2023 – Explorer Conference

One hundred Year 12 South Auckland school students from 11 schools from the AIMHI network were inspired and challenged at the Antarctic Heritage Trust Explorer Conference held at Manukau’s Due Drop Events Centre on 1 June.

Ministry for Culture and Heritage Chief Executive Laulu Mac Leauanae opened the Conference by encouraging students to think about how they might develop their ‘explorer mindset’ – using traits of curiosity, resilience, teamwork, innovation and leadership.

Students heard from inspirational speakers including Faumuina Felolini Maria Tafuna’i, and workshopped topics led by young people who have taken part in the Trust’s Inspiring Explorers Expeditions™.

Faumuina educated students on the art of wayfinding – a model that draws on the wisdom from Pacific star navigators and ocean voyagers who navigated and settled the Pacific. Faumuina has herself sailed multiple voyages on doubled hulled waka as a master navigator.

Wayfinding for Life creates a safe space for rangatahi to discuss the many challenges they face. “We’re on this journey together, navigating the highs and lows of life while celebrating whakapapa, diversity, and each individual’s vision of success,” says Faumuina.

Workshops with Trust Inspiring Explorers™ alumni

The alumni included Brando Yelavich – the first Kiwi to circumnavigate the entire coastline of New Zealand. The 8,700km journey took 600 days and changed his life forever. In 2018 he joined the Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ to ski across the Greenland Ice Cap.

Brando motivated students to explore the world around them, sharing his extraordinary story.

“It doesn’t matter where you start your journey. Every time you fail, you accumulate resilience; there’s no finding yourself – only creating yourself.”

William Pike spoke about his journey, including sharing the incredible story of losing his leg in the Mount Ruapehu eruption. William went on to climb Mount Scott in Antarctica as part of the Trust’s Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ in 2017.

Troy Sanday from De La Salle College said he was inspired by William’s story and how he overcame huge challenges.

“But William didn’t let the challenges stop him and I thought he was very brave that he went back to the place where he lost his leg.”

Laura Andrews, who recently skied almost 1000km to the South Pole with the Trust as part of their latest Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ led a workshop called ‘Who’s in your waka’? Laura shared her journey to the South Pole and what she learnt about how to build a great team.

Oscar Hayhow from Rosehill College said hearing from Inspiring Explorers’ alumni was eye-opening.

“Do better and keep moving was a message I heard a lot today. Hearing how other people overcame their challenges – it gives you good perspective. Just give it a go and if you don’t like what you are doing, then change it.”

Action-based Learning

In the afternoon, students put what they learnt at the workshops into action with a session at Wero Whitewater Park where they built their own rafts and raced them.

For Treannah Truong-Truiai from Pakakura High School, it was her first-time rafting, which she said was very challenging.

“It was hard but we worked as a team and most important, all finished together. We communicated really well as a team,” she said.

Antarctic Heritage Trust Executive Director Francesca Eathorne says, “It’s been fantastic to see these young explorers step out of their comfort zone today. Our Inspiring Explorers have loved sharing their stories – hopefully inspiring these students to answer the call to explore, to overcome their challenges – developing their explorer mindset.”

Other Inspiring Explorers hosting workshops were seven-time Godzone adventure race competitor Emily Wilson, Antarctic Heritage Trust Board member Georgie Archibald and former Squawk Squad CEO Owain John.

Thank You

The Trust would like to acknowledge primary supporters Sir Noel and Sue, Lady Robinson, and Inspiring Explorers™ Fund donors including Royal Society Te Apārangi, Mace Charitable Foundation and Dulux New Zealand for making the Explorer Conference possible.

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