by Nikki Burns, Trustee at Poppycock Trust
Heading into Session Nine in the Waitakere ranges, I was appreciating the symbolism of the winding roads, the discovery and the climb to our end destination – and the new perspectives and vistas we were about to experience as we neared the journey’s end! Waitakere Estate wrapped us in eccentricities of style, fabulous location and quaint systems, with these layers making the Estate an able and humorous host.
This was the most ‘spacious’ of sessions during 2015, a nod perhaps at the journey we had travelled and the closure that would be required to draw the threads together of the colourful, meaningful and at times emotionally charged tapestry the 2015 Cohort had stitched under the skilled craftsmanship of our wonderful Leadership NZ team.
The Panel Session of Craig McIvor, Lana West and Ranjna Patel added new colours, a few knots that needed some untangling in discussion and an appreciation of how our future lay in the work of our hands. Craig’s view challenged us; it was a great process unravelling those knots and gaining a greater clarity of this tapestry of our lives, our communities and ultimately the challenges facing our planet’s future. Ranjna was the opposite end of Craig’s futurist spectrum with pragmatic ‘doing the work, innovating to the community need and showing real ‘spine’ along her journey as we heard of her pioneering in the health sector – real backbone to life’s tapestry. Lana was the needle rethreading the complex and diverse threads through the single eye of ‘Our greatness is in our Whoness’ – I loved the distillation of bringing it back to our future lies in our hands! Our Whoness - Who we are, will drive what we do as individuals, communities and global citizens.
Having Jo Brosnahan along to share with the Cohort was not only an honour, but felt like ‘Mum was in the house’, quietly gathering the dropped threads, snipping messy ends and reminding us of what the final result of the tapestry would be. Much love to Jo for her vision for this wonderful tapestry called Leadership NZ!
Day Two brought us another futurist in Rod Oram – what an innovative and organic session! We found that Rod was commentating on ‘Status Earth, 2040’ and once we all clued on to ‘where and when’ we were, we found that the 2040 future had some incredible solutions, insights and new complexities. The only difference was the ‘feeling of responsibility’ that this 2040 conversation sparked for some of us – an understanding that many threads make the tapestry and we can and do have a part to play with our own thread being needed in the mix of a diverse and multicultural citizenship.
The evening brought ‘Manuel’ from Faulty Towers to the service of the 2015 Cohort and what a delight to have him (thanks Grant!). Social Syndicate 2 outdid themselves serving dinner and organising the ‘Dance Off’ for the evening between the Syndicates. Gangnam Style was potentially difficult to pull off, but it was done with real swag! Doing the ‘Twist’ showed our age for some of us and Syndicate 6’s YMCA got everyone on their feet and was the performance of the night (no bias here!!). The dancing and socialising continued into the evening.
Our last day together in ‘Session’ drawing the threads, did more than that – it drew on our heart strings. Our cohort has a lot of aroha and acceptance. The carousel was a format that was meant to be a 30-second exchange, person to person for the whole cohort, of what you value about that person. It turned into a melee of timeframes being smashed - 30 seconds, what were Leadership NZ thinking (: emotions, tears, hugs and eventually the carousel was broken as we rearranged chairs and formatted the space to work for our closure process. The ‘formal’ tapestry of Leadership NZ 2015 was nearing its end and we added real drama and last minute alterations to the tapestry with our heartfelt sharing.
The evening of our Graduation bought the ‘framing’ of our beautifully woven tapestry. Hearing Jo Brosnahan, KPMG’s Ross Buckley, Sina and Louise’s perspectives were like the four sides of the frame to our tapestry. Cohort member Lisa had a dream for us about how we might present our Graduation Sessions 1 – 9 and we ran with it, creating insight, fun and a moving tribute for lost loved ones of Cohort members during 2015. Our graduation presentation, along with Morehu and myself speaking on behalf of the Cohort was like the glass being placed to preserve and protect this fine tapestry. The final touches of polishing to the glass on our tapestry were the gifts exchanged. Our Cohort gifted carved taonga to our awesome Leadership NZ team programme facilitators and Executive, Peter, Sina, Louise and Annette, with a Korowai being gifted to the Leadership NZ Executive. The Leadership NZ 2015 Cohort gifted to the 2016 Cohort a waiata ‘Tuku Mihi’ written by Morehu. The last exchange, the final knot holding this Wairua of real aroha woven by the 2015 Cohort were the beautiful and individual taonga each of the Cohort received from Leadership NZ through Karam Meuli, carver and 2009 Alumnus.
The ‘Drawing of the Threads’ was complete for 2015 and we are well satisfied at what we see. I sense already from the discussion and plans made that a new and altogether different tapestry is being prepared for us in 2016 – a new look for our Cohort as we continue to journey together in a different framework, but still with the core threads of love, authenticity, adventure and respect.