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As John Hunter said, “I stand here on the shoulders of many people. I’m not here alone. There are many people here [with me] right now.”

People talk about the African proverb of a village raising a child, and I wholeheartedly recognise that there are many people and sources that have influenced who I am and why I do what I do.

 

The People Who Have Influenced Me

 Shad

Shad K is a rapper.

But don’t let that fool you. He is a poet, an activist, a campaigner for a better world.

His lyrics are witty and creative, often filled with issues that matter – and such a contrast to what we have come to know from his industry. I have met him on a couple of occasions and he is incredibly humble and genuine, never promoting the copious amount of talent that lies within. Plus this article about the Canadian music awards is well on point.

A line from Remember to Remember:

“You may have to forgive him forever
Everyday they say life can make you bitter or better
I say “Hey, sacred or not it’s all that we got”
Love is what it is, or maybe not what you thought

Or from Call Waiting

“The homeless don’t eat [while] we got a lot on our plate,
while the kids in class wait – with the weight of a world,
that’s obsessed with the weight of a girl…
A world full of pain has got us waiting on a miracle –
waiting for the world to change –
when we should wait on the world
like a waiter and serve the world”

Tony McClean

Tony McClean was a teacher, and my mentor. He got caught in the Mangetepopo River Tragedy, when he and 6 high school students died when rising flood waters swept them over a dam. He was a strong swimmer and an eager surfer, and would have easily made it out alive – but instead tied a student who had cerebal palsy on his back, knowing that the student wouldn’t have made it out on his own.

Of course, this was an act of heroism that the country applauded, but he was in fact a hero much earlier than this. He recognised every single person as someone with value, knew their names, and so often had nicknames for them. He was one of the best people for noticing people on the fringes, and for creating a welcoming and inclusive culture for every single person.

Jim Mora


Jim Mora
is a radio presenter, running a show on National Radio called The Panel – where he gets people on to discuss the matters of the day. Sounds simple? Sure. But he does it with such intelligence and reverence for his guests. He’s always aware of what is going on, informed about matters from multiple angles, and facilitates in one of the most terrific ways one could hope for: with humility, and respect.

There is never any judgement or condescension, even though he might know more than the people he’s talking to. He comes across as humble but also very genuine. If the world was filled with more Jim Moras there’d be very little wrong with it, and if they listened to his show they’d find source for respect.

Ashanti Branch


Ashanti Branch
 is a legend. I want to steal everything he says and claim it as my own. He not only knows a good way of bringing change and positivity into high schools, he is actively making it happen.

This interview with him sums up his attitude and approach, even though the interviewer can seem to interferes with gaining a complete picture of his vision.

 

 

Justin Duckworth

Justin Duckworth is a barefooted, dreadlocked, local hero. He and his wife set up Urban Vision as they started to have conversations and investigate the life they felt called to in downtown Wellington.

The book written by he and his wife is outstanding – almost a must-read – and details not only the attitude and vision they have for embracing those on the margins, but also the lessons they learned from trying to establish something that is counter-cultural. There are many people who would thank the Duckworths, but unfortunately might never get the spotlight to do so.

Kate Sheppard

She is a bit cliche thanks to being on a monetary bill, but I love hearing of people tackling injustice….especially when they’re the ones being oppressed. I can’t imagine the battle she would have faced, or the opposition she would have learned to shrug off.

She helped to create New Zealand as the first country in the world for women to have the right to vote, and that is something to be darn pleased about.

Louis CK

Louis is a comedian, but he’s more than that – he’s what the Greeks would have called a philosopher. He is one of the privileged few who get to speak openly and frankly about any topic, yet revered for his insight. He probes away at society’s status quo, taking jabs at our underlying m.o, and generating discussion on topics that are very difficult to be discussed at a civilised dinner table.

He is most famous for his rant titled: everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy, but some of his work that best illustrates why he is so good can be found in videos like this & this.

Jean Vanier