’t seem to have a new flag. Or reasonable drug laws. Ironically, we have even had referendums on four-year terms before, in 1967 and 1990. No dice.
'A longer parliamentary term should give politicians more time to take the decisions we elect them for, before they start fretting about being elected again.
'The other useful idea, buzzing around the Beehive, are new rules to get businesses thinking about how they measure success, beyond the daily report card provided by the sharemarket.
'This new law would make 200 companies disclose the climate change risks they face into the future. If businesses have to be more transparent about climate change, investment bankers and the astute users of Sharesies can make more informed decisions about the companies they support.
'If we want a better future, we need to decide on it. So let’s make it easier to make those decisions. Also, let’s always check the facts.'
Makaira Lee - Creative Content Manager, RUBY
'What does it really mean to feel “represented”? What does it really mean to feel seen?
'Representation” is one of those cultural buzzwords that’s often thrown around with words like “diversity” and “inclusivity”. It is typically thought of as this idea that when we see people who look like us in mainstream media, it validates our own existence and invites us into spaces where we may not have felt welcome before.
'Growing up I was never conscious my personal narrative wasn’t depicted in mainstream media. As much as it had never occurred to me before, contemporary notions of beauty embedded in social ideals and values have a significant influence on the lived experience of women. For me personally this meant I normalised straightening my hair every day for 7 years of high school or sitting under a shaded area at the beach to avoid getting darker. Had I seen myself reflected in pop culture perhaps I wouldn’t have had an unconscious bias against my natural beauty and I would have jumped head first into the water.
'Seeing yourself represented for the first time is special and revolutionary for one's self confidence. It’s the feeling of having been lost for so many years and finally finding your way back home.
Following the launch of RUBY’s latest collection Champ, the feedback we have received regarding representation has been immense. Opening a space and normalising the celebration of size, race, gender nonconformity - we’ve done that for people.
'The inception of the decision to hold an open casting at RUBY came months earlier in the lead up to our swim shoot in November 2020. One of the deliverables we were unwilling to compromise on was using models that represent an inclusive and multi-dimensional idea of beauty and promote positive body image. From social class to skin colour and ethnicity, women’s bodies in mainstream media have been largely defined through a white lens. In the NZ fashion industry, sample-sized garments are typically size 6-8 which is not representative of the “average” kiwi woman who wears a size 14-16. When reaching out to modelling agencies, the offering at the time was disappointing and challenged us to broaden our search engines. As a team we turned to social media and I stumbled upon Jodie, although not a model at the time, she became the face of our RUBY Swim Campaign.
'Fast forward 2 months, as my team and I sat in our Friday morning marketing meeting we were brought back to the RUBY Open Casting - an idea that had been tossed around for some time but had not been taken further than a highlighted line in our activations spreadsheet. We knew this was the right thing to do following our success with Jodie and set out to make it happen. On Tuesday 30th March 2021 RUBY held its first open casting calling to all genders and sizes. We saw over 80 incredible individuals come through our doors and pave the way for future shoots. It became apparent very early on in the evening that what we were unable to find through the agencies we were easily going to find here.
'For me, the most exciting part was getting to meet our Rubettes. As a business we put so much into creating a community and sometimes it can feel like you’re talking into a void and not knowing the extent of your reach. I remember not being able to sleep that night because I was on such a high. I took the camera home to reel through the images, just so happy that these were the people we were reaching, these were our Rubettes, a generation that is hungry for authenticity and empowerment.
'The open casting was taking the first step in creating change that RUBY wants to see. It was about celebrating humanity and focusing on more inclusive beauty ideals. Beauty is becoming less a matter of aesthetics and more about personality attributes such as self-confidence, vibe, kindness and individuality. Who we deem “beautiful” is a reflection of our values. In all honesty, if I could have used every single person that showed up to that open casting I would have because they were all just beautiful people, incredibly diverse, that totally embodied the spirit of a Rubette.
'I have worked at RUBY as the Creative Content Manager for just shy of 2 years. In that time, I have had many highs but Champ is the thing that I am most proud of. As a person of mixed heritage (Asian/Pacific) and as a soon to be mum, I want my kid to grow up knowing they belong. This last campaign has reinforced my desire to give back to my community and ensure their representation in my field.'
20 May 2021
'The field I’m passionate about is justice - in all its forms. I’m passionate about everyone being able to thrive and exist as themselves wholly. There are so many institutions, systems and beliefs that hold so many of us back. Being a Black kiwi, I see the material effects that these institutions produce in the lives of the underprivileged. I am passionate about addressing these issues so as to ensure everyone has a fair go at a good quality life.
'From the environmental effects seen all across our Pacific nations, to the over-representation of BIPOC people in Aotearoa prisons and the systemic oppression of Māori and Pacific Islanders, to the harassment the LGBTQ+ community face, to the xenophobia and racism that refugee and immigrant populations are subjected to - I want to see a different Aotearoa.
'I believe change is possible but it MUST start with those in positions of power to affect change. In order to address all the injustices we see in our community here in New Zealand, I believe we have to start from the very beginning. The initial injustice of this land is the colonisation of the Indigenous people. Everything has flowed on from there. Māori knew how to take care of the whenua, they had tikanga that enabled them to live harmoniously with humans and nature. Māori had an order and a way of life that was disrupted by colonisation.
'I wholeheartedly believe that we must start with honouring Māori sovereignty and then we can go on to repair and right the wrongs. I am optimistic that the new generation coming up is more than equipped to start initiating these changes. That is what gives me hope and I can’t wait to be a part of the generation that starts to rewrite history.'
'When I think about what my hope for the future is, only one thing comes to mind. My hope is that my little brothers and sisters, my little cousins, and all the younger members of my community who look like me, won’t have to fight the same fights I am. I hope that they will live a life that is unrestricted so that they can realise their full potential. I hope that they grow into knowing the power they have and harness that every day and contribute to making the world a better place. This is my hope. This is my why. This is why I marched.
18 July 2020
'On Sunday 31st May, I was woken up by a phone call from my older brother Mez, who had been feeling really heavy for a few days after having seen all the news coverage surrounding the murder of George Floyd – a Black man killed by a white police officer who knelt on his neck for almost 9 minutes. He wanted to do something about it, and so did I – I just didn’t know how to initiate it. We wanted a space for everyone to come together and collectively grieve, stand in solidarity with Black people in America, and draw attention to the issues here at home. We needed a healthy release of all those built up emotions we had. So we decided to rally and protest. Initially, we had only thought those in the Black community here in New Zealand and a few of our friends would join us. We knew that New Zealand was still in alert level 2 and so we genuinely believed we would be in compliance with the law as we had only anticipated a small crowd. I made the post on Instagram at around 2:30, put my phone down, and went out for lunch. By the time I checked my phone again at 7 pm, my post had received over 3,000 likes and 3,500 people had shares it to their stories. It was shared by the biggest names in Auckland – Israel Adesanya, Jess B, Parris Goebel, and Stan Walker to name a few. By the same time that night, the Facebook event had over 2,700 people attending. That’s when it hit us that we might have started something bigger than any of us could even fathom.
'My brother managed to pull together a group of six to meet at his house that night and strategise as we needed a plan – this group of six would form the core organising team. We met up and worked through all the details we could – marshals; enforcing social distancing; connecting with the mana whenua, Ngāti Whātua, to make sure we had their blessing and ensure that they were involved; organising a line-up of speakers; appointing a police and media liaison; preparing a statement for our media briefing; and other logistical considerations. There was an outpouring of advice and help offered to us through social media by people who have experience in organising. I left my brother’s house at 4:30am and still couldn’t quite process the magnitude of what we had just started.
'Fast forward a few hours later and Auckland City made history at one of the largest protests the city has ever seen in recent years. June 1st, 2020, for me and many of my other Black friends, was a much-needed form of catharsis – it was a space for us to shout, cry, be together and release all the built-up emotions and trauma that we had been internalising for far too long. It was a place where we felt seen, heard and cared for by white and non-Black people of colour in New Zealand. For the first time in my 22 years of living here, I felt like I could say I belonged – that I had a community of people who cared for me and could stand up for me. June 1st, 2020, went down as the greatest, most powerful day of my life.
'As we saw on the 9th of June, NZ Police announced that the Armed Response Team trials would not continue and have no place in the future of New Zealand policing. This is an amazing development. Our march only contributed to this cause, but the real credit should go to the Arms Down NZ Campaign who have been speaking on and fighting for this cause for months. They have themselves to thank for fighting relentlessly. The number of people that showed up in Auckland to march last Monday was just the final seal.
'But the work does not end here. We must continue to advocate for justice and fight for the rights of Black, Indigenous and other people of colour (BIPOC). The history and present reality of colonisation in New Zealand means our Māori people are disproportionately affected negatively in every single aspect – healthcare, housing, education, employment, socioeconomic status, prison. We must fight for equity and for the tino rangatiratanga of our tangata whenua. When Māori rights are valued, then it will follow suit for everyone else. Further, New Zealand has a duty to recognise and acknowledge the Black community here. New Zealand has a moral obligation to speak up against injustices happening all over the world and on our own soil.
'There are many ways that you can help. If you benefit from and are privileged by being white, you need to leverage that for the greater good of everyone. EDUCATE YOURSELVES – and that doesn’t mean asking your BIPOC friends to point you to resources as this is emotionally taxing. We live in the age of information, Google is free! You have the privilege to LEARN about racism instead of EXPERIENCE it and all the trauma that comes with knowing how people that look like you are treated. If you have the means, donate. There are local and international organisations that are on the frontlines of this movement and rely solely on donations. Use your voice and speak up when you see something happening that is not right. This is not a radical action – we are taught this from the very first day we start at primary school.
'My hope for the future is that our rangatahi grow up free and unhindered by racism; that they don’t have to fight the same fights we are fighting right now. My hope for the future is that justice will prevail, both here in New Zealand, and globally.
If you are stuck on where to start, the following are great resources:
The New Jim Crow – Michelle Alexander / How to be an Anti-Raicst – Ibram X. Kendi / Me and White Supremacy – Layla F Saad / Pleasure Activism – Adrienne Maree Brown / Eloquent Rage - Brittney Cooper / Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge / Decolonising the Mind - Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
When They See Us – Ava Duvernay / TIME: A Kalief Browder Story – Jenner Furst / American Son – Kenny Leon / LA 92 – Daniel Lindsay & T. J. Martin / 13th – Ava Duvernay / The Hate U Give – George Tillman Jr. / Seven Seconds – Veena Sud
Local NZ/AUS Black-owned businesses - please see directory here
'I have been in the finance industry for over ten years now. For almost the same amount of time, I’ve seen the women around me struggle with the confidence to build their finances. I’ve had numerous female friends and family members come to me asking for help. They don’t know where to go to learn. They don’t know what questions to ask. And they feel left behind.
'If we look back at history, men have historically been the breadwinners of the household. Fast forward to today, and women are now more equally represented in the workforce and are more equal contributors to the family income. However, despite this, we have been left behind in the investing conversation. We don’t just have a gender pay gap, we have an investing knowledge gap too.
'Because we have been left behind, many women view investing as a mountain too big to climb and feel too overwhelmed to start the journey. However, as a gender, we should be the most concerned when it comes to investing and building wealth for our future.
'On average, we are paid less than men. We take time out of the workforce to have a family. And we live longer in retirement. These three reasons are why we are worse off when we retire and why we need to make sure we have the greatest pool of retirement savings when we reach retirement age.
'Small changes can make a huge difference. Due to compound interest (interest on interest on interest), if you had $20k in your KiwiSaver account, in a Fund generating 5% per year over 30 years, you will have $90k at retirement. However, if you moved this to a 10% per year returning Fund, for the same period of time, you will have $500k at retirement! If you kept this $20k in the bank in a term deposit generating 1% per year…..you can figure out the rest!
'In order to be financially independent and knowledgeable, we need to have the confidence when it comes to investing. We need to provide the support and a positive environment for women to learn. This is why we created The Curve, an investing education platform for women. It’s a place for women to learn more about money. Their money. And the money they want to make, for the future they want to have. It is created by women, for women.
'Each of us are busy, with little patience for complicated graphs and jargon-heavy information, yet, the pursuit for financial know-how and increasing your wealth should be a simple one. The Curve is a safe space for women to get investment-savvy, without the noise and confusion. A place for women to learn about investing in a way that makes sense to them, and makes sense for their lifestyle. We provide all women, no matter what stage of knowledge, the platform, tools and community support to achieve their financial goals.
'The earlier we can be having these investing and finance conversations with our women, the better. Investing can be an intimidating topic and can be seem overwhelming. However, the more we have these conversations, the quicker these ‘barriers’ will be broken down. '
Tash Crosby, Founder of Talk Peach
'Gynaecological cancers there are 5 of them: vaginal, uterine, cervical, vulval and one I sadly know personally ovarian. It’s a subject that has remained hidden for far too long, and deserves to be in the spotlight.
'I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2017, I underwent 2 major surgeries, and 6 months of one of toughest known chemo regimens, an extreme treatment using a combo of two different chemotherapy drugs for what is known as the most insidious of the gynaecological cancers. I lost my womb, my ovaries, cervix, fallopian tubes, the lot. I lost my ability to have children, and waved goodbye to the old me. Cancer changes you, you will never ever be the same.
'Getting diagnosed with cancer is extremely isolating, getting diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer, even more so.
'When I was diagnosed there were no people mass fundraising, no one wearing our ribbons, no street appeals, no sports teams decked out in our colours, The silence was deafening. I felt very alone, I was alone. Navigating a cancer that no one seemed to care about.
'1 New Zealander dies from a gynaecological cancer every 24 hours, a rate higher than our road toll, yet so much silence. Why? This was so upsetting to me.
'During my treatment I connected via social media with 100's of others going through gynaecological cancer treatment, without them things would have been much darker, they were the only source I had to chat chemo tips, to offload, offer and receive support, cry, laugh, and encourage, I couldn't have done it without them. Other than my whanau they really were my lifeline. We all felt alone, we all watched as others got the support they desperately needed from larger charities supporting other cancer types, why has gynaecological cancer remained so silent, why the stigma, we chatted about this all the time, holding each other tight via the internet, pushing each other through some really dark times.
'I spoke a lot during treatment, all the prime time news/media T.V shows, I spoke to whoever would listen to try and raise awareness, I made a ripple, and the drive to educate and save lives from then just wouldn't stop, I’m an educator I work with Ministry of Education and this leads me to where I am now; I founded Talk Peach Gynaecological Cancer Foundation in 2019, it’s my greatest achievement, it’s my lemonade from a shit load of lemons, it’s my way of giving back, my way of helping others so they don't have to feel the isolation I felt, it’s to fostering change, for advocating at a government level and ultimately for saving lives.
'In two years we have achieved so much, we have fostered positive relationships with those in Government, the district health boards nationwide, researchers, we have supported many going through treatment, we created the countries very first video awareness campaign, we have hosted many educational workshops, have pushed a petition through which has now been accepted campaigning for better funding for ovarian cancer, we have large organisations now aligning with us, our educational info goes far and wide, our logo is now on sports players uniforms, the list goes on and on, with minimal funding our ripple has turned into a wave.
'I can see the change happening, it makes me feel powerful, it makes me feel that anything is possible, with passion, drive, and of course a large dose of inequity to fuel my fire, big changes can take place by those at grass roots. I applaud anyone pushing change to benefit their communities.
'My road to recovery was long, but I learnt a lot about myself, I realised how resilient I was, I was so much stronger than I had ever given myself credit for, cancer gave me something I had struggled with, it fostered a love for myself and a belief in myself, it showed me how precious life is and what and who truly mattered to me, and for that I will forever be grateful.
We welcome anyone wishing to support us.'
'I grew up in Auckland and was born into a Gujarati-Muslim family. I had a fairly typical upbringing. My parents made sure we were firmly footed as New Zealanders, knew where exactly we came from and always strived to take the best of our multiple worlds, and intertwine them to be the best version of ourselves. Extracurricular activities were all-encompassing, involving a mixture of swimming, hockey, Quran classes, and a brief stint in a Peter Pan production. It’s safe to say that acting was not my calling. I was privileged to have a safe childhood, for which I am grateful.
'When I was 11, and three years after 9/11, I was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy. Slowly the idea of owning your heritage and being proud of who you are was overshadowed by the need to downplay the ‘embarrassing’ and ‘unknown’ parts in order to be included. For someone like me who is already introverted, the idea of sticking out was frightening. But it was the life I was given, and 17 years later, I have untold the stories I told myself and am going back to the wisdoms of my elders. It is a marathon that I am still running.
'As someone who uses an electric wheelchair, isolation was a common experience for me, almost a daily expectation. So, when lockdown hit last year, I scrolled social media with curiosity watching as people struggled to come to terms with their newly found lack of autonomy. Living with decisions other people make for you, not having agency over where you can go, feeling trapped, not being able to travel to visit your loved ones, the constant fear for your safety, the way low-paid yet essential workers selflessly saved us.
'For one in four New Zealanders, this has always been our reality.
'But something beautiful happened. Events moved online, and people started having brave and open conversations about the struggles they are navigating. Following the murder of George Floyd, we finally opened up about what is broken in Aotearoa and globally. Using the gift of the internet, we connected with one another from our homes to support one another and made it a point to both check in and reach out for those who needed it.
'Our quiet little corner of the world is Covid-free. As I write this though, other countries face outbreaks surpassing those of the past by far. I realise I spoke about Covid as a thing of the past, and that is a privilege I want to acknowledge at this point.
'I still struggle to picture a return to days past, but I know in my heart that day will come. When it does, what are we going to do with the lessons we have learnt? Are we going to forget everything, or will we embrace the challenge and build something better? From where I sit, the opportunities are in front of us, clear as day, for us to build a world where inclusion is at the core. '
Maddi Rowe (she/her), Community Organiser with the Wellington Alliance Against Sexual Violence
Content warning: sexual violence
When sexual violence occurs, we have failed as a society. We have failed to raise our people with the inherent knowledge of obeying consent and acknowledging boundaries. We have failed to eliminate rape culture and stigmatisation. To tackle the issue of sexual violence, we need to see through the murky, grey areas of sexual violence, and act as a community.
The changes I would like to see are simple changes:
I want to see these concepts absolutely everywhere. Comprehensive consent education. Discarding punitive police measures altogether. Community-based rehabilitation for both victim/survivors of sexual violence and people who have done harm. A wide distribution of specialist sexual violence resources. This kaupapa requires the input and care of many, many people, and lots of calculated time and effort. Every person matters, no matter the size of contribution. A sense of community is incredibly important when we’re talking about a systemic issue that will affect our children and grandchildren.
But we cannot keep living like this.
We deserve better.
This is why we rallied urgently.
The issue is pressing, and it’s happening as we speak.
For now, we bring awareness to the complexity, brevity and prevalence of sexual violence.
We rally our Government. We rally our whānaunga. We rally to do better by each other.
I look forward to seeing a future where I won’t have to be a sexual violence prevention organiser. I look forward to a horizon that blooms with compassion, understanding and empathy. Where sexual violence is treated as it should be – a structural, systemic issue that affects every single person in our society – not something used to silo and exile those who have made mistakes and those who have been victimised.
This issue requires all of us to talk to each other. Empathise. Relearn.
One day soon, we will walk the streets, unafraid.
SAFE TO TALK PH: 0800 044 334 / TXT: 4334
Youth/tertiary student support index: https://thursdaysinblack.org/get-help
'I grew up in rural Hawke’s Bay, where my Dad was a primary school teacher. When my brother Simon and I started at Ardkeen School, near Wairoa, our father was the sole-charge teacher and there were only 12 other pupils in the entire school.
'This was a pretty cool way to grow up, but somehow I always felt like a city kid. I loved staying with my cousins in Manurewa during the school holidays, and catching the bus from their place to hang out in Queen Street. Something about being among all those people felt energising and exciting. Later on, as a queer-far-from-out teen wondering how the hell to be gay (this was the 80's, and queer role models were hard to find), the city offered a tantalising whiff of freedom, the chance to create a future that I couldn’t yet imagine for myself.
'Cities are gloriously messy: full of energy and contradictions, pitfalls and possibilities. They are places where our problems as a society are starkly present, and where the solutions to these problems can often seem achievable. At the very least, living in close proximity to people means you’re going have to work with them – or at least tolerate them – in some way.
'Professionally speaking, I grew up in media, working as a journalist and editor. I followed my interests in architecture and design, which led to a fascination with the way cities are made. My last media project was Paperboy, a free Auckland weekly I edited for a fun 14-month period until it was closed down by Bauer Media, the company that owned it. The thing I liked best about Paperboy is how we were free to celebrate the city’s diversity and potential. We were sick of seeing the same 50 faces in magazines, and wanted to make Paperboy a place where other people could shine (we also published a lot about public transport, housing and bike lanes). Most of all, we wanted our readers to feel connected to Auckland and to feel like they all had a stake in making it a better, fairer place.
'My interests in the city now have an outlet in the work I do for the Britomart Group, the company that runs the nine-block area east of Britomart Station. Britomart has office buildings, heritage warehouses and some really nice shops and restaurants, but my favourite part of it is Takutai Square, with its open space, its lawn where people can come and sit and hang out and enjoy the sunshine, and its fountain, an artwork named Te Rou Kai by Chaz Doherty, Renata Blair and Bernard Makoare which reminds visitors that this reclaimed land once hosted shellfish beds that were an important food source for mana whenua.
'Part of my job at Britomart is to make people feel welcome here, and to encourage connections between them and to the city itself. I don’t have any clear answers on how to do this, but so far I’ve experimented with art projects and organised things like food truck days and free events. My hope is a bit like what we tried to create with Paperboy: if people feel connected to each other and their city, they might also feel inspired to create a better future for it. This sounds horribly earnest and possibly completely misguided, but a boy’s gotta hope that we can collectively tackle terrible problems like homelessness, inequality and climate change, right?
'I like the idea of creating experiences that might enrich people’s days just a little, to make them feel like the city is a place that nourishes them, and that sharing public spaces can be an uplifting experience. The highlight of last year was working with Nigel Borell, the curator of Toi Tū Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art, to commission a series of public artworks by Māori artists in Britomart. One of those artworks, Shane Cotton’s five-storey-high mural, entitled Maunga, now covers an entire wall of the building at the back of Britomart Station, an indelible Māori narrative in a very public place.
'This work of Shane’s is inspired by the city. It features 25 pot forms, each of them inscribed with the name of a different maunga (or, in some cases, an imaginary place) in Aotearoa or the Pacific. One of the ideas in the work is that the city is a place where people from different parts of the country gather, each of them bringing a little bit of home with them. To me, the work nails the collective nature of being in the city. It’s also an explicit gesture of welcome to Māori, and to those who find themselves living away from the places they consider home. The subtext – that you belong, that you have a stake in this place and its future – is abundantly clear.
'The other day I was walking past Shane’s mural and talked to a group of kura kaupapa students from Tauranga who were having their photo taken in front of the pot ‘Mauao’, the name of their maunga. They’d just seen Toi Tū Toi Ora at the art gallery up the road, and seemed pretty jazzed about it. I don’t know if those kids are going to grow up to help tackle the problems I’ve mentioned earlier, or what challenges they’ll face in their lives. But to see Shane’s work making them feel welcome and connected to this city, telling them that this place is theirs as much as anyone’s, made me hopeful that they’ll know it’s a place they share a stake in – and that its future is worth fighting for.'
'I’ve only been living in New Zealand for just over one year but there is already so much I have come to love, less-than-love, and feel hopeful for in my industries. I’m originally from Vancouver, Canada but have spent the last decade living in Los Angeles as a journalist working with publications from Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal to Refinery29, Playboy, Eater and Washington Post. If you told me one year ago that I would be living in New Zealand now I would have thought you were crazy. I ended up coming here with one suitcase just a day before the borders shut from COVID-19 to be with a chef (Ed Verner of Pasture) that I had fallen crazy in love with and have never looked back. Fast forward one year and now we have a bar together (Boxer) and I’m the restaurant critic for Metro Magazine in my new home on the other side of the world.
'I’m a bit of an anomaly in both of my industries. I’m in the hospitality world with Boxer but I’m also on the critic side with Metro. I have a culinary degree and a history of working in fine-dining but I’m also a food writer who has spent the last decade on the other side of things, writing about food instead of making it. I think this gives me a pretty unique insight when it comes to food journalism as I have an intimate understanding of both sides of the equation. There’s a lot of disconnect for some food writers who have not spent years working in hospitality or cooking professionally themselves, whether they realize it or not. This isn’t unique to food writing, it’s just like any other creative industry and its critical media counterpart. Maybe it’s similar to the disconnect a designer feels about a fashion journalist or a musician to a music critic. What is most noticeable to me in this case is that there’s a lot of romanticizing of what is often a complex, difficult, and more-often-than-not cut-throat industry. But I guess you can’t blame a writer for that. Storytelling is really just a form of written romance, after all.
'From the hospitality side of things I think that Auckland is both blessed and cursed with having an intimate and tight-knit hospitality community. While this can mean a heightened, deep-rooted sense of community and support it can also mean a hotbed for gossip and (even though it’s one of those things you seem to not be able to openly discuss without calling yourself into it) tall-poppy syndrome. I really do think that while our market is small, there is truly enough success to go around for everyone and I wish our hospo people would believe that and let that loosen their shoulders a bit more. Let us celebrate all of us a bit more, no matter your style of cuisine, side of town, or crew. I also think that people, both inside-and-outside of the industry (it takes both sides of the equation to make a workable impact and model) would celebrate and appreciate difference and diversity more in the Auckland food scene. I mean this in the sense of concepts and what and how they offer what they do as well as the people behind these concepts. I feel like I can’t throw a rock (or read an article) without landing on an upscale bistro with anchovies and a killer sourdough or a vibey Italian leaning spot slinging natural wines. This isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, I adore everything listed above.
'What I mean to say is: we need to support outside of the eye of today’s trendiest/most mainstream/most aging culture groups for a better food culture across the board tomorrow. Culture will always be grouped and faceted so let’s hit it on all fronts. I think it’s endlessly important that we lift up our Maori and Pacific Islander and populations by supporting young chefs to cook their food, their way. The same should be said of our people of Asian, Latin American, and African descent whose cuisines often do not have the understanding or demand behind them from the general population to make a splash in the mainstream. They certainty don’t demand the same price tags either. There is endless consumer behavior data that shows us that consumers feel quite fine to pay (from fairly to exorbitantly) for certain types of cuisines while other types of cuisines are pigeonholed as “cheap” and therefore have a huge difficulty evolving or playing in an even field. Have you ever wondered: Why is there only one truly Maori fine dining restaurant in this whole country? These are often people who do not have advertising budgets, support from mainstream media (who often focus content based on said advertising budgets), or even necessarily a demand for their cuisine outside of their own communities.
'So what does that mean exactly? Try something new whenever you can (and not just from the recommendations of media covering the flash openings). Ask questions and make space for people to talk about their food without being othering or exoticizing them. Food is the gateway to getting to know people’s ancestry, their comfort, and to some extent, their socio-economic place (and hardships) in current culture. Let’s push our media to tell food stories that matter. Let’s move away from “the top ten best fried chicken” lists and move towards stories that help lift up the unspoken pain, beauty, and impact that restaurants, producers, and foodways have on every single one of us living in Auckland. This is a not only necessary but completely doable. And hey, I’m not saying there should be no list out there for the best fried chicken. God knows, I want to eat through that list myself. Let’s just balance it out with some human realness.
'This won’t be popular but the last thing I have to say is that the mainstream food media should be more critical. While it may seem like being everyone’s cheerleader is helping the industry, it does no favours when it comes to helping bring different facets of cuisine to the forefront of conversation. At the end of the day food is something we consume. The story can be great but it must still taste good. It must do that delicious food thing to your brain and make you count the days until you can have it again. It does no good to big up a cuisine or restaurant based solely on story or because some other writers already have praised it. Go against the grain or educate yourself further to understand what else is out there in comparison. If it’s just ok, then say so, write so. Unfortunately, most places are just ok. Just like most musicians and most artists and most carwashes and most movies. This will help us all do better and it will catapult Auckland’s culinary scene forward in ways we very much deserve. It will also help put us in line to be taken more seriously as a global food city that our produce and chefs surely deserve. '
Lucy Blakiston, Founder, Shit You Should Care About
'I give a lot of shits about a lot of things. And what I mean by that is - I’m not exclusively passionate about a certain field, I guess I’m more interested in the playing field and helping to level it out.
'At Shit You Should Care About we whole-bloody-heartedly believe that we should all be able to understand the news/the world around us because it’s happening to all of us. So that’s exactly what we help to do. We cut through the bullshit, the jargon, the clickbait, the “fake news,” the paywalls - all of the shit that makes information feel inaccessible - and make it accessible (with a few Harry Styles pictures thrown in there for good measure).
'And we do this as self-described non-experts. We’re talking to you as your mates, not your teachers. We’re using words (and often memes) that you can understand to explain things you deserve to understand - because we’re all just humans trying to navigate this weird world, together.
'I feel like when I’m writing about what I believe is possible in this space (space being the media industry here), there’s an intense pressure to seem - or to be insightful, but I think if we all spent a little less time trying to be insightful and a little more time just being human, then we can really get on with making this space more accessible and understandable. I totally reckon it’s possible for companies like us to fit within (or maybe a slight outlier to) the media industry as we know it, maybe SYSCA is the non-intimidating, here-to-help, younger cousin of the major media outlets? I’m cool with that.
'Really, when I think about the best being yet to come, I see a future where more people are standing up and saying “I don’t know about this, but damn I want to know about this!” rather than us all pretending we know it all - because we just don’t.
'Should you listen to me? Was this insightful? Honestly, idk. I am in no way an expert in anything and I’m okay with that because I’m interested in like, a lot of things. And I’ll be here, on the other end of SYSCA to continue answering those questions that we are all asking. Because how the fuck does the stock market work?'
'How do you explain to someone you deserve to exist? That you deserve to breathe the same air as they do. That it’s ok for you both to share the same space, the same city, the same country. If you exist beside them, they will be fine. It’s possible to live alongside me, I don’t have to die for you to truly live. But racist people don’t believe this and I spend my whole life knowing White supremacists want me dead because I am Asian.
'I used to feel like I was fighting an invisible fight. When a person yells at me “Go back to China.” from a passing car, the words stick in my mind but the sound gets to disappear. I see a couple in Chinatown pull their eyes back to make them slanted, laughing they drop their hands and their eyes and lives go back to what they consider normal. Old men ask for a “Two dollar sucky sucky love me long time” laughing along their way, leaving my 12 year old self afraid, unsafe and silent. These moments used to feel invisible and small until one day they didn’t. They got more visible, they got a lot bigger. The cars that used to keep driving on, now parked up and the verbal abuse got louder, the hands that made slant eyes became hands sharing and liking multiple racist images, old men stopped asking for it and just took it from us instead. It got worse.
'Elderly Asian people were being attacked on the street and 6 Asian women were murdered in a racially charged shooting. You see this now, it took multiple deaths and video evidence for the world to see and believe us. If we aren’t being screamed at we are being spat at, if we aren’t being spat at we are being assaulted, if we aren’t being assaulted we are being murdered. People are killing us because we are Asian.
'I’m tired of trying to make people understand, coming up with analogies or entertaining stories just to gain a crumb of empathy. I feel like I am begging for my survival. ‘Two steps forward, three steps back.’ often echoes in my mind. Although I appreciate the ally efforts of those who benefit from White supremacy - it’s still not enough. Our suffering, our trauma, the murder of minorities cannot be your activist flavour of the month. Poc, lgbtqi+, sex workers and indigenous people are being reduced to a single social media square, a carousel of fitting aesthetic colours to choose from to remind people “stop killing us”. It’s not working, the swirly pastel blue typography isn’t solving racism, I am telling you - the wavy gradient isn’t ending White supremacy. Real changes need to be made, open your eyes, stop a sexist joke, treat racism as a crime, protect the elderly, support queer people, don’t reduce a murderer to having a “bad day”, educate your sons, your daughters, your friends, your parents, don’t be ignorant, don’t look away, don’t pretend like you don’t have the power to make this world less worse. Can we end White supremacy? I have to believe we can because I refuse to be invisible and spend the rest of my life trapped alone in my house fearing the world around me. I am strong, I am assertive, I am Chinese with a surname that comes from a legendary dynasty of people who already changed the world once. I am all these things and I will be more because I am proudly, visibly, unapologetically Asian.'
‘I’ve travelled right through the mediums of radio, theatre and television in my short career. I’ve done some truly bizarre commercial work. I’ve been in charge of the content and of myself through some of it, paid to be opinion-less and take direction through most of it, and the one thing every side of the entertainment industry has in common is that it is racist.
‘QTPOC are still used like a sticking plaster over a broken limb. Do you know how little the industry has changed since I graduated? The same three or four people have been writing the biggest budget tv shows we make in Aotearoa, for the last ten years. The same white actors get hired in the same theatres that have been hiring them for ten years. Funding decisions are made by people who claim to be worried about “accessibility” and “appeal”, all while ignoring that more than just white people watch tv. There are so many old racists newly painting themselves with the word “ally” rather than retiring.
‘But I’ve seen change happen and I know it’s going to continue. Every day I see the people around me developing and deepening their artistic practices, pouring their expertise back into the communities they owe their success to, and lifting those younger than them up in the process. There’s something so satisfying about watching people succeed doing everything they were told not to. And the thought of these same QTPOC moving into real hefty positions of power in all industries? Well it’s just chef’s kiss.'
Jaycee Tanuvasa, Creative & Activist
'Transgender inclusion, visibility, equality and safety.
'When we think about the things specifically trans women are deserving of in comparison to what is tangible to us in reality, I think about the speed bumps that are in our way that need to change and I believe that transformation is possible but we cannot do it on our own because often we are not the problem.
'International Women’s Day is important as it is a day to celebrate all women cis, poc and trans but it is also a day to acknowledge the work that needs to be done for us. For me personally it is a time to raise awareness on what trans women need from the world.
T - TRANS LIVES ARE TIRED
R - RAH TAH TAH TAH
A - ABUNDANCE
N - NOW
S - SURVIVAL
'Trans rights are human rights but we can’t fight our battles ourselves. We need ally’s to step in and support us even if that means calling out their loved ones' behaviours.
'Rah tah tah tah run us that representation! and I’m not just talking about media and film, we need to be on the decision tables, in the government and in education. Support trans people in their education and in their chosen work fields because the discrimination and bullying is damaging.
'Abundance! We deserve an Abundance of love! Love looks like respecting our pronouns, protecting us in public spaces, respecting our chosen names and identities, celebrating our beauty in every stage of our transition, loving us in the light and not in the dark. Fetishisation is the opposite of love when it comes to trans bodies. We are not your joke.
'Now is the time for trans women and men to step into our power and joy. Don’t wait for someone to accept you. Demand acceptance. That is the bare minimum. Invite yourself. Create your own tables. Share your stories. Shine your light.
'Survival is what we’ve been doing but our lives should not feel like a battlefield. Trans lives should be protected, always! Trans housing support is necessary! Transition funds and gender affirming support is needed. Trans POC women have survived the most and unfortunately many have not. Losing a trans women in this world is the downfall of humanity.'
'It’s hard loving fashion when fashion doesn’t love you back. You’d think you’d give up on it eventually, but it doesn’t seem to work like that. I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to change my body (namely, make it smaller) to fit fashion rather than change fashion to fit me.
'I’m no trail blazer or spokesperson when it comes to size representation in the clothing industry, instead finding myself shying away from so many times when I could have spoken up - sent a letter, voiced an opinion. Embarrassed rather than outraged when clothes weren’t made in my size. I often think about the near 20 years, the brain power and the energy that I have wasted consumed by diet culture, fat phobia and self loathing that I could have used making positive change in the world.
'Now that we're seeing, feeling and experiencing this change in fashion where bodies of all types are slowly (very slowly) being, if not embraced, accepted. I know this is the fruit of others labour and not my own to claim, and yet the relief I experience in witnessing this revolution is immense. I’m not just giddy with the possibilities of beautiful clothes I can wear, but with the clear eyes and mind of someone who now really sees the beauty in everybody, and with that comes self-acceptance.
'This change largely hasn’t come from the top, from celebrities or large brands, it has come from individuals that have put themselves, and their bodies out there in the public arena - often to a barrage of bullying comments, attacks and abuse that I know I could never handle and am too afraid to try. And yet, these heroes of mine, they keep going, they delete the hate, they send the letters, they take the photos and they tell us that they are worthy and in doing that they remind us that we are worthy too.
'It’s a reminder no person should ever need but it speaks to just how vital representation - not just of large bodies but tall bodies, short bodies, differently abled bodies, differently coloured bodies, differently adorned bodies - really is. And the wakening realisation that until that representation applies to your own lived experience, it can feel a lot like a pretty picture or a woke gesture, but that when it truly mirrors a reality for you the power of that, and the potential for change, is massive.
'For me, that change is a freedom - I have all this energy and capacity now for getting pretty bloody rarked up about stuff but also passionate about it. I no longer feel the need to shrink as small as I can, hoping to make self invisible rather than the horror of anyone realising I’m fat. I’ll be forever indebted to those that trod the path before me but I now feel I can help join that fight and keep pushing for that change in the fashion industry (actually, make that all industries). Using my voice and my power to cheerlead those that sincerely make positive and inclusive changes and to criticise those that don’t. 2020 was a cluster, but it taught us a lot and I can’t help but feel optimistic that things are shifting as we look outwards instead of inwards, and care more fully and thoughtfully about everyone in our community.'
Lilah McDonald, Founder of Water Us
'My name is Lilah McDonald and I am a year 6 student at St Cuthbert’s College. Three years ago my family and I travelled overseas to Europe and one day I noticed a big bank of water fountains in the square. It was then when I wondered why I had never seen anything like that anywhere in Auckland, and then when I thought about it, any drinking fountains at all in Auckland. So when I got back to New Zealand I did some research and it turns out that Auckland is very behind on the amount of drinking fountains we have. For example, only 16% of Auckland’s playgrounds and 5% of Auckland’s parks have drinking fountains. Overall, Auckland only has 370 fountains.
'Water fountains are actually very important for many reasons, two being: 1. People’s health. Often when people are thirsty, they will go to the dairy to buy bottled water. What also often happens is they will go to the dairy intending to purchase a bottle of water and instead buy a sugary drink because they are cheaper than bottled water. 2. The environment. Approximately 1,500 bottles end up in landfill and the ocean each second around the world. If there are more water fountains, people could fill up their drink bottles instead of buying bottled water and the bottles the water come in wouldn't end up in landfill.
'My goal is to double the amount of water fountains in Auckland by the end of 2021 (and after this continuing my project throughout New Zealand), to change people’s drinking habits and to help the environment. I have started a social enterprise called Water Us, selling toilet paper to help raise money to buy more drinking fountains to gift back to our communities. I chose toilet paper because it’s a product that everyone needs and one that would generate regular income. This way people can support a charity through everyday purchases.
'Water Us has launched on the Pledge Me crowdfunding platform, so that we can fund our first container of tree free, environmentally friendly toilet paper with pre-sales. I’m really excited to be launch on Pledge Me as it means more people will be able to find out about my social enterprise.
'I feel a very strong connection with the ocean and I think that something needs to be done about the amount of plastic that enters it every day. I hope that my project will have a positive impact on the environment and I would really love for you to help me achieve this goal.
'Please help me spread the word about my PledgeMe campaign and support me if you can.'
'Every day I wake up in February, Aotearoa New Zealand is a little queerer. Rainbow stairs, rainbow crossing, rainbow corporate logos and even rainbow police cars. Eerie. But the most crucial thing, rainbow rights, are still missing. The New Zealand government has been applauded worldwide for its kindness. But this kindness has been cruel and violent to the vulnerable queer people in Aotearoa. While the government delays the ban on conversion therapy, more queer people will suffer.
'When I migrated from Fiji to Aotearoa, I thought I would finally achieve freedom. I was expecting roses and sunshine, but I was met with pastors and a bible. In the summer of 2017, I was volunteering at Middlemore Hospital when a priest walked up to me and offered to "pray my gay away". I refused. So he looked at me, and he said, "it's hot, but you know what's hotter? Hell." In 2021, it is legal to erase queer identities in Aotearoa in the form of conversion therapy.
'Conversion therapy is any practice that seeks to change, suppress, or eliminate someone's sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. In reality, it isn't therapy at all. It would be better described with a name like conversion torture. And Joan Bellingham's story is a horrific demonstration of it.
'Joan Bellingham grew up wanting to be a nurse. When the word got out that she was a lesbian, she was taken to the Princess Margaret Hospital, not as a nurse but as a patient. Joan was falsely diagnosed with a "neurotic personality disorder" and tormented with over 200 electric shocks. Joan said the headaches made her want to die, and the shocks felt like razor blades going through her body. She's 69 years old now, still a lesbian, but she says she ended up hating herself.
'Frankly, conversion therapy is junk science. Leading medical bodies call it unethical, harmful and ineffective. Take McKrae Game, for example. Game led a faith-based conversion therapy program, Hope for Wholeness in the USA, for two decades before coming out as gay in 2019. He claimed to have counselled thousands of people and admitted he'd harmed generations of queer people.
'Although there is no evidence of people being shocked to treat their queerness in 2021, queer people are still being punished. Many have turned to psychoanalysis. An undercover TVNZ Sunday investigation found Natasha Ellis, a psychologist suggested by David Ridell leader of Living Wisdom, saying same-sex "attraction can absolutely be changed".
'"Jay" went undercover as a young Christian gay man struggling with this sexuality. Ellis gave Jay a set of cards with phrases that would rewire his brain. Ellis instructed Jay to memorise the phrases, text them to himself twice a day and read them every morning and night.
'Others use aversion therapy. If you've ever heard of Pavlov's dogs, this is it. It includes snapping oneself with a rubber band, having an ice-cold shower or inflicting pain on yourself every time you feel or think "queerly". After multiple pairings of an aversive stimuli with queerness, "queer" thoughts start to elicit the same reaction as the aversive stimuli. The goal is to make any queer thoughts or feelings aversive by associating them with pain and suffering, therefore accepting your queerness becomes a punishment.
'There is no evidence that conversion therapy works. However, the Family Acceptance Project found that conversion therapy increases high levels of depression from 13% to 52% and suicide rates from 22% to 63% for queer people when parents and medical professionals or religious leaders practise it.
'The most significant practitioners of conversion therapy are religious extremists. National MPs Simon Bridges and Nick Smith have come to defend religious extremists calling conversion therapy religious freedom in recent years.
'There are numerous stories of young people praying to God to "heal them or kill them" after being told by their church to pray for forgiveness. My friend Trinity Browne said they were taught that loving God would make them straight and fix a fundamental imperfection of who they were - that their queerness was a God-given, Satan-imposed cross to bear to strengthen their character.
'There is a fine line between religious freedom and religious bigotry. Conversion therapy is bigotry. Religious leaders have weaponised the relationship queer people have with God and manipulated them into thinking God will hate them if they don't repent. This bullying clothed in "love" is an insidious abuse of trust and power. God doesn't care if you are gay or trans; being a decent human will suffice. As for these religious leaders, they have driven many queer people into a life of pain and misery, and God will never forgive them for it.
'More than 370 religious leaders worldwide have rejected the idea that torturing queer people is a universal religious right and joined the call for a ban on conversion therapy. In every democratic society, the rights and freedoms of people are balanced. Religious rights are not absolute. Section 5 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights allows justifiable limitations on all rights. The severe harm prevented by banning conversion therapy provides a more than justifiable reason.
'The question is then, can adults consent to conversion therapy? Well, no one is waking up on a random Sunday morning and choosing to pray the gay away out of sheer curiosity. It takes years of queerphobic conditioning before someone prefers abuse over queerness. Coercion is present socially and mentally, which breaches the fundamental principles of consent. Vulnerable adults who may want to engage in conversion therapy are a product of a queerphobic society and have been conditioned to believe there is something wrong with them. People aren't giving informed consent to conversion therapy. People aren't told that there's no evidence it'll work and that it will increase depression levels and the risk of suicide. Instead, they are lied to and told their gender and sexuality can be changed. Instead of misleading people into torture, we should invest in affirming people's gender and sexuality.
'The Labour Party has released its timeline to ban conversion therapy. The bill will be introduced to the house in mid-2021 and come into action in February 2022. In this time, the government is obliged to do things that do not require law changes.
'Banning conversion therapy is not the same as ending it. The harm has been done, and the state is responsible for redressing it. The victims and survivors must be given support to heal from the harm of conversion therapy. We also need a robust education of all New Zealanders. Punitive approaches alone won't solve these issues; they need a nuanced approach. However, the government is only proposing a ban. This is a sign that little effort has been made on their behalf to consult the queer community.
'A blanket ban alone work for all communities. Some need more. Young ethnic queer people have a preference to stay with their family. But there seems to be no conversation about how we are to navigate situations where a young brown person is being put into conversion therapy but doesn't want to tear their family apart. Further, if the child prefers to stay with the family regardless, fining and imprisoning parents directly affects the child. Taking $10,00 away from the parents is taking $10,000 from the child. The government must provide an accessible safety net of understanding that diverts people from conversion therapy.
'The Green Party petition to end conversion therapy has gained more than 150,000 signatures. New Zealanders are hungry to see all forms of conversion therapy ended. But the National Party has only committed to banning gay conversion therapy and haven't discussed gender conversion therapy. David Seymour says the ACT party will vote against banning conversion therapy. I'd feel very lonely if I were them.
'The Labour Party campaigned on banning conversion therapy. They need 61 votes to do so and have 65. They can do as they please. The Green, Māori and National party will support a ban – which is 110 votes. The government can and must end conversion therapy.'
'I’m the daughter of Peranakan Chinese immigrants, the word ‘Peranakan’ roughly translating to ‘my ancestors are from elsewhere but I consider this place home’ — which is to say, it is in my blood to be tauiwi, to search for and negotiate a sense of belonging on somebody else’s land.
'Last year, I was lucky enough to spend time speaking with a range of leaders in the arts sector, the beginnings of a kind of map for the future. I’d like to echo part of their whakaaro, about privileging Indigenous knowledges, which is not only about first and foremost re-centring Māori values and a Māori way of doing things, but to recognise the many cultures and communities who now call Aotearoa home and to deepen our understanding of the different ways we might see or do things. I’d like to see those knowledges embedded into the fabric of our industry: from the details we ask for when we catalogue an artwork, to our funding processes, to the way that we talk about and value our work.
'Last year, at the beginning of the pandemic, I spent sleepless hours thinking about how to support the community of Asian artists I work with. Not only were we being hit by the arts sector shutting down, we were experiencing a very real rise in anti-Asian sentiment. It was awful. It hurt. I don’t just mean the explicit acts of violence, or even the many racist slurs. I’m also talking about how easy it is to reduce someone to an identity marker, and all the smaller, less visible ways that unexamined and unconscious prejudices can manifest.
'As we enter the lunar new year, I’m hopeful. For me, this year is about developing new rituals: to work harder to align my values with my actions, to continue negotiating what it means to be tauiwi — to deepen my understanding of both te ao Māori and my Peranakan heritage — and to keep expanding the outer limits of my imagination. That’s important too, because I feel like anything is possible in this tender moment.'
Stacey Morrison - Ngāi Tahu/Te Arawa, Pākehā
'Tēnā tātou katoa,
'Where are you from? I’m from New Zealand.
'Nō hea koe? Nō Aotearoa ahau.
'Where are you from? I am from Aotearoa.
'Is there a difference for you, when you say that you come from New Zealand, to when you say you’re from Aotearoa? To say you come from Aotearoa, in our indigenous language of our country, you are recounting the call of Hine te apārangi as she sighted this land and called ‘He ao, he ao, he ao tea roa!’ it is a cloud, a cloud, a long white cloud, knowing that meant there was land below that long white cloud. That moment pulsates through our country’s history until it comes from your mouth, and resonates in your heart because this is the place you call home. Our home, Aotearoa, happens to be so very good looking, lush and unique, that it’s easy to be swept away with the aethestics and miss some dirty laundry we have lying around. The Treaty of Waitangi, first signed on February 6th 1840, gives us a reference point for our nation and an opportunity for endless study of the promises made, subterfuge at play and interpretation of the genuine intent. For better or for worse (note the reference to marriage vows) a partnership was born, one that envelopes Tangata whenua and The Crown, which includes Tangata tiriti – a term that has developed for ‘people of the treaty’ non-Māori whose place in Aotearoa is affirmed in the Treaty. So, we are all partners, and every partnership needs work, communication, give and take, and a willingness to apologise when we know we have been wrong. The Crown Apology delivered to Ngāi Tahu (one of my iwi) in 1998 acknowledged that the Crown acted “unconscionably and in repeated breach of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi in its dealings with Ngāi Tahu in the purchase of Ngāi Tahu land.” Many people know of the Ngāi Tahu Treaty settlement and subsequent financial growth but the acknowledgement of the cultural, fiscal and social suffering of Ngāi Tahu as a result of treaty breaches was deeply significant and emotional for our people, when it was delivered in person at Akaroa in 1998. This was also the point at which the Crown expressed their desire to “begin the process of healing and to enter a new age of co-operation with Ngāi Tahu” which feels like a good intent, to me. Co-operation, mutual respect, giving each other space, together time and time to be alone, to grow together while respecting each other’s individuality are some concepts of partnership that resonate for me when I think of positive relationships, whether they are romantic, or one that allows us to have a harmonious existence, in Aotearoa. So, as we may ask ourselves in a relationship from time to time ‘Am I being the partner that I want to be, a partner that I would want to be with? I think Waitangi day is an opportunity to ask ourselves ‘am I being the Treaty Partner I want to be?’
'Growing up, I strived to be as masculine as I possibly could be. I was relentless in my pursuit to be the biggest bloke on the block. To my knowledge, no one was openly queer while I was in high school. I’m sure I had peers who felt the same as me at the time, nervous. It wasn’t so much about coming out to my classmates that frightened me to the point of sickness; it was the ensuing stereotypes that stuck like glue. Once you’ve thrown yourself in a ‘box’, it’s difficult to break it down. Back then, I felt like being queer was synonymous with being feminine, flamboyant, overly-dramatic, a pansy – someone with a slinky as a backbone. I assumed being feminine made me less of a man.
'So, I covered my femininity up. I force-feed myself masculinity. I served it up cold for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I injected myself into situations I thought were self-serving. I played rugby, I dabbled in soccer, I made sexist slurs about girls’ behinds in the locker rooms with the lads to fit in. At times, I even poorly attempted to chase tail. I spoke in a lower voice. I refused to talk about my emotions, I kept them so tightly locked up, and I swallowed the key, too. I pretended to be a brick wall when I was nothing more than fresh jelly that had only been setting in the fridge for an hour or so. I put on a front so people would leave me in the shadows, I liked it there. I stopped openly caring for myself because I assumed caring for yourself was feminine, and I couldn’t have that, it would blow my cover.
'When my sister, Anna-Lise, asked me to contribute to RUBY’s The Best Is Yet To Come, I knew instantly what I wanted to ramble on about. This means everything to me. I wholeheartedly believe toxic Kiwi male masculinity is real, it’s feral, and it’s seeded in our children’s development. We enable bullies to water the toxic culture, to keep it hydrated, to let it grow without limitations and sprout men who don’t know how to express themselves.
'I didn’t wear pink for five years, I didn’t wash my face or slap on a serum for the entirety of my high school experience. I tried to fit in to ensure I didn’t stand out. And somewhere along the way, I stopped caring for myself. I didn’t allow myself to dance, or scream because, god forbid, I was dramatic. I didn’t reach out to my friends when I felt low, or sometimes, felt like nothing at all. And I think that’s the crux, and where so many boys who are growing up, slip up. I stopped allowing myself to express myself, and it chipped away at me, bit by bit, piece by piece. In my relentless pursuit of supreme masculinity, I ended up with nothing. I was mundane, a mute who failed at playing rugby and had as much personality as an entire beige house, with a faux electric fire.
'We need to deconstruct masculinity and what it means to be a man. It needs to be retaught to our most susceptible demographic, our younger generation. Many of my guy friends, who identify as both heterosexual and queer, struggle with their emotions. They haven’t sharpened their emotional toolbox, and it’s left them incapable of managing adult experiences. If we rework masculinity from the ground up, allow children to be free and express themselves without following bullshit societal norms, we’ll build a community that cares. Let boys wear skirts to school. Encourage teenagers to be open about their sexuality and provide safe spaces. Stop instilling sports gender-segregation. Boys should play netball at junior school if they want to. Boys should be allowed to apply pink Kosas Lip Oil in the bathroom without being ridiculed. Boys should be taught to accept each other, regardless of their sexual orientation. Boys need to know it’s okay not to be okay.
'If we dismantle out-dated masculinity ideals, we might be able to chip away at our male suicide rate in New Zealand – which is three times that of New Zealand women. One in eight New Zealand men will experience severe depression during their lifetime. I’m not talking about feeling low, I’m talking about suffering from a serious illness that requires clinical treatment. This is the reality of where we are at.
'Personally, I am ready to wipe-out the terms ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ altogether. But, for the sake of this piece, if I were to consider what being masculine truly is, I would say it’s ambiguous. As long as you feel it; you are it. I don’t think there is one definition. I do, however, believe there is nothing more masculine than being unapologetically yourself. Whatever that might be.'
While it’s a New Year, my intentions have not changed, in fact, they are more resolute than ever. After a 2-week break to immerse myself in the ocean and nature, pushing all thoughts of sustainability in the fashion industry aside, I’ve emerged fully determined to play my part in making change happen!
Creating a sustainable future for our planet ultimately comes down to a matter of responsibility - from society, business and government. While we are all responsible for the part we play, some have greater responsibility and greater ability to affect change. As Elizabeth Cline says in her excellent article The Twilight of the Ethical Consumer, “companies have a responsibility to society.” To bring about substantive change in the fashion industry, we need our businesses to operate in a responsible way, and we need to tackle root causes through systemic action, policy and regulation to ensure this happens.
For companies, really understanding the long term purpose of their business, and measuring success in ways other than purely financial is important. I would like to see businesses measuring their progress against the Sustainable Development Goals, or natural, social and cultural capitals as well as financial. Measuring and taking action to reduce footprints, especially carbon, but also waste, water and biodiversity are vital. We need full transparency of supply chains, so businesses can make mindful and informed decisions. Production that meets demand - rather than over-producing, and creating demand to meet this is also critical to relieving pressure on our people and resources. Designing for a circular economy, and creating the systems to enable this to happen is a priority, but also a huge challenge for us in New Zealand. This is due to our remote and isolated location, and our reliance on global supply chains for much of our industry infrastructure. Government regulation and policy will incentivise change and force more responsibility from companies, however, I’m encouraged that some businesses are acting before they need to.
Individually we can, and should, be active consumers. The number one thing we can do is be mindful in our choices. We all need to buy things. Regardless of what level of the market we are buying in, demand responsibility from the brands you love and be informed about who and what you are supporting. This could be through making active decisions not to overconsume, or to support businesses who are taking action on known issues such as workers wages or waste. As consumers, right now the onus is on us to be aware of the end-of-life pathway of our stuff, so we need to think about this when we make a purchase. There is no ‘away’ when we throw something, it goes somewhere and mostly that’s landfill. I question the brands I buy from - what’s their solution to end-of-life of their products? If they don’t have one, why not?
The slowed-motion life we’ve glimpsed in 2020 is something I’m actively trying to hold on to and I challenge businesses and consumers to do the same. Taking time to make informed decisions with knowledge of the consequences of actions, less focus on financial growth and more on a healthy planet and society.
'Anna-Lise asked me several weeks ago to put some words together and talk about change and possibilities within the field in which I work - that is, fashion primarily, as a hair and makeup artist. And honestly, having the chance to focus on this question, to be thoughtful in my response, has taken more time and effort than I expected.
'This year I became a mother. I simultaneously worked three jobs from the time Lulu was two months old. We rode through months of not being able to open our hair salon due to lockdowns. We renovated and sold a house. Dad had cancer. We are tired. We are all tired.
'Despite universal exhaustion, there is something wonderful happening in the fashion industry at the moment - and that is a recognition of the need for optimism in the work we create, the clothes we wear, the faces we see. Even designers who ordinarily produce sombre, serious collections are turning to tongue-in-cheek, quirky imagery.
'None of us got to travel this year, and even local travel has been restrictive. This meant we all had to get creative in where we have been working. How do we make Devonport look like Santorini? Bethells Lake another world? I’ve shot more on location, outdoors and immersed in nature than I can remember ever doing so. It’s been wonderful. We’ve inhaled fresh air, felt gusts of cool wind, and been chased by waves rushing towards our camera gear. After spending so much time indoors earlier this year with the threat of Covid, I’ve never appreciated these sensorial moments more. As I sat crunching sand between my toes on a shoot recently, Vicki Taylor pointed out to me how the rest of the world sees us right now - free to move, to make clothes, to take photographs without restraint. The images taken forty minutes from the centre of Auckland are revered and capture a feeling pined for by our colleagues in Europe. For this I feel sincere gratitude.
'And whilst in some ways these images we create are imaginings of foreign places, they’re also an ode to our backyard. Nor are they faux smiles and make-believe moments. I think they’re capturing a sigh of relief, a sense of accomplishment, and a feeling of real hope.
'This year we’ve all felt it. “It”. We’re learning to be more forgiving of each other and of ourselves. Yes, my kid is joining in this Zoom meeting. Yes, I’m still in my pyjamas. No, I need more time. No, I don’t feel great today. “It” has made us creative, adaptive, nurturing, supportive, and kinder.
'I already see the fashion industry following this trajectory, a segue into the new way of how things are done.
'I see fair wages. I see more ethical production. I see bigger sample sizes and diversity becoming inherent. I see women supporting women. I see safety, mentoring, conversation, and learning together. I see us naturally moving away from ‘the way it’s always been’ - not through an intention to cancel, but through a momentum towards positivity in how we work, and what we create.
'So, in summary, the change is already happening, and as we draw closer to 12.01am January 1st 2021, and collectively exhale, our clever little industry is ripe with possibility.
'As 2020 draws to a close, and we ease a little more smoothly into whatever the new normal is, now, more than ever, we’ve had more time to reflect on our lives and the way we do things. Between the misery of COVID-19, being unable to visit New Zealand and working from home (or living at work) for the last 9 months, for me, you’d think it’d be hard to choose what the most bizzare thing about this year was. Interestingly enough, it isn’t at all. The strangest thing about this year easily happened in June. Following the horrifying murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the re-emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, it was the band-aid approach that an embarrassing amount of brands took, to quickly switch up their social-media presence to include Black, Indigenous and other People of Colour (BIPOC).
There is a fine line between wanting to help and wanting to join the bandwagon. For a lot of BIPOC, performance activism and fake allyship can really feel like a slap in the face; Particularly when a lot of us have been campaigning for most of our lives. Unfortunately, it still seems as though marginalised communities have to band together and take matters into their own hands to combat under representation. This is why I started Diet Paratha. It’s a platform for the people, created to challenge stereotypes that western media has around Middle Eastern, North African and South Asian (MENASA) people. Stories about people who hail from these regions or their diasporas, are often centered around cultural attire, monuments, festivities, community initiatives and of course, negative stereotypes. It’s not often that MENASA people are represented in another light in the western world. We are so much more than this. Diet Paratha exists to flip the lens and highlight other positive representations to promote a wider remit of achievements.
'While platforms like mine are important for people to pluck confidence and inspiration from, we also need allies putting in work. As we continue to be historically excluded in the media from a wider stand point, white people need to hold each other accountable.
'While representation of all BIPOC is important, a feed full of only white and white-passing people doesn’t cut it either. There’s so much more that can be done to overthrow the system. White passing people often have greater privileges in society and widespread media. Ignoring this erases the experience of others less-so.
'The meaningful changes that need to be made in the creative and fashion industries, can be hard to see for some, and painfully obvious for others. More brands need to commit to dismantling the white default and cultural assimilation. Especially now, after our timelines no longer look the way they did in June.
'While representation plays a huge role in the fight for change, there is so much more to be done. Look at your teams and hire BIPOC across different levels of skill. Diversity doesn’t mean ‘one of each’ either. It can be hard when you’re always conscious about racism in the workplace, especially when your white colleagues have no idea you are or even feel like you have to be. Do your employees feel as though they belong in your workplace? For lots of BIPOC, the answer is a hard no. Don’t just use us in your presentations or as a tick on your diversity quota. Support senior BIPOC staff members. Bridge the ethnicity pay gap. Create safe workspace environments. How are ethnic minority team members treated by others where you work? Are their ‘full selves’ welcome at work or are they made to feel uncomfortable? Are your diversity and inclusion boards headed-up by white people who could be silencing some of the voices they’re intended to protect? Initiate those difficult conversations. Buy from us. Support BIPOC community initiatives. Interview us. Listen to us.
'Ethnic representation on an Instagram feed is simply not enough to be anti-racist and inclusive. It can’t make a permanent difference. Make statements that go beyond surface-level, optical allyship. Anything is possible if we want to move forward. I truly believe the best is yet to come, but change needs to start from the inside out.'
Jess Thompson Carr, Māori Mermaid - Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāruahine and Ngāpuhi
'When I began sharing and selling my art I had little to no qualifications that said I was fit to do so. I went to university but never art school. I had drawn all my life but this didn’t seem enough for some people. Regardless, I threw my work out there, primarily online, and as I did so I found my place and my happiness. Despite the pleasure I get from posting drawings and connecting with others who feel the same as I, there is a divide, and there are many obstacles that tell you that no matter how hard you work and how much you make, you will never be enough. This seems so cemented, especially when Pākehā artists get hired for illustration work that you, a Māori artist, could do just as well, or sell their large paintings depicting Māori people and culture for thousands of dollars despite knowing nothing about what it means to be Māori. This hurts. This takes up spaces that our own people could fill. This tells Māori artists that they are unworthy and will always be a last resort, even when it comes to their own birthrights.
'I believe in community over clout. I am hoping that one day soon we can move away from the elitist values, appropriation, and VIP themes we see in the Aotearoa art world and become more welcoming to our creative rangatahi. Change needs to happen so that our young ones can view being a creative as a viable option for their future, as something that will pay their rent, and as something that will support and help them mentally. We need to uplift our artists (especially indigenous artists) rather than try to drag them down or push them to the side. We need our non-Māori to take a step back when need be, to turn down some opportunities so that Māori artists can get a foot in the door, and to avoid cultural appropriation at all costs. I believe that if we utilise our empathy skills, exercise our kindness, learn about our history, and open our purses to purchase art from those just starting up, then we have a chance of establishing a healthier art world. It is essential that we prioritise Māori artists - Māori anyone - on Māori land. This is the path we can take in order to restore balance and Tino Rangatiratanga.'
Jordan Griffin, Founder Jordan Griffin Surfboards
'I started shaping surfboards in my last year of high school and have had Jordan Griffin Surfboards for about 6 years now. I grew up around the surf industry and have been surrounded in the culture my whole life. My Dad was a New Zealand representative surfer and taught me to surf from a young age so there was definitely no escaping it but I never wanted to. Every surfer knows it's a full addiction, but a good one. The feeling of riding a wave is indescribable, and I think that was why getting into the manufacturing side of surfboards was so easy for me to fall in to. I was so intrigued by the process of creating a surfboard from start to finish, how I could put the ideas I had in my head of shapes and designs to then go out in the surf and see how they performed.
'As a surfboard manufacturer from NZ and being so deep in the culture of surf, I have seen a range of highs and lows within the industry - from the fall of New Zealand's biggest surfboard factories, to the rise of imported surfboards, to now, witnessing local surf shops around our country stocking not one single NZ made product when their stores were once built around them.
'It is so easy for first time buyers to head in to a surf shop, pick up a surfboard off the shelf and with a whole kit of fins, a leg rope and wax you've scored a deal for under a grand - so damn cheap why wouldn't you, right?! But, it sadly comes with a price of underpaid workers and lower quality materials resulting in a product that will more than often not stand the test of time and end up in landfill quicker.
'It’s simply, and unfortunately, the uneducated choices of buyers who put local surfboard manufacturers at risk of extinction. Creating a custom made surfboard is a lot of hard work, it takes time, and yes it’s a bit higher in price than your average surfboard, but, a custom or handmade surfboard is a work of art and it’s tailor-made just for you and your needs to help you surf to the best of your ability. You can never put a price on that.
'At the start of this year I was really lucky. After such a busy summer, we obviously had the lockdowns of Covid-19 in NZ, and when I thought the worst for how my small business was going to cope, it actually turned out to be extremely helpful for my brand's growth. Supporting local businesses and locally made products was really pushed on consumers. And although it was a global pandemic that made people think harder about the construction of their purchases, at least it made them think, and I was really thankful for this. For all my old AND new customers who chose to support me throughout.
'I do think it would be really amazing to see more of a shift in how customers choose to purchase their surfboards in the future - At the end of the day, all we ask is to research before buying. Looking into what, where, and who you're purchasing from and making educated decisions based on that. And that applies just as much to other products we buy - clothing, homewares, food, etc. I try as much as I can to have this conversation regularly with my friends, with my customers and just in the surf community really, as well as using my social platforms to promote NZ MADE. Especially for the small group of original NZ surfboard manufacturers out there who are still doing what they love, creating beautiful surfboards after years of hard work but don't have the platforms to put it out there.
'Next time you look into buying a surfboard (or anything), put the price aside for a moment and do your research about what you're buying and where it's coming from.
Most importantly, support your locals!'
Here are a couple of my legendary NZ shapers that have helped get to where I am:
Alex Grima, Co-Founder of Foile
'Anything is possible! Let the changes that have been made this far instill a sense of hope and encouragement for people. The strength of individuals acting as a collective to drive change is so powerful - changes to single-use plastic bags, coffee cups etc, has happened. Business is a dialogue, I was never any good at economics but I understand that companies respond to demand. If we demand change, through our voice, through our purchasing power, through our actions, everything shifts accordingly.
'I believe a commitment to progression in business is vital. The best answers we have today might not be the ones for tomorrow and we need to be humble enough and open minded enough for that, we are going to get it wrong but if we are moving forward with the best intentions we are heading the right way. I’m so happy to admit I don’t yet know the best solution but there’s no shame in that, let’s just listen, learn and explore with a willingness to innovate and make these more progressive choices.
'There is a lot I think is possible in the cosmetic industry. To hero diversity in the representation of beauty, non-toxic ingredients, regenerative harvesting practices, Fair Trade, post-consumer plastic use and reusable packaging. Single-use packaging, especially with regard to freight and getting things A to B or wrapping, there are some really innovative solutions in the market now. Whether it’s reducing the impact of the life-cycle of the packaging produced or purely reducing the packaging that is needed.
'Also getting rid of outdated constructs of beauty. I really support us all nurturing our individual flair and sense of expression through beauty, what that looks like for you, what you really believe in and making independent decisions to follow this. This is also half way to cutting the waste because you are only buying what you love, will use and value.
'Finally a connection to Mother Earth! I’m a kiwi and miss that country! We are surrounded by such a rich, wonderful planet and I think if we spend time connecting with it and appreciating it, a lot of positive decisions will follow.'
Jess Hunter, Machinist
'My vision for the future of manufacturing in NZ...
'Attempting to visualise the future of patternmaking and clothing construction means looking to the past. Historically, in Aotearoa, our remoteness has dictated a certain level of self-sufficiency. Believe it or not, there was once a time that every Kiwi was dressed from head to toe in NZ-made clothing. Smith and Caugheys, now a purveyor of global luxury brands, boasted a fabric section where the women of the time would spend a Friday evening selecting their fabrics, in order to spend Saturday crafting dresses to wear dancing on Saturday night.
'Through these wild times, when the rest of the world is hitting pause for an undetermined amount of time, New Zealand is cautiously stepping out, in the way only we can. We’re reflecting, connecting, and turning inward, harnessing our greatest asset; Kiwi ingenuity. Moving forward, I see the potential for Kiwi brands to bring previously offshored roles back into the fold here at home. I look forward to a future where young people leave tertiary education to start a career in the practical trades of fashion; sewing, pattern-making, cutting and the like. I anticipate a future where the majority of our clothes are made locally, by our neighbours, friends and family, closing the loop on sustainable shopping practises.
'With Liam Patterns, consumers are able to learn to sew or brush up on their existing skills. They’re also being given the opportunity to develop a relationship with the process of garment manufacturing, experiencing, first-hand, the work that goes into every piece. Another benefit of this journey is that they will be sourcing fabric locally, thus supporting other businesses that have been so affected by the global Covid-19 pandemic.'
Tara Lorigan, Founder & CEO of Co.OfWomen
'It’s awesome to have the opportunity to share something that I’m deeply passionate about. It’s a subject that’s widely misunderstood or maybe more precisely, one that’s not being considered much at all.
'The subject is female power and importantly, how it can be harnessed. Think for a moment about the last time you read about this or talked about it or reflected about it for yourself…
'As the founder of an organisation dedicated to championing female success I’ve come to understand a lot about the subject as you’d reasonably expect. But it occurred to me a little while back that we were often considering female success from the perspective of the traits that hand-break our success.
'The media also loves a good victim story about us as demonstrated by the incessant rehashing of the same themes - the lack of women on boards, dismal pay equity stats and the impenetrable glass ceiling.
'But no matter how hard we’ve tried, and we have, they’re not interested in what women are doing in spite of this. Women are not, in fact, taking this lying down – we are pivoting and inventing and revolting to have the changes we want for ourselves – and for others.
'I too had my own slow arrival at my power and how to harness it. My journey can niftily be segmented into two phases – the first and the significantly largest of my journey to date – the low confidence years and the second more recent the standing in my power years.
'However, once I had finally found my female power mojo, I couldn’t clearly articulate what it was that I was drawing on or how other women could harness their own and draw on this any time they wanted – something that was of huge importance given our mission.
'So I decided to take that conversation to the people, the ladies to be specific and we launched Female Power Week. I realised I/we don’t need to answer this question for women. This is an all in conversation and will be broad in its answers too.
'For my part to date I know that our power fundamentally resides in our capacity as women to create – literally create other humans. And that this capacity means we are innately driven to seek their ultimate good. To involve them in decisions and direction and solutions. We are others centric and this is regardless of whether we have made or nurtured children of our own, which has not been a part of my journey.
'As women, so many of the businesses we create are a response to this drive. As leaders it’s the people whom we are most motivated to nurture and develop. Our customers are genuinely loved by us and on it goes.
'And yes this drive for the good of others can and does hand-break our success when ill-harnessed because it’s also true that the fullness of that nurturing expression is intended only for the role of mothering. So when it comes to our success, discerning what to keep and what to reserve for whānau is a hugely important consideration for each of us. Spending ourselves on behalf of our loved ones, beautiful. Spending ourselves on behalf of our customers, teams etc a huge risk to our success.
'So I’m all in on this conversation about the incredible power we have and I’m all in on a clear understanding so that more and more of us learn how to stand in our power.
'And why should my life be dedicated to this? That’s the easiest of all actually. It’s because I know that when women can stand fully in their power – they can achieve the fullness of their success. And when women experience the fullness of their success, we dedicate ourselves and our resources to making this world a better place. Bring it on.'
Caitlin Blewden, Rubette, 18 years old
'Being a first-time voter in 2020 is simultaneously exciting and terrifying. The enormity of what has happened this year and the sheer scale of the changes that we have seen in the past 10 months alone have highlighted just how important our leaders are and what they mean for the future of our world. I believe that for the majority of young people like myself who are voting for the first time, the importance of this election and the gravity of the decisions that we are making is not lost on us.
'As I enter into my last few months of school, I’ve been reflecting a lot on my journey to adulthood and the changes and development of my peers and those around me. It seems like out of nowhere I’ve looked around and realised that we’ve all left childhood behind - suddenly we’ve become independent, aware and socially-conscious young people. The events of this year, from COVID-19, to the Black Lives Matter movement and the upcoming election, have accelerated this sense of awareness and passion in young people, and ignited our sense of responsibility and drive. I’m constantly inspired and awed by those around me and feel proud of the way that youth in New Zealand are educating themselves and striving to make a difference.
'What is so exciting to see is the way that political issues, social initiatives and activism have entered into the mainstream culture of youth in New Zealand. As technology and the world around us accelerates at a dizzying pace, so does the level of awareness of those in it. These issues are being debated more deeply than ever before, with an openness that is allowing meaningful conversations to take place. When I open my Instagram account it’s filled with political pages and news updates, and at lunchtime at school we have passionate debates over the legalisation of marijuana and the ethics behind the End of Life Choice Act. Along with my peers, I’ve marched in numerous protests and rallies, signed petitions, viewed debates, read the news, and watched as young people around me have proven, time and time again, that we are aware, awake and have something to say.
'It is important, however, to make sure that we are getting our information from reliable sources, as there is a lot of misinformation and sensationalist media out there. In order to be taken seriously and be able to hold our ground in arguments and serious discussions, it is vitally important to be well-informed and make sure we have educated ourselves widely, without letting bias interfere too much. I think this is a real struggle for youth today - balancing our sense of optimism and progressive new ideas with the reality of what is possible and the experience of those older than us. This is a tricky balancing game, but we need to balance our hope and passion with cautious respect and acknowledgement of others, lest we become disregarded or ignored completely. Luckily, there seems to be an increased sense of respect for the power of youth, and the acknowledgement of us as a powerful force for change.
'I believe it is imperative that we cling on to hope and encourage a sense of possibility for a better future. It is so easy to be caught in pessimistic spirals and I myself am very guilty of this. There have been multiple times this year when the sheer magnitude of what is wrong with our world seems to be completely insurmountable, and I’ve found myself wondering how truly progressive change and reform is even possible. However, we are lucky to be living in a time where we are more interconnected than ever, and rapid change can actually occur. We need to channel our energy into accelerating the rate of positive developments and not lose sight of what we can achieve together.
'I think I speak for many when I say that what we all want to see in our future is a kinder world, where compassion rules. It seems simplistic and naive, but behind jargon-filled political terminology, extensive talks of economic policy, excuses and political agendas, lies the basic truth that it is our human responsibility to look after and respect every single person on this planet. Being in lockdown this year also helped to highlight this and allowed us to simplify things in a way that we hadn’t been able to do before. What we really need, when it all comes down to it, is actually simple - love, human connection and empathy. I hope that when people vote this year, or even when they conduct themselves in their everyday lives, they take time to go back to this idea.
'There is a lot we need to do in order to create a world that we can be proud of. We need to respect and protect our environment, in order to preserve it for future generations and to ensure the future of our world. We need to reevaluate many of our current systems, ridding our country of systemic and pervasive inequalities that stretch across generations. We need to accept the beauty and differences of every person, group, religion and culture. We must aim not to create one mainstream culture that people are forced to assimilate themselves into, but to foster one full of diversity, difference and complexity, where the identity of every single person is respected and represented.
'In order to create a world like this, we must face and confront the unpleasant and complex issues that are rife in our society. We cannot talk idealistically of a fair and just future where everyone is respected and loved, if we haven’t addressed the atrocities of our past and dismantled the systemic problems that permeate through our system and society currently. This is why it is so important that we emphasise the need for equity before equality. Uncomfortable as it may be, we have to look to the past in order to create a better future.
'We spent enough time this year in our bubbles, now it is time to break out of other bubbles that we may have built for ourselves. We cannot afford to languish in a bubble of complacency. We must open our eyes to the reality of the world around us, and recognise the disconcerting truth that our own country is not as perfect as we may like to believe.
'Despite the numerous challenges and many obstacles that lie ahead, I truly believe a better world is possible. I hope that the youth of New Zealand feel the same way, and feel supported and encouraged to make their voice heard. I hope that adults take time to listen to what we have to say and recognise young people as a powerful and positive force in our world. I hope that all of us, old and young alike, will work tirelessly to create a more fair, just and merciful future, and make decisions with empathy and compassion in mind.
'Ehara taku toa e te toa takitahi engari he toa takimano. My strength is not that of an individual but that of the collective.
'Let us go forward, as a collective, and create a future we will all be proud of.'
'We all call this one planet our home. We share it and everything we do, love, own and are is because we have this planet Earth to exist as part of.
'We are not living or operating in balance with our planet, due to a systemwide failure to recognise that we have finite natural resources and cannot just keep exploiting these for wealth and gain for a few. We need to halve our emissions in the next 10 years to be in with a chance of staying below 1.5 degrees celsius of warming.
'If we were able to coexist with the environment and other species around us in a way that acknowledged the interconnectedness of our well-being as humans with other living things, we’d be happier, healthier and on a path to ensuring this planet is here for future generations to enjoy the beauty of.
'Based on this, I think one of the biggest changes that needs to be made is a shift in what we value at the core. This can be applied to any situation, whether it be the values of big business or what you’re holding close to you when making a decision in your own life.
'I also believe we need to look back to look forward. Living in harmony with our natural environment is not a new concept and there are pockets of this harmony across Aotearoa and the world. Indigenous communities and knowledge will play a key role in allowing us to look back but then to move forward in a sustainable way. We cannot rely on a golden technological fix when we know exactly what we need to do already, reduce our emissions. We know that there are ways we can operate which reduce our carbon footprints, but I think we have to look back to find the best models.
'I think we need to focus more on how we can build resilient communities locally, to support local living. Unpacking this, we’re talking a strong sense of community identity, community gardens, local jobs, connected public transport across towns, resource and skill sharing and kindness.
'We have to believe these things are possible to be able to remain hopeful. We hold all of the power so really, anything is possible. We just need to all embrace the opportunities that this shift will bring.'
'Something we’ve been talking about at THERAPY OF DANCE recently is addiction. We want to see worldwide change in the conversation on addiction and for lack of a better word, addicts, in our communities. We need to take the blame off those we know who are struggling. We want to see a shift towards rehabilitation for drug related crimes, more focus on therapy and for addiction to be seen as the health problem that it is. I know this is possible.
'I want to create more constructive education on drug taking in school systems, more honest conversations with children that share tools using human experiences, without stigma or taboo. Why is it that we can go to doctors easily for prescriptive pharmaceuticals? But we’re also going to illegal and unregulated environments to score too? We need more space to discuss drugs openly without judgement for guidance. We need to stop shaming each other and start caring. Marginalising addicts has become as overlooked as prejudice.
'Let’s focus on the solution. Take a look at countries like Portugal and Switzerland who are leading the way with drug decriminalization. Billions of dollars that taxpayers once spent on imprisoning people are now spent on rehabilitating them into a safer life. Year long tax breaks for employers are offered as an incentive to hire those rehabilitating. Drug related violence since decriminalization has halved. Transferring those on the streets into treatment centers with diseases like HIV is saving lives.
'We can build more trust in our communities! Let’s end the war on drugs. If you‘re skeptical, then I’d love you to read Johann Hari‘s 'Chasing the Scream'. It’s addictive. He says "The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it’s connection." I believe the sooner we normalize this, we can begin to reconnect with each other. Addiction is just a product of our disconnected society. Addiction is a byproduct of mental illness. We need to choose compassion now and create change.'
Emma Espiner (Ngati Tukorehe, Ngati Porou) is a final year medical student at the School of Medicine, University of Auckland. She works part-time as the Communications Lead for Hāpai Te Hauora, a Māori Public Health NGO; writes a monthly column for Newsroom.co.nz; and is the host of the RNZ podcast on Māori health equity, Getting Better. Emma is the Voyager Opinion Writer of the Year 2020.
'On the wall of the Lower Hutt Women’s Centre there is a quote written in black vivid on an improbably large sheet of lumpy purple recycled paper.
“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up in mine, then let us work together.”
'It is attributed to the Aboriginal elder Lilla Watson, a Gangulu woman. My mum’s partner at the time, Mandy Coulston, made the poster in our backyard, energetically sieving blobs of paper pulp through chicken wire and raving about workers rights while seven-year-old me sat on the warm concrete under an ancient metal clothesline.
'We could solve our most intractable social problems by adopting Lilla Watson’s words. Our cultural misunderstandings, our paternalistic approaches to health and social services, our talking past each other would all vanish because we would gain the ability to see one another as equals, with equal rights to live well - the essential starting point for solidarity.
'With this approach I believe anything is possible. You could write those two sentences into legislation and policy documents and it would set a more meaningful intention than any “values” statement. The knowledge that people in our society suffer, and that their suffering is determined by a social gradient, by gender, by ethnicity, should be sufficient on its own to stimulate change.'
Miranda Hitchings, Co-Founder Dignity
'One of the things the pandemic has highlighted is the importance of investing in good public health.
“Health is Wealth” as the saying goes.
'Unfortunately for many women and non-binary people our healthcare system here and abroad has not prioritised solving the many issues that we face.
'Period inequity is a prime example.
'It was in 2016 that I first heard about Period Inequity. A news outlet ran a story on how school students were missing out on education because they had no access to period products.
'My flatmate, Jacinta Gulasekharam and I began to research this further and once we started talking to people affected it became apparent that the problem was huge. The expense and stigma of periods didn’t just affect school students, but many other groups across the whole of NZ too. Particularly those who were exposed to higher levels of vulnerability and facing their own unique challenges such as people experiencing homelessness.
Yet, for several years very little research or investment was put into the issue.
'So, Jacinta and I founded Dignity, an organisation with the aim to create period equity by providing accessible menstrual items for all that need them. Over the past four years Dignity has donated 28,999 menstrual products, including menstrual cups, period underwear as well as compostable tampons and pads to 130 community groups, schools and Kura. People who have received Dignity have reported a reduction in school absenteeism, increased confidence and cost savings.
'While this has been amazing, we still weren’t able to reach all those without access. It became apparent that to achieve the scale required to solve this issue, serious investment would be necessary. Getting the government on-board took years and was a huge effort by many people and organisations. It wasn’t until a public campaign by The Positive Periods team and a petition started by Jacinta that real traction was made, resulting in the government committing to provide period products for an estimated 20% of students.
'It’s an amazing start and refreshing to see systems in place to support female health. However, we know that, as it stands, it won’t be the overall solution. In the meantime, Dignity will continue to fill the gaps to support community groups and schools who still don’t have product.
'And that’s where we need your help.
'As Covid-19 and poverty worsens we are seeing a significant rise in request for period products that we currently can’t meet. We have launched our gifting initiative to let you directly support a student or community member that is currently without access.
'While we focus on this, my personal hope is that other gendered health issues are also given public support and investment too.
'Approximately 1 in 12 females* have polycystic ovary syndrome and 1 in 10 have endometriosis. Some studies have shown that interstitial cystitis could affect up to 12% and urinary tract infections become recurrent in half of the females who get them. And that’s only a handful of the many conditions we face. These conditions are under researched and treatments lack funding. Yet for the people going through them, the pain and stigma can be debilitating.
'But I can see the possibility of change on the horizon, as we have begun to see with period inequity.
'If you have the ability, check out Dignity’s gifting page, every little bit helps.
Te Uranga Royal, Rubette - Waikato, Marutūahu and Ngāti Raukawa
'When turning my mind to the events of 2020, it would be remiss of me to not speak to the widespread impact of COVID-19 on Aotearoa, New Zealand. As we have witnessed in the past few days, COVID-19 continues to maintain its invisible grip on our “normal” way of life, as further cases of community transmission are identified. I support our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern’s compassionate but firm approach to combating the pandemic. Even in these difficult times for our society, it is encouraging to have a Prime Minister who places the health and wellbeing of our society at the forefront of government’s priorities. It has also been encouraging to see so many New Zealanders follow Jacinda’s philosophy of kindness, particularly when many are attempting to balance the various elements of life.
'Currently, I am studying a Bachelor of Laws degree at the University of Waikato. Next year will be my final year at law school and I do not hesitate to say that I have found my passion in life. In a practical sense, I enjoy the orderly and logical processes that occur in dealing with this area of work. I also enjoy the advocacy side of law and how studying law can train you to prepare an argument and then back that argument. Most importantly, the law is an area where there is potential to advocate for change - particularly for Māori and Pasifika communities. Law school helped me discover how I can match my affinity for hard work with my aspirations to achieve a better future our society.
'Like every other branch of society, studying law has been a whole new experience this year. To this end, I have learnt new meanings behind “productivity” and “work-life balance”. To reflect on a normal year of law school, I would often place working hard on an unrealistic pedestal – even above my own wellbeing. Oftentimes at law school, too much stock is placed on acquiring accolades and prestigious positions to serve the purpose of creating a perfect image of ourselves. However, the realities can be far from perfect at times and we feel disappointment when they are not. Often this unrealistic image we create for ourselves is toxic and can be a contributing factor to the mental health challenges students often face. This is where all those good values of compassion, honesty and kindness come in.
'The COVID-19 lockdown allowed me to slow down and sit with these thoughts. As I mentioned above, my perspective changed on my measures of “productivity” and “work-life balance”. I arrived at the conclusion that working hard towards your studies and future career is important, however not to the extent that it compromises your health. Achievement ought not come at the expense of wellbeing. Having compassion for yourself when you know you are reaching your limits, being honest with yourself and with others about how you are feeling, and – most importantly – being kind to yourself when you need those moments of rest, is vitally important. Studying the law brings a lot of value to my life and so I view it as a privilege each time I put in effort towards a new milestone that will bring me closer to my graduation. However, with this new perspective from lockdown, I learnt the importance of decompression and how rest can also contribute towards healthy “productivity”.
'Last year I had the privilege of listening to Tiana Epati (President of the New Zealand Law Society) deliver a keynote speech at the Annual Māori Law Society Conference. She spoke about how important it was for us – as Māori and Pasifika – to take on the responsibility of striving for greatness to honour the hard work of our ancestors. Continuing to stand on the shoulders who did so much more, with so much less. Tiana is the embodiment of strength and compassion. For a young wahine studying law, it gives me much encouragement to enter into the legal sector with someone of her progressive wisdom at the helm of our national law society. Her words continue to resonate with my personal vision for my future legal career. When I measure “greatness”, I measure it in the way an individual can inspire and deliver outcomes for the communities around them. As Audrey Hepburn once said, “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself and one for helping others.” To help others, you must help yourself by nurturing your own interior, not for selfish reasons but so that you can be the best you can be when helping others. And the best way to do that is to find your own creative centre, the thing that moves, inspires and motivates you.
'Turning to my aspirations for the future of our law schools and the wider society, I hope there is an appetite to continue to feed our minds with an understanding of the world around us, and to feed our hearts with the aroha for the community who raised us. Lawyers have the capacity to advocate for change and position themselves to be of service to people. Ultimately, positive change for our communities stems from striking a balance between an informed mind and a full heart. With compassionate leaders like Jacinda and Tiana to look up to, it gives me hope that the transition into a positive future is in safe and wise hands.'
Sophie Edgecombe, Rubette
"Fashions fade, style is eternal" – Yves Saint Laurent
'The words I firmly believe we should all live by. Our day-to-day choices as consumers regarding what garments we purchase and how we purchase them, defines the fashion industry. If we select the fast fashion alternative to a slow fashion piece, we are fueling that sector of the industry to develop and grow. The revolution that needs to happen to combat serious issues such as pollution within fashion begins with us re-evaluating our choices as consumers and tweaking them to reflect the ideologies we believe in. It can be as easy as only buying garments YOU love. Creating your own style, not necessarily following fashion trends is the first step toward a slow-fashioned future.
'When looking into New Zealand’s local fashion industry, we are filled with a mix of fast and slow fashioned brands. Compared to the likes of the rest of the world, you could say we are doing alright, but I am not okay to settle with being mediocre. In the past 5 years, the NZ fashion industry has had a small but steady growth, going up approximately 2.7%. The last 5 years has also seen an increase in consumer awareness. Consumers like me and you are wanting to know more about our favourite brands and are willing to do research into them in order to align ourselves with brands that reflect our ideologies. With these increases, there has been a substantial amount of pressure put on brands to adopt more ethical and sustainable practices, alongside added transparency. This has been conducted mainly through small steps such as brands going ‘paperless’ – i.e. E-Receipts as opposed to paper receipts/invoices, and the utilisation of biodegradable postage bags. A larger step being adopted, that is increasing year on year is NZ brands doing more thorough research into their suppliers regarding the working conditions of employees and the traceability of fabrics they utilise. They are also increasing transparency so we as consumers can look in and interpret their policies, future goals and plans of action. This has all been achieved through us using our consumer voice. While these steps are great in the short term, there are bigger issues such as pollution that the NZ fashion industry needs to address and combat.
Globally the equivalent of one full rubbish truck worth of clothes is burned or dumped every second.
The fashion sector globally is the second biggest consumer of the world’s water supply.
Clothing production has doubled since 2000.
From 2000 to 2011, fashion companies went from offering an average of 2 collections per year, to 5.
85% of all textiles go to the dump annually. This is enough to fill up the harbour in Sydney each year.
We are keeping clothes for less than half as long as we kept them for in 2000.
The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of the world’s carbon emissions – this is more than the worlds aviation and shipping combined.
'With those facts in mind, how can we ignore the huge contribution the fashion industry has on pollution? How can we continue to support fast fashion and ignore the impact on the environment each item creates? The answer is simple, we can’t.
'We need to start buying quality over quantity.
'We need to start demanding what we want from brands.
'After all we are the driving force behind these brands, they would not exist without us – we can’t forget the power we hold within this industry.
'The key? Confidence within our individuality. Creating our own style through the concept that less is more. Prioritising our individual taste in style over what is necessarily ‘fashionable’ at the moment. Buying versatile, timeless pieces that you can keep for seasons. Purchasing from brands that invest in slower fashion. Maybe this means each piece of clothing you purchase costs more than you are used to spending on an article of clothing. However, in return you get an item of clothing will last for seasons, you put more thought into what you are purchasing and above all you are supporting sustainable and ethical practices. The people harvesting the fabrics, the people weaving the garment, the people packing your garment and the people selling you your garment are getting a fairer wage.
'It really comes down to the fact that “Fashions fade, style is eternal” – Yves Saint Laurent.'
Tamatha Paul - Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Pūkeko, Ngā Rāuru, Ngāti Whakaue, Waikato Tainui
'When I packed my bags to move down to the land of opportunities, Wellington, from the paradise of Tokoroa just six years ago, there was no way I could have predicted the rollercoaster journey which would mean becoming the full-time student President of Victoria University of Wellington in 2019, and then being elected to Wellington City Council that same year in October.
'Most people are surprised when they realise that none of this has been planned, and all that has happened to me has been the result of a few ingredients.
First, my tīpuna, my ancestors. I descend from a tīpuna wahine called Wairaka, who saved the people of my waka, Mataatua, and truly embodied bravery, and the occupation and operation of spaces by wāhine who are not supposed to be in those spaces. I draw courage from my tīpuna, and I feel trust in the pathway that they have set out for me through their lifetime and their sacrifices.
Second, my whānau taught me that I have a responsibility not just to listen, but to heed and articulate the voices of those who our society often forget. The kids who have to look after themselves because their parents have to work graveyard shifts. People from small towns who had to move to big cities and pay 80% of their income to opportunistic landlords in order to find opportunities. The brave ones to be the first in their whānau to go to University. The hearty ones who kick these patriarchal, colonial institutions up the ass!
'I wanted to be an agent of change within local government because there is so much potential in our local communities. Not just in the way that we currently imagine local government, either. There is so much potential for local government to be a true vehicle for change. A mechanism in which we put Te Tiriti o Waitangi and He Whakaputanga into action through implementing multi-sphere kāwantanga and tinorangatiratanga local spheres which allow genuine community representatives and mana whenua (rather than pale, male, stales) to work together to find and resource local solutions for some of the biggest issues facing our communities;
adapting to and mitigating further impacts of the climate crisis,
everyone having a stable, warm, and dry place to call home,
purposeful work and abundant job opportunities for all to thrive, as well as opportunities to have a fun lifestyle made better with lots of art and culture,
reversing the rapid extinction of our native biodiversity in our forests, waterways, oceans and even in the urban environment,
being able to travel anywhere you need to go in safe, affordable, high-volume and sustainable modes i.e. train, bus, cycling, walking,
the state of our water infrastructure and the way that we value water as a human right
safe, inclusive and accessible communities where people can be themselves without fearing harm or discrimination.
'The opportunities I’ve outlined above are broad solutions which have to be designed by hapū, whānau and communities. Anyone who thinks that in order to meet the challenges ahead of us, we need to remove peoples freedoms and be told what to do on an evidence basis is the farthest from the truth. Democracy is the only lasting solution to the long term fights ahead. However, not democracy in the current Westminster style we currently conceptualise. We cannot rise to the challenges ahead of us with the current one-size-fits-all solutions produced by New Zealand Parliament. In fact, the New Zealand Parliament needs to devolve power and resources to local communities if we want to get anywhere.
'Any country that is successful in dealing to challenges effectively are ones where local bodies receive a larger piece of the pie. In New Zealand, our local government bodies receive just over ~10% of our country’s overall GDP. Most successful countries receive more than 30% of their countries overall expenditure because it enables creation of local solutions (and implementation) that I talked about above. This resourcing and decision making power has to be given to iwi and hapū first and foremost, and local bodies like my own – Wellington City Council – need to return land / natural assets back to the original custodians to begin reversing the damage inflicted upon Papatūānuku over a century. This week, the government has put the Te Puia geothermal valley back into the hands of Te Arawa iwi in Rotorua.
'The reality is that there is no protection for our environment under a capitalist system premised on the rapid extraction, degradation and pollution of our natural environment.
'It’s clear that our system needs a total overhaul, and it’s going to take a lot of blood, sweat and tears for us to get to that point. The important point, though, is that everybody has a part to play in the pursuit of a Te Tiriti based future which encompasses the participation of all people in society, the protection of the mana and mauri of our precious natural environment, of all people and of whānau, and the partnership between the Crown and iwi / hapū Māori.
'Constitutitonal Transformation and implementing Te Tiriti o Waitangi sounds like a major task (and it will be) however, I truly believe in collective action and think that if we all do our part, that we can leave a society for those who come after us which upholds and uplifts the mana and mauri of people and planet. What that looks like:
Invest in yourself through taking the time to learn about; your whakapapa and identity, the history and tikanga of Aotearoa, how you can be an agent of change within your community
Facilitate a kai & kōrero in your whānau or community to talk about issues that you care about. This one is important, not just because it’s an election year, but because conversational with those you love and trust is truly transformational. The successful Ireland Abortion Referendum was an example of this.
Give to organisations that are doing the heavy lifting on causes you care about. The Not for Profit sector will probably take a hit as the economic impacts of Covid make people less likely to give money, but also there are very few ethical sources of funding for NGO’s. If you can give small, regular donations (e.g. $3.50 a week, the same amount you might spend on a coffee!) then that is enormously helpful. Also, if you have technical expertise or are able to volunteer, that can be super helpful.
'Fakaalofa Lahi Atu my name is Elyssia Wilson-Heti I am of Niuean, English mixed heritage. I am a performance artist, activist and producer based in Mangere, Tamaki Makaurau.
'My hope for the future is that we get to a place where every single person can show up in the world as their full self and be embraced, celebrated and loved. We are often made to feel like we have to shrink ourselves to fit into the boxes that society has created and enforced. There is enough space for all of us to thrive, walk in our power and live our truth loud. I firmly believe that the future is intersectional. We all need to get better at working from an intersectional place. No one should be getting left behind. Active kindness, a willingness to sit uncomfortability, an exerted effort to unlearn, relearn and re-centre our thinking about our place in the world is needed in order for us to create equity across the board. The world isn't going to change itself, that's up to us, we all need to do the mahi to shift the current system to be more inclusive of everyone so we can all thrive collectively.
'Real and meaningful representation is needed. I’ve been creating myself and women that look like me in existence for a while in the art I make. That is my hope for the next generation of brown wahine coming up that we get to a point where we are no longer just the one token present ticking the diversity box. Meaningful change is needed, not just lip service. That is my biggest hope for the future, that we will have dismantled the current system and we will all be thriving.'
Vere Sharma, RUBY Board Member
'I was born in 1955 in New Delhi, India. I have two older brothers and in those days clothes were handed down to me. My mother, Anne, owned a clothing boutique in Khan Market, Delhi where she had six seamstresses who were my first teachers. I watched them sew for hours in the thick heat, they never seemed flustered. I was immersed in fashion from a young age. Anne had a knack for replicating trends and patterns she found appealing on Carnaby Street in London and adapting them for her community. There’s a beautiful order to the chaos in India, my childhood was simple, we took what we needed, nothing more. We respected our neighbours. It’s an unspoken principle in India to give back to your community if you have the means to do so.
'I’ve been in the New Zealand rag trade for over 40 years. Principals I learnt from sitting on a stool in my mum’s shop still guide me today. I’ve been a textile agent, importer, wholesaler and finally, a retailer. In every role I’ve undertaken, I’ve watched the economy evolve, trends become fads, practices become out-dated. I thrive on being able to adapt. Complacency has never been an option for me.
'I’ve raised five kids and endeavoured to pass on the same knowledge that was passed onto me. We need to be agile, nimble and we need to bend under pressure – but, never break.
'My eldest son, Jared, recently wrote about the false dilemma that is choosing between economic prosperity and environmental protection. Good business practices that stimulate our economy, but don’t take away from our environment. You can have both if you lead with dignity. In the last few years I’ve seen sustainability sit front row, it has led our conversations at family dinners. I believe this ‘theme’ will no longer be a goal, but a mindset; the pandemic will cement this.
'The pandemic has demanded us to reflect on our structures, take a step back, and highlight what we’re investing attention and resources into that may be better spent elsewhere. To confront complacency head-on and adapt.
'I’m a new grandfather, I owe it to my grandchildren to lead with dignity. I will ensure my team invests resources into protecting our environment, while creating a product that inspires our community. We need to stay nimble. Of course, investing in digital structures is essential, however ensuring our digital footprint is aligned with our holistic approach to creating clothing that is true to our brand, is fundamental.
'We owe it to each other, we owe it to the future generations to come.'
Zoe Walker Ahwa, Journalist
'Yesterday I read a Business of Fashion story on how New York brand Telfar is dealing with the pandemic, and this line from designer Telfar Clemens stood out: “This is a period of chill. Let’s figure out how you sell these ideas you’ve been making for 20 years.”
'Fashion has been moving at an insane pace, but this is a forced pause - a period of chill to stop and really think about what we want our industry to be. We’ve been doing things a certain way for years, but that doesn’t mean its the right way. The ramifications of the pandemic on fashion, here and overseas, are huge, and we won’t know the full extent for some time. But a few things I’m hopeful for after all of this…
'Things will be smaller, and slower.
'Our industry is going to shrink with fewer brands and fewer stores. And ultimately I hope, fewer clothes. This is a good thing.
'It’s something I’ve been thinking about long before this lockdown: yes, there are too many clothes from fast fashion brands. But even at a local level, in my beloved local industry, I think there has been too much stuff: overproduction of clothes and content.
'If they aren’t doing it already, brands will be forced into new ways of working - revisiting their archives, keeping clothes around for longer, repurposing and up-cycling fabrics rather than investing in more and new.
'More consumers will start to embrace a make do and mend mentality. I loved RUBY’s sewing classes: to me, this typifies the future of brands, educating and building community while offering clothes are are fun and exciting; because fashion also needs to continue to serve the purpose of being inspiring and challenging.
'Like ‘sustainability’, kindness is another word that’s being used a lot right now. But what does that actually mean? I saw an Instagram comment somewhere that asked, ‘OK, but what brands are actually putting this into action?’ and that struck me.
'To me it’s those that feel personal, intimate, friendly. I’ve watched more brands try to do this since our lockdown, but I think audiences are aware of those who aren’t necessarily doing it genuinely or when it feels like it’s part of a boardroom marketing strategy. Literally everyone is creating content right now, but not all content is good content.
'This more personal approach is how we will move things forward. Even in how we present fashion: I’ve felt this for some time, but after all of this especially, I think overly produced, too-slick imagery and content will feel like it's from a completely different time.
'I really hope this also means more industry collaboration. We saw the start of this creatively before the pandemic - Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons, Dries van Noten and Christian Lacroix - but I hope this sparks collaboration at a more business focused level.
'Traditionally - perhaps because it’s so small - the NZ fashion industry has kept things close to their chests; with some designers not necessarily wanting to share information. Working together to share resources and ideas will be how we recover from this.
'Everyone is taking a hit, so how can we all work together to make sure our industry survives and thrives? Collaboration, and initiatives like Mindful Fashion, will be even more important, as people from all facets of the industry (and beyond) come together to develop a new way of thinking and working.'
Mimi Gilmour, Burger Burger Co-Founder & Hospitality Creative Consultant
'The past month feels like a dream. There are a lot of things you can prepare yourselves for in business - fluctuating sales, sudden illness of key team members, delays in new store openings, supply shortages - but somehow, we never thought we’d have to prepare to be shut down completely, in a very short time, due to a global pandemic. The situation we are faced with has been extremely confronting personally and professionally, but I’m feeling surprisingly optimistic about the future.
'The whole world feels upside down right now but in amongst all the darkness, I’ve seen lots of light. I am so thankful for my health, my handsome husband (who is my rock), my beautiful babies and my incredible support network of inspiring and loving friends and family. I’m grateful for this unexpected time it has given me to indulge in quality time with my daughters. I’m also grateful for the opportunity to pause and rethink how our business can best serve our community.
'I know it’s an enormous privilege that I have the time to slow down and think about the future. For many, both in New Zealand and around the world, this pandemic has brought nothing but fear and loss. As a hospitality business owner, there has been (a lot) of stress, but I’ve been trying to keep sight of the big picture, and I realise how lucky I am.
'Even prior to the pandemic, things were vastly different to how they were when we started Burger Burger. Back then, I had no children, there were one third of the amount of restaurants there are now, UberEats and My Food Bag didn’t exist, construction costs weren’t unobtainable, we didn’t have megamalls on every corner streaming in international brands and most importantly, I had all the time and energy in the world to throw myself into anything and everything! I don’t know about you, but more and more over the past few years I’ve found myself asking how, as a mother/boss/friend/family member/woman, I am meant to keep up when the world around us seems to be spinning faster and faster. This time at home has allowed me to start to think about some answers.
'Yes, the future of our industry will be different to what we know. Hospitality is by definition ‘the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors & strangers’. In an increasingly digital world where ‘social distancing’ could be the new normal, we may have to find new ways to bring this definition to life.
'Online, we’re seeing some really interesting developments. Not only is the restaurant community sharing recipes for meals but they are sharing basic fundamentals like how to cut an onion properly (thank you, handsome Josh), signature dishes that can be recreated at home (BB Broccoli!), and ways to teach children meals from many different cultures.
'Perhaps the future of hospitality means a refreshed perspective on cooking. I think there will definitely be a new appreciation for fresh, locally sourced produce. I know there will be a reaffirmation of the need for community. We are going to have to embrace technology if we want to survive but instead of being held hostage to unreasonable commission rates of ginormous corporations, I believe there will be more local solutions presenting themselves.
'I think our industry will see a lot more collaboration in the future. For us, some of the most surprising relationships that have evolved in this situation have been those we have with our landlords. What have usually been very transactional in nature have been transformed and I am incredibly grateful for the empathetic position our landlords have taken. We have had similar conversations with - and received amazing support from - our suppliers, many of whom are in similar positions to us. It’s been a humble reminder that the best problem solving happens when small and big businesses, and the people behind them, work together.
'Next week I am going to lay all my cards on the table and ask our customers to tell us what they want from us in the future. We (our industry, our economy) need people to start spending again, but we also know that things have changed. Many people’s situations, expectations and perspectives have shifted. I’m ready to listen, I’m ready to make changes and I’m ready to make them fast. We need to adapt to what this new world presents, and what role our industry now needs to play. I do know that we are not going anywhere. We passionately believe that the restaurant industry is crucial to a happy community and therefore we will fight to keep the dream alive.'
Chris Parker, Comedian
'I think it’s a tricky one for us live performers, our work really relies on having 100 people in a room (usually a basement somewhere) laughing at our jokes. That's where all our discoveries are made. So a lot of us are really just trying to hold tight at the moment. While the Instagram live concerts are delightful and charming... they will never make up for the real thing. I would say it has been a really interesting equaliser this event. I love to see those performers who have the ability to make work from their own house with their phones shine through. In a weird way those who have less are able to move faster than those larger tv organisations who have to work through bureaucratic systems, often meaning their work arrives a little late. The internet will always beat television in the race which is almost critical in a time like this.
'I would say the turn out most New Zealand comedians deliver every year is so high. I think maybe audiences underestimate the work that goes into delivering a new hour of comedy. Which they should, it's none of their business. I do wonder if this pause will maybe create a space for the industry to catch its breath, gear up and get ready to rip into it when the doors do open again.
'Personally, I've been surprised by the confidence I feel in making my own work from home. I think to be surrounded by my things, to be able to wear track-pants in zoom calls. It allows me to feel grounded and strong in a way I have never before. I wish to carry that strength through when I am back inside more conventional working environments.
'I can't wait to see what this time produces, later down the line, after the flood gates open and every weekend is packed full with gigs and shows which were dreamed up in isolation. I can't wait to be in that time, and support it. All those artists are going to need your support.'
'Like many industries, both the art world and the events industry have been hugely disrupted by Covid-19. We had to cancel the 2020 Fair less than six weeks before it was scheduled to open. Similarly, all galleries and museums across New Zealand have been closed for the last four weeks, so ArtNow - the online listing site for contemporary art exhibitions and events – has had to change the way it gets people engaging with art.
'From a business perspective, cancelling an event isn’t great. Depending on where you are in the cycle when you have to cancel, you’ve likely committed expense AND you need to refund any income. Not only for the Art Fair, but across the events industry, Covid-19 has meant a 100 percent loss in activities and revenue for event companies and contractors. Hundreds of staff have been made redundant, and at the moment no one is sure when events will be able to open again, and when that does happen, how people will feel about attending.
'Galleries and their artists – and the arts and culture sectors more generally - are another group experiencing incredibly tough times right now. More than 150 artists were scheduled to show at the Art Fair – and the work in many cases was finished or nearly complete, but for artists, they don’t get paid until it is sold. Equally for galleries, while the doors remain shut, less people are viewing and buying art, but their costs for rent and staff have not gone away.
'We’ve seen a number of galleries, institutions and art fairs around the world and in New Zealand (ourselves included) race to adapt to this new digital way of life.
'For me, following the cancellation of the Fair, I’ve never had so much time to read, click and ponder, and right now there seems to be a plethora of online arts content and clever thinking in response to what is going on that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.
'While in many ways it has been inspiring, the question remains whether “all this digital” actually helps support the artists the industry seeks to serve?
'Will a digital exhibition ever replace the real thing? 'Will “extra reach” online be enough to “pay” an artist who has been labouring over their work long before Covid-19? 'Will our Virtual Art Fair incite the same interest, and have similar outcomes for our galleries and their artists?
'But rather than sit in the sidelines and mourn, we wanted to do something that we thought could help our clients (the galleries) and their artists. So, in response to this new era of social distancing and all-things-digital, we’ve launched a Virtual Art Fair that’s free attend from your computer – it opened on Thursday 30th of April at 11am and closes on 15 May.
'It’s a celebration - as best we can – of the talent and diversity of art making in our region. And we hope that wherever possible, some of these artists and galleries will be supported by someone buying a work of art.
'For our online visitors – who can now easily “visit” from around the world – we hope it will introduce them to new galleries and new artists, and offer some welcome solace and escapism.
'All around us right now, we are hearing of the importance of art - something we know to be true at all times, but especially in troubled times.
'One thing that has been really encouraging to see over the last few weeks, is that although we are all physically separated, the will to work together, to collaborate and cooperate is growing in the visual arts community. The Art Fair is very much about presenting contemporary galleries to the public, not just about each individual gallery, but how we come together. Which was our premise for creating ArtNow. It is easy to say “we are all in this together” at a time like now, but I think it is important that the same remains true, and maybe even more so in better times.
'Other than that, right now, I have to be honest, that my hope is we’ll return to some semblance of normality soon, and it will be safe to see friends, visit exhibitions, eat at restaurants and attend events.
'But until then, there’s so much to appreciate about the internet, so much to read, watch and listen to online whilst we remain at Level 3. This time has allowed Auckland Art Fair the opportunity and space to try something which may even reach and connect with a new audience who is yet to see just how essential the arts are.
'So, I hope you’ll join us online for our very first Virtual Art Fair, made possible thanks to 35 participating galleries – 9 from Australia, 1 from the UK, 1 from Beijing and New York and 24 from across New Zealand - and our principal partners ANZ Private and Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED).'
Valentina Pook, Age 5
'I don't like talking about the planet, maybe because it's too sad? But I want the world to look cleaner. On the news one day there was 1000 pieces of plastic in the sea. I'm hoping that will go away but if it doesn't I'll go down to the sea and clear it away. I hope everyone will be more careful of the planet. A kid I know, he always had plastic in his lunchbox. He'll stop that. After the corona virus is gone, I hope the world won't smell like anything but fresh air.
'I also want people to be kinder. Right now we don't go near people which is hard. I'm most excited about bursting our bubble with our grandma. We're going to give her big hugs and kisses.
'Parents are spending more time protecting their kids from the virus. When it's gone I hope that I get to spend time with my family. Mummy and Daddy need to work less and bike ride with us more. I have enjoyed having Mum and Dad at home more but miss seeing my friends. I'm going to be really happy to see all my friends and have some little playdates. It's my birthday in 6 weeks and I really hope I can have a party with them.
'After the corona virus is gone there will be a lot of people out and about at shops and supermarkets. And they'll be happy. We'll bike more than we drive. We'll be eating way more food. And we'll help out more. It's easier for our parents if we do. They cook, we clean. That means we all get to do something to help out and I really enjoy that.
'Oh and after the coron avirus is gone, I'd like a pet dog.'
Dame Pieter Stewart, New Zealand Fashion Week Founder
There will be opportunities for the New Zealand fashion industry.
'New Zealand Fashion Week turns 20 this year – what a milestone - to hold its position as the leading, longest-running creative industry event in the country. This is huge – not just for the event but for the entire fashion industry and all the wonderful people who have been involved over the last 20 years.
'A 2020 committee of industry experts had been set up to plan special celebrations, aiming to include as many of those designers as possible who began the journey with us in 2001. Partners were also coming up with exciting ideas to celebrate – to make sure they were part of this – we will never be 20 again! The prospectus was ready to go to the designers, but there was a niggle in the back of my mind as COVID-19 took hold across the globe and I began discussing postponement of the event because it was becoming clear that mass gatherings would be unlikely, even 5 months ahead. So we took the hard decision to postpone the event and essentially put the company into hibernation – until when – we don’t know.
'I worry for the fashion industry – they are all facing huge financial stress coming at them from every angle from loss of assets and income – virtually losing an entire season and most likely carrying a lot of inventory as there has been no opportunity to sell it and in some cases, inventory not yet paid for either. There will be very little money around for extras, the habits of shoppers are changing very quickly, and for many clothes will become a necessity rather than an option. There won’t be places to go, as mass gatherings are likely to be last to reappear, and for an industry highly reliant on discretionary spend, global travel, and physical retail stores, there will be a slowing of spending and decreased demand, and supply from international sources is likely to be unreliable.
'I applaud the government for so proactively looking after those in jobs – but there has been far less thought it seems for the person who pays that worker. Sure – everybody would like to have their workforce available once this is over – but how to pay them with absolutely no income and fixed costs still running, is the problem most business owners face. This is not unique to any industry right now, with the tourism and hospitality industries being affected for some time already and the knock-on effect not even something we can realistically imagine yet.
'Regardless of what has been said, many businesses these days run on very tight margins – it does not mean they are not strong businesses, and in many cases if we lose too many of these operations, we will lose the base of creativity that makes our country so special.
'As an event, we employ mainly contractors – and over the months of runup to the event there is a lot of them. The last analysis of this estimated we employed 124 full time equivalents – so that’s an awful lot of people who cannot look to NZFW for their income this year – and who knows whether these vibrant and creative events will ever become the norm again.
'We are getting a sense of what sustainability really means as we live in our bubbles focusing on our basic needs. Our days revolve around eating good food which we have planned for not just picked up at the takeaway, getting some fresh air and exercise so we don’t go stir crazy, and making an effort to get on with those in our bubble by being kind. We are so lucky to have the advantage of technology to easily be able to call, FaceTime, email others, and get our news from multiple different sources and where possible continue with work.
'Because we have no idea what our futures will look like – we are forced to live in the moment – something we all aspire to, but oh so hard to do, and I’m sure after a novel time of doing all sorts of things we haven’t had time to do for so long, and sleeping well because there is no point in worrying about it – the inevitable anxiety and uncertainty creeps into our minds, not helped by the fact that we can’t enjoy the company of our colleagues or get a hug when needed. Everything is on pause – a most unnatural situation for all of us.
'In this new conscious living, I hope we will leave the consumption of pre COVID 19 behind us and value more the simpler things of life. It’s time to break old habits and find new ways of living.
'The world has been on a treadmill of consumerism for some years, which coronavirus has highlighted, forcing us to slow down and giving the chance to change our ways – it really has only been a matter of time before a reset had to happen somehow.
'Internationally, the Luxury market has been mindboggling and from our corner of the world difficult to understand. So much of our everyday consumption has been excessive, highlighted by the fact that in lockdown we spend very little.
'So what are we left with after coronavirus? There will be many different scenarios in different businesses – certainly not one size fits all – but we do know the world will be different. We are facing a new life altogether.
'We have been encouraging our designers and supporting them to work towards responsible business models for some time – so as this amazing industry rebuilds, NZFW will also find ways to support the industry.
'Like the fashion industry worldwide, we face an uncertain future, but after a pretty tricky time for most, the industry will rebuild, and it’s a great opportunity with the enforced slower pace and social distancing to reinvent and recreate.
'It brings the values we have discussed such a lot lately into sharp focus and is the perfect opportunity for this industry to intensify discussions and actions and give more socially responsible brands the chance to shine.
'Creating relationships with the customer will be even more important – more often going bespoke and private, which I note some are planning already. Investment pieces that will last forever will become more important as the consumer becomes more responsible, with a much more local focus on buying and producing, and quality over quantity being key.
'NZFW has been encouraging the seasonless model for some time – fashion that can carry over from season on to season offering year round versatility, wearability and longevity and are always researching new ways of direct to consumer activity, facilitating the shorter fashion cycles, digitising, and fine tuning the fashion audience.
'The tensions between sustainable business models and responsible operations have been key challenges for many years and will be in the years ahead. New Zealand can show the way of increasing responsible operations by wherever possible sourcing more sustainable fabrics, streamlining operations, editing collections, avoiding overproduction, - all these things will help rebuild a stronger industry.
'We will find new ways of creating activations to donate, reuse, re-purpose, recycle and resale – our beautiful NZ fashion deserves many more than one life. Our designers have a reputation for making high quality clothes in beautiful fabrics – designed to last and look good after being worn many times.
'The New Zealand fashion industry is varied and diverse, and all need to strive for the best possible level of responsible and ethical business practice that works for each individual business, understanding their supply chain and looking towards long fashion rather than fast fashion.
'Although we cannot use Fashion Week this year to lead our industry in a conversation around this goal, NZFW will continue to explore ways to support this exciting creative industry as we leave the safe and predictable to explore new possibilities.'
Gary Fernandez, Fernandez Cutting Services
'I have been involved in the clothing industry for 55 years, starting out doing a five year apprenticeship in cutting. I went straight from school to train at a business called Rainster which was located in upper Queen St. It was a large factory, as many were in those days, employing one hundred plus staff. Back then all stages of production, design, cut and manufacture were done in house. Rainster specialised in men’s and women’s jackets and coats. We also cut upholstery for cars so we worked with a variety of different fabrics and the average cut consisted of 200-300 units.
'I remained there for a year or so after completing my apprenticeship and then left to see if I could make it on my own as a contract cutter working independently. I was probably one of a very small handful doing so at that time. To begin with I set up a cutting bench in the basement of my home before moving to my present premises where I have been ever since. In later years the industry began to grow and change. Businesses started sending work out to cutters and makers and back to their premises for distribution to retail outlets.
'In the early days a lot of fabric was produced in New Zealand in places such as the Bonds Mill in Otara, Auckland and I believe it was of better quality than what was sourced from overseas later on. The cost may have been higher but the garments would have been a lot more durable and kept for longer. I see a problem with the cheaper items being disposed of more frequently thus putting pressure on landfill. It would be good to see a return to using New Zealand made materials if feasible.
'It also concerns me that a lot of cutters are getting to the age of retirement (or past it like myself) and no-one is coming through the system to replace them. How to attract young people to the trade needs investigating. However I have enjoyed all the years I have spent in the industry and got a lot of satisfaction out of my contribution to it. I am heartened to see the younger people in the business of producing clothing today thinking about the future of it and how best to proceed.'
Ash Owens, Digital Content Creator & Social Media Influencer
'For most industries, especially in the creative and advertising world, people have had to reflect on decades of industry success, what works, what doesn’t, what needs to change, how to adapt to global events and trends. When a global pandemic hits, what has worked for twenty years simply just doesn’t anymore, businesses have had to adapt quicker than someone can say “recession”.
'As a full time self-employed millennial who uses social media platforms & a lifestyle blog to make a living, this downtime has been equally nerve wracking as it has been fascinating. The social media industry only has about 10 years to reflect on, influencer marketing.. maybe 5 at most here in New Zealand. In the world of business, that’s not a long time to cement your habits, to make mistakes you can learn from, so my ultimate hope for social media marketing is that it has the fluid, youthful naivety to ride the wave, go with the flow, and see success due to its ability to access constant two-way communication with social media users, AKA 74% of the New Zealand population as of 2018.
'This access to the population is hugely valuable, hence the success of social media marketing, but this means that there is a huge responsibility to understand the population, read the room and work accordingly, especially during a time of nationwide self-reflection and economic anxiety. For me personally, daily chit chats with my community via Instagram DM has been more important than ever, not only because I love connecting with people (truly a natural born blogger) but because I care about their interests, how the pandemic has made them feel. They are a community I have built over 5 years and a lot of them I speak to daily like they are my best friends in the offline world. I know that things like fashion & educational content about skincare is hugely distracting content to consume, and that people rely on it to maintain a relationship with their personal interests, but I also know that the way this content is sought after, the type of fashion and beauty content they are looking for has drastically changed over the last couple of years, and change is brewing even bigger as we speak.
'When it comes to shopping, New Zealanders value integrity, sustainability, locally made and quality products and it’s becoming more clear than ever before that the shift towards things like capsule wardrobes & ditching food delivery services to ordering direct from restaurants (because Kiwis are just awesome like that) are becoming more and more valued, especially as we endure this experience where we realise what matters, and also what we are happily able to live without.
'So how do social attitudes like this affect industries like advertising and social media marketing? Going forward I’m hoping for more long term relationships with brands and social media users. In the past, social media marketing has been all about getting as many one off sponsorships from various brands as possible, where brands are wanting to work with 30+ creators and creators are wanting to work with 10 different brands every month. This is where I see the biggest change coming and thank goodness because things were starting to get a little OTT.
'For social media marketing to continue working successfully with integrity, it has got to find a way to advertise with influencers & creators in a way that is honest, authentic and reflects how society is feeling right now, otherwise what’s the point? I know that when I discover a new brand, I want to support them long term, and this is how advertising has got to change. Brands and businesses need to pick wisely with social media influencers who align with their values, and work with them long term in more of an ambassadorship capacity rather than a quick one off job because that simply doesn’t hold the attention of New Zealanders whose values have changed and developed, especially during and after a pandemic. Kiwis want to see honesty and transparency more than ever before, and there’s nothing more honest than a mutual relationship between a brand and an influencer who has worked together for 2+ years, the love and passion is obvious and clear. This is where trust can be built with a nation that is under financial stress, and if advertising wants access to these people they have got to work with digital influencers and creators who are onboard with delivering advertising messages in the most authentic way possible, because it is possible, and it needs to happen.
'Valuable, long term relationships and collaborations, transparency, and mutual respect for brands, influencers and social media users is key for the industry going forward, and I cannot wait to see this industry flourish and mature as we all put a huge focus on communicating with one another. Social media is only in its infant age, so we all better buckle up and take control so that everyone can benefit from it.'
'It has been a wild ride and it’s a pleasure now to be thinking about the good things that we can take from our experience with Covid-19.
'On Monday 20th March, Colleen closed our doors and said adieu to our clients for the foreseeable future. We stepped into the unknown and unpredictable world of lockdown. We also stepped into a new world of opportunity.
'Digital channels became our way of engaging with our clients. Last year we launched colleen.nz, our online shop and our platform for hair advice, insight and expertise. We started to use Instagram and IGTV, Livechat, SMS, email and Facebook, to interact, educate and connect with each other, and we loved it. I think the effects of Covid-19 lockdown has shown us that the scope and desire for human connection is boundless and opened up our eyes to the potential of the digital landscape to interact and extend our care for people’s hair beyond the salon to their living rooms and bathrooms. We can’t give someone a haircut over zoom (although some people have given it a crack) yet for every hairdresser it brings us so much pleasure to have even a small impact on how a person enjoys their hair day to day. Imagine how rewarding it is for us when we can extend that beyond the salon to hundreds or thousands of people. It brings us joy.
'Level 2 of lockdown has come with some pretty gnarly strings attached for us. We invested a lot of time preparing to meet our customer’s needs, and ‘read the room’. Yes, we had Ministry of Health guidelines to meet but it was much more important to us to set up the salon to provide care and consideration to anyone walking through the door plus absolutely nail what they wanted for their hair. The idea of going back to basics is interesting. Our customers hire us to give them good hair and that’s what we do. That has always been our focus and it always will be. Serving good coffee, playing great music, a beautiful fit-out, the latest magazine, stylists decked out in designer wardrobes – all of these are lovely things but they are pointless if you can’t do a good haircut or deliver a beautiful color for your customer in a reasonable timeframe. I feel very strongly about the value in what we do being placed squarely on our skills as crafts people. I hope that our experience with lockdown will bring that back into focus for our industry.
'Hairdressers are VERY into community. We have the tea on all the best local eating spots; fashion, coffee, dentists, physio, ceramics, beauty. Pretty much anything you can think of we have a hook up. I’m so excited by the Support Local movement. It took a global pandemic to make it a thing but I really hope that this is a movement that is here to stay.
'So, what does the future look like?'
Sarah Jane Hough, Creative Producer
'It has become expected that designers consider every step of their production process in order to make their businesses more ethical and sustainable. Everything needs to be taken into consideration. The story people want to know about a garment is made up of the sum of its parts - who made the fabric and from what, who did the sewing and under what conditions and at what impact on the community they came from. ‘Who made my clothes?’ is a growing movement that is fast becoming a mainstream way of thinking. Many brands are becoming greener not because they necessarily have a burning desire to do so but simply to keep up with what is expected.
'There is power in everyone expecting things to be done better - they get better.
'The back story of a photoshoot, of a show, of creative content or brand experiences has until very recently not been given the same level of industry wide scrutiny - as an industry we have a long way to go to catch up with our fashion industry contemporaries. As a Creative Producer I am looking to my friends and colleagues in the fashion industry to help me create my own path toward a more ethical and sustainable way of working. I want to tap into the collective energy around living up to the expectations of a cleaner kinder industry.
'As we move into the new normal I am excited to apply the same critical thinking that brands like RUBY, Maggie Marilyn and Kowtow apply to their supply chains. I have been asking myself questions around the resources I use and look at where things come from and how I can adapt what was normal to what I can do better. Simple switches like reusable water bottles have personally reduced the waste produced on my sets by about 1/3. Not printing call sheets has meant I have used less than a ream of paper this year in comparison to 10 reams this time last year. Simple changes that go along way.
'For me lockdown has given me a renewed sense of appreciation and love for what I do. A love for the people I get to work with, from the agencies who brief us on projects to the clients who trust us to tell their stories. I believe that pressing play again after eight weeks of stillness means we bring with us an energy and a commitment to do better because now we know better. Well at least I hope we do….. I mean it’s almost law in NZ to be kind these days!'
Grace Stratton, Co-Founder All is for All
'All is for All is a disability led business, as I am a wheelchair user. My hope for the future is that more disabled people can become business leaders and more businesses led by disabled people, can be enabled to reach higher heights. I think that for many years, disabled people have been unable to become leaders, due to inaccessible social structures and stigmas, I would like to think - I hope, that this period of time can illuminate the need to break these down - and pursue equity, above all.
'My hope for the future, is also that we measure success in diverse ways. Economic success is only one measurement, equally important is doing better for people and planet. Investing in belonging, inclusive culture, accessibility - these should be measures of our success too - and they should be upheld just as much as our economic successes. I hope that if we can shift toward holistic investment, we can build companies that also create a better world - and give as much back, as they may take.'
Christine Sharma, RUBY Managing Director
'I am hoping our industry looks more diverse on a New Zealand foundation. We have so much creativity around us and it’s time that our industry stopped taking the lead from overseas brands and believed in ourselves and our own DNA.
'It is so important that we do support our NZ businesses, otherwise the scope of NZ labels will be reduced and the prospect of a "cookie cut shopping environment" looms.
'With the ripple effect of Covid-19, everyone has had to throw all their cards up in the air, see what lands face way up and go with it. This is a time to go back to basics, looking at our new way of living and reviewing the changes in our shopping habits. Businesses are having to adapt to this change in behaviour and rethink their retail footprint.
'The buzz aspect of all this is of course that online will define…and yes it will. It reaches where no retail store can exist, however, it is never going to replace the wonderful feeling of walking into a retail environment. Brick and mortar provides the space for a welcoming, warm and tactile experience that a screen will never do, so finding that balance is key.'
Alanna Ramsay, Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand Fundraising & Campaigns Officer
'Kia ora tātou!
Ko Rangitoto te maunga
Ko Hauraki te awa
Nō Scotland ahau
Ko Ramsay tōku whanāu
Ko Alanna tōku ingoa
Tihe mauri ora!
'It is a pleasure, on behalf of the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand (MHF), to share with you our tūmanako/hope for the future of mental health kōrero/conversations in Aotearoa!
'MHF is a mental health charity with a vision of creating a society, where all people can enjoy positive mental health and wellbeing, regardless of whether or not they have a mental illness or experience of mental distress. Wellbeing is for everybody, and we want to make sure people who have experienced mental distress have the tools and support they need to live well. Our whakataukī is Mauri tū, Mauri ora. This kōrero is a constant reminder of our commitment to actively supporting individuals and communities to flourish by providing resources that will positively affect your wellbeing.
'Through our work on resources and our positive health promotion campaigns like Mental Health Awareness Week and Pink Shirt Day, our tūmanako/hope is that we will spark kōrero/conversation about mental health between friends, around whānau dinner tables, in schools, amongst colleagues at work and across communities in Aotearoa. When we start having open kōrero/conversations, we can support one another and realise that we all have our ups and downs. It is important to acknowledge everyone goes through hard times, and sometimes your mental health and wellbeing might not feel as good as you’d like. We want all New Zealanders to understand that mental health is a taonga/treasure that we all have.
'If after kōrero you’re worried about someone or feeling like you need some tautoko/support, there is help available – no one should go through a tough time alone. With one in five Kiwis experiencing a mental illness each year, it’s important to remember that with the right tautoko/support most people recover and live well, even if they continue to experience periods of mental distress. For guidance and support on what to do if you are worried about someone or need some tautoko/support, check out our website or remember you can text or call 1737, to talk to a trained counsellor, this service is free to use.
'We are extremely grateful to Ruby, and all our wonderful fundraisers, who support us and make this important mahi possible. Join Ruby and help our work by starting the kōrero about mental health! We are here to support you on your journey of raising awareness about mental health and wellbeing, check out our website for free resources and guidance to get started.
'Mauri tū, Mauri ora.'
Charli Cox, Koha Apparel Founder
'Koha Apparel is a not-for-profit, pay-as-you-can retail experience that runs every week throughout Auckland, using repurposed apparel. Our mission is repurposing quality clothing for those in need. Our store utilises a pay-as-you-can system which allows those struggling financially to access clean clothing for free. We also aim to reduce the amount of clothing waste going to landfill.
'Since the beginning of 2019, we have been providing clean, quality new, and second-hand clothing to the vulnerable people in Auckland. We receive donations of clothing from New Zealand brands, as well as second-hand clothing. The clothing is repaired by volunteers where necessary and laundered before it is made available in our pop-up outlets.
'Now more now than ever, change is at the forefront of the fashion industry. This time for many people has been a chance to slow the pace and I believe so much more can be achieved by the fashion industry by giving back to the community. Koha is supported by some NZ brands. We collect and distribute their end-of-season, seconds, and sample stock. We are looking to partner with other New Zealand fashion brands - in an ethical response to waste. The awareness around this is progressing, brand mindsets are changing this is no longer seen as devaluing the brand but a positive call to action for those vulnerable in our community. Industry collaboration is the future….
'Awareness is growing, consumers are investing in buying better and will continue to do so. There is now a focus around buying recycled fibres, classic timeless pieces that are gentler on the planet and have an extended life cycle and buying fewer. Koha runs regular markets to encourage people to think differently to make first time shoppers, second-hand shoppers. This eases the environmental impact the fast fashion industry is having on our country and planet. Sustainable fashion is more desirable now than it has ever been, I believe we can transform the industry, but we must collectively work together, to share knowledge, and educate our consumers.
'Today, people are more open and honest with their daily struggles, opening up about their mental health everyone has their triggers and pressure points. Our pop up creates a hub where people can unite together, build relationships, and feel reassured that they are being looked after by the local community. Having these interactions and conversations can potentially change their day or week for the better. Much like food, water, shelter, clothing is a basic need and yet one that many in our communities have unmet - access to clean, quality clothing. I believe every person in the morning should feel good in whatever they put on, it can really set the tone for your day and your mood if you feel confident and comfortable in what you are wearing.
'Since starting Koha, the demand and reach for our services has risen significantly and even more so since NZ went to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 in March. The harsh reality is we need to acknowledge the truth that we cannot continue living as we do today, we are affecting a lot of people and the planet. There are many outreach programs throughout Auckland that we are collaborating with weekly, our community is more open than ever to support those vulnerable in our community with meals, clothing, and services to improve their life for the better. Wellbeing is at the forefront of people’s minds. We have been so lucky since setting out with the people we have connected within our community who are equally as passionate around the many aspects of Koha, the majority of these connections are made through our social media channels. It’s truly humbling with people reaching out to donate their unwanted wardrobe items, time at our weekly pop-ups or skills in support with repairing garments, social media, photography the list goes on! I am no cross-functional expert but luckily you do not need to be when people believe in what you do and want to be a part of it.'
Adray Minh Nguyen, Non-Binary Activist & Environmental Scientist
'First of all, I am very honoured to be a part of Ruby 'The Best Is Yet To Come.' I would like to continue TBIYTC with my thoughts and hopes for our LGBTQ+ community as we move forward into the future together.
'As we are all still dealing with the aftermath of the pandemic; we, as a whole, should not be fearful of it. We should all see this as an opportunity to remember our past and how we got here. The LGBTQ+ community, in fact, has been dealing with a much similar situation - the HIV/AIDS pandemic. In the 80s, when the pandemic broke out, it started the on-going stigma and discrimination against our community, especially gay and bisexual men.
'HIV/AIDS was initially labelled as the “gay cancer” or the “gay-related immune deficiency” leading to the double stigmas against gay and bisexual men: HIV stigma and gay-related stigma causing significant psychological stress. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention suggested that HIV stigma can affect gay and bisexual men's income, employability, access to health insurance and quality health care. The stigma also prevents them from being open to others limiting social support from others; whilst impacting their ability to have and maintain long-term relationships adding to poor mental health, coping skills leading to substance abuse, risky behaviours, and suicide attempts. Logie et al. (2020) found that HIV, depression, and substance use mutually reinforcing each other situated in larger social contexts of stigma; while alcohol use was considered a coping mechanism among LGBTQ+ community. The study also found that pervasive stigma acts as barriers to healthcare engagement increasing HIV vulnerabilities. COVID-19 reminds us of our past and the fights that those before us fought for our reality.
'Dr Fauci suggested that the impact of HIV/AIDS on LGBTQ+ community is similar to the impact COVID-19 is having on African-Americans, shining a light on the health disparities in the African-American community. In other words, now is our time to carry on the legacy and fight the fight for equality not just for us but for others who are vulnerable. There is a much longer road to go and we can not do this ourselves! We need to lend our arms and strength to our vulnerable people of colours, our cisgender sisters, our transgender sisters and brothers and our non-binary people. Because we can not expect others to help if we, ourselves, are not willing to help them.
'Our responsibility now is to help and protect transgender and non-binary people, especially transgender and non-binary people of colour as they are the most vulnerable in our community. The Human Rights Campaign suggested that there were, at least, 26 deaths of transgender or gender non-conforming people in the U.S. due to fatal violence, the majority of whom were Black transgender women; whilst at least 27 transgender or gender non-conforming people fatally shot or killed by other violent means recorded in 2019. The names and stories of the victims are listed below and I would like to ask you to spend some time to read their stories and honour their lives:
Dana Martin, 31, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Montgomery, Alabama, on January 6. Daroneshia Duncan-Boyd, an Alabama-based trans advocate, said that “she was a person that was loved by many.”
Ellie Marie Washtock, 38, a gender non-conforming person, was fatally shot in St. Augustine, Florida, on January 31. Washtock was a parent of two children. Loved ones noted the death on a memorial website: “My heart was torn 1-31-2019 when I heard you were taken. You are loved forever.”
Ashanti Carmon, 27, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Prince George's County, Maryland, on March 30. “Until I leave this Earth, I’m going to continue loving her in my heart, body, and soul,” said Philip Williams, Carmon’s fiancé. “She did not deserve to leave this Earth so early, especially in the way that she went out.
Claire Legato, 21, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Cleveland on April 15. Friends and family took to social media to mourn Legato’s death, remembering her as someone who was “full of life.”
Muhlaysia Booker, 23, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Dallas on May 18. Friends, family and advocates across the country took to social media to mourn Booker, sharing their shock and disbelief. “Such a beautiful spirit taken too soon,” wrote one person. “She lived her life and loved all of who she was.”
Michelle 'Tamika' Washington, 40, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Philadelphia on May 19. Washington, who was also known by the name Tameka, is remembered by friends and loved ones as a beloved sister and “gay mother.”
Paris Cameron, 20, a Black transgender woman, was among three people killed in a horrific anti-LGBTQ shooting in a home in Detroit on May 25. Alunte Davis, 21, and Timothy Blancher, 20, two gay men, were found dead at the scene and Cameron was taken to the hospital, where she died from her injuries. Two other victims were also shot but survived. “This case illustrates the mortal danger faced by members of Detroit’s LGBTQ community, including transgender women of colour," Fair Michigan President Alanna Maguire said.
Titi Gulley, 31, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Portland, Oregon, on May 27. Her death was originally reported as a suicide but is now under investigation.
Chynal Lindsey, 26, a Black transgender woman, was found dead in White Rock Lake, Dallas, with signs of “homicidal violence” on June 1, according to police. Friends, family and community members took to social media to share their shock at her death, describing her as “smiling” and “a person I had never seen mad.”
Chanel Scurlock, 23, a Black transgender woman, was found fatally shot in Lumberton, North Carolina, on June 6. “RIP baby,” wrote a friend on Facebook. “You [lived] your life as you wanted. I’m proud of you for being unapologetically correct about your feelings and expectations of YOU.”
Zoe Spears, 23, a Black transgender woman, was found with signs of trauma near Eastern Avenue in Fairmount Heights, Maryland, and later pronounced dead on June 13, according to local reports. “She was my daughter -- very bright and very full of life,” transgender advocate Ruby Corado, the founder and executive director of Casa Ruby, told HRC. “Casa Ruby was her home. Right now, we just want her and her friends and the people who knew her to know that she’s loved.”
Brooklyn Lindsey, 32, a Black transgender woman, was found dead in Kansas City, Missouri, on June 25, according to local news reports. “I love you, Brooklyn Lindsey,” wrote a friend on Twitter. “I shall live on for you. Rest in power, sista.”
Denali Berries Stuckey, 29, a Black transgender woman, was found fatally shot in North Charleston, South Carolina, on July 20. “I lost my best friend, first cousin,” wrote a family member on Facebook. “We were more than a cousin. We were like brother and sisters. I love you so much, Pooh.”
Tracy Single, 22, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Houston on July 30. “Rest in power and peace Tracy,” wrote Monica Roberts, Houston-based transgender advocate. “You were taken away from us way too soon.”
Bubba Walker, 55, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Charlotte, North Carolina, in late July. Walker was reported missing on July 26. She is remembered by friends and family as “one of those people who was really fun to be around. She was very kind and she loved helping people.”
Kiki Fantroy, 21, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Miami on July 31. Fantroy’s mother remembered her as having “a heart of gold” and being “a very loving person.” She also pleaded for justice for her daughter, saying, “My baby, my baby. Please help bring justice to my baby.”
Jordan Cofer, 22, was among the nine victims killed in a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, on August 4. While Cofer was only out to a handful of close friends and used the pronouns he/him/his on his social media profiles, he is remembered by friends as “extremely bright” and “well-liked.” A friend told Splinter News that “Jordan was probably one of the sweetest people you would ever meet, a true saint, but he was also very scared constantly. He tried to give the best to everyone.”
Pebbles LaDime “Dime” Doe, 24, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Allendale County, South Carolina, on August 4. Doe’s friends and family remembered her as having a “bright personality,” and being someone who “showed love” and who was “the best to be around.”
Bailey Reeves, 17, a Black transgender teen, was fatally shot in Baltimore, Maryland, on September 2. She is remembered as "a person who lived her life to the fullest."
Bee Love Slater, 23, was killed in Clewiston, Florida, on September 4. Slater is remembered by loved ones as someone "with a sweetheart" who "never harmed anyone."
Jamagio Jamar Berryman, 30, a Black gender non-conforming person, was killed in Kansas City, Kansas, on September 13. Local activists and community members joined family and friends at a vigil and took to social media to mourn Berryman’s loss.
Itali Marlowe, 29, a Black transgender woman was found shot in Houston on September 20. She was transported to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead, as reported by Monica Roberts of TransGriot. "You deserved to live a full and robust life surrounded by people who embraced and celebrated your real self," wrote Sue Kerr, an LGBTQ columnist.
Brianna “BB” Hill, 30, was fatally shot in Kansas City on October 14. Kansas City Police Capt. Tim Hernandez told local press that the alleged shooter remained at the scene until they arrived. She was a beloved member of her community, a fan of the Kansas City football team and loved spreading joy by sharing funny videos on her Facebook page.
Nikki Kuhnhausen, 17, was killed in Vancouver, Washington, sometime after her disappearance in June. Kuhnhausen enjoyed sharing videos of her dancing and singing on her Facebook, and she often posted memes to entertain her friends. Her loved ones have taken to social media to mourn her passing. “[Y]ou my dear didn’t deserve this ... rest with God now.”
Yahira Nesby, 33, was fatally shot in New York on December 19. Nesby, a Black transgender woman, was a loved member of the New York ball scene. Her friends and family commented on social media about her death, calling Nesby “a good spirit,” “genuinely good people,” and said “Every time [Nesby was] around [she] put a smile on my face and others.”
Mia Perry, a transgender woman, was killed in Washington, D.C. on December 29.
Johana 'Joa' Medina, 25, died at a hospital in El Paso, Texas just hours after being released from ICE custody. She suffered severe health complications that went untreated while she was in detention, according to Diversidad Sin Fronteras. According to OJ Pitaya, an advocate with the group, Medina dreamed of coming to the U.S. to become certified as a nurse, since she was unable to practice as a transgender woman in her home country.
'Tanzina Vega suggested that there is a significant lack of attention for violence against black trans people after the recent death of Tony McDade, a black transgender man who was shot and killed by police in Florida two days after Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In fact, police often single out trans people for violence. The Anti-Violence Project suggested that trans people are 3.7 times more likely to experience police violence and 7 times more likely to experience physical violence when interacting with police than cisgender victims and survivors. Moreover, there are more chilling stories of the treatment of transgender and non-binary people in prison. Layleen Xtravaganza Cubilette-Polanco, who was found dead as the correctional officers at New York City’s Rikers Island stood outside her cell laughing, according to recently released security footage; had just had an epileptic seizure, but prison staff had failed to conduct the 15-minute-interval health check-ins that are required for prisoners held in solitary confinement. Aside from violence against transgender and non-binary people, there is a lack of employment and housing protections throughout most of America. The Anti-Violence Project showed that while transgender New Yorkers were more likely to have a college degree than the general population, but just 45 per cent of them have full-time jobs. Furthermore, transgender workers are more likely to be unemployed compared to their cisgender counterparts, and 34 per cent of Black trans women face housing insecurity compared to just 9 per cent of non-Black trans people.
'I understand that most of the studies and evidence were based in America and New Zealand is among leading countries in term of human rights and LGBTQ rights. However, their realities are our realities like the head and tail of the same coin. Besides, there is still a significant lack of transgender and non-binary people awareness in New Zealand. As a leading country, why don’t we, New Zealanders, set an example for others to follow? Why rest at what we have while we are capable of the extraordinary? And how should we do it? The answer is simple: we ask questions!
'We ask whether our knowledge about our communities and vulnerable people is enough. We ask others to join positive and meaningful discussions about us, them and about vulnerable people in our community. We ask our people of colour, our cisgender sister, our transgender brothers and sisters, and our non-binary people about their stories and their needs. We ask our teachers, our doctors, our police, our communities, our local boards, our councils, and our government about what can they do to improve equality, not just for us, but for our people of colour, our cisgender sisters, our transgender sisters and brothers and our non-binary people. We now must unite to move forward! The best is yet to come as the future is in our hands.
'I would like to thank you very much for your time reading this. I hope that you have found this useful. Be safe, be kind and ask questions! If you want to learn more, you can start with the following:
With lots of Loves,
Niamh Peren, Founder of the 'Thumbs Up New Zealand' Movement
'Like many countries, Aotearoa is in the throes of a waste crisis. We are running out of landfill space. This, paired with the fact that in 2018 Aotearoa was named one of the most wasteful countries in the world (per capita) by the World Bank makes for a really rubbish situation. Our government needs to urgently do more, on a larger scale, to reduce what goes to landfill in the first place. The majority of our household waste in Aotearoa is food and drink packaging, so let's start by tackling that ever growing pile of packaging.
'Yes, it's difficult to know what to do. A substantial part of the problem lies in the fact that recycling labels are misleading, confusing, and often difficult to find. Plus, many don't realise that the 'green recycling triangle' symbol just means that some place in the world that material can be recycled, but not necessarily here in Aotearoa. Plus, unfortunately far too many products hide behind greenwash - when they really just go straight to landfill. Ugh. We need a label that’s reflective of what our onshore recycling infrastructure can handle. So that we know - before we buy - whether it can and will be recycled onshore. No one wants to contaminate or wishcycle unknowingly. We deserve accurate and honest labelling for direction.
'Dig a little deeper though, and Aotearoa's waste and recycling system appears even more dysfunctional. Our city and district councils operate a patchwork of programs which in their differences to one another cause inefficiency, confusion, and unaccountability. Our 61 city and district councils (who represent 87% of our waste and recycling contracts, and are our major stakeholders) each operate different waste and recycling rules. Yip, it’s awfully confusing when you’re trying to do the right thing, as what can be recycled in one place is not necessarily recyclable just down the road... We need to change this. We need to optimise our systems, reduce contamination, and reduce waste. We must encourage businesses to use packaging that is appropriate for our environment and onshore infrastructure, but sadly under the current system (or lack-thereof) it is impossible for consumers and business to do the right thing.
'So, I founded a movement called ‘Thumbs Up New Zealand’ which was signed by over 46,000 signatories and supported by 46 Mayors and works as a solution to the above problems.
'The petition proposed we create a unified nationwide waste and recycling strategy, and then introduce new, simple, and compulsory labelling on all food and drink packaging indicating their recyclability onshore. As this would then empower both consumer and business to do better.
A Green Thumbs Up Label means packaging is made of recycled material and can be recycled onshore.
A Yellow Sideways Thumb Label means packaging is recyclable, but not made of recycled material (i.e. does not help close the loop)
A Red Thumbs Down Label means it must go straight to landfill
'It’s not an overly complicated system on the front end because I don’t think it should be. Waste is something that is out-of-sight out-of-mind for most, so in order for the system to be adopted it needs to be simple. We need a mass movement.
'And yes, reusables are best! However, they won’t be going in your kerbside collection and are thus not included above.
'As a small island nation Aotearoa has an opportunity to lead the world by being the first to create progressive legislation and transition toward a circular economy; and thus out of this smelly mess.
'The Thumbs Labels do this by incentivising and dis-incentivising packaging materials to what our infrastructure can and cannot handle. As well as being inclusive (you don’t have to read a language to comprehend).
'IF WE CAN DO THIS IN NEW ZEALAND, WE CAN TAKE IT TO THE WORLD.
'Our government has signed up to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, so they really ought to be taking action and implementing the commitment and solutions provided to them by Thumbs Up New Zealand and wanted by her people. There really is no more time to waste.
'So, you ask me, what is the future I wish for? Well, I’m hoping that we can make for a healthier future for our communities, wildlife, and environment. I’m hoping that Thumbs Up New Zealand (a system designed by Kiwis for Kiwis) will be actioned and implemented by the next elected Government, and that Aotearoa will make innovative and progressive headway in this waste space, and inspire global change.
'Together, with Thumbs Up New Zealand, we can do this!'