This weekend more than 1000 youth will come together to ponder, discuss and dissect the issues of facing New Zealand at the Festival for the Future in Auckland.

Now in its sixth year, the annual conference for Kiwis aged 13 to 30-ish is organised by youth-run social enterprise Inspiring Stories.

About 20 young leaders from different not-for-profit and commercial organisations will speak at the festival on topics ranging from mental health to equality.

Ahead of the event the Herald asked five of the speakers to share their thoughts on how we can make a better future.


Lisa King, 40, Auckland, chief executive and co-founder of social enterprise Eat My Lunch which donates one lunch to a child who'd otherwise go without for each lunch bought by Kiwis.

"I think it's really great to see young people in universities and even in schools teaching the younger generation about entrepreneurship and also social entrepreneurship - this idea that business can actually do good and make money at the same time, it's not one or the other.

"It's actually the responsibility of businesses and individuals to contribute and help those most vulnerable in our community together. I think it's really great, particularly when they're young, to start that conversation.

"We have a lot of parents who want to bring their kids in here to show them that not everyone lives or has the things that they do and you kind of need to think beyond yourself and come up with solutions that actually benefit everyone in the community."

Joseph Ngametuangaro, 20, Opotiki, youth worker who overcame heart disease and the loss of both parents to become an advocate for other young people in rural communities.

"My heart is pretty much for employment in regional areas because there's usually a lot of people who are unemployed in the Bay of Plenty.

"We've had a lot of people who have gone to uni and haven't come back to the community.

"I'd like to encourage people that have pursued and succeeded to come back home - they might be a dentist, they might be a doctor, even if it's a smaller thing, bring it home - because then it encourages youth to say 'hey they've done this amazing thing and they want to come back home and do it here'."

Bop Murdoch, 24, Wellington, theatre graduate and co-founder of CoLiberate - an organisation with the mission to be the "Les Mills of mental health".

Bop Murdoch (left) with fellow Co-Liberate co-founders Jody Burrell and Sarah Tuck. Photo / Supplied
Bop Murdoch (left) with fellow Co-Liberate co-founders Jody Burrell and Sarah Tuck. Photo / Supplied

"We just have to step into a more confident place responding to mental distress. We have to eliminate the stigma around mental health and acknowledge that mental experiences are everyone's experiences and that we're all human.

"We have to upskill. We have to outgrow this whole kaupapa of distancing ourselves from mental distress or from coming at it from fear that we're going to get it wrong.

"We just need to learn to support each other in ways that are empowering for both parties so that we can all feel better a lot of the time, be more present and be ourselves."

Julia Whaipooti, 29, Wellington, lawyer and board chairwoman of Just Speak, a youth-led charity for fairness in the justice system.

"What drives me personally is thinking around how the decisions that we make today impact seven generations away. Thinking beyond us - we're kaitiaki here, we're guardians.

"There are questions that we need to ask besides 'how do we get people engaged in politics?'

"I mean the question should be the why - how is our country doing in terms of the health and wellbeing of our children and young people, in terms of housing, in terms of education, in terms of [having] one of the highest rates in the world of young people dying of suicide - those kinds of things, things that are impacting our generation, and when we grow out of that generation, will continue to impact the new young people.

"As young people we inherit the consequences of the decisions made today."

Rab Heath, 29, Auckland, entrepreneur and co-founder of successful protein powder supplier Whey Cartel as well as technology venture Haptly.

"I think the most meaningful change that we can make for New Zealand is by our peers supporting our peers, young innovative people supporting each other.

"There's a lot of tall poppy syndrome in New Zealand. If you're successful at something you're praised to no end but if it looks like you haven't succeeded yet or that you might fail, it's usually you're eviscerated to a certain extent.

"I think the best thing we can do as a society is support the mavericks and the change makers and encourage people to try again when they fail rather than cutting them down more."

Festival for the Future is on from August 4 to 6 at the Aotea Centre in Auckland.

For more information about the conference or to buy a ticket go to: