Today is the fourth of five days of Visionweek NZ 2020, the virtual event asking ‘What next for New Zealand?’ in the wake of the biggest pandemic in our lifetime.
The week-long summit hosts some of the country’s most well-known names across a variety of topics key to New Zealand’s future, including business, infrastructure, housing, science, tourism, technology, transport, health and education.
Prominent speakers throughout the week include Warehouse Founder Sir Stephen Tindall, Transpower CEO Alison Andrew, Scientist Sir Peter Gluckman, Tuhoe Te Uru Taumatua chair Tamati Kruger, Kainga Ora’s Deputy Chief Exec Mark Fraser, Auckland Transport chair Adrienne Young-Cooper as well as some additional thoughts from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
The event asks us to imagine setting the foundations for a future that ensures long-term sustainability, productivity, resilience and high-quality outcomes for all people, communities and the environment. It takes an in-depth look at ideas, thoughts and innovations from some of the best and brightest minds from across the country.
Visionweek founder Paul Blair says, “A vision can create the ‘north star’ that links our team of five million, but it needs to quickly translate into a multi-decade, multi-partisan nation-building plan. Our plan needs to realise New Zealand’s untapped potential and put people, purpose and planet at the heart of transforming Kiwis lives for the better.”
Each day focuses on a different theme and today explores quality living in New Zealand by meeting community needs, housing and health.
Sir Stephen Tindall, founder of The Warehouse Group and Tindall Foundation is well-versed in New Zealand’s business says that the pandemic has proven that business can be done just as effectively and efficiently, if not more so, from home. He also noted that “by doing things a little differently and creating products like joint ownership and rent to buy and that sort of thing, we, we’ve been able to create homogeneous communities”.
He also highlighted the importance of work for a sense self:
“I think the one thing that is incredibly important is that people that are unemployed are not left to do nothing. The worst and most demeaning thing in life is not to have some sort of a job. Now you may have a paid job as you’ve had, or now you might have a volunteer job that’s paid, but you’re doing something that you know is meaningful.”
Tamati Kruger, chair of Tuhoe Te Uru Taumatua told the audience of what he sees are the positives out of the recent changes due to the pandemic:
“Unity drives action. I have seen it all of the time that way; our needs and our wants are aligned and so Covid gave us that experience. We should take as much value as we can out of there.”
On housing he tells us it’s “about beauty, it’s about hope, it’s about generosity. It’s about waking up in the morning and feeling good”.
Sustainability consultant for NZGBC Kate Boylan reflected on the value of housing and community to make us all feel safer and more supported:
“I think the lockdown has cemented the importance of our relationship with our community… it comes back to kind of more social housing models and being close with the people who you live around.”
She reckons houses should no longer be designed in these precincts or communities just to be strangers living alongside each other and ponders “Can we have more community areas where people can connect and build friendships and that community feeling?”
Of Covid-19 she says that its disruption “provides the perfect opportunity for a sustainable reset, a green recovery. And to start really thinking about the environmental, social, and cultural outcomes that we can have”.
Queenstown mayor Jim Boult feels it’s going to be considerably cheaper and easier to rent in Queenstown than it has been previously has says he is addressing his concerns about those who have lost their jobs and are danger in losing a place to live: “I am talking to government about the sort of support that those folk will need.”
Shamubeel Eaqub, partner at Sense Partners passionately spoke of the future of New Zealand following the pandemic:
“Whether it’s housing or anything else, the Covid-19 response gives us that licence to invest in things that’s going to be good for New Zealand. And I hope a lot of that sticks because the state and our overall system has been absent in its caring to provide housing for the bottom quarter of new Zealanders”.
Andrew McKenzie, CEO of Kāinga Ora talked about how the Government has been very clear on how the company can look to help Māori in working with them to achieve aspirations of home ownership where “traditionally in New Zealand, they have had lower levels of ownership.” Just after Christmas government announced they would be seeking 1000 more homes from Kāinga Ora, with a further 2000 announced in the 2020 budget.
Mental wellbeing is likely to rise in the wake of Covid-19, which is already high with 20 per cent of people expected in any given year to deal with issues around mental health. Sir Peter Gluckman says:
“We need a holistic approach to our future.”
Andrew Grant who is a Senior Partner at McKinsey said that the wellbeing budget and the thought process around wellbeing is an ‘incredible platform’ but went on to say more time needs to be put into making it a reality:
“We’ve got to take what is more of a concept and really make it real around the practicalities of what are the infrastructure manifestations, what are the infrastructure practicalities of a wellbeing budget.”
Massey University’s Professor Paul Spoonley reflected on social cohesion, comparing it to ‘sacred cows’ saying it needs more discussion:
“What we’re doing is privileging one generation, the baby boomers at the expense of another generation who has to pay for superannuation, which will be younger generations.”
Sustainability Adviser to NZGBC Tessa Meyer talked of the inadequacy of half a million homes in New Zealand today and the affects of the poorly-insulated, mouldy and damp houses are a cause for sever health issues, putting the health system under increased pressure. She says these families “have the cost burden of higher energy bills” and that ‘their quality of life is reduced’.
“Long-term thinking and putting people at the heart of what we do will hopefully help us to make those investment decisions,” she says of tackling the issue going forward.
Tomorrow concludes the week-long virtual summit looking into what may lie ahead for New Zealand and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern offers her thoughts. The summit is free and accessible to all – you can register on their website: www.visionweek.co.nz
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