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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.

A Civil Society - Our People

by Jen Linney, Strategic Advisor - Operations Group at ACC

Te Oro really stands out as a building of beauty and creativity with its gorgeous curves and copper work.  It provides a vibrant hub for the community in the heart of Glen Innes. We were made to feel welcome by Leadership NZ alumna, Jenny Heka.

Having recently read Pat Sneddon’s “Pakeha and the Treaty,” I was delighted to have the chance to meet him. He is a great story teller, bringing to life the events of 30 years ago that certainly did not cover the government of the time or middle NZ in a positive light. It made me realise that although we have a long way to go to reach anything like equality, we have certainly come a long way from the Muldoon era of the 70’s.

I learned about the great work of Manaiakalani Education Trust and Pat’s story of the local kids advertising for their own teacher using technology was inspiring. What a great idea. A truly customer centric way of working. It made me think about possibilities in my own organisation.

I found myself wondering who are the new Pat Snedden’s of today that will make a difference for the future? Who of us here in the 2016 cohort feel so passionate about a cause that we would be prepared to be arrested for it? What am I prepared to be arrested for? I have to think hard about this question and yet when I asked my 73 year old mother there was absolutely no hesitation from her. “my family.”

I love the “My life” sessions at Leadership New Zealand. It feels like a real privilege to be a part of something so intimate and to hear of the significant events, both joyous and painful, that shape who we are today.

Being a foodie, one of the highlights for me was the delicious catering throughout the two days from the lunch catered by the Umana trust, the delicious Pacific dinner partly sponsored by the Pacific Business Trust and of course the coffee. There is nothing like the smell of fresh coffee being brewed in the traditional Ethiopian way and the added bonus was meeting the lovely Ethiopian women, looking splendid in their traditional “kitchen” attire.  Throughout the food was served with such warmth and for me really added a richness to the session.

Glen Innes and the surrounding area felt like a true reflection of the multi-cultural population of Auckland. Getting out to visit some of the local community groups was a great opportunity to learn how these culture’s assimilate into NZ life and yet manage to maintain their sense of uniqueness.  My syndicate were welcomed into the Chinese New Settlers Service Trust in Panmure. What an amazing service to new Asian immigrants offering advice, counselling, social work, language lessons to name a few of the services so necessary to help new comers feel welcome and settle into their new home. What did they do beforehand? I think of the poor women, often stuck at home while their husband worked and the kids were schooled. All for a better life.

Hearing the rest of the groups feedback too from places like the Refugee Resettlement Centre and Presbyterian Support Services made me think how much we rely on the good will of people to prop up our society and keep it functioning to the extent possible. The ensuing conversation around the role of government in the provision of social services stayed with me. I always thought I was clear that the government had a responsibility to ensure that everyone had the basics of life, a roof, enough food and access to education. Although this is essentially still my belief I am realising there is an important role to be played by all of us in our communities to do our bit to close the gap between rich and poor and to support new people into our country. The how it all comes together is the hard part.  Maybe we can sort this out in our discussions at Palmerston North J

Unexpectedly, I have been haunted by the memory of the young people whose beautiful dance Move, evoked such emotion in me. Their power to tell a story with such rawness, such grace and honesty was both compelling and confronting. Leilani Clark and her team have done an amazing job and I cannot wait to see them perform again.

Coming back to work I think about the way we experience the world on Leadership NZ; the creativity- dance, writing poetry, writing on jandals for goodness sake; the learning and practising of mindfulness; sharing the deep and meaningful events in our lives that make us who we are.  All of these generate strong feelings- fear, love, peace. It feels so right and good.  I contrast my daily life at ACC, caught in the merry-go-round of deadlines, meetings and emails. I find myself wondering what really gets achieved in all this time pressured chaos and I conclude that work would be a better place if I/we slowed down and introduced some of the Leadership NZ practises into our work habits.