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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.

Welcome to the 2016 Participants by Nick Astwick

Nick Astwick is Chief Operating Officer at Kiwibank, 2010 Alumni and the Deputy Chair of the Leadership NZ Trustees. He joined us on the opening morning of the first session of the 2016 Leadership Programme to welcome the 2016 participants to the whanau.


Kia Ora, Talofa Lava, Nia Hao, Namaste – good morning everyone. 

It is so great to be here welcoming you all on this first morning of the 2016 year and kicking off a new cohort at the start of their Leadership NZ journey. Welcome to you all and congratulations for being selected and best of luck making it through day 1.

I am a proud graduate of Leadership NZ, being part of the alumni of the 2010 Programme; a current Trustee of Leadership New Zealand and a proud Supporting Partner of Leadership NZ through my role as the Chief Operating Officer at Kiwibank. And it is a great pleasure to be able to welcome you all here today. 

You guys are in real trouble this year – three of you coming from Kiwibank/NZPOST. Dianna Taylor, Hillary Palmer and Marion Schrama. 

Just over 11 years ago Leadership NZ’s founder, Jo Brosnahan (who you will meet tonight) sat down with a small group of NZ leaders to ask what could be done to develop leadership in NZ? As a result of their discussions, Leadership NZ was formed with the vision of “Enriching New Zealand through active leadership in a connected community”. 

You guys are in for a real treat this year. Through the connection I have with Leadership NZ, I wanted to share with you some of my personal insights of the Leadership NZ Programme and experience. 

I remember vividly, my first day on the Leadership NZ Programme. It was at the Rose Garden in Parnell. I can remember sitting down after quickly meeting all of the others in my year and thinking what the hell have I got myself into. What leadership insights am I ever going to learn to further my banking career from an Anglican Minister, from a poet, from a viticulturist and most of all from the banker from ANZ?

There is a saying, “Leadership cannot be taught it has to be learnt”. For me, genuinely learning about leadership started on this very first day. The Leadership NZ Programme and experience is unique, and in my opinion, unrivalled in New Zealand because it understands this deeply. Through the rich diversity of its participants, through the breadth and depth of topics set within the New Zealand context and through the power of conversation it delivered for me a rich and transformative learning experience.

In film, it takes great actors to bring stories to life; to ensure they deeply connect with the audience. For me, the greatest learning experiences I had with Leadership NZ was the exposure and conversation we had with some of New Zealand's greatest leaders. Through their honesty, through listening to their personal leadership experiences (both good and bad) and through understanding what they believe and what they stand for, I really started to understand what great leadership is and isn't. 

So what is great leadership? For me,

  • I learnt that great leadership comes from all parts of society, cultures and rank. On the flip side, I learnt that poor leadership comes from all parts of society, cultures and rank;
  • I learnt that great leadership is about presence (or in New Zealand terms mana) and that presence is rarely bestowed but often hard fought for;
  • I learnt that great leadership is about having the strength to look to the horizon when others are looking at the waves lapping at their feet;
  • I learnt that great leadership is often about serving others;
  • I learnt that great leadership can only ever be achieved by overcoming resistance. “What you resist persists”– “resistance” is the weight that leaders need to constantly bench-press to build confidence and capability. The bigger the resistance the greater the leadership achievement; and,
  • I learnt that great leadership is about “charity with clarity” - treat everyone with the greatest of respect but be crystal clear in what you expect.

These are some of my insights and reflections of what great leadership is about. They are as vivid for me today as they were in 2010. However, these are only my insights. To the class of 2016, it is up to you to form your view of what great leadership is through the personal experiences you have over the year. 

Leadership NZ would be nothing without the talent, commitment and the leadership of the Leadership NZ team. Through the efforts and excellence of Sina, Judy, Louise, Nicola, Annette and Tania, Leadership NZ and the Programme you will experience this year is first class. 

You are here because you are leaders in your own right and this Programme represents another chapter in your leadership journey. I encourage you to listen, to learn, to challenge and to reflect so you can make the most of this opportunity. If you do, I am confident that you will be taken to your learning edge, you will become more self-aware and resilient and you will be able to confidently step forward as great leaders in your organisation and/or your communities.

During the Programme, you will have the opportunity to meet and talk with a number of our Alumni about their experiences and to share your own with them, for many offer their support to Louise and Sina at various times during the programme. Make the most of these interactions. 

I look forward to meeting and talking each of you as our paths cross over the year. On behalf of the Trustees of Leadership NZ I wish you all the best. Good luck. Thank you for listening.