Our Current Line Up of Speakers Include
Teacher / Author / Translator
Hēmi Kelly (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Tahu, Ngāti Whāoa) is a lecturer in te reo Māori at AUT. He is also involved in a number of Māori language planning and revitalisation initiatives within the community and enjoys sharing his love for the language with anyone who shows an interest.
Hēmi is passionate about writing and translation studies. In 2017, Hēmi translated Witi Ihimaera’s novella Sleeps Standing and published his first book, A Māori Word a Day, in 2018.
Social Entrepreneur/ Blockchain / Birds
Fraser cares about inspiring the world to choose purpose over profit. He has a track record in social entrepreneurship and technological innovation with projects such as Squawk Squad which marries technology with conservation in helping save the native birds of New Zealand. Fraser is also the cofounder of the blockchain social enterprise, Choice. Choice is a new contactless payments system utilising QR codes that reduces transaction fees for kiwi merchants and allows consumers to allocate 50% of this fee to a charity of their choice.
Activist / Muay Thai Coach / Educator
'Richie Hardcore is a board member at White Ribbon New Zealand, Ministry of Social Development 'It's Not Ok’ Champion, working to end men's violence against women. He is an educator and public speaker, focusing on exploring masculinity and ending rape culture, sexual and family violence.
He also speaks passionately about mental health and wellness, and as a former alcohol and drug harm reduction community worker, on how we can address AOD issues in our society. He was a radio host at Auckland’s 95bfm for 15 years, conducting interviews with politicians, personalities and musicians alike, as well as DJing music. He also was a rotating host of NewsTalk ZB's mental health talk back radio show ‘The Nutters Club', and today is a regular feature on shows such as TVNZ breakfast as a social commentator. A retired former multiple Muay Thai Champion, with over 25 years in martial arts, Richie is now a trainer, having helped some of New Zealand's most accomplished fighters achieve their goals.
Outspoken / Able / Driven
Grace Stratton, doesn’t pull any punches. Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at a year old, Grace has been navigating life in a wheelchair for nineteen years, but her disability isn’t the story, what she’s done with it is. At sixteen Grace built a website from her hospital bed while she was in recovery from surgery, that site led her to discover that in today's landscape; what made her different was what gave her power to succeed, in whatever fields she chose.
Three years after building that website, this statement is still true. Grace defined her disability for herself, in a way which for the most part defies social convention, Grace saw her disability as something that would strengthen her in industry and as a person.
Grace believes that all diversities hold this same strength, and that this should be self evident.
Pete Ceglinski - Seabin Project
Surfer / Environmentalist / Eco-preneur
Pete Ceglinski, the Aussie surfer who in 2015 successfully crowdfunded an invention designed to rid our waterways of rubbish. The Seabin Project went viral and has quickly become one of the most environmentally promising ways of turning the tide in our planet's war against plastics.
It’s a rubbish bin that lives in the water of marinas and collects floating plastics, bottles, bags, oil, fuel and micro-plastics down to 2mm in size.
Right now our business activities are 50% for profit and 50% not for profit. The reason for this is that we are in a unique situation where we have innovative technology to capture debris efficiently, but at the end of the day, Seabin’s are not the solution. Education, Science, Research and Community is the real solution, and so we have built this into our business model with growing success.
Katie Williams - Coffin Clubs
Volunteers’ Supporter / Respecter of the Elderly / Cuddle Bunny
Katie is the founder of the Kiwi Coffin Club (makers of fine and affordable underground furniture) A retired Nurse who in her career went from Midwifery, through the hoops to Palliative Care.
She is pleased that a Coffin Club can provide , not only efficiency in construction of a coffin at an awesome price, but members (volunteers) that can give that special empathy (leavened with humour) to those confronted with their own mortality, be it diagnosed, pending or recent and to provide the means to use their own talents to enhance and celebrate their span on this planet of ours.
She believes in the ongoing wellbeing and respect for the older generation in all aspects of their lives. Many are the volunteers that keep our communities viable. “Volunteers, The Heart of our Community – By many, the work will be completed, Mā tini, mā mano, ka rapa te whai.”
Co-founder / Advocate / Director
Having overcome childhood abuse and multiple suicide attempts, Jazz Thornton has now dedicated her life to speaking hope and creating change in the area of mental health through her organisation Voices of Hope. Her unique experience and practical message has gained worldwide recognition, being shared through media, international speaking engagements and now through a new feature documentary film. Living by the saying “it’s not about battling your past but fighting for your future” Jazz believes that no matter what your going through it is possible to get through when you learn how to stop surviving and start fighting. In 2017 Jazz was named New Zealand’s youngest director to win the annual Doc Edge pitching contest and is now directing her series The Silence Project which aims to shed light to the stories behind our suicide statistics while changing the way we have conversations about it.
Mother / Victim / Cyclist
Sarah is in her 50’s and loves being outdoors combined with physical activity. She recently completed her first walking half-marathon preserving for a podium finish despite the blisters forming at the half-way mark. Cycling whether it be mountain biking or road cycling is also a keen pursuit. The outdoors provides Sarah with perspective and vitality.
She kept a secret for 35 years from a traumatic event and broke her silence last years which led to a 9 month police investigation. The case was decided by the police that due to the lack of evidence it would not proceed to a court hearing. Sarah is confident that New Zealand systems and processes can be improved to make it gentler and safer for victims to share their secrets of historic abuse.
Sarah works in a business environment having held a number of senior leadership roles in the public sector and self-employment in the rehabilitation industry. Sarah’s only child is now 30 years old. The strong relationship with her son, along with her husband, have provided the caring family support needed to help her navigate the previous year as a victim through the police investigation.
Surgeon / Research Scientist / Medical Humanitarian
From a family of 13 children brought up in a village in Malaysia, Dr Tan completed medical training at Melbourne University in 1985 and subsequently in New Zealand where he qualified as a plastic surgeon. Following fellowships at Oxford and Harvard he became Hutt Hospital’s Director of Plastic Surgery in 2000-2006 and Director of Surgery in 2007-2013.
He founded the Centre for the Study & Treatment of Vascular Birthmarks in 1996. Unsatisfied with the treatment for strawberry birthmarks he retrained as a scientist, receiving a PhD from Otago University in 2001. In 2013 he founded the Gillies McIndoe Research Institute, dedicated to relieving human suffering through paradigm-changing scientific research.
Discoveries by Dr Tan’s team of the stem cell origin of strawberry birthmarks underscore the new low-cost treatment of this tumour using anti-hypertensive medications. Building on this work, cancer stem cells, the proposed ‘root’ of cancer, have been discovered in 14 types of cancer, leading to a novel cancer treatment using low-cost commonly available medications. A clinical study is now underway for patients with glioblastoma, a deadly brain cancer.
Dr Tan has received many honours and awards, is a holder of six patents and an author of over 150 publications.
Deep tech / Enthusiast / Lifter
Imche is passionate about accelerating New Zealand’s science and technology industries. She works with young deep technology start-ups as GM of the technology incubator, Level Two, and is an advocate for investing in technologies that solve global problems. She also believes in the importance of teaching soft skills and commercial know-how to hard science students and does so as CEO of education-focused charity, Chiasma. Though she is supporter of all facets of deep technology, she has a background and particular interest in biotechnology ventures. She sits on a number of investment committees and is a mentor to several young entrepreneurs.