The Best Is Yet To Come
With the current change we are experiencing in our world, we believe it is important to recognise the gravity of the situation but also equally as important to recognise the possibilities as we reshape our futures.
This is a time to re-evaluate our lives and choices personally, but also look at the world as a whole - what changes do we believe need to be made? With this in mind, we bring you The Best Is Yet To Come. We chat to our friends & leaders within their industry and discuss their hopes for how we will reshape and evolve moving forward...
'It’s hard loving fashion when fashion doesn’t love you back. You’d think you’d give up on it eventually, but it doesn’t seem to work like that. I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to change my body (namely, make it smaller) to fit fashion rather than change fashion to fit me.
'I’m no trail blazer or spokesperson when it comes to size representation in the clothing industry, instead finding myself shying away from so many times when I could have spoken up - sent a letter, voiced an opinion. Embarrassed rather than outraged when clothes weren’t made in my size. I often think about the near 20 years, the brain power and the energy that I have wasted consumed by diet culture, fat phobia and self loathing that I could have used making positive change in the world.
'Now that we're seeing, feeling and experiencing this change in fashion where bodies of all types are slowly (very slowly) being, if not embraced, accepted. I know this is the fruit of others labour and not my own to claim, and yet the relief I experience in witnessing this revolution is immense. I’m not just giddy with the possibilities of beautiful clothes I can wear, but with the clear eyes and mind of someone who now really sees the beauty in everybody, and with that comes self-acceptance.
'This change largely hasn’t come from the top, from celebrities or large brands, it has come from individuals that have put themselves, and their bodies out there in the public arena - often to a barrage of bullying comments, attacks and abuse that I know I could never handle and am too afraid to try. And yet, these heroes of mine, they keep going, they delete the hate, they send the letters, they take the photos and they tell us that they are worthy and in doing that they remind us that we are worthy too.
'It’s a reminder no person should ever need but it speaks to just how vital representation - not just of large bodies but tall bodies, short bodies, differently abled bodies, differently coloured bodies, differently adorned bodies - really is. And the wakening realisation that until that representation applies to your own lived experience, it can feel a lot like a pretty picture or a woke gesture, but that when it truly mirrors a reality for you the power of that, and the potential for change, is massive.
'For me, that change is a freedom - I have all this energy and capacity now for getting pretty bloody rarked up about stuff but also passionate about it. I no longer feel the need to shrink as small as I can, hoping to make self invisible rather than the horror of anyone realising I’m fat. I’ll be forever indebted to those that trod the path before me but I now feel I can help join that fight and keep pushing for that change in the fashion industry (actually, make that all industries). Using my voice and my power to cheerlead those that sincerely make positive and inclusive changes and to criticise those that don’t. 2020 was a cluster, but it taught us a lot and I can’t help but feel optimistic that things are shifting as we look outwards instead of inwards, and care more fully and thoughtfully about everyone in our community.'
Lilah McDonald, Founder of Water Us
'My name is Lilah McDonald and I am a year 6 student at St Cuthbert’s College. Three years ago my family and I travelled overseas to Europe and one day I noticed a big bank of water fountains in the square. It was then when I wondered why I had never seen anything like that anywhere in Auckland, and then when I thought about it, any drinking fountains at all in Auckland. So when I got back to New Zealand I did some research and it turns out that Auckland is very behind on the amount of drinking fountains we have. For example, only 16% of Auckland’s playgrounds and 5% of Auckland’s parks have drinking fountains. Overall, Auckland only has 370 fountains.
'Water fountains are actually very important for many reasons, two being: 1. People’s health. Often when people are thirsty, they will go to the dairy to buy bottled water. What also often happens is they will go to the dairy intending to purchase a bottle of water and instead buy a sugary drink because they are cheaper than bottled water. 2. The environment. Approximately 1,500 bottles end up in landfill and the ocean each second around the world. If there are more water fountains, people could fill up their drink bottles instead of buying bottled water and the bottles the water come in wouldn't end up in landfill.
'My goal is to double the amount of water fountains in Auckland by the end of 2021 (and after this continuing my project throughout New Zealand), to change people’s drinking habits and to help the environment. I have started a social enterprise called Water Us, selling toilet paper to help raise money to buy more drinking fountains to gift back to our communities. I chose toilet paper because it’s a product that everyone needs and one that would generate regular income. This way people can support a charity through everyday purchases.
'Water Us has launched on the Pledge Me crowdfunding platform, so that we can fund our first container of tree free, environmentally friendly toilet paper with pre-sales. I’m really excited to be launch on Pledge Me as it means more people will be able to find out about my social enterprise.
'I feel a very strong connection with the ocean and I think that something needs to be done about the amount of plastic that enters it every day. I hope that my project will have a positive impact on the environment and I would really love for you to help me achieve this goal.
'Please help me spread the word about my PledgeMe campaign and support me if you can.'
'Every day I wake up in February, Aotearoa New Zealand is a little queerer. Rainbow stairs, rainbow crossing, rainbow corporate logos and even rainbow police cars. Eerie. But the most crucial thing, rainbow rights, are still missing. The New Zealand government has been applauded worldwide for its kindness. But this kindness has been cruel and violent to the vulnerable queer people in Aotearoa. While the government delays the ban on conversion therapy, more queer people will suffer.
'When I migrated from Fiji to Aotearoa, I thought I would finally achieve freedom. I was expecting roses and sunshine, but I was met with pastors and a bible. In the summer of 2017, I was volunteering at Middlemore Hospital when a priest walked up to me and offered to "pray my gay away". I refused. So he looked at me, and he said, "it's hot, but you know what's hotter? Hell." In 2021, it is legal to erase queer identities in Aotearoa in the form of conversion therapy.
'Conversion therapy is any practice that seeks to change, suppress, or eliminate someone's sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. In reality, it isn't therapy at all. It would be better described with a name like conversion torture. And Joan Bellingham's story is a horrific demonstration of it.
'Joan Bellingham grew up wanting to be a nurse. When the word got out that she was a lesbian, she was taken to the Princess Margaret Hospital, not as a nurse but as a patient. Joan was falsely diagnosed with a "neurotic personality disorder" and tormented with over 200 electric shocks. Joan said the headaches made her want to die, and the shocks felt like razor blades going through her body. She's 69 years old now, still a lesbian, but she says she ended up hating herself.
'Frankly, conversion therapy is junk science. Leading medical bodies call it unethical, harmful and ineffective. Take McKrae Game, for example. Game led a faith-based conversion therapy program, Hope for Wholeness in the USA, for two decades before coming out as gay in 2019. He claimed to have counselled thousands of people and admitted he'd harmed generations of queer people.
'Although there is no evidence of people being shocked to treat their queerness in 2021, queer people are still being punished. Many have turned to psychoanalysis. An undercover TVNZ Sunday investigation found Natasha Ellis, a psychologist suggested by David Ridell leader of Living Wisdom, saying same-sex "attraction can absolutely be changed".
'"Jay" went undercover as a young Christian gay man struggling with this sexuality. Ellis gave Jay a set of cards with phrases that would rewire his brain. Ellis instructed Jay to memorise the phrases, text them to himself twice a day and read them every morning and night.
'Others use aversion therapy. If you've ever heard of Pavlov's dogs, this is it. It includes snapping oneself with a rubber band, having an ice-cold shower or inflicting pain on yourself every time you feel or think "queerly". After multiple pairings of an aversive stimuli with queerness, "queer" thoughts start to elicit the same reaction as the aversive stimuli. The goal is to make any queer thoughts or feelings aversive by associating them with pain and suffering, therefore accepting your queerness becomes a punishment.
'There is no evidence that conversion therapy works. However, the Family Acceptance Project found that conversion therapy increases high levels of depression from 13% to 52% and suicide rates from 22% to 63% for queer people when parents and medical professionals or religious leaders practise it.
'The most significant practitioners of conversion therapy are religious extremists. National MPs Simon Bridges and Nick Smith have come to defend religious extremists calling conversion therapy religious freedom in recent years.
'There are numerous stories of young people praying to God to "heal them or kill them" after being told by their church to pray for forgiveness. My friend Trinity Browne said they were taught that loving God would make them straight and fix a fundamental imperfection of who they were - that their queerness was a God-given, Satan-imposed cross to bear to strengthen their character.
'There is a fine line between religious freedom and religious bigotry. Conversion therapy is bigotry. Religious leaders have weaponised the relationship queer people have with God and manipulated them into thinking God will hate them if they don't repent. This bullying clothed in "love" is an insidious abuse of trust and power. God doesn't care if you are gay or trans; being a decent human will suffice. As for these religious leaders, they have driven many queer people into a life of pain and misery, and God will never forgive them for it.
'More than 370 religious leaders worldwide have rejected the idea that torturing queer people is a universal religious right and joined the call for a ban on conversion therapy. In every democratic society, the rights and freedoms of people are balanced. Religious rights are not absolute. Section 5 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights allows justifiable limitations on all rights. The severe harm prevented by banning conversion therapy provides a more than justifiable reason.
'The question is then, can adults consent to conversion therapy? Well, no one is waking up on a random Sunday morning and choosing to pray the gay away out of sheer curiosity. It takes years of queerphobic conditioning before someone prefers abuse over queerness. Coercion is present socially and mentally, which breaches the fundamental principles of consent. Vulnerable adults who may want to engage in conversion therapy are a product of a queerphobic society and have been conditioned to believe there is something wrong with them. People aren't giving informed consent to conversion therapy. People aren't told that there's no evidence it'll work and that it will increase depression levels and the risk of suicide. Instead, they are lied to and told their gender and sexuality can be changed. Instead of misleading people into torture, we should invest in affirming people's gender and sexuality.
'The Labour Party has released its timeline to ban conversion therapy. The bill will be introduced to the house in mid-2021 and come into action in February 2022. In this time, the government is obliged to do things that do not require law changes.
'Banning conversion therapy is not the same as ending it. The harm has been done, and the state is responsible for redressing it. The victims and survivors must be given support to heal from the harm of conversion therapy. We also need a robust education of all New Zealanders. Punitive approaches alone won't solve these issues; they need a nuanced approach. However, the government is only proposing a ban. This is a sign that little effort has been made on their behalf to consult the queer community.
'A blanket ban alone work for all communities. Some need more. Young ethnic queer people have a preference to stay with their family. But there seems to be no conversation about how we are to navigate situations where a young brown person is being put into conversion therapy but doesn't want to tear their family apart. Further, if the child prefers to stay with the family regardless, fining and imprisoning parents directly affects the child. Taking $10,00 away from the parents is taking $10,000 from the child. The government must provide an accessible safety net of understanding that diverts people from conversion therapy.
'The Green Party petition to end conversion therapy has gained more than 150,000 signatures. New Zealanders are hungry to see all forms of conversion therapy ended. But the National Party has only committed to banning gay conversion therapy and haven't discussed gender conversion therapy. David Seymour says the ACT party will vote against banning conversion therapy. I'd feel very lonely if I were them.
'The Labour Party campaigned on banning conversion therapy. They need 61 votes to do so and have 65. They can do as they please. The Green, Māori and National party will support a ban – which is 110 votes. The government can and must end conversion therapy.'
'I’m the daughter of Peranakan Chinese immigrants, the word ‘Peranakan’ roughly translating to ‘my ancestors are from elsewhere but I consider this place home’ — which is to say, it is in my blood to be tauiwi, to search for and negotiate a sense of belonging on somebody else’s land.
'Last year, I was lucky enough to spend time speaking with a range of leaders in the arts sector, the beginnings of a kind of map for the future. I’d like to echo part of their whakaaro, about privileging Indigenous knowledges, which is not only about first and foremost re-centring Māori values and a Māori way of doing things, but to recognise the many cultures and communities who now call Aotearoa home and to deepen our understanding of the different ways we might see or do things. I’d like to see those knowledges embedded into the fabric of our industry: from the details we ask for when we catalogue an artwork, to our funding processes, to the way that we talk about and value our work.
'Last year, at the beginning of the pandemic, I spent sleepless hours thinking about how to support the community of Asian artists I work with. Not only were we being hit by the arts sector shutting down, we were experiencing a very real rise in anti-Asian sentiment. It was awful. It hurt. I don’t just mean the explicit acts of violence, or even the many racist slurs. I’m also talking about how easy it is to reduce someone to an identity marker, and all the smaller, less visible ways that unexamined and unconscious prejudices can manifest.
'As we enter the lunar new year, I’m hopeful. For me, this year is about developing new rituals: to work harder to align my values with my actions, to continue negotiating what it means to be tauiwi — to deepen my understanding of both te ao Māori and my Peranakan heritage — and to keep expanding the outer limits of my imagination. That’s important too, because I feel like anything is possible in this tender moment.'
Stacey Morrison - Ngāi Tahu/Te Arawa, Pākehā
'Tēnā tātou katoa,
'Where are you from? I’m from New Zealand.
'Nō hea koe? Nō Aotearoa ahau.
'Where are you from? I am from Aotearoa.
'Is there a difference for you, when you say that you come from New Zealand, to when you say you’re from Aotearoa? To say you come from Aotearoa, in our indigenous language of our country, you are recounting the call of Hine te apārangi as she sighted this land and called ‘He ao, he ao, he ao tea roa!’ it is a cloud, a cloud, a long white cloud, knowing that meant there was land below that long white cloud. That moment pulsates through our country’s history until it comes from your mouth, and resonates in your heart because this is the place you call home. Our home, Aotearoa, happens to be so very good looking, lush and unique, that it’s easy to be swept away with the aethestics and miss some dirty laundry we have lying around. The Treaty of Waitangi, first signed on February 6th 1840, gives us a reference point for our nation and an opportunity for endless study of the promises made, subterfuge at play and interpretation of the genuine intent. For better or for worse (note the reference to marriage vows) a partnership was born, one that envelopes Tangata whenua and The Crown, which includes Tangata tiriti – a term that has developed for ‘people of the treaty’ non-Māori whose place in Aotearoa is affirmed in the Treaty. So, we are all partners, and every partnership needs work, communication, give and take, and a willingness to apologise when we know we have been wrong. The Crown Apology delivered to Ngāi Tahu (one of my iwi) in 1998 acknowledged that the Crown acted “unconscionably and in repeated breach of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi in its dealings with Ngāi Tahu in the purchase of Ngāi Tahu land.” Many people know of the Ngāi Tahu Treaty settlement and subsequent financial growth but the acknowledgement of the cultural, fiscal and social suffering of Ngāi Tahu as a result of treaty breaches was deeply significant and emotional for our people, when it was delivered in person at Akaroa in 1998. This was also the point at which the Crown expressed their desire to “begin the process of healing and to enter a new age of co-operation with Ngāi Tahu” which feels like a good intent, to me. Co-operation, mutual respect, giving each other space, together time and time to be alone, to grow together while respecting each other’s individuality are some concepts of partnership that resonate for me when I think of positive relationships, whether they are romantic, or one that allows us to have a harmonious existence, in Aotearoa. So, as we may ask ourselves in a relationship from time to time ‘Am I being the partner that I want to be, a partner that I would want to be with? I think Waitangi day is an opportunity to ask ourselves ‘am I being the Treaty Partner I want to be?’
'Growing up, I strived to be as masculine as I possibly could be. I was relentless in my pursuit to be the biggest bloke on the block. To my knowledge, no one was openly queer while I was in high school. I’m sure I had peers who felt the same as me at the time, nervous. It wasn’t so much about coming out to my classmates that frightened me to the point of sickness; it was the ensuing stereotypes that stuck like glue. Once you’ve thrown yourself in a ‘box’, it’s difficult to break it down. Back then, I felt like being queer was synonymous with being feminine, flamboyant, overly-dramatic, a pansy – someone with a slinky as a backbone. I assumed being feminine made me less of a man.
'So, I covered my femininity up. I force-feed myself masculinity. I served it up cold for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I injected myself into situations I thought were self-serving. I played rugby, I dabbled in soccer, I made sexist slurs about girls’ behinds in the locker rooms with the lads to fit in. At times, I even poorly attempted to chase tail. I spoke in a lower voice. I refused to talk about my emotions, I kept them so tightly locked up, and I swallowed the key, too. I pretended to be a brick wall when I was nothing more than fresh jelly that had only been setting in the fridge for an hour or so. I put on a front so people would leave me in the shadows, I liked it there. I stopped openly caring for myself because I assumed caring for yourself was feminine, and I couldn’t have that, it would blow my cover.
'When my sister, Anna-Lise, asked me to contribute to RUBY’s The Best Is Yet To Come, I knew instantly what I wanted to ramble on about. This means everything to me. I wholeheartedly believe toxic Kiwi male masculinity is real, it’s feral, and it’s seeded in our children’s development. We enable bullies to water the toxic culture, to keep it hydrated, to let it grow without limitations and sprout men who don’t know how to express themselves.
'I didn’t wear pink for five years, I didn’t wash my face or slap on a serum for the entirety of my high school experience. I tried to fit in to ensure I didn’t stand out. And somewhere along the way, I stopped caring for myself. I didn’t allow myself to dance, or scream because, god forbid, I was dramatic. I didn’t reach out to my friends when I felt low, or sometimes, felt like nothing at all. And I think that’s the crux, and where so many boys who are growing up, slip up. I stopped allowing myself to express myself, and it chipped away at me, bit by bit, piece by piece. In my relentless pursuit of supreme masculinity, I ended up with nothing. I was mundane, a mute who failed at playing rugby and had as much personality as an entire beige house, with a faux electric fire.
'We need to deconstruct masculinity and what it means to be a man. It needs to be retaught to our most susceptible demographic, our younger generation. Many of my guy friends, who identify as both heterosexual and queer, struggle with their emotions. They haven’t sharpened their emotional toolbox, and it’s left them incapable of managing adult experiences. If we rework masculinity from the ground up, allow children to be free and express themselves without following bullshit societal norms, we’ll build a community that cares. Let boys wear skirts to school. Encourage teenagers to be open about their sexuality and provide safe spaces. Stop instilling sports gender-segregation. Boys should play netball at junior school if they want to. Boys should be allowed to apply pink Kosas Lip Oil in the bathroom without being ridiculed. Boys should be taught to accept each other, regardless of their sexual orientation. Boys need to know it’s okay not to be okay.
'If we dismantle out-dated masculinity ideals, we might be able to chip away at our male suicide rate in New Zealand – which is three times that of New Zealand women. One in eight New Zealand men will experience severe depression during their lifetime. I’m not talking about feeling low, I’m talking about suffering from a serious illness that requires clinical treatment. This is the reality of where we are at.
'Personally, I am ready to wipe-out the terms ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ altogether. But, for the sake of this piece, if I were to consider what being masculine truly is, I would say it’s ambiguous. As long as you feel it; you are it. I don’t think there is one definition. I do, however, believe there is nothing more masculine than being unapologetically yourself. Whatever that might be.'
While it’s a New Year, my intentions have not changed, in fact, they are more resolute than ever. After a 2-week break to immerse myself in the ocean and nature, pushing all thoughts of sustainability in the fashion industry aside, I’ve emerged fully determined to play my part in making change happen!
Creating a sustainable future for our planet ultimately comes down to a matter of responsibility - from society, business and government. While we are all responsible for the part we play, some have greater responsibility and greater ability to affect change. As Elizabeth Cline says in her excellent article The Twilight of the Ethical Consumer, “companies have a responsibility to society.” To bring about substantive change in the fashion industry, we need our businesses to operate in a responsible way, and we need to tackle root causes through systemic action, policy and regulation to ensure this happens.
For companies, really understanding the long term purpose of their business, and measuring success in ways other than purely financial is important. I would like to see businesses measuring their progress against the Sustainable Development Goals, or natural, social and cultural capitals as well as financial. Measuring and taking action to reduce footprints, especially carbon, but also waste, water and biodiversity are vital. We need full transparency of supply chains, so businesses can make mindful and informed decisions. Production that meets demand - rather than over-producing, and creating demand to meet this is also critical to relieving pressure on our people and resources. Designing for a circular economy, and creating the systems to enable this to happen is a priority, but also a huge challenge for us in New Zealand. This is due to our remote and isolated location, and our reliance on global supply chains for much of our industry infrastructure. Government regulation and policy will incentivise change and force more responsibility from companies, however, I’m encouraged that some businesses are acting before they need to.
Individually we can, and should, be active consumers. The number one thing we can do is be mindful in our choices. We all need to buy things. Regardless of what level of the market we are buying in, demand responsibility from the brands you love and be informed about who and what you are supporting. This could be through making active decisions not to overconsume, or to support businesses who are taking action on known issues such as workers wages or waste. As consumers, right now the onus is on us to be aware of the end-of-life pathway of our stuff, so we need to think about this when we make a purchase. There is no ‘away’ when we throw something, it goes somewhere and mostly that’s landfill. I question the brands I buy from - what’s their solution to end-of-life of their products? If they don’t have one, why not?
The slowed-motion life we’ve glimpsed in 2020 is something I’m actively trying to hold on to and I challenge businesses and consumers to do the same. Taking time to make informed decisions with knowledge of the consequences of actions, less focus on financial growth and more on a healthy planet and society.
'Anna-Lise asked me several weeks ago to put some words together and talk about change and possibilities within the field in which I work - that is, fashion primarily, as a hair and makeup artist. And honestly, having the chance to focus on this question, to be thoughtful in my response, has taken more time and effort than I expected.
'This year I became a mother. I simultaneously worked three jobs from the time Lulu was two months old. We rode through months of not being able to open our hair salon due to lockdowns. We renovated and sold a house. Dad had cancer. We are tired. We are all tired.
'Despite universal exhaustion, there is something wonderful happening in the fashion industry at the moment - and that is a recognition of the need for optimism in the work we create, the clothes we wear, the faces we see. Even designers who ordinarily produce sombre, serious collections are turning to tongue-in-cheek, quirky imagery.
'None of us got to travel this year, and even local travel has been restrictive. This meant we all had to get creative in where we have been working. How do we make Devonport look like Santorini? Bethells Lake another world? I’ve shot more on location, outdoors and immersed in nature than I can remember ever doing so. It’s been wonderful. We’ve inhaled fresh air, felt gusts of cool wind, and been chased by waves rushing towards our camera gear. After spending so much time indoors earlier this year with the threat of Covid, I’ve never appreciated these sensorial moments more. As I sat crunching sand between my toes on a shoot recently, Vicki Taylor pointed out to me how the rest of the world sees us right now - free to move, to make clothes, to take photographs without restraint. The images taken forty minutes from the centre of Auckland are revered and capture a feeling pined for by our colleagues in Europe. For this I feel sincere gratitude.
'And whilst in some ways these images we create are imaginings of foreign places, they’re also an ode to our backyard. Nor are they faux smiles and make-believe moments. I think they’re capturing a sigh of relief, a sense of accomplishment, and a feeling of real hope.
'This year we’ve all felt it. “It”. We’re learning to be more forgiving of each other and of ourselves. Yes, my kid is joining in this Zoom meeting. Yes, I’m still in my pyjamas. No, I need more time. No, I don’t feel great today. “It” has made us creative, adaptive, nurturing, supportive, and kinder.
'I already see the fashion industry following this trajectory, a segue into the new way of how things are done.
'I see fair wages. I see more ethical production. I see bigger sample sizes and diversity becoming inherent. I see women supporting women. I see safety, mentoring, conversation, and learning together. I see us naturally moving away from ‘the way it’s always been’ - not through an intention to cancel, but through a momentum towards positivity in how we work, and what we create.
'So, in summary, the change is already happening, and as we draw closer to 12.01am January 1st 2021, and collectively exhale, our clever little industry is ripe with possibility.
'As 2020 draws to a close, and we ease a little more smoothly into whatever the new normal is, now, more than ever, we’ve had more time to reflect on our lives and the way we do things. Between the misery of COVID-19, being unable to visit New Zealand and working from home (or living at work) for the last 9 months, for me, you’d think it’d be hard to choose what the most bizzare thing about this year was. Interestingly enough, it isn’t at all. The strangest thing about this year easily happened in June. Following the horrifying murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the re-emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, it was the band-aid approach that an embarrassing amount of brands took, to quickly switch up their social-media presence to include Black, Indigenous and other People of Colour (BIPOC).
There is a fine line between wanting to help and wanting to join the bandwagon. For a lot of BIPOC, performance activism and fake allyship can really feel like a slap in the face; Particularly when a lot of us have been campaigning for most of our lives. Unfortunately, it still seems as though marginalised communities have to band together and take matters into their own hands to combat under representation. This is why I started Diet Paratha. It’s a platform for the people, created to challenge stereotypes that western media has around Middle Eastern, North African and South Asian (MENASA) people. Stories about people who hail from these regions or their diasporas, are often centered around cultural attire, monuments, festivities, community initiatives and of course, negative stereotypes. It’s not often that MENASA people are represented in another light in the western world. We are so much more than this. Diet Paratha exists to flip the lens and highlight other positive representations to promote a wider remit of achievements.
'While platforms like mine are important for people to pluck confidence and inspiration from, we also need allies putting in work. As we continue to be historically excluded in the media from a wider stand point, white people need to hold each other accountable.
'While representation of all BIPOC is important, a feed full of only white and white-passing people doesn’t cut it either. There’s so much more that can be done to overthrow the system. White passing people often have greater privileges in society and widespread media. Ignoring this erases the experience of others less-so.
'The meaningful changes that need to be made in the creative and fashion industries, can be hard to see for some, and painfully obvious for others. More brands need to commit to dismantling the white default and cultural assimilation. Especially now, after our timelines no longer look the way they did in June.
'While representation plays a huge role in the fight for change, there is so much more to be done. Look at your teams and hire BIPOC across different levels of skill. Diversity doesn’t mean ‘one of each’ either. It can be hard when you’re always conscious about racism in the workplace, especially when your white colleagues have no idea you are or even feel like you have to be. Do your employees feel as though they belong in your workplace? For lots of BIPOC, the answer is a hard no. Don’t just use us in your presentations or as a tick on your diversity quota. Support senior BIPOC staff members. Bridge the ethnicity pay gap. Create safe workspace environments. How are ethnic minority team members treated by others where you work? Are their ‘full selves’ welcome at work or are they made to feel uncomfortable? Are your diversity and inclusion boards headed-up by white people who could be silencing some of the voices they’re intended to protect? Initiate those difficult conversations. Buy from us. Support BIPOC community initiatives. Interview us. Listen to us.
'Ethnic representation on an Instagram feed is simply not enough to be anti-racist and inclusive. It can’t make a permanent difference. Make statements that go beyond surface-level, optical allyship. Anything is possible if we want to move forward. I truly believe the best is yet to come, but change needs to start from the inside out.'
Jess Thompson Carr, Māori Mermaid - Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāruahine and Ngāpuhi
'When I began sharing and selling my art I had little to no qualifications that said I was fit to do so. I went to university but never art school. I had drawn all my life but this didn’t seem enough for some people. Regardless, I threw my work out there, primarily online, and as I did so I found my place and my happiness. Despite the pleasure I get from posting drawings and connecting with others who feel the same as I, there is a divide, and there are many obstacles that tell you that no matter how hard you work and how much you make, you will never be enough. This seems so cemented, especially when Pākehā artists get hired for illustration work that you, a Māori artist, could do just as well, or sell their large paintings depicting Māori people and culture for thousands of dollars despite knowing nothing about what it means to be Māori. This hurts. This takes up spaces that our own people could fill. This tells Māori artists that they are unworthy and will always be a last resort, even when it comes to their own birthrights.
'I believe in community over clout. I am hoping that one day soon we can move away from the elitist values, appropriation, and VIP themes we see in the Aotearoa art world and become more welcoming to our creative rangatahi. Change needs to happen so that our young ones can view being a creative as a viable option for their future, as something that will pay their rent, and as something that will support and help them mentally. We need to uplift our artists (especially indigenous artists) rather than try to drag them down or push them to the side. We need our non-Māori to take a step back when need be, to turn down some opportunities so that Māori artists can get a foot in the door, and to avoid cultural appropriation at all costs. I believe that if we utilise our empathy skills, exercise our kindness, learn about our history, and open our purses to purchase art from those just starting up, then we have a chance of establishing a healthier art world. It is essential that we prioritise Māori artists - Māori anyone - on Māori land. This is the path we can take in order to restore balance and Tino Rangatiratanga.'
Jordan Griffin, Founder Jordan Griffin Surfboards
'I started shaping surfboards in my last year of high school and have had Jordan Griffin Surfboards for about 6 years now. I grew up around the surf industry and have been surrounded in the culture my whole life. My Dad was a New Zealand representative surfer and taught me to surf from a young age so there was definitely no escaping it but I never wanted to. Every surfer knows it's a full addiction, but a good one. The feeling of riding a wave is indescribable, and I think that was why getting into the manufacturing side of surfboards was so easy for me to fall in to. I was so intrigued by the process of creating a surfboard from start to finish, how I could put the ideas I had in my head of shapes and designs to then go out in the surf and see how they performed.
'As a surfboard manufacturer from NZ and being so deep in the culture of surf, I have seen a range of highs and lows within the industry - from the fall of New Zealand's biggest surfboard factories, to the rise of imported surfboards, to now, witnessing local surf shops around our country stocking not one single NZ made product when their stores were once built around them.
'It is so easy for first time buyers to head in to a surf shop, pick up a surfboard off the shelf and with a whole kit of fins, a leg rope and wax you've scored a deal for under a grand - so damn cheap why wouldn't you, right?! But, it sadly comes with a price of underpaid workers and lower quality materials resulting in a product that will more than often not stand the test of time and end up in landfill quicker.
'It’s simply, and unfortunately, the uneducated choices of buyers who put local surfboard manufacturers at risk of extinction. Creating a custom made surfboard is a lot of hard work, it takes time, and yes it’s a bit higher in price than your average surfboard, but, a custom or handmade surfboard is a work of art and it’s tailor-made just for you and your needs to help you surf to the best of your ability. You can never put a price on that.
'At the start of this year I was really lucky. After such a busy summer, we obviously had the lockdowns of Covid-19 in NZ, and when I thought the worst for how my small business was going to cope, it actually turned out to be extremely helpful for my brand's growth. Supporting local businesses and locally made products was really pushed on consumers. And although it was a global pandemic that made people think harder about the construction of their purchases, at least it made them think, and I was really thankful for this. For all my old AND new customers who chose to support me throughout.
'I do think it would be really amazing to see more of a shift in how customers choose to purchase their surfboards in the future - At the end of the day, all we ask is to research before buying. Looking into what, where, and who you're purchasing from and making educated decisions based on that. And that applies just as much to other products we buy - clothing, homewares, food, etc. I try as much as I can to have this conversation regularly with my friends, with my customers and just in the surf community really, as well as using my social platforms to promote NZ MADE. Especially for the small group of original NZ surfboard manufacturers out there who are still doing what they love, creating beautiful surfboards after years of hard work but don't have the platforms to put it out there.
'Next time you look into buying a surfboard (or anything), put the price aside for a moment and do your research about what you're buying and where it's coming from.
Most importantly, support your locals!'
Here are a couple of my legendary NZ shapers that have helped get to where I am:
Alex Grima, Co-Founder of Foile
'Anything is possible! Let the changes that have been made this far instill a sense of hope and encouragement for people. The strength of individuals acting as a collective to drive change is so powerful - changes to single-use plastic bags, coffee cups etc, has happened. Business is a dialogue, I was never any good at economics but I understand that companies respond to demand. If we demand change, through our voice, through our purchasing power, through our actions, everything shifts accordingly.
'I believe a commitment to progression in business is vital. The best answers we have today might not be the ones for tomorrow and we need to be humble enough and open minded enough for that, we are going to get it wrong but if we are moving forward with the best intentions we are heading the right way. I’m so happy to admit I don’t yet know the best solution but there’s no shame in that, let’s just listen, learn and explore with a willingness to innovate and make these more progressive choices.
'There is a lot I think is possible in the cosmetic industry. To hero diversity in the representation of beauty, non-toxic ingredients, regenerative harvesting practices, Fair Trade, post-consumer plastic use and reusable packaging. Single-use packaging, especially with regard to freight and getting things A to B or wrapping, there are some really innovative solutions in the market now. Whether it’s reducing the impact of the life-cycle of the packaging produced or purely reducing the packaging that is needed.
'Also getting rid of outdated constructs of beauty. I really support us all nurturing our individual flair and sense of expression through beauty, what that looks like for you, what you really believe in and making independent decisions to follow this. This is also half way to cutting the waste because you are only buying what you love, will use and value.
'Finally a connection to Mother Earth! I’m a kiwi and miss that country! We are surrounded by such a rich, wonderful planet and I think if we spend time connecting with it and appreciating it, a lot of positive decisions will follow.'
Jess Hunter, Machinist
'My vision for the future of manufacturing in NZ...
'Attempting to visualise the future of patternmaking and clothing construction means looking to the past. Historically, in Aotearoa, our remoteness has dictated a certain level of self-sufficiency. Believe it or not, there was once a time that every Kiwi was dressed from head to toe in NZ-made clothing. Smith and Caugheys, now a purveyor of global luxury brands, boasted a fabric section where the women of the time would spend a Friday evening selecting their fabrics, in order to spend Saturday crafting dresses to wear dancing on Saturday night.
'Through these wild times, when the rest of the world is hitting pause for an undetermined amount of time, New Zealand is cautiously stepping out, in the way only we can. We’re reflecting, connecting, and turning inward, harnessing our greatest asset; Kiwi ingenuity. Moving forward, I see the potential for Kiwi brands to bring previously offshored roles back into the fold here at home. I look forward to a future where young people leave tertiary education to start a career in the practical trades of fashion; sewing, pattern-making, cutting and the like. I anticipate a future where the majority of our clothes are made locally, by our neighbours, friends and family, closing the loop on sustainable shopping practises.
'With Liam Patterns, consumers are able to learn to sew or brush up on their existing skills. They’re also being given the opportunity to develop a relationship with the process of garment manufacturing, experiencing, first-hand, the work that goes into every piece. Another benefit of this journey is that they will be sourcing fabric locally, thus supporting other businesses that have been so affected by the global Covid-19 pandemic.'
Tara Lorigan, Founder & CEO of Co.OfWomen
'It’s awesome to have the opportunity to share something that I’m deeply passionate about. It’s a subject that’s widely misunderstood or maybe more precisely, one that’s not being considered much at all.
'The subject is female power and importantly, how it can be harnessed. Think for a moment about the last time you read about this or talked about it or reflected about it for yourself…
'As the founder of an organisation dedicated to championing female success I’ve come to understand a lot about the subject as you’d reasonably expect. But it occurred to me a little while back that we were often considering female success from the perspective of the traits that hand-break our success.
'The media also loves a good victim story about us as demonstrated by the incessant rehashing of the same themes - the lack of women on boards, dismal pay equity stats and the impenetrable glass ceiling.
'But no matter how hard we’ve tried, and we have, they’re not interested in what women are doing in spite of this. Women are not, in fact, taking this lying down – we are pivoting and inventing and revolting to have the changes we want for ourselves – and for others.
'I too had my own slow arrival at my power and how to harness it. My journey can niftily be segmented into two phases – the first and the significantly largest of my journey to date – the low confidence years and the second more recent the standing in my power years.
'However, once I had finally found my female power mojo, I couldn’t clearly articulate what it was that I was drawing on or how other women could harness their own and draw on this any time they wanted – something that was of huge importance given our mission.
'So I decided to take that conversation to the people, the ladies to be specific and we launched Female Power Week. I realised I/we don’t need to answer this question for women. This is an all in conversation and will be broad in its answers too.
'For my part to date I know that our power fundamentally resides in our capacity as women to create – literally create other humans. And that this capacity means we are innately driven to seek their ultimate good. To involve them in decisions and direction and solutions. We are others centric and this is regardless of whether we have made or nurtured children of our own, which has not been a part of my journey.
'As women, so many of the businesses we create are a response to this drive. As leaders it’s the people whom we are most motivated to nurture and develop. Our customers are genuinely loved by us and on it goes.
'And yes this drive for the good of others can and does hand-break our success when ill-harnessed because it’s also true that the fullness of that nurturing expression is intended only for the role of mothering. So when it comes to our success, discerning what to keep and what to reserve for whānau is a hugely important consideration for each of us. Spending ourselves on behalf of our loved ones, beautiful. Spending ourselves on behalf of our customers, teams etc a huge risk to our success.
'So I’m all in on this conversation about the incredible power we have and I’m all in on a clear understanding so that more and more of us learn how to stand in our power.
'And why should my life be dedicated to this? That’s the easiest of all actually. It’s because I know that when women can stand fully in their power – they can achieve the fullness of their success. And when women experience the fullness of their success, we dedicate ourselves and our resources to making this world a better place. Bring it on.'
Caitlin Blewden, Rubette, 18 years old
'Being a first-time voter in 2020 is simultaneously exciting and terrifying. The enormity of what has happened this year and the sheer scale of the changes that we have seen in the past 10 months alone have highlighted just how important our leaders are and what they mean for the future of our world. I believe that for the majority of young people like myself who are voting for the first time, the importance of this election and the gravity of the decisions that we are making is not lost on us.
'As I enter into my last few months of school, I’ve been reflecting a lot on my journey to adulthood and the changes and development of my peers and those around me. It seems like out of nowhere I’ve looked around and realised that we’ve all left childhood behind - suddenly we’ve become independent, aware and socially-conscious young people. The events of this year, from COVID-19, to the Black Lives Matter movement and the upcoming election, have accelerated this sense of awareness and passion in young people, and ignited our sense of responsibility and drive. I’m constantly inspired and awed by those around me and feel proud of the way that youth in New Zealand are educating themselves and striving to make a difference.
'What is so exciting to see is the way that political issues, social initiatives and activism have entered into the mainstream culture of youth in New Zealand. As technology and the world around us accelerates at a dizzying pace, so does the level of awareness of those in it. These issues are being debated more deeply than ever before, with an openness that is allowing meaningful conversations to take place. When I open my Instagram account it’s filled with political pages and news updates, and at lunchtime at school we have passionate debates over the legalisation of marijuana and the ethics behind the End of Life Choice Act. Along with my peers, I’ve marched in numerous protests and rallies, signed petitions, viewed debates, read the news, and watched as young people around me have proven, time and time again, that we are aware, awake and have something to say.
'It is important, however, to make sure that we are getting our information from reliable sources, as there is a lot of misinformation and sensationalist media out there. In order to be taken seriously and be able to hold our ground in arguments and serious discussions, it is vitally important to be well-informed and make sure we have educated ourselves widely, without letting bias interfere too much. I think this is a real struggle for youth today - balancing our sense of optimism and progressive new ideas with the reality of what is possible and the experience of those older than us. This is a tricky balancing game, but we need to balance our hope and passion with cautious respect and acknowledgement of others, lest we become disregarded or ignored completely. Luckily, there seems to be an increased sense of respect for the power of youth, and the acknowledgement of us as a powerful force for change.
'I believe it is imperative that we cling on to hope and encourage a sense of possibility for a better future. It is so easy to be caught in pessimistic spirals and I myself am very guilty of this. There have been multiple times this year when the sheer magnitude of what is wrong with our world seems to be completely insurmountable, and I’ve found myself wondering how truly progressive change and reform is even possible. However, we are lucky to be living in a time where we are more interconnected than ever, and rapid change can actually occur. We need to channel our energy into accelerating the rate of positive developments and not lose sight of what we can achieve together.
'I think I speak for many when I say that what we all want to see in our future is a kinder world, where compassion rules. It seems simplistic and naive, but behind jargon-filled political terminology, extensive talks of economic policy, excuses and political agendas, lies the basic truth that it is our human responsibility to look after and respect every single person on this planet. Being in lockdown this year also helped to highlight this and allowed us to simplify things in a way that we hadn’t been able to do before. What we really need, when it all comes down to it, is actually simple - love, human connection and empathy. I hope that when people vote this year, or even when they conduct themselves in their everyday lives, they take time to go back to this idea.
'There is a lot we need to do in order to create a world that we can be proud of. We need to respect and protect our environment, in order to preserve it for future generations and to ensure the future of our world. We need to reevaluate many of our current systems, ridding our country of systemic and pervasive inequalities that stretch across generations. We need to accept the beauty and differences of every person, group, religion and culture. We must aim not to create one mainstream culture that people are forced to assimilate themselves into, but to foster one full of diversity, difference and complexity, where the identity of every single person is respected and represented.
'In order to create a world like this, we must face and confront the unpleasant and complex issues that are rife in our society. We cannot talk idealistically of a fair and just future where everyone is respected and loved, if we haven’t addressed the atrocities of our past and dismantled the systemic problems that permeate through our system and society currently. This is why it is so important that we emphasise the need for equity before equality. Uncomfortable as it may be, we have to look to the past in order to create a better future.
'We spent enough time this year in our bubbles, now it is time to break out of other bubbles that we may have built for ourselves. We cannot afford to languish in a bubble of complacency. We must open our eyes to the reality of the world around us, and recognise the disconcerting truth that our own country is not as perfect as we may like to believe.
'Despite the numerous challenges and many obstacles that lie ahead, I truly believe a better world is possible. I hope that the youth of New Zealand feel the same way, and feel supported and encouraged to make their voice heard. I hope that adults take time to listen to what we have to say and recognise young people as a powerful and positive force in our world. I hope that all of us, old and young alike, will work tirelessly to create a more fair, just and merciful future, and make decisions with empathy and compassion in mind.
'Ehara taku toa e te toa takitahi engari he toa takimano. My strength is not that of an individual but that of the collective.
'Let us go forward, as a collective, and create a future we will all be proud of.'
'We all call this one planet our home. We share it and everything we do, love, own and are is because we have this planet Earth to exist as part of.
'We are not living or operating in balance with our planet, due to a systemwide failure to recognise that we have finite natural resources and cannot just keep exploiting these for wealth and gain for a few. We need to halve our emissions in the next 10 years to be in with a chance of staying below 1.5 degrees celsius of warming.
'If we were able to coexist with the environment and other species around us in a way that acknowledged the interconnectedness of our well-being as humans with other living things, we’d be happier, healthier and on a path to ensuring this planet is here for future generations to enjoy the beauty of.
'Based on this, I think one of the biggest changes that needs to be made is a shift in what we value at the core. This can be applied to any situation, whether it be the values of big business or what you’re holding close to you when making a decision in your own life.
'I also believe we need to look back to look forward. Living in harmony with our natural environment is not a new concept and there are pockets of this harmony across Aotearoa and the world. Indigenous communities and knowledge will play a key role in allowing us to look back but then to move forward in a sustainable way. We cannot rely on a golden technological fix when we know exactly what we need to do already, reduce our emissions. We know that there are ways we can operate which reduce our carbon footprints, but I think we have to look back to find the best models.
'I think we need to focus more on how we can build resilient communities locally, to support local living. Unpacking this, we’re talking a strong sense of community identity, community gardens, local jobs, connected public transport across towns, resource and skill sharing and kindness.
'We have to believe these things are possible to be able to remain hopeful. We hold all of the power so really, anything is possible. We just need to all embrace the opportunities that this shift will bring.'
'Something we’ve been talking about at THERAPY OF DANCE recently is addiction. We want to see worldwide change in the conversation on addiction and for lack of a better word, addicts, in our communities. We need to take the blame off those we know who are struggling. We want to see a shift towards rehabilitation for drug related crimes, more focus on therapy and for addiction to be seen as the health problem that it is. I know this is possible.
'I want to create more constructive education on drug taking in school systems, more honest conversations with children that share tools using human experiences, without stigma or taboo. Why is it that we can go to doctors easily for prescriptive pharmaceuticals? But we’re also going to illegal and unregulated environments to score too? We need more space to discuss drugs openly without judgement for guidance. We need to stop shaming each other and start caring. Marginalising addicts has become as overlooked as prejudice.
'Let’s focus on the solution. Take a look at countries like Portugal and Switzerland who are leading the way with drug decriminalization. Billions of dollars that taxpayers once spent on imprisoning people are now spent on rehabilitating them into a safer life. Year long tax breaks for employers are offered as an incentive to hire those rehabilitating. Drug related violence since decriminalization has halved. Transferring those on the streets into treatment centers with diseases like HIV is saving lives.
'We can build more trust in our communities! Let’s end the war on drugs. If you‘re skeptical, then I’d love you to read Johann Hari‘s 'Chasing the Scream'. It’s addictive. He says "The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it’s connection." I believe the sooner we normalize this, we can begin to reconnect with each other. Addiction is just a product of our disconnected society. Addiction is a byproduct of mental illness. We need to choose compassion now and create change.'
Emma Espiner (Ngati Tukorehe, Ngati Porou) is a final year medical student at the School of Medicine, University of Auckland. She works part-time as the Communications Lead for Hāpai Te Hauora, a Māori Public Health NGO; writes a monthly column for Newsroom.co.nz; and is the host of the RNZ podcast on Māori health equity, Getting Better. Emma is the Voyager Opinion Writer of the Year 2020.
'On the wall of the Lower Hutt Women’s Centre there is a quote written in black vivid on an improbably large sheet of lumpy purple recycled paper.
“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up in mine, then let us work together.”
'It is attributed to the Aboriginal elder Lilla Watson, a Gangulu woman. My mum’s partner at the time, Mandy Coulston, made the poster in our backyard, energetically sieving blobs of paper pulp through chicken wire and raving about workers rights while seven-year-old me sat on the warm concrete under an ancient metal clothesline.
'We could solve our most intractable social problems by adopting Lilla Watson’s words. Our cultural misunderstandings, our paternalistic approaches to health and social services, our talking past each other would all vanish because we would gain the ability to see one another as equals, with equal rights to live well - the essential starting point for solidarity.
'With this approach I believe anything is possible. You could write those two sentences into legislation and policy documents and it would set a more meaningful intention than any “values” statement. The knowledge that people in our society suffer, and that their suffering is determined by a social gradient, by gender, by ethnicity, should be sufficient on its own to stimulate change.'
Miranda Hitchings, Co-Founder Dignity
'One of the things the pandemic has highlighted is the importance of investing in good public health.
“Health is Wealth” as the saying goes.
'Unfortunately for many women and non-binary people our healthcare system here and abroad has not prioritised solving the many issues that we face.
'Period inequity is a prime example.
'It was in 2016 that I first heard about Period Inequity. A news outlet ran a story on how school students were missing out on education because they had no access to period products.
'My flatmate, Jacinta Gulasekharam and I began to research this further and once we started talking to people affected it became apparent that the problem was huge. The expense and stigma of periods didn’t just affect school students, but many other groups across the whole of NZ too. Particularly those who were exposed to higher levels of vulnerability and facing their own unique challenges such as people experiencing homelessness.
Yet, for several years very little research or investment was put into the issue.
'So, Jacinta and I founded Dignity, an organisation with the aim to create period equity by providing accessible menstrual items for all that need them. Over the past four years Dignity has donated 28,999 menstrual products, including menstrual cups, period underwear as well as compostable tampons and pads to 130 community groups, schools and Kura. People who have received Dignity have reported a reduction in school absenteeism, increased confidence and cost savings.
'While this has been amazing, we still weren’t able to reach all those without access. It became apparent that to achieve the scale required to solve this issue, serious investment would be necessary. Getting the government on-board took years and was a huge effort by many people and organisations. It wasn’t until a public campaign by The Positive Periods team and a petition started by Jacinta that real traction was made, resulting in the government committing to provide period products for an estimated 20% of students.
'It’s an amazing start and refreshing to see systems in place to support female health. However, we know that, as it stands, it won’t be the overall solution. In the meantime, Dignity will continue to fill the gaps to support community groups and schools who still don’t have product.
'And that’s where we need your help.
'As Covid-19 and poverty worsens we are seeing a significant rise in request for period products that we currently can’t meet. We have launched our gifting initiative to let you directly support a student or community member that is currently without access.
'While we focus on this, my personal hope is that other gendered health issues are also given public support and investment too.
'Approximately 1 in 12 females* have polycystic ovary syndrome and 1 in 10 have endometriosis. Some studies have shown that interstitial cystitis could affect up to 12% and urinary tract infections become recurrent in half of the females who get them. And that’s only a handful of the many conditions we face. These conditions are under researched and treatments lack funding. Yet for the people going through them, the pain and stigma can be debilitating.
'But I can see the possibility of change on the horizon, as we have begun to see with period inequity.
'If you have the ability, check out Dignity’s gifting page, every little bit helps.
Te Uranga Royal, Rubette - Waikato, Marutūahu and Ngāti Raukawa
'When turning my mind to the events of 2020, it would be remiss of me to not speak to the widespread impact of COVID-19 on Aotearoa, New Zealand. As we have witnessed in the past few days, COVID-19 continues to maintain its invisible grip on our “normal” way of life, as further cases of community transmission are identified. I support our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern’s compassionate but firm approach to combating the pandemic. Even in these difficult times for our society, it is encouraging to have a Prime Minister who places the health and wellbeing of our society at the forefront of government’s priorities. It has also been encouraging to see so many New Zealanders follow Jacinda’s philosophy of kindness, particularly when many are attempting to balance the various elements of life.
'Currently, I am studying a Bachelor of Laws degree at the University of Waikato. Next year will be my final year at law school and I do not hesitate to say that I have found my passion in life. In a practical sense, I enjoy the orderly and logical processes that occur in dealing with this area of work. I also enjoy the advocacy side of law and how studying law can train you to prepare an argument and then back that argument. Most importantly, the law is an area where there is potential to advocate for change - particularly for Māori and Pasifika communities. Law school helped me discover how I can match my affinity for hard work with my aspirations to achieve a better future our society.
'Like every other branch of society, studying law has been a whole new experience this year. To this end, I have learnt new meanings behind “productivity” and “work-life balance”. To reflect on a normal year of law school, I would often place working hard on an unrealistic pedestal – even above my own wellbeing. Oftentimes at law school, too much stock is placed on acquiring accolades and prestigious positions to serve the purpose of creating a perfect image of ourselves. However, the realities can be far from perfect at times and we feel disappointment when they are not. Often this unrealistic image we create for ourselves is toxic and can be a contributing factor to the mental health challenges students often face. This is where all those good values of compassion, honesty and kindness come in.
'The COVID-19 lockdown allowed me to slow down and sit with these thoughts. As I mentioned above, my perspective changed on my measures of “productivity” and “work-life balance”. I arrived at the conclusion that working hard towards your studies and future career is important, however not to the extent that it compromises your health. Achievement ought not come at the expense of wellbeing. Having compassion for yourself when you know you are reaching your limits, being honest with yourself and with others about how you are feeling, and – most importantly – being kind to yourself when you need those moments of rest, is vitally important. Studying the law brings a lot of value to my life and so I view it as a privilege each time I put in effort towards a new milestone that will bring me closer to my graduation. However, with this new perspective from lockdown, I learnt the importance of decompression and how rest can also contribute towards healthy “productivity”.
'Last year I had the privilege of listening to Tiana Epati (President of the New Zealand Law Society) deliver a keynote speech at the Annual Māori Law Society Conference. She spoke about how important it was for us – as Māori and Pasifika – to take on the responsibility of striving for greatness to honour the hard work of our ancestors. Continuing to stand on the shoulders who did so much more, with so much less. Tiana is the embodiment of strength and compassion. For a young wahine studying law, it gives me much encouragement to enter into the legal sector with someone of her progressive wisdom at the helm of our national law society. Her words continue to resonate with my personal vision for my future legal career. When I measure “greatness”, I measure it in the way an individual can inspire and deliver outcomes for the communities around them. As Audrey Hepburn once said, “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself and one for helping others.” To help others, you must help yourself by nurturing your own interior, not for selfish reasons but so that you can be the best you can be when helping others. And the best way to do that is to find your own creative centre, the thing that moves, inspires and motivates you.
'Turning to my aspirations for the future of our law schools and the wider society, I hope there is an appetite to continue to feed our minds with an understanding of the world around us, and to feed our hearts with the aroha for the community who raised us. Lawyers have the capacity to advocate for change and position themselves to be of service to people. Ultimately, positive change for our communities stems from striking a balance between an informed mind and a full heart. With compassionate leaders like Jacinda and Tiana to look up to, it gives me hope that the transition into a positive future is in safe and wise hands.'
Sophie Edgecombe, Rubette
"Fashions fade, style is eternal" – Yves Saint Laurent
'The words I firmly believe we should all live by. Our day-to-day choices as consumers regarding what garments we purchase and how we purchase them, defines the fashion industry. If we select the fast fashion alternative to a slow fashion piece, we are fueling that sector of the industry to develop and grow. The revolution that needs to happen to combat serious issues such as pollution within fashion begins with us re-evaluating our choices as consumers and tweaking them to reflect the ideologies we believe in. It can be as easy as only buying garments YOU love. Creating your own style, not necessarily following fashion trends is the first step toward a slow-fashioned future.
'When looking into New Zealand’s local fashion industry, we are filled with a mix of fast and slow fashioned brands. Compared to the likes of the rest of the world, you could say we are doing alright, but I am not okay to settle with being mediocre. In the past 5 years, the NZ fashion industry has had a small but steady growth, going up approximately 2.7%. The last 5 years has also seen an increase in consumer awareness. Consumers like me and you are wanting to know more about our favourite brands and are willing to do research into them in order to align ourselves with brands that reflect our ideologies. With these increases, there has been a substantial amount of pressure put on brands to adopt more ethical and sustainable practices, alongside added transparency. This has been conducted mainly through small steps such as brands going ‘paperless’ – i.e. E-Receipts as opposed to paper receipts/invoices, and the utilisation of biodegradable postage bags. A larger step being adopted, that is increasing year on year is NZ brands doing more thorough research into their suppliers regarding the working conditions of employees and the traceability of fabrics they utilise. They are also increasing transparency so we as consumers can look in and interpret their policies, future goals and plans of action. This has all been achieved through us using our consumer voice. While these steps are great in the short term, there are bigger issues such as pollution that the NZ fashion industry needs to address and combat.
Globally the equivalent of one full rubbish truck worth of clothes is burned or dumped every second.
The fashion sector globally is the second biggest consumer of the world’s water supply.
Clothing production has doubled since 2000.
From 2000 to 2011, fashion companies went from offering an average of 2 collections per year, to 5.
85% of all textiles go to the dump annually. This is enough to fill up the harbour in Sydney each year.
We are keeping clothes for less than half as long as we kept them for in 2000.
The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of the world’s carbon emissions – this is more than the worlds aviation and shipping combined.
'With those facts in mind, how can we ignore the huge contribution the fashion industry has on pollution? How can we continue to support fast fashion and ignore the impact on the environment each item creates? The answer is simple, we can’t.
'We need to start buying quality over quantity.
'We need to start demanding what we want from brands.
'After all we are the driving force behind these brands, they would not exist without us – we can’t forget the power we hold within this industry.
'The key? Confidence within our individuality. Creating our own style through the concept that less is more. Prioritising our individual taste in style over what is necessarily ‘fashionable’ at the moment. Buying versatile, timeless pieces that you can keep for seasons. Purchasing from brands that invest in slower fashion. Maybe this means each piece of clothing you purchase costs more than you are used to spending on an article of clothing. However, in return you get an item of clothing will last for seasons, you put more thought into what you are purchasing and above all you are supporting sustainable and ethical practices. The people harvesting the fabrics, the people weaving the garment, the people packing your garment and the people selling you your garment are getting a fairer wage.
'It really comes down to the fact that “Fashions fade, style is eternal” – Yves Saint Laurent.'
Tamatha Paul - Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Pūkeko, Ngā Rāuru, Ngāti Whakaue, Waikato Tainui
'When I packed my bags to move down to the land of opportunities, Wellington, from the paradise of Tokoroa just six years ago, there was no way I could have predicted the rollercoaster journey which would mean becoming the full-time student President of Victoria University of Wellington in 2019, and then being elected to Wellington City Council that same year in October.
'Most people are surprised when they realise that none of this has been planned, and all that has happened to me has been the result of a few ingredients.
First, my tīpuna, my ancestors. I descend from a tīpuna wahine called Wairaka, who saved the people of my waka, Mataatua, and truly embodied bravery, and the occupation and operation of spaces by wāhine who are not supposed to be in those spaces. I draw courage from my tīpuna, and I feel trust in the pathway that they have set out for me through their lifetime and their sacrifices.
Second, my whānau taught me that I have a responsibility not just to listen, but to heed and articulate the voices of those who our society often forget. The kids who have to look after themselves because their parents have to work graveyard shifts. People from small towns who had to move to big cities and pay 80% of their income to opportunistic landlords in order to find opportunities. The brave ones to be the first in their whānau to go to University. The hearty ones who kick these patriarchal, colonial institutions up the ass!
'I wanted to be an agent of change within local government because there is so much potential in our local communities. Not just in the way that we currently imagine local government, either. There is so much potential for local government to be a true vehicle for change. A mechanism in which we put Te Tiriti o Waitangi and He Whakaputanga into action through implementing multi-sphere kāwantanga and tinorangatiratanga local spheres which allow genuine community representatives and mana whenua (rather than pale, male, stales) to work together to find and resource local solutions for some of the biggest issues facing our communities;
adapting to and mitigating further impacts of the climate crisis,
everyone having a stable, warm, and dry place to call home,
purposeful work and abundant job opportunities for all to thrive, as well as opportunities to have a fun lifestyle made better with lots of art and culture,
reversing the rapid extinction of our native biodiversity in our forests, waterways, oceans and even in the urban environment,
being able to travel anywhere you need to go in safe, affordable, high-volume and sustainable modes i.e. train, bus, cycling, walking,
the state of our water infrastructure and the way that we value water as a human right
safe, inclusive and accessible communities where people can be themselves without fearing harm or discrimination.
'The opportunities I’ve outlined above are broad solutions which have to be designed by hapū, whānau and communities. Anyone who thinks that in order to meet the challenges ahead of us, we need to remove peoples freedoms and be told what to do on an evidence basis is the farthest from the truth. Democracy is the only lasting solution to the long term fights ahead. However, not democracy in the current Westminster style we currently conceptualise. We cannot rise to the challenges ahead of us with the current one-size-fits-all solutions produced by New Zealand Parliament. In fact, the New Zealand Parliament needs to devolve power and resources to local communities if we want to get anywhere.
'Any country that is successful in dealing to challenges effectively are ones where local bodies receive a larger piece of the pie. In New Zealand, our local government bodies receive just over ~10% of our country’s overall GDP. Most successful countries receive more than 30% of their countries overall expenditure because it enables creation of local solutions (and implementation) that I talked about above. This resourcing and decision making power has to be given to iwi and hapū first and foremost, and local bodies like my own – Wellington City Council – need to return land / natural assets back to the original custodians to begin reversing the damage inflicted upon Papatūānuku over a century. This week, the government has put the Te Puia geothermal valley back into the hands of Te Arawa iwi in Rotorua.
'The reality is that there is no protection for our environment under a capitalist system premised on the rapid extraction, degradation and pollution of our natural environment.
'It’s clear that our system needs a total overhaul, and it’s going to take a lot of blood, sweat and tears for us to get to that point. The important point, though, is that everybody has a part to play in the pursuit of a Te Tiriti based future which encompasses the participation of all people in society, the protection of the mana and mauri of our precious natural environment, of all people and of whānau, and the partnership between the Crown and iwi / hapū Māori.
'Constitutitonal Transformation and implementing Te Tiriti o Waitangi sounds like a major task (and it will be) however, I truly believe in collective action and think that if we all do our part, that we can leave a society for those who come after us which upholds and uplifts the mana and mauri of people and planet. What that looks like:
Invest in yourself through taking the time to learn about; your whakapapa and identity, the history and tikanga of Aotearoa, how you can be an agent of change within your community
Facilitate a kai & kōrero in your whānau or community to talk about issues that you care about. This one is important, not just because it’s an election year, but because conversational with those you love and trust is truly transformational. The successful Ireland Abortion Referendum was an example of this.
Give to organisations that are doing the heavy lifting on causes you care about. The Not for Profit sector will probably take a hit as the economic impacts of Covid make people less likely to give money, but also there are very few ethical sources of funding for NGO’s. If you can give small, regular donations (e.g. $3.50 a week, the same amount you might spend on a coffee!) then that is enormously helpful. Also, if you have technical expertise or are able to volunteer, that can be super helpful.
'Fakaalofa Lahi Atu my name is Elyssia Wilson-Heti I am of Niuean, English mixed heritage. I am a performance artist, activist and producer based in Mangere, Tamaki Makaurau.
'My hope for the future is that we get to a place where every single person can show up in the world as their full self and be embraced, celebrated and loved. We are often made to feel like we have to shrink ourselves to fit into the boxes that society has created and enforced. There is enough space for all of us to thrive, walk in our power and live our truth loud. I firmly believe that the future is intersectional. We all need to get better at working from an intersectional place. No one should be getting left behind. Active kindness, a willingness to sit uncomfortability, an exerted effort to unlearn, relearn and re-centre our thinking about our place in the world is needed in order for us to create equity across the board. The world isn't going to change itself, that's up to us, we all need to do the mahi to shift the current system to be more inclusive of everyone so we can all thrive collectively.
'Real and meaningful representation is needed. I’ve been creating myself and women that look like me in existence for a while in the art I make. That is my hope for the next generation of brown wahine coming up that we get to a point where we are no longer just the one token present ticking the diversity box. Meaningful change is needed, not just lip service. That is my biggest hope for the future, that we will have dismantled the current system and we will all be thriving.'
'When I think about what my hope for the future is, only one thing comes to mind. My hope is that my little brothers and sisters, my little cousins, and all the younger members of my community who look like me, won’t have to fight the same fights I am. I hope that they will live a life that is unrestricted so that they can realise their full potential. I hope that they grow into knowing the power they have and harness that every day and contribute to making the world a better place. This is my hope. This is my why. This is why I marched.
'On Sunday 31st May, I was woken up by a phone call from my older brother Mez, who had been feeling really heavy for a few days after having seen all the news coverage surrounding the murder of George Floyd – a Black man killed by a white police officer who knelt on his neck for almost 9 minutes. He wanted to do something about it, and so did I – I just didn’t know how to initiate it. We wanted a space for everyone to come together and collectively grieve, stand in solidarity with Black people in America, and draw attention to the issues here at home. We needed a healthy release of all those built up emotions we had. So we decided to rally and protest. Initially, we had only thought those in the Black community here in New Zealand and a few of our friends would join us. We knew that New Zealand was still in alert level 2 and so we genuinely believed we would be in compliance with the law as we had only anticipated a small crowd. I made the post on Instagram at around 2:30, put my phone down, and went out for lunch. By the time I checked my phone again at 7 pm, my post had received over 3,000 likes and 3,500 people had shares it to their stories. It was shared by the biggest names in Auckland – Israel Adesanya, Jess B, Parris Goebel, and Stan Walker to name a few. By the same time that night, the Facebook event had over 2,700 people attending. That’s when it hit us that we might have started something bigger than any of us could even fathom.
'My brother managed to pull together a group of six to meet at his house that night and strategise as we needed a plan – this group of six would form the core organising team. We met up and worked through all the details we could – marshals; enforcing social distancing; connecting with the mana whenua, Ngāti Whātua, to make sure we had their blessing and ensure that they were involved; organising a line-up of speakers; appointing a police and media liaison; preparing a statement for our media briefing; and other logistical considerations. There was an outpouring of advice and help offered to us through social media by people who have experience in organising. I left my brother’s house at 4:30am and still couldn’t quite process the magnitude of what we had just started.
'Fast forward a few hours later and Auckland City made history at one of the largest protests the city has ever seen in recent years. June 1st, 2020, for me and many of my other Black friends, was a much-needed form of catharsis – it was a space for us to shout, cry, be together and release all the built-up emotions and trauma that we had been internalising for far too long. It was a place where we felt seen, heard and cared for by white and non-Black people of colour in New Zealand. For the first time in my 22 years of living here, I felt like I could say I belonged – that I had a community of people who cared for me and could stand up for me. June 1st, 2020, went down as the greatest, most powerful day of my life.
'As we saw on the 9th of June, NZ Police announced that the Armed Response Team trials would not continue and have no place in the future of New Zealand policing. This is an amazing development. Our march only contributed to this cause, but the real credit should go to the Arms Down NZ Campaign who have been speaking on and fighting for this cause for months. They have themselves to thank for fighting relentlessly. The number of people that showed up in Auckland to march last Monday was just the final seal.
'But the work does not end here. We must continue to advocate for justice and fight for the rights of Black, Indigenous and other people of colour (BIPOC). The history and present reality of colonisation in New Zealand means our Māori people are disproportionately affected negatively in every single aspect – healthcare, housing, education, employment, socioeconomic status, prison. We must fight for equity and for the tino rangatiratanga of our tangata whenua. When Māori rights are valued, then it will follow suit for everyone else. Further, New Zealand has a duty to recognise and acknowledge the Black community here. New Zealand has a moral obligation to speak up against injustices happening all over the world and on our own soil.
'There are many ways that you can help. If you benefit from and are privileged by being white, you need to leverage that for the greater good of everyone. EDUCATE YOURSELVES – and that doesn’t mean asking your BIPOC friends to point you to resources as this is emotionally taxing. We live in the age of information, Google is free! You have the privilege to LEARN about racism instead of EXPERIENCE it and all the trauma that comes with knowing how people that look like you are treated. If you have the means, donate. There are local and international organisations that are on the frontlines of this movement and rely solely on donations. Use your voice and speak up when you see something happening that is not right. This is not a radical action – we are taught this from the very first day we start at primary school.
'My hope for the future is that our rangatahi grow up free and unhindered by racism; that they don’t have to fight the same fights we are fighting right now. My hope for the future is that justice will prevail, both here in New Zealand, and globally.
If you are stuck on where to start, the following are great resources:
The New Jim Crow – Michelle Alexander / How to be an Anti-Raicst – Ibram X. Kendi / Me and White Supremacy – Layla F Saad / Pleasure Activism – Adrienne Maree Brown / Eloquent Rage - Brittney Cooper / Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge / Decolonising the Mind - Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
When They See Us – Ava Duvernay / TIME: A Kalief Browder Story – Jenner Furst / American Son – Kenny Leon / LA 92 – Daniel Lindsay & T. J. Martin / 13th – Ava Duvernay / The Hate U Give – George Tillman Jr. / Seven Seconds – Veena Sud
Local NZ/AUS Black-owned businesses - please see directory here
Vere Sharma, RUBY Board Member
'I was born in 1955 in New Delhi, India. I have two older brothers and in those days clothes were handed down to me. My mother, Anne, owned a clothing boutique in Khan Market, Delhi where she had six seamstresses who were my first teachers. I watched them sew for hours in the thick heat, they never seemed flustered. I was immersed in fashion from a young age. Anne had a knack for replicating trends and patterns she found appealing on Carnaby Street in London and adapting them for her community. There’s a beautiful order to the chaos in India, my childhood was simple, we took what we needed, nothing more. We respected our neighbours. It’s an unspoken principle in India to give back to your community if you have the means to do so.
'I’ve been in the New Zealand rag trade for over 40 years. Principals I learnt from sitting on a stool in my mum’s shop still guide me today. I’ve been a textile agent, importer, wholesaler and finally, a retailer. In every role I’ve undertaken, I’ve watched the economy evolve, trends become fads, practices become out-dated. I thrive on being able to adapt. Complacency has never been an option for me.
'I’ve raised five kids and endeavoured to pass on the same knowledge that was passed onto me. We need to be agile, nimble and we need to bend under pressure – but, never break.
'My eldest son, Jared, recently wrote about the false dilemma that is choosing between economic prosperity and environmental protection. Good business practices that stimulate our economy, but don’t take away from our environment. You can have both if you lead with dignity. In the last few years I’ve seen sustainability sit front row, it has led our conversations at family dinners. I believe this ‘theme’ will no longer be a goal, but a mindset; the pandemic will cement this.
'The pandemic has demanded us to reflect on our structures, take a step back, and highlight what we’re investing attention and resources into that may be better spent elsewhere. To confront complacency head-on and adapt.
'I’m a new grandfather, I owe it to my grandchildren to lead with dignity. I will ensure my team invests resources into protecting our environment, while creating a product that inspires our community. We need to stay nimble. Of course, investing in digital structures is essential, however ensuring our digital footprint is aligned with our holistic approach to creating clothing that is true to our brand, is fundamental.
'We owe it to each other, we owe it to the future generations to come.'
Zoe Walker Ahwa, Journalist
'Yesterday I read a Business of Fashion story on how New York brand Telfar is dealing with the pandemic, and this line from designer Telfar Clemens stood out: “This is a period of chill. Let’s figure out how you sell these ideas you’ve been making for 20 years.”
'Fashion has been moving at an insane pace, but this is a forced pause - a period of chill to stop and really think about what we want our industry to be. We’ve been doing things a certain way for years, but that doesn’t mean its the right way. The ramifications of the pandemic on fashion, here and overseas, are huge, and we won’t know the full extent for some time. But a few things I’m hopeful for after all of this…
'Things will be smaller, and slower.
'Our industry is going to shrink with fewer brands and fewer stores. And ultimately I hope, fewer clothes. This is a good thing.
'It’s something I’ve been thinking about long before this lockdown: yes, there are too many clothes from fast fashion brands. But even at a local level, in my beloved local industry, I think there has been too much stuff: overproduction of clothes and content.
'If they aren’t doing it already, brands will be forced into new ways of working - revisiting their archives, keeping clothes around for longer, repurposing and up-cycling fabrics rather than investing in more and new.
'More consumers will start to embrace a make do and mend mentality. I loved RUBY’s sewing classes: to me, this typifies the future of brands, educating and building community while offering clothes are are fun and exciting; because fashion also needs to continue to serve the purpose of being inspiring and challenging.
'Like ‘sustainability’, kindness is another word that’s being used a lot right now. But what does that actually mean? I saw an Instagram comment somewhere that asked, ‘OK, but what brands are actually putting this into action?’ and that struck me.
'To me it’s those that feel personal, intimate, friendly. I’ve watched more brands try to do this since our lockdown, but I think audiences are aware of those who aren’t necessarily doing it genuinely or when it feels like it’s part of a boardroom marketing strategy. Literally everyone is creating content right now, but not all content is good content.
'This more personal approach is how we will move things forward. Even in how we present fashion: I’ve felt this for some time, but after all of this especially, I think overly produced, too-slick imagery and content will feel like it's from a completely different time.
'I really hope this also means more industry collaboration. We saw the start of this creatively before the pandemic - Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons, Dries van Noten and Christian Lacroix - but I hope this sparks collaboration at a more business focused level.
'Traditionally - perhaps because it’s so small - the NZ fashion industry has kept things close to their chests; with some designers not necessarily wanting to share information. Working together to share resources and ideas will be how we recover from this.
'Everyone is taking a hit, so how can we all work together to make sure our industry survives and thrives? Collaboration, and initiatives like Mindful Fashion, will be even more important, as people from all facets of the industry (and beyond) come together to develop a new way of thinking and working.'
Mimi Gilmour, Burger Burger Co-Founder & Hospitality Creative Consultant
'The past month feels like a dream. There are a lot of things you can prepare yourselves for in business - fluctuating sales, sudden illness of key team members, delays in new store openings, supply shortages - but somehow, we never thought we’d have to prepare to be shut down completely, in a very short time, due to a global pandemic. The situation we are faced with has been extremely confronting personally and professionally, but I’m feeling surprisingly optimistic about the future.
'The whole world feels upside down right now but in amongst all the darkness, I’ve seen lots of light. I am so thankful for my health, my handsome husband (who is my rock), my beautiful babies and my incredible support network of inspiring and loving friends and family. I’m grateful for this unexpected time it has given me to indulge in quality time with my daughters. I’m also grateful for the opportunity to pause and rethink how our business can best serve our community.
'I know it’s an enormous privilege that I have the time to slow down and think about the future. For many, both in New Zealand and around the world, this pandemic has brought nothing but fear and loss. As a hospitality business owner, there has been (a lot) of stress, but I’ve been trying to keep sight of the big picture, and I realise how lucky I am.
'Even prior to the pandemic, things were vastly different to how they were when we started Burger Burger. Back then, I had no children, there were one third of the amount of restaurants there are now, UberEats and My Food Bag didn’t exist, construction costs weren’t unobtainable, we didn’t have megamalls on every corner streaming in international brands and most importantly, I had all the time and energy in the world to throw myself into anything and everything! I don’t know about you, but more and more over the past few years I’ve found myself asking how, as a mother/boss/friend/family member/woman, I am meant to keep up when the world around us seems to be spinning faster and faster. This time at home has allowed me to start to think about some answers.
'Yes, the future of our industry will be different to what we know. Hospitality is by definition ‘the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors & strangers’. In an increasingly digital world where ‘social distancing’ could be the new normal, we may have to find new ways to bring this definition to life.
'Online, we’re seeing some really interesting developments. Not only is the restaurant community sharing recipes for meals but they are sharing basic fundamentals like how to cut an onion properly (thank you, handsome Josh), signature dishes that can be recreated at home (BB Broccoli!), and ways to teach children meals from many different cultures.
'Perhaps the future of hospitality means a refreshed perspective on cooking. I think there will definitely be a new appreciation for fresh, locally sourced produce. I know there will be a reaffirmation of the need for community. We are going to have to embrace technology if we want to survive but instead of being held hostage to unreasonable commission rates of ginormous corporations, I believe there will be more local solutions presenting themselves.
'I think our industry will see a lot more collaboration in the future. For us, some of the most surprising relationships that have evolved in this situation have been those we have with our landlords. What have usually been very transactional in nature have been transformed and I am incredibly grateful for the empathetic position our landlords have taken. We have had similar conversations with - and received amazing support from - our suppliers, many of whom are in similar positions to us. It’s been a humble reminder that the best problem solving happens when small and big businesses, and the people behind them, work together.
'Next week I am going to lay all my cards on the table and ask our customers to tell us what they want from us in the future. We (our industry, our economy) need people to start spending again, but we also know that things have changed. Many people’s situations, expectations and perspectives have shifted. I’m ready to listen, I’m ready to make changes and I’m ready to make them fast. We need to adapt to what this new world presents, and what role our industry now needs to play. I do know that we are not going anywhere. We passionately believe that the restaurant industry is crucial to a happy community and therefore we will fight to keep the dream alive.'
Chris Parker, Comedian
'I think it’s a tricky one for us live performers, our work really relies on having 100 people in a room (usually a basement somewhere) laughing at our jokes. That's where all our discoveries are made. So a lot of us are really just trying to hold tight at the moment. While the Instagram live concerts are delightful and charming... they will never make up for the real thing. I would say it has been a really interesting equaliser this event. I love to see those performers who have the ability to make work from their own house with their phones shine through. In a weird way those who have less are able to move faster than those larger tv organisations who have to work through bureaucratic systems, often meaning their work arrives a little late. The internet will always beat television in the race which is almost critical in a time like this.
'I would say the turn out most New Zealand comedians deliver every year is so high. I think maybe audiences underestimate the work that goes into delivering a new hour of comedy. Which they should, it's none of their business. I do wonder if this pause will maybe create a space for the industry to catch its breath, gear up and get ready to rip into it when the doors do open again.
'Personally, I've been surprised by the confidence I feel in making my own work from home. I think to be surrounded by my things, to be able to wear track-pants in zoom calls. It allows me to feel grounded and strong in a way I have never before. I wish to carry that strength through when I am back inside more conventional working environments.
'I can't wait to see what this time produces, later down the line, after the flood gates open and every weekend is packed full with gigs and shows which were dreamed up in isolation. I can't wait to be in that time, and support it. All those artists are going to need your support.'
'Like many industries, both the art world and the events industry have been hugely disrupted by Covid-19. We had to cancel the 2020 Fair less than six weeks before it was scheduled to open. Similarly, all galleries and museums across New Zealand have been closed for the last four weeks, so ArtNow - the online listing site for contemporary art exhibitions and events – has had to change the way it gets people engaging with art.
'From a business perspective, cancelling an event isn’t great. Depending on where you are in the cycle when you have to cancel, you’ve likely committed expense AND you need to refund any income. Not only for the Art Fair, but across the events industry, Covid-19 has meant a 100 percent loss in activities and revenue for event companies and contractors. Hundreds of staff have been made redundant, and at the moment no one is sure when events will be able to open again, and when that does happen, how people will feel about attending.
'Galleries and their artists – and the arts and culture sectors more generally - are another group experiencing incredibly tough times right now. More than 150 artists were scheduled to show at the Art Fair – and the work in many cases was finished or nearly complete, but for artists, they don’t get paid until it is sold. Equally for galleries, while the doors remain shut, less people are viewing and buying art, but their costs for rent and staff have not gone away.
'We’ve seen a number of galleries, institutions and art fairs around the world and in New Zealand (ourselves included) race to adapt to this new digital way of life.
'For me, following the cancellation of the Fair, I’ve never had so much time to read, click and ponder, and right now there seems to be a plethora of online arts content and clever thinking in response to what is going on that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.
'While in many ways it has been inspiring, the question remains whether “all this digital” actually helps support the artists the industry seeks to serve?
'Will a digital exhibition ever replace the real thing? 'Will “extra reach” online be enough to “pay” an artist who has been labouring over their work long before Covid-19? 'Will our Virtual Art Fair incite the same interest, and have similar outcomes for our galleries and their artists?
'But rather than sit in the sidelines and mourn, we wanted to do something that we thought could help our clients (the galleries) and their artists. So, in response to this new era of social distancing and all-things-digital, we’ve launched a Virtual Art Fair that’s free attend from your computer – it opened on Thursday 30th of April at 11am and closes on 15 May.
'It’s a celebration - as best we can – of the talent and diversity of art making in our region. And we hope that wherever possible, some of these artists and galleries will be supported by someone buying a work of art.
'For our online visitors – who can now easily “visit” from around the world – we hope it will introduce them to new galleries and new artists, and offer some welcome solace and escapism.
'All around us right now, we are hearing of the importance of art - something we know to be true at all times, but especially in troubled times.
'One thing that has been really encouraging to see over the last few weeks, is that although we are all physically separated, the will to work together, to collaborate and cooperate is growing in the visual arts community. The Art Fair is very much about presenting contemporary galleries to the public, not just about each individual gallery, but how we come together. Which was our premise for creating ArtNow. It is easy to say “we are all in this together” at a time like now, but I think it is important that the same remains true, and maybe even more so in better times.
'Other than that, right now, I have to be honest, that my hope is we’ll return to some semblance of normality soon, and it will be safe to see friends, visit exhibitions, eat at restaurants and attend events.
'But until then, there’s so much to appreciate about the internet, so much to read, watch and listen to online whilst we remain at Level 3. This time has allowed Auckland Art Fair the opportunity and space to try something which may even reach and connect with a new audience who is yet to see just how essential the arts are.
'So, I hope you’ll join us online for our very first Virtual Art Fair, made possible thanks to 35 participating galleries – 9 from Australia, 1 from the UK, 1 from Beijing and New York and 24 from across New Zealand - and our principal partners ANZ Private and Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED).'
Valentina Pook, Age 5
'I don't like talking about the planet, maybe because it's too sad? But I want the world to look cleaner. On the news one day there was 1000 pieces of plastic in the sea. I'm hoping that will go away but if it doesn't I'll go down to the sea and clear it away. I hope everyone will be more careful of the planet. A kid I know, he always had plastic in his lunchbox. He'll stop that. After the corona virus is gone, I hope the world won't smell like anything but fresh air.
'I also want people to be kinder. Right now we don't go near people which is hard. I'm most excited about bursting our bubble with our grandma. We're going to give her big hugs and kisses.
'Parents are spending more time protecting their kids from the virus. When it's gone I hope that I get to spend time with my family. Mummy and Daddy need to work less and bike ride with us more. I have enjoyed having Mum and Dad at home more but miss seeing my friends. I'm going to be really happy to see all my friends and have some little playdates. It's my birthday in 6 weeks and I really hope I can have a party with them.
'After the corona virus is gone there will be a lot of people out and about at shops and supermarkets. And they'll be happy. We'll bike more than we drive. We'll be eating way more food. And we'll help out more. It's easier for our parents if we do. They cook, we clean. That means we all get to do something to help out and I really enjoy that.
'Oh and after the coron avirus is gone, I'd like a pet dog.'
Dame Pieter Stewart, New Zealand Fashion Week Founder
There will be opportunities for the New Zealand fashion industry.
'New Zealand Fashion Week turns 20 this year – what a milestone - to hold its position as the leading, longest-running creative industry event in the country. This is huge – not just for the event but for the entire fashion industry and all the wonderful people who have been involved over the last 20 years.
'A 2020 committee of industry experts had been set up to plan special celebrations, aiming to include as many of those designers as possible who began the journey with us in 2001. Partners were also coming up with exciting ideas to celebrate – to make sure they were part of this – we will never be 20 again! The prospectus was ready to go to the designers, but there was a niggle in the back of my mind as COVID-19 took hold across the globe and I began discussing postponement of the event because it was becoming clear that mass gatherings would be unlikely, even 5 months ahead. So we took the hard decision to postpone the event and essentially put the company into hibernation – until when – we don’t know.
'I worry for the fashion industry – they are all facing huge financial stress coming at them from every angle from loss of assets and income – virtually losing an entire season and most likely carrying a lot of inventory as there has been no opportunity to sell it and in some cases, inventory not yet paid for either. There will be very little money around for extras, the habits of shoppers are changing very quickly, and for many clothes will become a necessity rather than an option. There won’t be places to go, as mass gatherings are likely to be last to reappear, and for an industry highly reliant on discretionary spend, global travel, and physical retail stores, there will be a slowing of spending and decreased demand, and supply from international sources is likely to be unreliable.
'I applaud the government for so proactively looking after those in jobs – but there has been far less thought it seems for the person who pays that worker. Sure – everybody would like to have their workforce available once this is over – but how to pay them with absolutely no income and fixed costs still running, is the problem most business owners face. This is not unique to any industry right now, with the tourism and hospitality industries being affected for some time already and the knock-on effect not even something we can realistically imagine yet.
'Regardless of what has been said, many businesses these days run on very tight margins – it does not mean they are not strong businesses, and in many cases if we lose too many of these operations, we will lose the base of creativity that makes our country so special.
'As an event, we employ mainly contractors – and over the months of runup to the event there is a lot of them. The last analysis of this estimated we employed 124 full time equivalents – so that’s an awful lot of people who cannot look to NZFW for their income this year – and who knows whether these vibrant and creative events will ever become the norm again.
'We are getting a sense of what sustainability really means as we live in our bubbles focusing on our basic needs. Our days revolve around eating good food which we have planned for not just picked up at the takeaway, getting some fresh air and exercise so we don’t go stir crazy, and making an effort to get on with those in our bubble by being kind. We are so lucky to have the advantage of technology to easily be able to call, FaceTime, email others, and get our news from multiple different sources and where possible continue with work.
'Because we have no idea what our futures will look like – we are forced to live in the moment – something we all aspire to, but oh so hard to do, and I’m sure after a novel time of doing all sorts of things we haven’t had time to do for so long, and sleeping well because there is no point in worrying about it – the inevitable anxiety and uncertainty creeps into our minds, not helped by the fact that we can’t enjoy the company of our colleagues or get a hug when needed. Everything is on pause – a most unnatural situation for all of us.
'In this new conscious living, I hope we will leave the consumption of pre COVID 19 behind us and value more the simpler things of life. It’s time to break old habits and find new ways of living.
'The world has been on a treadmill of consumerism for some years, which coronavirus has highlighted, forcing us to slow down and giving the chance to change our ways – it really has only been a matter of time before a reset had to happen somehow.
'Internationally, the Luxury market has been mindboggling and from our corner of the world difficult to understand. So much of our everyday consumption has been excessive, highlighted by the fact that in lockdown we spend very little.
'So what are we left with after coronavirus? There will be many different scenarios in different businesses – certainly not one size fits all – but we do know the world will be different. We are facing a new life altogether.
'We have been encouraging our designers and supporting them to work towards responsible business models for some time – so as this amazing industry rebuilds, NZFW will also find ways to support the industry.
'Like the fashion industry worldwide, we face an uncertain future, but after a pretty tricky time for most, the industry will rebuild, and it’s a great opportunity with the enforced slower pace and social distancing to reinvent and recreate.
'It brings the values we have discussed such a lot lately into sharp focus and is the perfect opportunity for this industry to intensify discussions and actions and give more socially responsible brands the chance to shine.
'Creating relationships with the customer will be even more important – more often going bespoke and private, which I note some are planning already. Investment pieces that will last forever will become more important as the consumer becomes more responsible, with a much more local focus on buying and producing, and quality over quantity being key.
'NZFW has been encouraging the seasonless model for some time – fashion that can carry over from season on to season offering year round versatility, wearability and longevity and are always researching new ways of direct to consumer activity, facilitating the shorter fashion cycles, digitising, and fine tuning the fashion audience.
'The tensions between sustainable business models and responsible operations have been key challenges for many years and will be in the years ahead. New Zealand can show the way of increasing responsible operations by wherever possible sourcing more sustainable fabrics, streamlining operations, editing collections, avoiding overproduction, - all these things will help rebuild a stronger industry.
'We will find new ways of creating activations to donate, reuse, re-purpose, recycle and resale – our beautiful NZ fashion deserves many more than one life. Our designers have a reputation for making high quality clothes in beautiful fabrics – designed to last and look good after being worn many times.
'The New Zealand fashion industry is varied and diverse, and all need to strive for the best possible level of responsible and ethical business practice that works for each individual business, understanding their supply chain and looking towards long fashion rather than fast fashion.
'Although we cannot use Fashion Week this year to lead our industry in a conversation around this goal, NZFW will continue to explore ways to support this exciting creative industry as we leave the safe and predictable to explore new possibilities.'
Gary Fernandez, Fernandez Cutting Services
'I have been involved in the clothing industry for 55 years, starting out doing a five year apprenticeship in cutting. I went straight from school to train at a business called Rainster which was located in upper Queen St. It was a large factory, as many were in those days, employing one hundred plus staff. Back then all stages of production, design, cut and manufacture were done in house. Rainster specialised in men’s and women’s jackets and coats. We also cut upholstery for cars so we worked with a variety of different fabrics and the average cut consisted of 200-300 units.
'I remained there for a year or so after completing my apprenticeship and then left to see if I could make it on my own as a contract cutter working independently. I was probably one of a very small handful doing so at that time. To begin with I set up a cutting bench in the basement of my home before moving to my present premises where I have been ever since. In later years the industry began to grow and change. Businesses started sending work out to cutters and makers and back to their premises for distribution to retail outlets.
'In the early days a lot of fabric was produced in New Zealand in places such as the Bonds Mill in Otara, Auckland and I believe it was of better quality than what was sourced from overseas later on. The cost may have been higher but the garments would have been a lot more durable and kept for longer. I see a problem with the cheaper items being disposed of more frequently thus putting pressure on landfill. It would be good to see a return to using New Zealand made materials if feasible.
'It also concerns me that a lot of cutters are getting to the age of retirement (or past it like myself) and no-one is coming through the system to replace them. How to attract young people to the trade needs investigating. However I have enjoyed all the years I have spent in the industry and got a lot of satisfaction out of my contribution to it. I am heartened to see the younger people in the business of producing clothing today thinking about the future of it and how best to proceed.'
Ash Owens, Digital Content Creator & Social Media Influencer
'For most industries, especially in the creative and advertising world, people have had to reflect on decades of industry success, what works, what doesn’t, what needs to change, how to adapt to global events and trends. When a global pandemic hits, what has worked for twenty years simply just doesn’t anymore, businesses have had to adapt quicker than someone can say “recession”.
'As a full time self-employed millennial who uses social media platforms & a lifestyle blog to make a living, this downtime has been equally nerve wracking as it has been fascinating. The social media industry only has about 10 years to reflect on, influencer marketing.. maybe 5 at most here in New Zealand. In the world of business, that’s not a long time to cement your habits, to make mistakes you can learn from, so my ultimate hope for social media marketing is that it has the fluid, youthful naivety to ride the wave, go with the flow, and see success due to its ability to access constant two-way communication with social media users, AKA 74% of the New Zealand population as of 2018.
'This access to the population is hugely valuable, hence the success of social media marketing, but this means that there is a huge responsibility to understand the population, read the room and work accordingly, especially during a time of nationwide self-reflection and economic anxiety. For me personally, daily chit chats with my community via Instagram DM has been more important than ever, not only because I love connecting with people (truly a natural born blogger) but because I care about their interests, how the pandemic has made them feel. They are a community I have built over 5 years and a lot of them I speak to daily like they are my best friends in the offline world. I know that things like fashion & educational content about skincare is hugely distracting content to consume, and that people rely on it to maintain a relationship with their personal interests, but I also know that the way this content is sought after, the type of fashion and beauty content they are looking for has drastically changed over the last couple of years, and change is brewing even bigger as we speak.
'When it comes to shopping, New Zealanders value integrity, sustainability, locally made and quality products and it’s becoming more clear than ever before that the shift towards things like capsule wardrobes & ditching food delivery services to ordering direct from restaurants (because Kiwis are just awesome like that) are becoming more and more valued, especially as we endure this experience where we realise what matters, and also what we are happily able to live without.
'So how do social attitudes like this affect industries like advertising and social media marketing? Going forward I’m hoping for more long term relationships with brands and social media users. In the past, social media marketing has been all about getting as many one off sponsorships from various brands as possible, where brands are wanting to work with 30+ creators and creators are wanting to work with 10 different brands every month. This is where I see the biggest change coming and thank goodness because things were starting to get a little OTT.
'For social media marketing to continue working successfully with integrity, it has got to find a way to advertise with influencers & creators in a way that is honest, authentic and reflects how society is feeling right now, otherwise what’s the point? I know that when I discover a new brand, I want to support them long term, and this is how advertising has got to change. Brands and businesses need to pick wisely with social media influencers who align with their values, and work with them long term in more of an ambassadorship capacity rather than a quick one off job because that simply doesn’t hold the attention of New Zealanders whose values have changed and developed, especially during and after a pandemic. Kiwis want to see honesty and transparency more than ever before, and there’s nothing more honest than a mutual relationship between a brand and an influencer who has worked together for 2+ years, the love and passion is obvious and clear. This is where trust can be built with a nation that is under financial stress, and if advertising wants access to these people they have got to work with digital influencers and creators who are onboard with delivering advertising messages in the most authentic way possible, because it is possible, and it needs to happen.
'Valuable, long term relationships and collaborations, transparency, and mutual respect for brands, influencers and social media users is key for the industry going forward, and I cannot wait to see this industry flourish and mature as we all put a huge focus on communicating with one another. Social media is only in its infant age, so we all better buckle up and take control so that everyone can benefit from it.'
'It has been a wild ride and it’s a pleasure now to be thinking about the good things that we can take from our experience with Covid-19.
'On Monday 20th March, Colleen closed our doors and said adieu to our clients for the foreseeable future. We stepped into the unknown and unpredictable world of lockdown. We also stepped into a new world of opportunity.
'Digital channels became our way of engaging with our clients. Last year we launched colleen.nz, our online shop and our platform for hair advice, insight and expertise. We started to use Instagram and IGTV, Livechat, SMS, email and Facebook, to interact, educate and connect with each other, and we loved it. I think the effects of Covid-19 lockdown has shown us that the scope and desire for human connection is boundless and opened up our eyes to the potential of the digital landscape to interact and extend our care for people’s hair beyond the salon to their living rooms and bathrooms. We can’t give someone a haircut over zoom (although some people have given it a crack) yet for every hairdresser it brings us so much pleasure to have even a small impact on how a person enjoys their hair day to day. Imagine how rewarding it is for us when we can extend that beyond the salon to hundreds or thousands of people. It brings us joy.
'Level 2 of lockdown has come with some pretty gnarly strings attached for us. We invested a lot of time preparing to meet our customer’s needs, and ‘read the room’. Yes, we had Ministry of Health guidelines to meet but it was much more important to us to set up the salon to provide care and consideration to anyone walking through the door plus absolutely nail what they wanted for their hair. The idea of going back to basics is interesting. Our customers hire us to give them good hair and that’s what we do. That has always been our focus and it always will be. Serving good coffee, playing great music, a beautiful fit-out, the latest magazine, stylists decked out in designer wardrobes – all of these are lovely things but they are pointless if you can’t do a good haircut or deliver a beautiful color for your customer in a reasonable timeframe. I feel very strongly about the value in what we do being placed squarely on our skills as crafts people. I hope that our experience with lockdown will bring that back into focus for our industry.
'Hairdressers are VERY into community. We have the tea on all the best local eating spots; fashion, coffee, dentists, physio, ceramics, beauty. Pretty much anything you can think of we have a hook up. I’m so excited by the Support Local movement. It took a global pandemic to make it a thing but I really hope that this is a movement that is here to stay.
'So, what does the future look like?'
Sarah Jane Hough, Creative Producer
'It has become expected that designers consider every step of their production process in order to make their businesses more ethical and sustainable. Everything needs to be taken into consideration. The story people want to know about a garment is made up of the sum of its parts - who made the fabric and from what, who did the sewing and under what conditions and at what impact on the community they came from. ‘Who made my clothes?’ is a growing movement that is fast becoming a mainstream way of thinking. Many brands are becoming greener not because they necessarily have a burning desire to do so but simply to keep up with what is expected.
'There is power in everyone expecting things to be done better - they get better.
'The back story of a photoshoot, of a show, of creative content or brand experiences has until very recently not been given the same level of industry wide scrutiny - as an industry we have a long way to go to catch up with our fashion industry contemporaries. As a Creative Producer I am looking to my friends and colleagues in the fashion industry to help me create my own path toward a more ethical and sustainable way of working. I want to tap into the collective energy around living up to the expectations of a cleaner kinder industry.
'As we move into the new normal I am excited to apply the same critical thinking that brands like RUBY, Maggie Marilyn and Kowtow apply to their supply chains. I have been asking myself questions around the resources I use and look at where things come from and how I can adapt what was normal to what I can do better. Simple switches like reusable water bottles have personally reduced the waste produced on my sets by about 1/3. Not printing call sheets has meant I have used less than a ream of paper this year in comparison to 10 reams this time last year. Simple changes that go along way.
'For me lockdown has given me a renewed sense of appreciation and love for what I do. A love for the people I get to work with, from the agencies who brief us on projects to the clients who trust us to tell their stories. I believe that pressing play again after eight weeks of stillness means we bring with us an energy and a commitment to do better because now we know better. Well at least I hope we do….. I mean it’s almost law in NZ to be kind these days!'
Grace Stratton, Co-Founder All is for All
'All is for All is a disability led business, as I am a wheelchair user. My hope for the future is that more disabled people can become business leaders and more businesses led by disabled people, can be enabled to reach higher heights. I think that for many years, disabled people have been unable to become leaders, due to inaccessible social structures and stigmas, I would like to think - I hope, that this period of time can illuminate the need to break these down - and pursue equity, above all.
'My hope for the future, is also that we measure success in diverse ways. Economic success is only one measurement, equally important is doing better for people and planet. Investing in belonging, inclusive culture, accessibility - these should be measures of our success too - and they should be upheld just as much as our economic successes. I hope that if we can shift toward holistic investment, we can build companies that also create a better world - and give as much back, as they may take.'
Christine Sharma, RUBY Managing Director
'I am hoping our industry looks more diverse on a New Zealand foundation. We have so much creativity around us and it’s time that our industry stopped taking the lead from overseas brands and believed in ourselves and our own DNA.
'It is so important that we do support our NZ businesses, otherwise the scope of NZ labels will be reduced and the prospect of a "cookie cut shopping environment" looms.
'With the ripple effect of Covid-19, everyone has had to throw all their cards up in the air, see what lands face way up and go with it. This is a time to go back to basics, looking at our new way of living and reviewing the changes in our shopping habits. Businesses are having to adapt to this change in behaviour and rethink their retail footprint.
'The buzz aspect of all this is of course that online will define…and yes it will. It reaches where no retail store can exist, however, it is never going to replace the wonderful feeling of walking into a retail environment. Brick and mortar provides the space for a welcoming, warm and tactile experience that a screen will never do, so finding that balance is key.'
Alanna Ramsay, Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand Fundraising & Campaigns Officer
'Kia ora tātou!
Ko Rangitoto te maunga
Ko Hauraki te awa
Nō Scotland ahau
Ko Ramsay tōku whanāu
Ko Alanna tōku ingoa
Tihe mauri ora!
'It is a pleasure, on behalf of the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand (MHF), to share with you our tūmanako/hope for the future of mental health kōrero/conversations in Aotearoa!
'MHF is a mental health charity with a vision of creating a society, where all people can enjoy positive mental health and wellbeing, regardless of whether or not they have a mental illness or experience of mental distress. Wellbeing is for everybody, and we want to make sure people who have experienced mental distress have the tools and support they need to live well. Our whakataukī is Mauri tū, Mauri ora. This kōrero is a constant reminder of our commitment to actively supporting individuals and communities to flourish by providing resources that will positively affect your wellbeing.
'Through our work on resources and our positive health promotion campaigns like Mental Health Awareness Week and Pink Shirt Day, our tūmanako/hope is that we will spark kōrero/conversation about mental health between friends, around whānau dinner tables, in schools, amongst colleagues at work and across communities in Aotearoa. When we start having open kōrero/conversations, we can support one another and realise that we all have our ups and downs. It is important to acknowledge everyone goes through hard times, and sometimes your mental health and wellbeing might not feel as good as you’d like. We want all New Zealanders to understand that mental health is a taonga/treasure that we all have.
'If after kōrero you’re worried about someone or feeling like you need some tautoko/support, there is help available – no one should go through a tough time alone. With one in five Kiwis experiencing a mental illness each year, it’s important to remember that with the right tautoko/support most people recover and live well, even if they continue to experience periods of mental distress. For guidance and support on what to do if you are worried about someone or need some tautoko/support, check out our website or remember you can text or call 1737, to talk to a trained counsellor, this service is free to use.
'We are extremely grateful to Ruby, and all our wonderful fundraisers, who support us and make this important mahi possible. Join Ruby and help our work by starting the kōrero about mental health! We are here to support you on your journey of raising awareness about mental health and wellbeing, check out our website for free resources and guidance to get started.
'Mauri tū, Mauri ora.'
Charli Cox, Koha Apparel Founder
'Koha Apparel is a not-for-profit, pay-as-you-can retail experience that runs every week throughout Auckland, using repurposed apparel. Our mission is repurposing quality clothing for those in need. Our store utilises a pay-as-you-can system which allows those struggling financially to access clean clothing for free. We also aim to reduce the amount of clothing waste going to landfill.
'Since the beginning of 2019, we have been providing clean, quality new, and second-hand clothing to the vulnerable people in Auckland. We receive donations of clothing from New Zealand brands, as well as second-hand clothing. The clothing is repaired by volunteers where necessary and laundered before it is made available in our pop-up outlets.
'Now more now than ever, change is at the forefront of the fashion industry. This time for many people has been a chance to slow the pace and I believe so much more can be achieved by the fashion industry by giving back to the community. Koha is supported by some NZ brands. We collect and distribute their end-of-season, seconds, and sample stock. We are looking to partner with other New Zealand fashion brands - in an ethical response to waste. The awareness around this is progressing, brand mindsets are changing this is no longer seen as devaluing the brand but a positive call to action for those vulnerable in our community. Industry collaboration is the future….
'Awareness is growing, consumers are investing in buying better and will continue to do so. There is now a focus around buying recycled fibres, classic timeless pieces that are gentler on the planet and have an extended life cycle and buying fewer. Koha runs regular markets to encourage people to think differently to make first time shoppers, second-hand shoppers. This eases the environmental impact the fast fashion industry is having on our country and planet. Sustainable fashion is more desirable now than it has ever been, I believe we can transform the industry, but we must collectively work together, to share knowledge, and educate our consumers.
'Today, people are more open and honest with their daily struggles, opening up about their mental health everyone has their triggers and pressure points. Our pop up creates a hub where people can unite together, build relationships, and feel reassured that they are being looked after by the local community. Having these interactions and conversations can potentially change their day or week for the better. Much like food, water, shelter, clothing is a basic need and yet one that many in our communities have unmet - access to clean, quality clothing. I believe every person in the morning should feel good in whatever they put on, it can really set the tone for your day and your mood if you feel confident and comfortable in what you are wearing.
'Since starting Koha, the demand and reach for our services has risen significantly and even more so since NZ went to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 in March. The harsh reality is we need to acknowledge the truth that we cannot continue living as we do today, we are affecting a lot of people and the planet. There are many outreach programs throughout Auckland that we are collaborating with weekly, our community is more open than ever to support those vulnerable in our community with meals, clothing, and services to improve their life for the better. Wellbeing is at the forefront of people’s minds. We have been so lucky since setting out with the people we have connected within our community who are equally as passionate around the many aspects of Koha, the majority of these connections are made through our social media channels. It’s truly humbling with people reaching out to donate their unwanted wardrobe items, time at our weekly pop-ups or skills in support with repairing garments, social media, photography the list goes on! I am no cross-functional expert but luckily you do not need to be when people believe in what you do and want to be a part of it.'
Adray Minh Nguyen, Non-Binary Activist & Environmental Scientist
'First of all, I am very honoured to be a part of Ruby 'The Best Is Yet To Come.' I would like to continue TBIYTC with my thoughts and hopes for our LGBTQ+ community as we move forward into the future together.
'As we are all still dealing with the aftermath of the pandemic; we, as a whole, should not be fearful of it. We should all see this as an opportunity to remember our past and how we got here. The LGBTQ+ community, in fact, has been dealing with a much similar situation - the HIV/AIDS pandemic. In the 80s, when the pandemic broke out, it started the on-going stigma and discrimination against our community, especially gay and bisexual men.
'HIV/AIDS was initially labelled as the “gay cancer” or the “gay-related immune deficiency” leading to the double stigmas against gay and bisexual men: HIV stigma and gay-related stigma causing significant psychological stress. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention suggested that HIV stigma can affect gay and bisexual men's income, employability, access to health insurance and quality health care. The stigma also prevents them from being open to others limiting social support from others; whilst impacting their ability to have and maintain long-term relationships adding to poor mental health, coping skills leading to substance abuse, risky behaviours, and suicide attempts. Logie et al. (2020) found that HIV, depression, and substance use mutually reinforcing each other situated in larger social contexts of stigma; while alcohol use was considered a coping mechanism among LGBTQ+ community. The study also found that pervasive stigma acts as barriers to healthcare engagement increasing HIV vulnerabilities. COVID-19 reminds us of our past and the fights that those before us fought for our reality.
'Dr Fauci suggested that the impact of HIV/AIDS on LGBTQ+ community is similar to the impact COVID-19 is having on African-Americans, shining a light on the health disparities in the African-American community. In other words, now is our time to carry on the legacy and fight the fight for equality not just for us but for others who are vulnerable. There is a much longer road to go and we can not do this ourselves! We need to lend our arms and strength to our vulnerable people of colours, our cisgender sisters, our transgender sisters and brothers and our non-binary people. Because we can not expect others to help if we, ourselves, are not willing to help them.
'Our responsibility now is to help and protect transgender and non-binary people, especially transgender and non-binary people of colour as they are the most vulnerable in our community. The Human Rights Campaign suggested that there were, at least, 26 deaths of transgender or gender non-conforming people in the U.S. due to fatal violence, the majority of whom were Black transgender women; whilst at least 27 transgender or gender non-conforming people fatally shot or killed by other violent means recorded in 2019. The names and stories of the victims are listed below and I would like to ask you to spend some time to read their stories and honour their lives:
Dana Martin, 31, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Montgomery, Alabama, on January 6. Daroneshia Duncan-Boyd, an Alabama-based trans advocate, said that “she was a person that was loved by many.”
Ellie Marie Washtock, 38, a gender non-conforming person, was fatally shot in St. Augustine, Florida, on January 31. Washtock was a parent of two children. Loved ones noted the death on a memorial website: “My heart was torn 1-31-2019 when I heard you were taken. You are loved forever.”
Ashanti Carmon, 27, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Prince George's County, Maryland, on March 30. “Until I leave this Earth, I’m going to continue loving her in my heart, body, and soul,” said Philip Williams, Carmon’s fiancé. “She did not deserve to leave this Earth so early, especially in the way that she went out.
Claire Legato, 21, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Cleveland on April 15. Friends and family took to social media to mourn Legato’s death, remembering her as someone who was “full of life.”
Muhlaysia Booker, 23, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Dallas on May 18. Friends, family and advocates across the country took to social media to mourn Booker, sharing their shock and disbelief. “Such a beautiful spirit taken too soon,” wrote one person. “She lived her life and loved all of who she was.”
Michelle 'Tamika' Washington, 40, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Philadelphia on May 19. Washington, who was also known by the name Tameka, is remembered by friends and loved ones as a beloved sister and “gay mother.”
Paris Cameron, 20, a Black transgender woman, was among three people killed in a horrific anti-LGBTQ shooting in a home in Detroit on May 25. Alunte Davis, 21, and Timothy Blancher, 20, two gay men, were found dead at the scene and Cameron was taken to the hospital, where she died from her injuries. Two other victims were also shot but survived. “This case illustrates the mortal danger faced by members of Detroit’s LGBTQ community, including transgender women of colour," Fair Michigan President Alanna Maguire said.
Titi Gulley, 31, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Portland, Oregon, on May 27. Her death was originally reported as a suicide but is now under investigation.
Chynal Lindsey, 26, a Black transgender woman, was found dead in White Rock Lake, Dallas, with signs of “homicidal violence” on June 1, according to police. Friends, family and community members took to social media to share their shock at her death, describing her as “smiling” and “a person I had never seen mad.”
Chanel Scurlock, 23, a Black transgender woman, was found fatally shot in Lumberton, North Carolina, on June 6. “RIP baby,” wrote a friend on Facebook. “You [lived] your life as you wanted. I’m proud of you for being unapologetically correct about your feelings and expectations of YOU.”
Zoe Spears, 23, a Black transgender woman, was found with signs of trauma near Eastern Avenue in Fairmount Heights, Maryland, and later pronounced dead on June 13, according to local reports. “She was my daughter -- very bright and very full of life,” transgender advocate Ruby Corado, the founder and executive director of Casa Ruby, told HRC. “Casa Ruby was her home. Right now, we just want her and her friends and the people who knew her to know that she’s loved.”
Brooklyn Lindsey, 32, a Black transgender woman, was found dead in Kansas City, Missouri, on June 25, according to local news reports. “I love you, Brooklyn Lindsey,” wrote a friend on Twitter. “I shall live on for you. Rest in power, sista.”
Denali Berries Stuckey, 29, a Black transgender woman, was found fatally shot in North Charleston, South Carolina, on July 20. “I lost my best friend, first cousin,” wrote a family member on Facebook. “We were more than a cousin. We were like brother and sisters. I love you so much, Pooh.”
Tracy Single, 22, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Houston on July 30. “Rest in power and peace Tracy,” wrote Monica Roberts, Houston-based transgender advocate. “You were taken away from us way too soon.”
Bubba Walker, 55, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Charlotte, North Carolina, in late July. Walker was reported missing on July 26. She is remembered by friends and family as “one of those people who was really fun to be around. She was very kind and she loved helping people.”
Kiki Fantroy, 21, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Miami on July 31. Fantroy’s mother remembered her as having “a heart of gold” and being “a very loving person.” She also pleaded for justice for her daughter, saying, “My baby, my baby. Please help bring justice to my baby.”
Jordan Cofer, 22, was among the nine victims killed in a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, on August 4. While Cofer was only out to a handful of close friends and used the pronouns he/him/his on his social media profiles, he is remembered by friends as “extremely bright” and “well-liked.” A friend told Splinter News that “Jordan was probably one of the sweetest people you would ever meet, a true saint, but he was also very scared constantly. He tried to give the best to everyone.”
Pebbles LaDime “Dime” Doe, 24, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Allendale County, South Carolina, on August 4. Doe’s friends and family remembered her as having a “bright personality,” and being someone who “showed love” and who was “the best to be around.”
Bailey Reeves, 17, a Black transgender teen, was fatally shot in Baltimore, Maryland, on September 2. She is remembered as "a person who lived her life to the fullest."
Bee Love Slater, 23, was killed in Clewiston, Florida, on September 4. Slater is remembered by loved ones as someone "with a sweetheart" who "never harmed anyone."
Jamagio Jamar Berryman, 30, a Black gender non-conforming person, was killed in Kansas City, Kansas, on September 13. Local activists and community members joined family and friends at a vigil and took to social media to mourn Berryman’s loss.
Itali Marlowe, 29, a Black transgender woman was found shot in Houston on September 20. She was transported to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead, as reported by Monica Roberts of TransGriot. "You deserved to live a full and robust life surrounded by people who embraced and celebrated your real self," wrote Sue Kerr, an LGBTQ columnist.
Brianna “BB” Hill, 30, was fatally shot in Kansas City on October 14. Kansas City Police Capt. Tim Hernandez told local press that the alleged shooter remained at the scene until they arrived. She was a beloved member of her community, a fan of the Kansas City football team and loved spreading joy by sharing funny videos on her Facebook page.
Nikki Kuhnhausen, 17, was killed in Vancouver, Washington, sometime after her disappearance in June. Kuhnhausen enjoyed sharing videos of her dancing and singing on her Facebook, and she often posted memes to entertain her friends. Her loved ones have taken to social media to mourn her passing. “[Y]ou my dear didn’t deserve this ... rest with God now.”
Yahira Nesby, 33, was fatally shot in New York on December 19. Nesby, a Black transgender woman, was a loved member of the New York ball scene. Her friends and family commented on social media about her death, calling Nesby “a good spirit,” “genuinely good people,” and said “Every time [Nesby was] around [she] put a smile on my face and others.”
Mia Perry, a transgender woman, was killed in Washington, D.C. on December 29.
Johana 'Joa' Medina, 25, died at a hospital in El Paso, Texas just hours after being released from ICE custody. She suffered severe health complications that went untreated while she was in detention, according to Diversidad Sin Fronteras. According to OJ Pitaya, an advocate with the group, Medina dreamed of coming to the U.S. to become certified as a nurse, since she was unable to practice as a transgender woman in her home country.
'Tanzina Vega suggested that there is a significant lack of attention for violence against black trans people after the recent death of Tony McDade, a black transgender man who was shot and killed by police in Florida two days after Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In fact, police often single out trans people for violence. The Anti-Violence Project suggested that trans people are 3.7 times more likely to experience police violence and 7 times more likely to experience physical violence when interacting with police than cisgender victims and survivors. Moreover, there are more chilling stories of the treatment of transgender and non-binary people in prison. Layleen Xtravaganza Cubilette-Polanco, who was found dead as the correctional officers at New York City’s Rikers Island stood outside her cell laughing, according to recently released security footage; had just had an epileptic seizure, but prison staff had failed to conduct the 15-minute-interval health check-ins that are required for prisoners held in solitary confinement. Aside from violence against transgender and non-binary people, there is a lack of employment and housing protections throughout most of America. The Anti-Violence Project showed that while transgender New Yorkers were more likely to have a college degree than the general population, but just 45 per cent of them have full-time jobs. Furthermore, transgender workers are more likely to be unemployed compared to their cisgender counterparts, and 34 per cent of Black trans women face housing insecurity compared to just 9 per cent of non-Black trans people.
'I understand that most of the studies and evidence were based in America and New Zealand is among leading countries in term of human rights and LGBTQ rights. However, their realities are our realities like the head and tail of the same coin. Besides, there is still a significant lack of transgender and non-binary people awareness in New Zealand. As a leading country, why don’t we, New Zealanders, set an example for others to follow? Why rest at what we have while we are capable of the extraordinary? And how should we do it? The answer is simple: we ask questions!
'We ask whether our knowledge about our communities and vulnerable people is enough. We ask others to join positive and meaningful discussions about us, them and about vulnerable people in our community. We ask our people of colour, our cisgender sister, our transgender brothers and sisters, and our non-binary people about their stories and their needs. We ask our teachers, our doctors, our police, our communities, our local boards, our councils, and our government about what can they do to improve equality, not just for us, but for our people of colour, our cisgender sisters, our transgender sisters and brothers and our non-binary people. We now must unite to move forward! The best is yet to come as the future is in our hands.
'I would like to thank you very much for your time reading this. I hope that you have found this useful. Be safe, be kind and ask questions! If you want to learn more, you can start with the following:
With lots of Loves,
Niamh Peren, Founder of the 'Thumbs Up New Zealand' Movement
'Like many countries, Aotearoa is in the throes of a waste crisis. We are running out of landfill space. This, paired with the fact that in 2018 Aotearoa was named one of the most wasteful countries in the world (per capita) by the World Bank makes for a really rubbish situation. Our government needs to urgently do more, on a larger scale, to reduce what goes to landfill in the first place. The majority of our household waste in Aotearoa is food and drink packaging, so let's start by tackling that ever growing pile of packaging.
'Yes, it's difficult to know what to do. A substantial part of the problem lies in the fact that recycling labels are misleading, confusing, and often difficult to find. Plus, many don't realise that the 'green recycling triangle' symbol just means that some place in the world that material can be recycled, but not necessarily here in Aotearoa. Plus, unfortunately far too many products hide behind greenwash - when they really just go straight to landfill. Ugh. We need a label that’s reflective of what our onshore recycling infrastructure can handle. So that we know - before we buy - whether it can and will be recycled onshore. No one wants to contaminate or wishcycle unknowingly. We deserve accurate and honest labelling for direction.
'Dig a little deeper though, and Aotearoa's waste and recycling system appears even more dysfunctional. Our city and district councils operate a patchwork of programs which in their differences to one another cause inefficiency, confusion, and unaccountability. Our 61 city and district councils (who represent 87% of our waste and recycling contracts, and are our major stakeholders) each operate different waste and recycling rules. Yip, it’s awfully confusing when you’re trying to do the right thing, as what can be recycled in one place is not necessarily recyclable just down the road... We need to change this. We need to optimise our systems, reduce contamination, and reduce waste. We must encourage businesses to use packaging that is appropriate for our environment and onshore infrastructure, but sadly under the current system (or lack-thereof) it is impossible for consumers and business to do the right thing.
'So, I founded a movement called ‘Thumbs Up New Zealand’ which was signed by over 46,000 signatories and supported by 46 Mayors and works as a solution to the above problems.
'The petition proposed we create a unified nationwide waste and recycling strategy, and then introduce new, simple, and compulsory labelling on all food and drink packaging indicating their recyclability onshore. As this would then empower both consumer and business to do better.
A Green Thumbs Up Label means packaging is made of recycled material and can be recycled onshore.
A Yellow Sideways Thumb Label means packaging is recyclable, but not made of recycled material (i.e. does not help close the loop)
A Red Thumbs Down Label means it must go straight to landfill
'It’s not an overly complicated system on the front end because I don’t think it should be. Waste is something that is out-of-sight out-of-mind for most, so in order for the system to be adopted it needs to be simple. We need a mass movement.
'And yes, reusables are best! However, they won’t be going in your kerbside collection and are thus not included above.
'As a small island nation Aotearoa has an opportunity to lead the world by being the first to create progressive legislation and transition toward a circular economy; and thus out of this smelly mess.
'The Thumbs Labels do this by incentivising and dis-incentivising packaging materials to what our infrastructure can and cannot handle. As well as being inclusive (you don’t have to read a language to comprehend).
'IF WE CAN DO THIS IN NEW ZEALAND, WE CAN TAKE IT TO THE WORLD.
'Our government has signed up to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, so they really ought to be taking action and implementing the commitment and solutions provided to them by Thumbs Up New Zealand and wanted by her people. There really is no more time to waste.
'So, you ask me, what is the future I wish for? Well, I’m hoping that we can make for a healthier future for our communities, wildlife, and environment. I’m hoping that Thumbs Up New Zealand (a system designed by Kiwis for Kiwis) will be actioned and implemented by the next elected Government, and that Aotearoa will make innovative and progressive headway in this waste space, and inspire global change.
'Together, with Thumbs Up New Zealand, we can do this!'