Visionweek day five – What Next NZ: future thinking

Today is the fifth and final day the online event Visionweek NZ 2020, the virtual summit asking ‘What next for New Zealand?’ in the wake of the biggest pandemic in our lifetime.

All week a myriad of New Zealand’s finest minds in business have been offering their thoughts on the future of New Zealand in the wake of the biggest pandemic the world has seen in decades.

Experts from all manner of industries have been sharing their visions on the future including science, technology, infrastructure, housing, transport, health, education and tourism.

Over the course of the week we have heard from tens of guest speakers and panellists:

  • Rod Drury, Founder, Xero
  • Dr Rod Carr, Chair, Climate Change Commission
  • Rachel Taulelei, CEO, Kono NZ
  • Nicole Rosie, CEO, Waka Kotahi NZTA Agency
  • Tessa Meyer, Sustainability Adviser, NZGBC
  • Shamubeel Eaqub, Partner, Sense Partners
  • Peter Beck, Founder, Rocket Lab
  • Kirsti Luke, CEO, Tuhoe Te Uru Taumatua
  • Tamati Kruger, Chairman, Tuhoe Te Uru Taumatua
  • Sir Stephen Tindall, Founder, Warehouse Group
  • Ian Taylor, CEO, Animation, Research
  • Frances Valintine, Education Futurist, Tech Futures Lab
  • Sir Peter Gluckman, Scientist, Former NZ Chief Science Advisor
  • Kate Boylan, Sustainability Consultant NZGBC
  • Alan Sutherland CEO, Water Industry Commission (Scotland)
  • Jim Boult, Mayor Queenstown, City Council
  • Andrew Grant, Senior Partner, McKinsey
  • Stephen England-Hall, CEO, Tourism NZ
  • Andrew McKenzie, CEO, Kāinga Ora
  • Andrew Caseley, CEO, Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority
  • Rob Campbell, Chair, Skycity
  • Paul Spoonley, Distinguished Professor, Massey University
  • Adrienne Young-Cooper, Chairwoman, Auckland Transport
  • Jolie Hodson, CEO, Spark
  • Stephen England-Hall, CEO, Tourism NZ
  • Mike Burrell, Executive Director, Sustainable Business Council
  • Alison Andrew, CEO, Transpower
  • Ian Proudfoot, Global Head Agribusiness, KPMG
  • Mark Fraser, Deputy Chief Executive, Urban Development Delivery – Kāinga Ora
  • Alex Saifiti, Property Advisor, Auckland Transport
  • Jon Grayson, CEO, NZ Infrastructure

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made a live address during today’s wrap up on her views of what the future might look like for New Zealand.

The week covered a variety of themes; opportunity, connecting, sustaining and quality living in New Zealand in order to make us all think more about the future of New Zealand, how we can each play a part, and what the country can become if we work together to tackle some of the key issues we face in the wake of Covid-19.

Visionweek NZ was founded by Paul Blair, Infrastructure New Zealand’s CEO, and debuted this year. Paul has been a key player in New Zealand business for over a decade. He said in a video released on the first day of New Zealand being free of any cases of Covid-19 said he’d “love to see it more sustainable, more productive, and more inclusive for now and for the future generations of Kiwis that will follow us”.

Final thoughts on the possibilities for the future of New Zealand from some of the week’s key guest speakers.

Kono NZ CEO Rachel Taulelei said the way to a successful future for New Zealand’s food industry is to “pick up some of that slack and work probably harder and faster and smarter and better than we did previously.

Having a diverse set of ideas, having a diverse workforce, a diverse board, diverse management, all of those things are unquestionably better for your business”

Many of the speakers shared their views on the future sustainability of New Zealand. Dr Rod Carr, chair of the Climate Change Commission said we need “to create a much more sustainable society. And by sustainable, I would have three agendas, do no harm, put it right and make it better”.

Sharing the same sentiment, NZTA CEO Nicole Rosie spoke of the importance of sustainability for the future of the climate, with what was perhaps the pandemic’s most surprising consequence; the world’s break from climate change:

“Covid-19 is our practice run for environmental change in the world, which will happen on a scale that is many, many times over what we have seen in Covid-19 if we don’t take action on that issue of sustainability in acting differently in terms of the future.”

Ian Taylor, Animation Research CEO also spoke of the positives that we can draw as a country in a post-Covid world that showed how to effectively deal with and eradicate a pandemic:

“If we’re thinking about what comes out of COVID, we have to do it fully informed. We have to know all of the stories and we do need to step back a little bit and go, I know I used to think this, but now I should listen.

“As a country, a team of 5 million people, we have shown the world how you handle this. We are a world leader. So let’s hold on to that and not fall back and forget what it was that was achieved.”

The Warehouse founder Sir Stephen Tindall spoke of additional opportunities that had arisen to tackle inequality during the outbreak:

“We’ve been able to deal with a lot of those things because there’s no pressure at the moment from immigration or tourists on our infrastructure.”

He continued to talk about utilising our green image as well as future technologies:

“To leverage a clean green image, not just from a tourist perspective, but on the basis that we’re already 82 per cent renewable.

“Using the latest technology, thinking about being in the 21st century, using 5G for example, ultrafast, to utilise new ways of working so that we can be different to what we were.”

Rocket Lab’s Peter Beck said that being a small island nation can be a bigger advantage than people often give it credit for:

“Being bold enough to go out onto the world stage and, and do really big things, New Zealanders excel at that.

“It’s making sure that there’s a big vision, but also clear objectives and a pathway to get to meeting that vision.”

Frances Valintine, Education Futurist for Technology Futures Lab thinks the future will be more about flexibility:

“I think the future will be much more flexible about the way we progress through the system. Not all 10-year-olds are going to learn at the same rate, and likewise, not all 18-year-olds or 20-year-olds”.

She says she could see that being shown in the way students are taught and the processes they use to learn and measure progress.

“That could be taking examinations or evidencing their knowledge and less structured ways and not just an exam at the end of the year.”

On the topic of tourism for the future of New Zealand, Queenstown Mayor Jim Boult said that he wasn’t concerned about rebuilding tourism as the traits that attract visitors won’t change; the natural beauty, the activities, the wineries, the hotels, etc. But he said he hoped what will change is “a realisation that we do need to be more resilient in the future, that we do need to target a higher value tourists, that we do need to find other ways of growing our economy, education, tech industries, medical tourism”.

Scientist Peter Gluckman told us that he feels we need to work alongside other small nations in order to have a more global voice in the future of the world:

“We can, because of our moral leadership and our respect and reputation in the world, be part of a team of countries that could work together to make real progress.

“For example, it’s all in the interest of small countries to work together, to see that the interests of those countries that are not part of G20, not part of G7, are properly heard in those in those corridors of international power and decision making.”

Partner at Sense Partners Shamubeel Eaqub sees a bright future for New Zealand:

“Despite the Inferno of the recession from the ashes will rise, bright new ideas, and those will be implemented by bright young people. The more we can support that, the better the outcome and the better the future for New Zealand as an economist.

“When we look forward to the next couple of years, I think we have three priorities. Make sure we create local jobs, make sure we think about the feature, make sure those projects are good for our children and grandchildren and make sure these projects are green”.

Addressing the conclusion of Visionweek, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern asked speakers and attendees to: “Please, don’t let this be the beginning and the end of your contribution. Keep doing what you’re doing. Don’t stop coming up with ideas, don’t stop providing your perspective sand drawing on your experiences.”

“Keep telling us what you think we should be doing. And let us know when we are getting decision right, or getting them wrong.”

She says her promise is:

“We are listening. We will continue to do so, and we will take action on the basis of what we hear.”

The Prime Minister said that next week she will be announcing a formal process to pick up what has happened throughout Visionweek: “to enable us to build back New Zealand even better.”

Paul Blair’s final comments on the week:

“As the PM says, though, let’s not make it the end; let’s make it from here to action”.

Paul Blair wraps up Visionweek

Visionweek NZ 2020 was accessible and free to all – keep an eye on the website to see what New Zealand’s future has in store: www.visionweek.co.nz

Day Four – Quality Living NZ: Read about day four of Visionweek here.

Day Three – Sustaining NZ: Read about day three of Visionweek here.

Day Two – Connecting NZ: Read about day two of Visionweek here.

Day One – Opportunity NZ: Read about day one of Visionweek here.

– Natalia Rimell

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