Sustainability in our hands - hui

When it comes to sustainability, how much is up to the individual and how much is up to organisations, corporates and governments? What are you willing to give up in order to improve the state of the planet? And how can Aotearoa and Southeast Asia work together to create change?

Get a taste of what the Sustainability Hui was all about

More than 40 members of the Leadership Network tackled these questions and more at Foundation’s Sustainability Hui, alongside visiting sustainability entrepreneurs from Southeast Asia, who were in New Zealand for the ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative.

The hui examined the theme of sustainability from multiple angles – social, economic and political – and included presentations, workshops and a visit to the Innermost Gardens, a Wellington community garden.

Network members demonstrated their leadership skills in a variety of ways. They included Sustainable Coastlines co-founder and CEO Sam Judd, who delivered a stirring speech at the welcome function; Nina Santos acting as MC, and several members who led interactive workshops.

The hui kicked off with Leadership Network members hearing from New Zealand thought leaders on sustainability. These leaders included Te Ahikaaroa Trust’s Heeni Hoterene (Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāu Tahu) and Rueben Taipari (Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa, Tūhoe), who shared the story behind their rammed earth off-the-grid housing - whare uku – in the Far North. Hoterene noted that traditional Māori knowledge contained many examples of ways to solve problems

Ecostore founder Malcolm Rands – one of New Zealand’s most successful exporters to Asia – and Tracy Brown, CEO of Tiriroa, also shared the drivers behind their commitment to sustainable business practices.

ASEAN Young Business Leaders Adi Reza (Indonesia), Okka Phyo Maung (Myanmar) and Patsy Kodaka (Thailand) spoke of their respective work in sustainable business materials; waste management; and ethical clothing.

Auckland-based Leadership Network member Ryley Webster, of Sustainable Coastlines, facilitated the Q&A session with the ASEAN Young Business Leaders. He was impressed by the innovation taking place in the sustainability space in Asia.

"There’s huge potential, I believe, between Asia and New Zealand for us to share the things that are working, particularly at a local level.

We’ve talked a lot in this hui about the fact that sustainability needs to pull at the heartstrings for everyone… it shouldn’t be something that you’re told to do but really about a part of who you are.

“If we can learn more about what is happening in Asia in that space, particularly cross-culturally, then we are really going to gain a lot in terms of advancements in sustainability.”

A woman speaking at a podium

Leadership Network member Bhavya Dhar leading an exercise

Nita Blake-Persen, an Asia New Zealand Foundation media travel grant recipient, also shared her experiences reporting on waste exported to Malaysia. New Zealand waste exports to Southeast Asia have surged since China banned imports of plastic waste in 2017.

Thailand’s Patsy Kodaka, whose company Folkcharm produces organic, rain-fed, ethically produced cotton clothes, summed up one of the hui’s main themes: “Everyone wants to look pretty – but with your choices are you harming the environment? Are you ethically paying the makers, they getting wages, do they have time for their families, are they overworking? Those are the things you have to start thinking about. You have to start from yourself, from everyday life, in addition to the role you play in society.”

Read a Linkedin post about the hui by Leadership Network member Mabel Ye.

Read Simon Draper's Stuff article Southeast Asian's tackle sustainability.

 With thanks to:

  • Heeni Hoterene and Rueben Taipiri, Te Ahikaaroa Trust
  • Malcolm Rands, Ecostore
  • Tracy Brown, Tiriroa
  • Erik Zydervelt, Mevo
  • Jacob Anderson, Sir Peter Blake Trust