Carrie Rudzinski is a renowned poet, performance artist, filmmaker, teacher and feminist. Born in Illinois, USA, Rudzinski has performed in 6 countries as well as nearly every state in the USA.
In 2016 Rudzinski was the performance director for Rising Voices of Youth Poetry Trust, a spoken word poetry development programme for youth in New Zealand. Since 2013 she has been the national coordinator for the New Zealand Poetry Slam. She currently works as the programme coordinator for ‘The Young Writers Programme' at the Michael King Writer’s Centre, and is a Creative Writing and Performance Lecturer at the Manukau Institute of Technology. In 2019, she won the Pussy Riot award at the Auckland Fringe Festival for her performance in Long Distance Phone Calls and performed at a Pussy Riot show.
Rudzinski has published four collections of poetry: A History of Silence, The Endless Return Home, The Shotgun Speaks, and The Blood Mouth. Her work has also been published in numerous anthologies.
Constance Hall is an Australian blogger, freedom fighter, Queen lover, social media sensation and founder of fashion line ‘Queen The Label’. She is best known for her highly successful and publicised Facebook blog and her trademark unflinching honesty and humour.
Con’s following has disrupted the social boundaries of how women are represented and celebrated; together with her fans—dubbed Queens—she’s created a community of women who feel understood and supported. Her two books, ‘Like a Queen’ and ‘Still a Queen’ are what she calls extended middle fingers to a world that wants to label women as used goods and failures. “If my embarrassing, awkward and sometimes shameful story helps one Queen it’s a success,” she says.
Con is also a lifelong member and ambassador of the charity Rafiki Mwema, which supports young children in Kenya who have been sexually abused. With the help of her community, she has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for them.
David Clifford is an American edu-agitator who founded Design School X (DSX) and co-created Liberatory Design. He builds irresistible learning environments of belonging and becoming. David has been an artist, designer, builder and equity/social justice-oriented educator for over 25 years.
David co-founded the East Bay School for Boys to empower middle school boys to be thoughtful, courageous and engaged men of tomorrow. Before that, during his 13 years at Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco leading the Technical Arts department, David co-designed and built many programs: Center for Civic Engagement and Leadership, Philanthropy Initiative, Senegal Service Learning Project and Private Skills for Public Purpose. David incubated DSX and co-created Liberatory Design while a fellow and K12 Lab Senior Learning Experience Designer at Stanford’s d.school.
David Shanks is New Zealand’s Chief Censor and leads the Office of Film and Literature Classification, which is an Independent Crown Entity.
He’s responsible for protecting New Zealanders from harm, especially harm to children and young people that can come from sex, crime, cruelty, horror and violence in media. This balances with upholding New Zealander's right to freedom of expression and recognising the diverse views of all Kiwis.
David’s career has spanned senior leadership and legal positions in both the public and private sectors; he is a barrister and solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand.
From a start in private practice litigation in Palmerston North, and following a stint of commercial legal work in London, David has run some of the largest public legal teams in the country, and conducted national inquiries as Chief Legal Advisor for the State Services Commission. He has also held multiple general management positions.
DeRay Mckesson is a civil rights activist focused primarily on issues of innovation, equity and justice. As a leading voice in the Black Lives Matter Movement and a co-founder of Campaign Zero, DeRay works to provide citizens and policy makers with commonsense policies that ensure equity. He has been praised by former US President Obama for his work as a community organizer, has advised officials at all levels of government and internationally, and continues to provide capacity to activists, organizers, and influencers to make an impact.
Spurred by the death of Mike Brown and the subsequent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and beyond, DeRay works to confront the systems and structures that have led to mass incarceration and police killings of black and other minority populations. He is the host of the award-winning podcast Pod Save The People.
Gamal Fouda is the Imam of the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, which was attacked by a white supremacist on March 15. 52 people died, including 44 from Al Noor.
A week after the event, Fouda led Friday prayers in Christchurch's Hagley Park, declaring that evil ideology will never triumph over love and unity.
He has since welcomed luminaries such as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Prince William, and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to the mosque, to discuss the Muslim community's response to the attacks and to hate speech.
Gamal’s work to unite religious communities started before the Christchurch attack; he has previously liaised with Martin Shulz and the German Social Democratic Party; the Grand Imam of Alazhar—the highest religious figure in the Muslim world; His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi; and the Secretary General of Muslim World League.
Gamal is originally from Egypt and moved to New Zealand in 2003.
Comedian James Mustapic of The Spinoff's 'Repressed Memories' has a satirical, dry style of comedy. He shares unapologetic, brutally honest stories from his past and sees the world in a different light to the rest of the country.
James was a nominee for the prestigious Billy T Award in 2019 with his latest show, The Blair Witch Projector.
Jo Robertson is the Research and Training Lead for The Light Project, a charitable trust equipping youth, whānau and professionals to navigate the new porn landscape.
From an early age, Jo knew she wanted to serve people; she had a strong concern for those who felt no one was listening to them. This compelled her to train in social policy, counselling and sexual health, and to earn her Master’s of Science in sex therapy, with a focus on the consumption rates and impacts of porn on adolescents.
After completing her education and training, Jo went on to work in trauma and abuse counselling roles with children and young people; she now works in private practice as a sex therapist, helping couples restore intimacy, or with problematic sexual behaviours.
Jo is married to an exceptional man named Dave who runs a youth mentoring organisation, and has three young boys. Like all parents, she is very low on sleep, self-care and showers.
Joshua Chu-Tan is a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer in medical physiology and neuroscience at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia.
Josh’s research at the ANU’s John Curtin School of Medical Research focuses on the role of microRNA and their potential use as novel gene therapeutics for progressive retinal degenerations, with a specific focus on age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in the developed world. His work in the field has been published in top-ranked ophthalmology and vision science journals and he also served as intern editor, blog writer, and advisor at world-leading academic publishing company, Springer Nature.
Josh has earned numerous awards for conference presentations and public speaking events and competitions, including first prize at the Asia-Pacific 3 Minute Thesis, and A.T. Kearney Scholar/Finalist for Young Innovator of the Year at the prestigious Falling Walls Conference and Lab in Berlin, Germany.
Dr Lucy Hone is a director of the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing & Resilience, a research associate at AUT University, a published academic researcher, best-selling author and contributor to Psychology Today, the Sunday Star Times and Next magazine.
She trained at the University of Pennsylvania and got her PhD in public health at AUT University in Auckland. She has helped a range of organisations—from primary schools to leading law firms—to design and implement wellbeing initiatives creating sustained and meaningful change.
Five years ago, the sudden death of Lucy’s 12-year-old daughter Abi forced Lucy to turn her academic training and professional practice to foster resilience in very personal circumstances. The blog she wrote in the aftermath of Abi’s death attracted international attention and resulted in the best-selling non-fiction title, What Abi Taught Us, Strategies for Resilient Grieving (Allen & Unwin, 2016), now available as Resilient Grieving in the US, UK and NZ.
Pou Mātai Kō
Mananui Ramsden's mountain is Te Ahu Pātiki (Mount Herbert), his river is Koukourārata, his hapū is Kāti Huikai and his tribe is Ngāi Tahu. He is the world's first ever council-appointed advisor on indigenous land management.
For hundreds of years, Māori have strategically tended, harvested and protected food resources around Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere) in Canterbury. As kaitohutohu tikanga whenua (cultural land management advisor), Mananui’s role involves educating the people who own and work on the 350 farms in the Selwyn Waihora water zone about these indigenous conservation practices—mahinga kai values—such as the protection of water quality and Māori archaeological sites.
Ramsden hopes his work with Environment Canterbury's conservation strategy for Te Waihora will demonstrate to other regions how indigenous voices can be incorporated into resource management and even become a template.
Dr Marilyn Waring is a prominent New Zealand economist and feminist, and a leading activist for human rights.
At 23 years old, Marilyn was one of the youngest New Zealanders ever elected to Parliament. She pushed to have marital rape criminalised and threatened to cross the floor to vote with Labour on a nuclear-free New Zealand, precipitating the 1984 snap election.
On leaving Parliament, Marilyn earned a PhD in Political Economy; her research has been influential in establishing the field of feminist economics. She argues for the economic importance of women’s unpaid work and the environment, revealing the serious policy consequences caused by ignoring these when calculating national economic measures such as GDP.
More recently, Marilyn’s work has focused on the inequities of globalisation and the importance of acknowledging women’s work as an international human rights issue. She has undertaken a range of projects dealing with these issues for the United Nations.
Matt Brown is an internationally acclaimed barber and hair artist, author, husband, and father of three known for ‘giving great cuts’ and ‘inspiring great men.’ He is a survivor of family and childhood sexual abuse and shares his story with the men who frequent his busy Christchurch-based shop, My Fathers Barbers, as a way to foster vulnerability, healing, and connection.
Matt started his business with a simple set up in a garden shed; as his talent and client list steadily grew, he gained a large following on social media, which he now uses to share messages of inspiration and overcoming.
In 2018, Matt partnered with the Ministry of Social Development for their ‘It’s not OK campaign’ to increase awareness about the role of barbers in creating safe spaces that allow men to talk.
Mundi is a Christchurch- and Wellington-based band that showcases some of New Zealand’s top musicians in a fiery display of psychedelic rock and groove music. With a discography going back at least 15 years, the group’s albums explore new musical terrain through a duel of woodwind and strings, hypnotic grooves and haunting melodies, percussion and drums, dancing and merriment.
Mundi composer and flautist Tamara Smith has travelled the world compiling inspiration for her compositions along the way, from performing in jazz clubs in Paris and recording an album in Sri Lanka, to learning traditional Indian flute by the Ganges and warding off alligators in the heart of the Amazon.
Nicholas Sutcliffe was raised in Auckland and studied harpsichord, conducting, and organ at the University of Auckland. While at university, Nicholas won first prize at the NZ Organ Performance Competition, and has been a featured organist with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra workshopping and premiering a commissioned organ concerto. He is presently a Trustee of the Christchurch Town Hall Organ.
He was Organ Scholar of Holy Trinity Cathedral and also worked at both Dilworth School and St Cuthbert's College as organist.
Nicholas has lived in Christchurch since 2012 and is Organist & Co-Director of Choirs at Christ's College and Associate Director of Music at St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral. He has also previously served as Assistant Organist and Acting Director of Music of Christchurch Cathedral, as well as Acting Director of Music at Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland.
Dr Sarah Kessans is a US-born New Zealand scientist and biochemist, a multi-national champion in rowing and was in the top 50 applicants—out of over 18,000—in the NASA astronaut programme.
She’s earned degrees in plant and molecular biologies, worked on a plant-based HIV vaccine, and is now working at the cutting edge of synthetic biology solutions to combat climate change, facilitate space colonisation, and advance innovations in medicine and agriculture. In short, she’s figuring out what we’ll eat on Mars.
She uses her work whilst educating and inspiring future leaders to courageously tackle scientific and societal challenges with purpose, integrity, and empathy.
Speaking at TEDxChristchurch 2019: Tūrangawaewae probably won’t be the most terrifying thing she’s done; in 2006, she spent 16 hours clinging to a capsised rowboat during her first voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Two years later she returned with a crew to complete her mission, setting a world record in the process.
Southern Cross Irish Dance is a Christchurch-based Irish dance school founded in 2017 by two talented and award-winning dancers—Shannon Dilger and Argene Flack. The school is dedicated to providing a fun, inclusive environment where dancers from preschool-age through to adults can create lifelong friendships, develop their coordination, athleticism and rhythm through learning to Irish dance.
Veronica Harwood-Stevenson is founder and CEO of Humble Bee, a protective biopolymer company which draws on her business and science backgrounds.
She studied anatomy and reproductive biology but left the laboratory to pursue a life of entrepreneurship, starting businesses from lingerie to documentary filmmaking. She has a Masters in Science Communication on the use of commercial communication strategies to reduce the research to implementation gap. After graduating Veronica drove years of research & development, giving her unique insights into development pathways for scientific research and the closing window of opportunity in biomimicry.
Her unusual skill set is sought out by academics, and commercialisation committees to uncover value propositions and develop strategic storytelling around applied research.