Inclusive Aotearoa Collective Tāhono | Update # 12

Kia ora koutou, Greetings, Namaste, Bonjour, Shalom, Hamjambo, Hola, Nihau, Konichiwa & As-Salaam-Alaikum,

Happy New Year to all! We hope you have had a restful holiday and that 2020 holds many good things to come. Our exciting news is that two wonderful people have joined our team. Read on to learn a bit more about them. All four of us are now gearing up for the Around Aotearoa Road Trip, which will kick off on 23rd February. Watch our FaceBook and Twitter pages for regular updates of where we are and who we are meeting in our conversations about belonging. We are also getting started on plans for our first hui, which will be held in Christchurch later in March. In addition to those events, all the different areas of our work are in full swing.


Sara Hewitson – Analysis & Comms

An experience design consultant, Sara has a background in customer research, solution design, channel strategy, and project management.

Sara draws on agile and human-centred design methodologies to ensure research approaches focus on individuals and understanding their journeys: analysing qualitative findings and the impacts of their experiences, and how to resolve core issues and needs.

Sara has worked across both government and private enterprise on qualitative research projects – as well as developing the subsequent strategies and solution designs.

She also has a background in digital UX design, online marketing, print media – and has previously worked on various New Zealand publications as a writer and editor.

Talie Geen-Schmidt – Event Coordinator

Talie Schmidt-Geen has worked in both corporate and not-for-profit fields in healthcare, IT and education in Aotearoa and internationally for the last twenty-five years.

She has extensive administration and event experience and has also organised events throughout the Asia Pacific region in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Australia and throughout New Zealand.

Talie is of Samoan/German descent and her parents came from Samoa in the 1950’s and raised their family in Tokoroa and Auckland. She is the youngest of 8 children and with a large Samoan family, her siblings and their children is currently sitting at around just under 70 in numbers and growing.

She is married with two children. Her passions include sport, (basketball, rugby, cricket, and many more) and enjoying time with friends and family in her beautiful surroundings on the Hibiscus Coast, Whangaparaoa.

On a voluntarily basis she is also involved in Pacific Island committees and is a steering committee member of Women in HealthTech an organisation “striving to empower women with diverse range of thinking at all levels of the HealthTech industry and assist with effecting cultural change.”

Talie is motivated and excited about supporting the Inclusive Aotearoa Collective as an event co-ordinator and joining the team on the Tāhono waka.

“He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.”

What is the most important thing in life? It is people, it is people, it is people!

Jason Zheng: Our new intern
This January we are also fortunate to be joined by an intern, Jason Zheng, a postgraduate student from University of Waikato, who will be working with us to develop several short video clips for use on our website. Welcome Jason and thank you for your input and assistance with this necessary and valuable piece of our website.

Our volunteers
Over the last few months we have had so many excellent conversations and meetings with people from all over Aotearoa New Zealand who have offered and provided their support in innumerable ways, from helping us tackle our computer woes to organising conversation groups, from networking to upskilling our team, and from having a korero to bounce ideas around to feeding a focus group.

The outpouring of genuine interest in this project and the amazing range of volunteers who have helped us keep going keeps growing and growing! Our most heartfelt thanks and aroha to every one of you. We can not do this without you.


As mentioned in the last newsletter, one of the most important ideas behind these conversations is that they are not consultations. These conversations are an opportunity for individuals and communities to discuss what makes them feel like they belong, what is stopping them from feeling like they belong, and what needs to change.

Anjum and Nona will be leading these conversations, while our Events Coordinator, Talie, will be working behind the scenes to organise all of the logistics. We will begin our Road Trip in the South Island and will be starting at the top and moving down the west coast. You can follow our progress on Twitter and FaceBook.

The notes from the conversations will be sorted and analysed for common themes around the issues of belonging and change by our data analyst, Sara, who will also be joining as a facilitator for conversations or listening in remotely when possible.

Very importantly, this road trip would not be possible without the many many volunteers who have put their hands up to help with contacting community groups, assisting with venues, logistics, and giving their time to this project in so many ways. Thank you to all of you.

If there are any groups, clubs or individuals you would like us to get in touch with, or if you are interested in helping us to set up a conversation, then please do get in touch with us at