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We hold events for our alumni, friends, and the general public for people to connect with the important conversations in leadership.

Subject matter experts and prominent New Zealand leaders share their knowledge and engage with the audience, sparking new ideas and innovation as minds from different backgrounds converge and focus their energy on a salient issue or theme.

Whaia te iti Kahurangi, ki te tuoho koe, me he maungateitei

Dr Ainsleigh Cribb-Su'a shared her journey and experiences on Leadership NZ Programme this year at the Counties Manukau Diversity Ball.

Tena koutou katoa,

Late last year, I was blessed and honored, to be awarded the Counties Manukau Diversity and Inclusion scholarship. This has enabled me with the support of my division leadership to participate in the LNZ class of 2015.  I am the inaugural recipient of this award and it will be open again for nominations again later in the year.  I take this opportunity to acknowledge some of the Leadership NZ whanau that are here tonight including CEO Sina Wendt-Moore.

This year the theme for Leadership NZ is Fearless Leadership.

Fearless leadership is about feeling the pinch of fear and risk and doing it anyway.  Because if you don’t, then who will.  All great successes were preceded by failure of some description. Stumbling along the way is all par to the course of learning on the journey to success.

On this Programme, I have learnt an immense amount myself an aspiring leader of people, as well as about myself as a person. I have come to learn that often how we describe ourselves to others and ourselves, limits us as to what we can be and who we will become.

ALL participants on the Programme share at one of the retreats about their life in five minutes. It’s a little bit like being at your own funeral and reading your own eulogy… but leaving out all the exaggerations about how wonderful you are. Eulogists do that at funerals for effect.

Anyway, for some the experience of the sharing is empowering, for some cathartic, for others an opportunity to take stock and exhale. I haven’t done mine yet but with my new found learning with regards to limiting oneself by self-description, I feel compelled to consider a new way of telling my story. 

Before joining the Leadership NZ whanau I would have described a part of my life’s journey like this:

By the time I was 18, I was pregnant with my first child. I was in a less than adequate relationship and financially things were excruciatingly difficult. I was in my first year of University and birthed my baby the day after my last exam that year. I considered whether I should abandon my Science degree until my daughter was older and I could afford daycare.  Being a young Maori mother in South Auckland I had a pretty negative perception about where that path would take me. And now there was more than just me to think about. So I continued back to University the very next semester, baby in hand, and on breast, sitting at the back of the lecture theatre so I could duck out if and when the baby cried. I caught the train to University from Manurewa everyday, often with only enough money to get there but not to get home. I always worked at least two jobs to make ends meet.

Now, how I would describe that period of my life; I would say this:

By the time I was 18. I was an empowered young Ngāti Maniapoto woman who had the educational and proximal opportunities to attend University; and despite some serious practical barriers, did it anyway. As a consequence my now, almost 18 year old daughter, believes that attending University to attain a degree level education post High School is a minimum expectation that she would have of herself. 

I didn’t know this at that time, but what I chose to do all those years ago, now that was fearless leadership. Feeling the pull of the current to go in a particular direction, to go with the general flow; but choosing to go against it. Hoping, and then determining, that somewhere upstream would be a more fruitful existence.

You see, I am, as we ALL are, the culmination of the choices that I have made both good and bad in relation to the circumstances and situations that have presented in my life. Genetics and upbringing and experiences have influenced my life but it is the freedom to choose that has determined me. 

You see, the depth and breadth of opportunities available to us as individuals is different but what we ALL have, each and every one of us here, is the power and freedom to choose. And I believe that this is our greatest gift.

I want to encourage our GMs, Directors, CEO to identify those leaders in your midst who have the fire in their puku for our community. Here in Counties, we need fearless leaders willing to put themselves out there to be a part of driving meaningful change for our communities. We need extraordinary solutions to mend our extraordinary problems. And also we need radical insight & excite in order to see the extraordinary resources, opportunities and hope that lies right in front of our eyes; in our community, in our families and in individuals in our midst.

In the words of Marianne Williamson, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of the most high. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

And in far fewer words my tupuna espoused this same sentiment many generations ago in a commonly used whakatauki.

Whaia te iti Kahurangi, ki te tuoho koe, me he maungateitei.

Aspire and strive to that which is precious and important to you.  Should you stumble let it be to a lofty mountain.


Dr. Ainsleigh Cribb-Su’a is of Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Tamaterā, Ngāti Kauwhata descent; born and bred in South Auckland.  She is a Senior Clinical Psychologist and a Manager in Child and Adolescent Mental Health for our Counties Manukau DHB.  She has a passion and commitment to the wellbeing and flourishing of children and youth, specifically Māori and Pacific taiohi, of which she is the mother of four.  Ainsleigh is currently on a research sabbatical thanks to a generous research grant from the Vodafone NZ Foundation. Her current research focuses on bringing to the forefront narratives of South Auckland Māori youth success and resilience.  She is an Academic Fellow of both the University of Canterbury and AUT.