TEDx Tauranga 2015

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All the hard work by over 20 people on the TEDx committee paid off on Saturday 25th July. An all day event at ASB arena was about to unfold. 10 speakers, 3 international videos and 3 entertainers were to take the stage. Two breakout spaces either side of the stage were available for the 1000 plus attendees during the three meal breaks.

After a welcome by Sheldon Nesdale, Tauranga franchise holder for TEDx, Ellis Bryers opened the show with a question to us all. How are we expressing our unique Kiwitanga? With a Maori father and Pakeha mother he told us of his life journey, the highs and lows, and how finding out about his Maori heritage has transformed his life. He also showed us his proficiency with a tiaha which was enthralling

Dr David Pattemore dispelled a few myths about the demise of honey bees. It’s not as bad as the press makes out. His research into alternatives such as bumblebees, birds, bats and beetles mean there is hope for pollination after all. Vital for our farming and orchard industry.

Catherine Iorns is a Wellington lawyer who is pushing for a clause in our Human Rights legislation covering the environment. She used the bad quality of our waterways to demonstrate that we need this legislation and also showed countries who have this type of law and how Governments have used it to change and challenge environmental standards.

Sir Ray Avery showed why he is a sought after speaker to inspire people. He challenged us all to use our time wisely and showed his latest innovative design of an incubator for third world countries. He also acknowledged other Kiwi inventors who designs have been groundbreaking and used internationally. His style is pacey, witty and definitely inspiring.

The first entertainer on stage was John Boone and partner. A man who used mime and his hand movements had every member of the audience captivated. His hands were used to conduct a cacophony of sounds from 1000 drums. He made us bang them hard, soft, in different combinations of rhythms and use our voices to make music. Amazing

International video by Rita Pierson – Every kid needs a champion. This video showed why there are exceptional teachers in the world who change childrens’ lives because they care. Taking a class of challenged children and getting something out of them that was positive was her message.

Dr Bronwen Connor has been leading a team in groundbreaking scientific research to take skin cells and transform them into brain cells. Brain injuries and neurological diseases will benefit from this research. Mind boggling.

Dr Harold Hillman received a standing ovation for his talk – Find your Authentic Voice

As a decorated major in the American Army he was a member of the Government Commission looking into whether they should overturn the policy of not allowing gay men and women in the military. He was married with two children but kept his secret, that he was in fact gay. After the Don’t Tell, Don’t Ask policy became law, he resigned from the Army, divorced, and became the man he wanted to be. He implored us to be true to yourself and authentic.

Tauranga young teen, Bekki Richards had won a video competition and presented her video, There’s a Problem in our Backyard. Using the background of Leisure Island and views of Mount Maunganui beach, she used soft toys such as a penguin and birds to show how pollution affects our wildlife. It was cute but also had a great message and would appeal from early childhood centres through to all levels of schooling.

Second entertainer, Marcus Winters, used Maori song and music as a backdrop to his amazing SandArt. Using a lit sandbox with images projected onto the large screen he used sand and his hands to create images of ocean life in New Zealand and the Battle of Gate Pa. Spellbinding.

TED video by Rana el Kaliouby who has been developing technology for computers that can track your emotions. Her company has thousands of facial images in their data base to help with this amazing technology.

Dr Michael Quintern got us all thinking about the humble earthworm. He teased us with facts and figures about this 600 million year old technology, an amazing machine, before he showed the slide of the worms. Turning waste into valuable humus for enriching soil was fascinating and it is happening on a grand scale a couple of hours from Tauranga.

Jason Edgecombe was wrongly diagnosed with ADD as a child and medicated to modify his behaviour. He was angry for a large part of his life until he found martial arts which he enjoyed and used video games to learn that by achieving small goals he would ultimately reach his larger goals. He also found out that he has high functioning autism. Moving from Canada to NZ where people are more tolerant and using his story to help others, he is now a first time father. His daughter was born 5 days before his TEDx talk.

The third entertainment act was an English duo, Phil and Tilley. Two young guys from England who play acoustic folk music. Phil plays guitar and sings and Tilley plays an amazing looking modern double bass and is also a vocalist. They had two songs to entertain us as well as a hilarious talk about a dirty shirt which could be a TED talk in itself. Highly entertaining.

A TED talk by Julian Treasure was on how to use our voice so people would listen. Not just by the words we speak but also the intonation and pitch we use. Thought provoking especially his no gossip rule.

Rachel van der Gugten gave a talk on being ‘fart free’. Many of us may have low levels of stomach acid which causes smelly flatulence and she talked about turning the food pyramid upside down. She used humour to get her important dietary message across and one of our committee said it has changed her life after hearing her practice speeches.

Stephen Lethbridge is a principal at a primary school in Auckland. He challenges his pupils to find the answers by doing not by googling. He has an afterschool science club, Zombie Robot Club, which is compulsory for parents to attend with their children. They make robots to solve problems and instigate others to be solved.

Some of the extra activities in the breakout spaces, besides eating the yummy food were:

Resene interactive painting saw people channel their inner artist to flick brightly coloured Resene paint onto canvas, creating a giant art piece a la Jackson Pollock. This piece of canvas will be used next year to be part of the backdrop. And speaking of the stage backdrop, talented graphic designer, Benjamin Parkinson, www.pablocreative.co.nz, painted three geometric shapes in shades of red to represent the theme, Think, Thrive, Transform.

The Amazing Travelling Photobooth was so much fun. With a blackboard backdrop with TED quotes and a suitcase full of props some hilarious photos were taken and instantly you get a copy to take home. Who doesn’t love a crazy hat! www.theamazingtravellingphotobooth.co.nz

Tauranga City Council’s Speakers Corner where attendees could meet the speakers during the breaks was very popular. All the speakers relished the opportunity to talk to interested members of the crowd.

Lipika Sen’s Tricky Box had a queue waiting to turn the knobs and look inside the round holes on the front of the box. All was revealed to one person at a time. Great fun

One of last year’s speakers, Marty Hoffart, was helping the TED committee and ASB arena staff to have a sustainable event with compostable containers and attempting zero waste to landfill. We didn’t quite get zero waste but it was a very tiny bag that Marty weighed and brought to the stage. His talk on the state of NZ’s recycling was inspiring last year and now putting it into practice is fantastic. There were four recycling stations and volunteers to give information to attendees to make the right recycling choice.

Giveaways, information from the many sponsors and networking meant there was something for everyone after watching the speakers, videos and entertainers. A brilliant TEDx day in Tauranga.

Diane Hume-Green    Photo Rosemary Balu

Diane Hume-Green Photo Rosemary Balu

Diane Hume-Green Diane is a regular contributor to ARTbop through her column Scene about Town.  A multi-talented creative and member of a long-standing Tauranga music and fabric family, Diane is an active member of the TEDx Tauranga organising committee.

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