Kia ora koutou, firstly I would like to thank you all for making this experience possible. I really appreciate the opportunity to work on both personal and professional leadership and entrepreneurship with so many diverse young leaders.

The first day, we went to Ōrākei Marae, a marae I had not previously visited. Interestingly, I discovered as early on, as the whaikōrero that I had Ngāi Tahu connections.

We then separated into small groups and had the privilege of listening to many entrepreneurial individuals who utilise their cultural knowledge to shape their own forms of success and empowerment throughout a wide range of communities.

By the second day, we had begun to form connections and we no longer felt like a group of strangers. Half of the group, including myself, attended a local primary school where innovative learning styles are utilised to bring out the best in the children. This learning style has flow-on effects to the community.

The remainder of the experience was largely focused on positive entrepreneurship and challenging social norms while pushing our understanding and critical knowledge of various subjects like mental health, perspective and bettering others.

As a whole, there were some key themes that I will take away from this experience. Firstly, the role of women within not only their respective cultures but also the wider business world – a place I intend entering and changing in the future.

Secondly, the power of culture and the benefits of diversity, and how this is our biggest strength and point of difference. And finally, the strength of relationships across the Pacific. That is certainly an area in which we could grow, and even collaborate in. Values are a fairly unified theme across the Pacific through which knowledge is shared and all parties grow.

If I had any suggestions, it would be to possibly send two Ngāi Tahu people to the next event. I had pondered the thought of sending one new individual and the past individual. I think this would be beneficial, as it would create a mentor/mentee relationship. The presence of Māori as a whole is very important not only in representing New Zealand but also the South Island and our tribal difference; and through two representatives a strong presence will be created.

My only other suggestion would be to continue to send young Ngāi Tahu, who are interested in innovation and forming relationships to engage in opportunities such as these.

If you were interested in an extension of this, there is a nine-week course called, ‘Live the Dream’ through which you are able to work individually or collectively on kick-starting a social enterprise project. This forum allows for all the basic knowledge around establishing a business to be compacted into 10 weeks, and allows for an environment for ideas to be fostered and grown.

Once again, thank you all for the time and energy you put into this. I am forever grateful and as you are all aware, I am an opportunist, so I will continue to seek experiences like this. Ngā manaaki, Ranui Ellison-Collins.

Ranui Ellison-Collins.

Ranui Ellison-Collins.