Visionweek day one – Opportunity NZ: why a vision is necessary

Visionweek NZ 2020 kicked off today, asking us to imagine if New Zealand’s five million-strong population set a vision for our future that ensures New Zealand’s long-term sustainability, productivity, resilience and high-quality outcomes for all people, communities and the environment.

The week-long programme features prominent New Zealanders, including Xero founder Rod Drury, Sir Stephen Tindall, economist Shamubeel Eaqub, Rocket Lab’s Peter Beck, former NZ chief science advisor Sir Peter Gluckman, Spark CEO Jolie Hodson and Auckland Transport’s chair Adrienne Young-Cooper.

The organisers say Covid-19 has created the conditions to reset our path, to take advantage of the huge opportunities that eliminating Covid provides, and to address some critical areas like climate change, equality of opportunity, and mental health where urgent action is needed.

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 this week is focused on a different theme. Today’s is ‘Opportunity NZ: why a vision is necessary.’

Sir Stephen Tindall says the real opportunity is for us to come up with strategies that leverage our strengths. He notes our energy is 82 per cent renewable which is something the rest of the world is hugely jealous of.

“I’ve kind of seen with my involvement with both Rocket Lab and Team New Zealand, that if you use what I would call 21st century technology, and we actually gear up as a country to actually utilise and leverage that, we could do so much more than we’re doing right now,” he says.

Sir Stephen Tindall

“I’d love to think that every New Zealander thought through the sustainability lens and how much we could leverage that to our benefit, because there’s huge corporations around the world that want to invest in that. They want to impact investing into green things. We could be the microcosm of that in New Zealand, for them to learn how they can do it in their country.”

Panuku’s corporate responsibility advisor, Tessa Meyer, was recently awarded the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC) Future Thinker of the Year for 2020.

Tessa Meyer

She says tackling the pandemic and climate change at the same time is daunting, and while it may be tempting to go back to normal, we have an extraordinary opportunity to use the resources that are at our disposal to tackle both challenges at the same time.

“I really hope that we can readjust some of our priorities,” she says. “Putting a green recovery, ahead of a simple financial recovery and investing in infrastructure that helps accelerate our de-carbonization and promotes environmental and social resilience. In 10 years’ time I would really like to look back on what we have done with this opportunity and know that we spent it on the right things.”

Professor Paul Spoonley says New Zealand is a small, relatively nimble country and is able to react to and develop new policies to address some of the negative consequences of Covid-19.

“It is an opportunity for us to really consider what a 21st century New Zealand might look like and to begin to shift resources and support and policy in ways that, privilege, the new way of doing business of living in this century.”

Professor Paul Spoonley

He says that baby boomers are now politically very significant and determining policy, but we’re not giving enough space and air time to some of the subsequent generations.

“I’m feeling excited, because I think there is a moment now when we begin to talk about our systems, our policies and the way in which we are going to operate in the future in a way that probably we would never have had without the pandemic,” he says.

Sir Peter Gluckman says the dynamic digital sector and entrepreneurship means that our geographical position in the world is not as disadvantageous as it used to be, because we are now more connected.

“We showed we can work very well in a virtual world, in a digitally connected world,” he says, pointing to Rocket Lab and Weta Workshops as examples.

Sir Peter Gluckman

Considering a Māori world view, Kono chief executive Rachel Taulelei says “while there is not necessarily one view, there is a commonality in and around values and the way that we might think intergenerationally.”

She describes it as being hardwired for collective responsibility for people.

“We have a particular relationship obviously with our land and our water. We revere them and we view them as our tupina, our ancestors. So, we love and care for them in a way that we might a brother or sister or a grandparent or any other relation in that respect.”

Rachel Taulelei

Visionweek has been made possible by the support of multiple partners, including Sustainable Business Council, Internet NZ, the Construction Sector Accord, EECA, Business New Zealand, the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission, the Ministry for the Environment, Infrastructure New Zealand and ASN Media.

All New Zealanders are invited to share their thoughts, using the hashtag #visionweeknz, so that as many viewpoints as possible can be integrated into the final report.

Read about day two of Visionweek here.

-Tim McCready

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