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Tairāwhiti Unconference: Future

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

As part of our Matariki celebrations, the Data Party crew based in Tāiki E organised Tairāwhiti’s first very own Unconference. In total, there were around 45 attendees who participated in 24 sessions covering topics from waste, to whānau engagement in education, the future of work, video production, NFTs, and male birth control. We had our fly-on-the-wall notetakers lovelingly document every session so that we can share the diversity and depth of conversations. This is the second blog post in a two-part series documenting what was explored during Unconference Tairāwhiti: Past, Present, Future 2022. It offers summaries of all the conversations with topics of the future.


Housing, Marae and Papakāinga

Hosts: Tomairangi and Donnette

This calm and respectful session was about succession for Marae and Papakāinga. Questions were raised around capacity for maintenance, access when roads are broken, and the challenge of people being disconnected from their homes. “How do we connect our whānau back to their land and birthright?” asked one participant. Another said: “We started off as a whānau unit, we need to get back to this.” There was a strong sense of responsibility to be on the Marae. “It’s a mindset”.

The 4-day working week

Host: everyone

In this positive and passionate session, people explored the rationale behind the 4-day work week and questioned whether it is the best solution to reach a place of better wellbeing. Someone voiced: "I find it hard to do my mahi in 5 days, so how will I be able to do it in a 4 day working week?". Another person shared what they valued is autonomy of their role. They discussed challenges of inefficiency, productivity and boundaries. At the end of the session, participants raised an underlying question:“Wellbeing is the bigger picture: What can we trial, that might not be a 4-day working week, that can build our wellbeing and productivity together?”

Zero waste plan

Host: Jo

This session brought together movers and shakers ready to take action! Participants agreed that as a community, we have the idea’s, passion and energy to create and impacting zero waste plan. Currently, our waste is going to another iwi, which everyone agreed is not a solution. The group identified the need to know more about what has happened on this topic in the past before setting out to make a new plan. They identified challenges such as the lack of incentives to reduce waste, and that there is not much guidance on how to reduce it. “As consumers, we have no idea how it works,” voiced someone in the session. Nevertheless, the group was positive and keen for action: “This is not a short-term thing. It needs to be a gradual process to long term solutions”.

Competition vs collaboration

Host: Pascale

This thoughtful and considered session reflected on two opposing approaches to human interactions and getting things done: collaboration vs competition. Participants highlighted that there are less tools and frameworks for collaboration than for competition, especially in spaces of business and commerce. Funding too seems to be geared towards competition and can find it difficult to engineer for collaboration. Someone noted the role of humility: “Humility is key - stop rewarding individualism and ego.” A need was identified to put more time and value into building and nurturing relationships and to ensure people stay connected.

Disability Seen / Unseen

Host: Liz

This considered and sombre session calmly reflected on the way we think, talk about, and interact with people with disabilities in our society. One person shared how they used to be intimidated by disabled people. Another voiced that disability is a western framework that has created a culture of low expectations. There was consensus around the opportunities for everyone that can arise from a “total paradigm shift” that is “not about disability but more about difference”. Participants discussed the role of employers and noted that their attitudes are changing. There was a sense of pride that Aotearoa New Zealand is the first country in the world to have a Government Ministry dedicated to disabilities. Overall, the idea prevailed that we should “look at people’s strength, because it by far outweighs their disability”.

Financial Literacy Future

Host: everyone

This was a dynamic and energetic session with a strong focus on our regions tamariki and rangatahi. Key points were that financial literacy needs to start in our kura, because kids don’t necessarily know anything about money. They want a certain lifestyle but have no idea of the cost behind it. One of the participants noted that it's important to create an environment where young people can talk about finance. Others shared their own experiences, that they didn’t know their student allowance was a loan, and that they didn’t know they had to save for a deposit. It was clear there is a lot of work to do on this front to change mindsets and have more conversations with our young people.

Te Reo Māori

Host: Ngarangi

This session had people learning by doing, pairing up for tuakana-taina style reo learning, making it fun, playing games, and going outside into Treble Court, all while learning new kupu and encouraging each other to just ‘give it a go’. There was a mix of more and less experienced speakers and both Māori and pakeha attended. Everyone contributed and got a step further in their reo journey.

Crypto and NFTs - Engagement with Rangatahi

Hosts: Leighton and Damian

Brains were stretched and minds bent in this session that shed light on how rangatahi are engaging in the world of cryptocurrencies and NFTs. Stan Walker is holding a crypto concert, farting cats are selling for millions. It was clear that this whole world is hard to grasp for a lot of people. Our rangatahi are onto it though and see crypto and NFTs as a way to come together and connect with others with similar interests. The presenters shared that people in the NFT community are very engaged because they have shared beliefs. They give back to the community when they earn revenue, and they are teaching rangatahi to do the same through gaming.

Changing our minds

Host: everyone

This session invited people to think twice, question, and wonder; it was an exercise in philosophy. Participants discussed nothing less than the state of the world and the need to change our materialistic mindsets.” Technology has worked in a way”, they said, “but it has taken away our connections. What we need is changing minds. Or is it changing hearts?” There was a deep concern for where we are in history: “Everything is at a crossroads and it’s all heading down - it’s all doom” voiced one person. Industry is starving for labour and kids are leaving school without hand-on skills, others shared. Marae are starving because people are not coming together, another pitched in. Some concerns were very close to home: “I’m scared for my grandkids too - only five families in my street are not in a gang”. Despite the honest assessment of where we are, there was also hope. “We can bring back true tikanga starting in the home, right from when they [our children] are babies”. “This is an exciting time for changing mindsets for Aotearoa New Zealand and the world”.

Future of work, technology and the four-day working week.

Host: everyone

This positive spirited session unravelled how and why we work the way we work. It started with a look at the shortages we have across many sectors, acknowledging that people are asking themselves: “What am I doing?” Jobs don’t seem to hold the value that people seek. There is a shift away from consumerism towards moderation - not wanting too much but enjoying our time. “We have less money but way more time,” is how one participant put it. Ideas were shared around working with the seasons, knowing your neighbours and collectivising more. An appreciation was shared for the ebbs and flows of productivity of time and for “spaces that make you thrive rather than grind your chain”. Co-operatives were frequently mentioned as a way of working that could offer some of the value we seek.

Time capsule experience

Host: everyone

Participants in this session brainstormed on how we could create a virtual version of Gisborne, past and present, that people could visit in the future. This would involve using 360 video cameras to capture footage of our streets, buildings and people going about their day. It would include filming kaumātua as they tell their stories. This could then be stored digitally as a time capsule, perhaps under a physical memorial. In essence, the storage would be on the blockchain, possibly in the form of NFTs. While there are still a few details to sort out, the people in this group were keen to make this project a reality here in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa.

About Unconference Tairāwhiti: Past, Present, Future

For the first time in Aotearoa, Matariki was officially celebrated as a public holiday on 24 June 2022. Matariki is a time for remembrance, celebrating the present and looking to the future.

Tāiki e! brought together Tairāwhiti’s first unconference focussed on creating space for dynamic conversations that are led by the people of Tairāwhiti.

What is an unconference?

An unconference is driven by the participants that show up on the day. No topics are predetermined, no keynote speakers have been invited, no panels have been arranged. Instead, the people that show up decide what topics will be discussed and they convene the breakout sessions.

In other words, an unconference has no agenda until the participants create it. Tairāwhiti…past, present, future unconference is an open opportunity for our community to kōrero about key topics relating to Tairāwhiti from past, present and future perspectives.

About Tāiki e!

Tāiki e! helps to inspire, connect and empower others to shine in their own leadership and aroha. We support others who have a shared vision for a prosperous, regenerative and caring community.


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