Inject Design Interview

Inject Design are the wonderful web builders behind One Percent Collective. Inject is about design with difference. Some of their notable clients include: Hell PizzaFat Freddys DropHavana Bar & Matterhorn. They live and breathe innovation and creativity and their team is inspired by a diverse range of interests in the arts, music and anything visually stimulating. 


What’s rockin’ in the world of Inject Design for 2012/2013?

It's been a phenomenal year, and we've been lucky enough to have an outstanding arsenal of existing and new clients. They've allowed us to produce some of our favourite brands and websites to date. With a re-brand of NZ's favourite sinful pizza chain, a ground breaking wine community website and the brand design of multiple restaurants, it's fair to say we've been busy. We are also stoked to be a part of the website you read this very text on [before November 2014].


What businesses, organisations or business trends are inspiring you at the moment?

It's amazing seeing businesses that re-create a sense of community that many would argue has been lost in our fast paced lives. Websites like AirBnB are taking travellers out of hotels and putting them back in to homes and the explosion of farmers markets around Wellington (and the country) is connecting buyers back with growers. These business models are an awesome way of providing quality goods and services whilst ensuring the right people receive a fair wage and we reckon that's pretty cool. We also take our hat off to Sam Judd and the Sustainable Coastlines crew for their stance on the environment, because like them we're keen to see our beaches and oceans taken care of.

Inject Design recently turned 10 years old, what's the most important lesson your business has taught you in life?

Integrity and honest communication. We always sleep better at night when no matter what we have to say, we've spoken honestly and openly with our clients. It always produces a better relationship, and ultimately, means we produce better work. It goes without saying the same goes for every day life. 


What place does generosity have in business?

Our business was founded on generosity with our clients and community giving us countless opportunities to work on some fantastic projects. What better way to show thanks than to give back to the community and causes that make our world a better place. We also think it's important to be generous within the business and show gratitude to our staff who make Inject what it is.


Can you tell us three things that inspire you and why? 

  • designspiration.net – mind blowing design inspiration from around the world.
  • Russel Brand – a man with a vocabulary so large that he'd slay the oxford dictionary in the ring.
  • Surfing – because it connects you with nature.

Sez Martin on whale rescue training

"I'm just off to save whales" I exclaimed as I whipped out the door of our flat. Bemused looks followed. After learning about the anatomy, evolution, life cycle and more of whales and dolphins, we were soon immersed in Island Bay's icy water, putting the theory into practise so that we could become a Project Jonah trained volunteer. We received a number of funny looks and photographs from the road as we "rescued" a life-sized replica of an orca and a dolphin and returned them to the water. I was surprised to learn that New Zealand has one of the highest stranding rates in the world with over 300 dolphins and whales being stranded on our shores every year. Strandings can occur for many reasons including navigational errors, sicknesses and injuries as well as trying to help a brother out and save one of their family or friends who has become stranded. Without human help, these whales die a slow and agonising death. This is why a cause like Project Jonah is so important – laying such a vital role in ensuring the continuing existence of these great sea mammals.

To learn more about Project Jonah or to donate your 1% to them, click here.

Images kindly provided by Jo Moore Photography.

Mandatory Interview

For the last decade and a half Mandatory has been dressing menfolk in New Zealand and abroad in their finest attire. Their clothes and business philosophies are built to last and Mandatory supports One Percent Collective by donating $5 from every bottle of their number fifteen fragrance to our partner charities as well as numerous marketing methods of support.


What's been rockin' in the world of Mandatory?

We turned 15 years old in June 2012! I have been designing the costumes for Hone Kouka's "Tu", which premiered in the 2012 New Zealand Arts Festival. It has been 16 years since I have designed and produced women's wear and there were four women to dress alongside six guys. Mandatory's workroom produced the collection and we love it. The change up in spec and cloth, producing fresh takes on classics for extremely beautiful and talented actors was so exciting for everyone here. 


What businesses trends are inspiring you at the moment?

The rise of the IT industry in Wellington. I am very excited to see this eco, creative, export industry thrive in Wellington. Great ideas seem to be getting up and going every day. Oh to not be so economically reliant nationally on dairy or on government in Wellington!

The Mighty Mighty brings joy, is ridiculous fun, often educational and is totally non age-identifying. Mighty Sally is an example of business owners with whom I share good guardianship of Cuba Street amongst its cluster of small epic businesses. 

The Arts Foundation is a GOOD THING – check it out.   

Radio Active keeps creatives alive. There are so many wonderful, talented people who we get to know about because they have honed their craft in the supportive environment of Active. It is a great people-led station and every day we get lucky from it.


What's the most important life lesson your business has taught you?

Sharing. We have had truly amazing staff over our 15 years. Every one of them has worked very hard and been part of the success. We have created a community. Clients are extremely encouraging and connected so the high quality and hard work is acknowledged every day. I believe 30% of my time is focused on staff, their needs and development. Skill sharing and training creates growth and frees up my crew to be their best and really enjoy their hand in the business. 


What place does generosity have in business?

We support the Food Bank and Epilepsy and our small window space is one of the best billboard spots on Cuba Street. We generally reserve this for people to display posters promoting their gigs, acts, plays and community and charity events. Everyone is good to Mandatory and we like to think we pass it on. I have a bevvy of loyal crew who turn up and put energy back into me – Kava McIntyre set the style. I take this energy and in turn give it out to those with brave new ideas coming down Cuba St. As a small manufacturing business Mandatory has received a great deal of encouragement, recognition and respect from institutions such as Te Papa, and the The Dom Post. An illustrious array of clients, entrepreneurs, major artists, achievers, execs, dads, guys with a lot else going on, all make their way up haphazard Cuba to be part of what we do, be encouraging and lay down the dollars. These guys are crucial to our success, allowing us to work within a culture and community which is fun and energising while we produce premium and often made-to-measure clothing which is labour-intensive and ultimately expensive and high-risk. The community of small businesses on Cuba Street from the pharmacy to the dairy all show support to one another.


Who are a few of the most generous people you've met?

Rod Baxter for gifting time, energy and skills. Baxter is a youth worker for BGI, another amazing private organisation. He has a huge range of interests and draws on these to ignite kids to reach their potential. Baxter is amazing. This takes enormous patience, complete selflessness, all available time and some!

Andreas Lepper, a statesman of Wellington's music scene, is magnetic.  He leads a style of positive, creative, generous spirit seen in so many musicians including the likes of Barnaby [Weir], Warren [Maxwell], and my treasured tireless friend and giver of energy, Joe Lindsay. Andreas uses his amazing percussion and teaching talents in music therapy for disabled children. Everything is fun. Nothing is ever too much trouble. 

Pat Shepherd. You will not be pleased to see this in your own interview but you are a complete inspiration. With your heart, energy, passion and skills, you make things happen.


What music is on your playlist at the moment?

Live music is really my thing and if I had the time and means I would be a permanent travelling groupie for Mike Fabulous and Aaron Tokona. Recloose has a permanent residency on my iPod. Shogun Orchestra is on my turntable.

I have purchased and given away at least 10 copies of Sing along with the Yoots. Fabulous Arabia is this summer's album for me. 


Tell us three things that inspire you. 

Volume Magazine. Digestible chunks of music news and info to assist in keeping abreast of music when you can’t live it all.

What Really Happened. A brilliant, made-for-TV dramatisation of the Signing of the Treaty of Waitangi – shining a light on the players on that day. Jarod Rawiri as Hone Heke – fantastic. 

National Radio’s local music shows: The Music Mix, 101, and Martin Kwok's Round Midnight. Also National Radio’s Arts and Politics shows. All great stuff for gardening and/or late nights in my studio.

Are you keen to join Mandatory in the giving evolution? Click here to get involved.


The Black Seeds Interview

If you've never danced with your socks off in the sun to The Black Seeds then you've got some living to do. The eight-piece band is a touring stalwart across New Zealand and Australasia and features regularly at many of Europe and North America's biggest festivals. We talked to Dan Weetman about music and generosity.


What place does generosity have in the world of music?

In hard economic times I hear friends wanting to look after their nearest and dearest first before a stranger. I can understand this as I have a small family myself. I see you could also very easily end up thinking this way all the time or using it as an excuse to not open up and just give to someone you don't know who is in need. I feel as a musician in a popular NZ group that we have people who look up to us as role models and are influenced by what we do and who we support. I feel we need to give time, positivity and money to those in need and not give it a second thought sometimes. What we give out only comes back to us and that powerful way of thinking and example of living to others can only do good things for all of us living on earth.  


What’s rockin’ in the world of The Black Seeds? 

We released our album ‘Dust and Dirt’ in April. We are so proud of the work we put into this album and have been really enjoying playing the new songs live. We have done a heap of touring in the US/EU with more in NZ and Australia to come and then it's back to US/EU for festival shows. 


How have business trends and technologies influenced your work?

The Internet has transformed music distribution. Every artist has had to grow and change with the times. People don't mind downloading music and are not even bothering to purchasing the physical format, which I don't agree with as I grew up buying records but this is how the next generation have grown up buying music.

Social networking sites have become an important tool in the music industry and nowadays there are less bands getting their own websites and just using a flash page with links to Myspace, Facebook, Twitter etc. These days all bands want to make more contact with our fans and give them as much information about current news without giving too much info all the time and Twitter is a great way to give little updates on an artist’s ongoing adventures. Social networking sites are great for getting new bands to a large amount of people but means when I am looking for a new and exciting band I have to filter through a heap of crap ones.


Which individual do you think has created the biggest positive social change in this world?

I think Bob Marley put great words and positive thoughts out to the world, which sings out whenever you hear and feel his music. His music cried out for change in the world.   

Imagine the world the way you want future generations to inherit it.

Less cars, less air travel, more solar energy and wind energy, smart energy, one currency/bartering system, illegal to have war, no famine, no child labour, no racism and everything man-made is biodegradable. 


Tell us three things that inspire you.

www.infowars.com – Alex Jones always does his research and only works with the facts. His sources are credible and his show, which he streams live, is worth your time. I think with some of the world’s so called Super Powers losing grip on control, it is important to keep an eye on other sources of news and not just rely on the news we get drip fed from larger commercial TV, net and radio stations. There can be many sides to a news story so why only settle for what you are told?

www.avaaz.org – Avaaz empowers millions of people from all walks of life to take action on pressing global, regional and national issues - from corruption and poverty to conflict and climate change.

www.fromthebasement.tv – Great music performed and recorded live in various studios. Very inspiring performances from many different artists.

Are you keen to join The Black Seeds in the giving evolution? Click here to get involved.


Flox Interview

Flox, aka Hayley King, set up Flox Design in 2003, producing her stunning artwork in forms as varied as women's clothing, interior murals, prints and private commission work. Formerly part of The Cut Collective, Flox loves opening up new ways to apply her art and push her creative boundaries. She’s a big supporter of One Percent Collective and produced our beautiful ‘We are 1’ artwork.


What’s rockin’ in the world of Flox?

At the moment, I’m in the middle of re branding. I’ve been working a lot on self-fulfilling projects this year, going back to my roots as a fine artist. I think my focus has changed for the time being, and I’m more interested in pooling experiences and taking a breath gaining perspective of what Flox is, and where it’s going. I’m really excited about bringing other creative’s and professionals on board, to help me solve these questions. Flox is eight years old now, so I think it’s grown up in a sense, and I’m trying to honour that along with my audience, and perhaps push it to that next level of brand perception.


You created the wonderful 'WE ARE 1' artwork. What does We are 1 mean to you?

I think We Are 1 is essentially about equality.  I jumped at the chance to design the We Are 1 logo, as I am currently involved in a number of charity based briefs, and this one in particular creates an opportunity for businesses, artists and musicians to actually contribute directly to groups that really deserve and need a chance.

From an aesthetic point of view, the logo is bold, clean and black'n'white to compliment such a simple, strong and unified message.


How have business and technology influenced your creativity?

I always feel like I’m two steps behind everyone else when it comes to technology as my process of working creatively employs a lot of the old-school techniques and practices. I still, for example, use an old overhead projector most days a week, plus hand cut all my stencils (I won't allow myself to get things laser cut). The hands-on approach is something that I’ve always been very fond of, and there’s something nice about putting works out there that illustrate a sense of labour, love and time.

I guess the biggest technology that has influenced my way of working on a day-to-day basis is that of social networking. I’ve never paid a cent for advertising and probably never will. This was always my philosophy as I used the street as a canvas to connect with people in the beginning. Nowadays, I don’t get to do much of that fun stuff on the street (hence answer to number one) so now with Facebook I can really connect on a daily basis with people and document what’s happening in the “House of Flox” so to speak. People love to see process; they love to see what’s happening behind the scenes so keeping an (almost) daily log is something that has become very important to my practice.


What place does generosity have in the world of art?

Last month I stepped out of my comfort zone and taught a Summer School class out at the gorgeous Corbans Estate Arts Centre. I was asked some months ago to be involved, and I thought that it would be a great lesson for myself and a unique opportunity to pass on some of the knowledge that I’ve learnt over the years. For me, the craziest thing was teaching processes and techniques that were pretty much self-taught!  As the class evolved I began to understand the importance of all the tacit knowledge I had gained. Experience is a powerful tool and is something that cannot necessarily be taught. It’s a skill that is gained over time and with dedication. I am grateful on a daily basis of where I am so it is really important for me as an artist to give back now, share my knowledge and encouragement to help others achieve their own goals. I think on the whole it is important for artists to create accessibility for others as art is really there for everyone to enjoy.


Which creative body or individual has created the biggest positive social change in this world? 

I would have to say Motown Records. I don’t know if these guys created the biggest social change but it was certainly positive as far as the Civil Rights Movement went; not to mention the music that came outta that place! These guys were not only making music, they were making history. During the 60s, the music began to break down racial barriers, bringing about a real social change.

“I would come to the South in the early days of Motown and the audiences would be segregated. Then they started to get the Motown music and we would go back and the audiences were integrated and the kids were dancing together and holding hands.” – mokey Robinson


Imagine the world the way you want future generations of children to inherit it.

Having a child, this question often pops up in the back of my brain in some form or another. Recently, I headed out to Anawhata, an idyllic spot out on the West Coast. We stayed in a beautiful, humble, functional batch with an amazing view of the Tasman. It really made me think and contextualise things in life; our wants as opposed to our necessities. 

I’d just like for things to be very simple and for there to be an ongoing respect for our Mother Earth. Clean and green, simple.


Who would you love to collaborate with? 

I had a wonderful and unexpected opportunity some years ago now in Melbourne to paint with some of the girls from the latest Curvy book. They were launching the new publication at City Lights Gallery and I was just in town at the time – “in the right place, at the right time” – and got to jam with some real talented graff girls including Vextafrom Melbourne and Fafi from France. I was real shy back then and hadn’t been painting on the street for that long so I guess I’d love to have that same opportunity again, (but this time paint a massive and well-planned production wall) with a group of passionate and talented ladies from all around the globe. Mass international chicky collab! 


Tell us three things that inspire you.

My friend who is obsessed with typography got me onto this site, which encompasses the beauty and skill of hand-drawn type, which I am sooooo attracted to it’s just not funny. Typography is something that I have dabbled in over the years but I believe it will become a lot more prevalent in my work. I get a real sense of hands on craft and innovation and perhaps this is what draws me to it in the first place.

Paper Cutting: Contemporary Artists, Timeless Craft by Chronicle Books: This book illustrates the potential of paper as an artistic medium in itself. I first found this book about 8 months ago and it has become my main source of inspiration for current bodies of work. I’ve been cutting some pretty big stencils lately and acknowledging the aesthetics of the cut, as opposed to using them as vehicles to paint.

Curvy Magazine – I guess my infatuation with this book stems from my experience in Melbourne when I got to paint with a number of the girls featured. There have been very few New Zealand female artists to be included so I have always thought it would be cool to attain some page presence! The magazine helps support and showcase the talents of young women across different art, illustrative and graphic design fields on an international level. Truly inspirational.

Are you keen to join Flox in the giving evolution? Click here to get involved.

Barnaby Weir Interview

Barnaby Weir is a creative collaborator at heart. He's the musical maverick behind The Black Seeds and the architect behind the dearly loved Fly My Pretties ensemble. He's also a consummate solo artist under the moniker Flash Harry and is tirelessly spreading his generosity and genius.


What place does generosity have in the world of music?

Music is best when it is generous and at its worst when it is selfish. You can literally hear the difference. The basic principle of sharing, making and performing music is a generous act. The ego and marketing side can be shallow and selfish. Most people can tell the difference.

Music is one of the best ways to tell a story or spread a message. It unites people and can be hugely influential and inspiring. It can trigger thought and change opinion. It can make you feel emotion and experience abstract concepts of the heart and mind. It can make you dance. Generosity plays a huge role in the world of music. 


How have business and technology affected your work? 

Changes in technology have meant major changes in the music industry over the last 10 years. Although some artists and labels think the sky is falling, I believe there are many positives to these changes. Some artists just give everything away for free now. For me it's about embracing change and using new tools to build bigger fan bases and share our music worldwide much more easily. So you gotta move with the times but this doesn't mean that I think music should be free. Not at all. Music, like all art, should be valued and paid for unless the artist chooses to give it away. A bit of both if you like.


Imagine the world the way you want future generations of children to inherit it. 

I don't know if it's helpful to imagine an ideal world. We can only improve it for our children and on all levels in the present. The world is extremely cruel. People are cruel, selfish and cut throat. Unfortunately there will always be power struggles and war and hunger unless there is absolute simultaneous global behavioural change. But if we all do our bit we can make the world a better place for those who have nothing and no hope, no dreams. This will make a difference. Those who can should wake up from a life of unimportant first world problems. We face challenging times. All we can do is get together to make real change.


Which artist, musician or creative has created the biggest positive social change in this world? 

I would say people like John Lennon, Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Fela Kuti, Bob Dylan, and Gandhi to name a few.


Who would be in your ultimate super group? 

Mozart on keys, Gandhi on vocals, Bonham on drums, Hendrix on gat, Bon Scott on vibe, Stevie Wonder, James Brown and George Clinton on whatever.


Tell us three things that inspire you.

  • Honesty – cause it ain't easy facing the facts and dealing with it.
  • Persistence – because people who work hard at what they believe in even when their chips are down always inspires me.
  • Generosity – making a habit of giving to those who need help is a fantastic quality in anyone.

Give us three inspiration links.

  • I'm trialling Rdio
  • I use SoundCloud
  • I like Powershop

Are you keen to join Barnaby in the giving evolution? Click here to get involved.

The Thomas Oliver Band Interview

Much loved and long-time favourites in Wellington and across New Zealand, The Thomas Oliver Band have built a reputation of delivering their fans the goods with their soul-shaking, blues beating, modern rock sounds. Their big onstage presence has seen them tour with the likes of Joe Cocker, Cold Chisel, Fat Freddy’s Drop and Gin Wigmore. Thomas Oliver even graced us with his solo mastery at the inaugural One Percent Collective launch party. We talked to him about the world of generosity and creativity.


What was something you loved doing in your childhood?

When I was 12 I saw a dude do an ollie on a skateboard in the changing rooms at my intermediate school. It immediately fascinated me to the point that I just had to do it! So I bought a skateboard and I skated every day after school until the end of high school and I used to get up at 6am in the summer in Hawke's Bay just to head down to Te Mata School so I could skate it by myself for three hours until the security guards would come and kick me out. When I wasn't skating, I was writing punk rock and jamming with my mates but I reckon skateboarding taught me a lot about dedication, which I now channel almost solely to my music (especially now that my ankles are fucked!).


What place does generosity have in the world of music?

I think that generosity is one of the foundations on which musical collaboration is built. People work with others in the name of helping them, and creating art for other people. The thing I love the most about the Wellington (and New Zealand) music scene is the musicians' willingness to help each other with their projects, even when it means crossing genres and landing outside of one's comfort zone. Without this generosity, some of the musical diversity we know and love would not exist. I also think that generosity on the part of the public is important in keeping the world of music alive and exciting. The music industry is so flooded with artists and music that is so instantly accessible, that it makes it difficult for an artist to devote themself entirely to their craft, without having to find other ways to fund it. So the support of the fans is what will keep them creative. We as ‘consumers’ should go and see our favourite artists play every time they are in town and buy their albums every time they make them. That way we will be able to continue to do so! 


What’s rockin’ in the world of The Thomas Oliver Band at the moment?

We'll be back at La De Da for NYE 2012, which we're amped on. We played at RnV in 2011 but La De Da the year before that and had an epic time so we can't wait to do that again! Aside from a bunch of summer dates across the country and a couple of home/Welly shows (it's been a little while!), we'll be getting back into the studio in 2013 to record our next album. It's starting to shape up now and I reckon it will be an interesting direction as compared to the last one but definitely still with a rootsy and organic feel. 


Describe a perfect weekend.

I am at a festival in a remote part of the Coromandel, with all of my favourite people in the world. The stage is at the bottom of a natural amphitheatre looking out across the sea. There is a skate park near the stage with a perfect miniramp that's about 20m wide. You can buy amazing food from any culture around the outsides of the amphitheatre, and you can buy any beer ever made. The lineup for the festival is this: Dave Matthews Band, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Jimi Hendrix, Bon Iver, Amos Lee, The Roots, Dilated Peoples, NOFX, No Use For A Name, Mad Caddies, Less Than Jake, London Elektricity, Noisia, Friction, Shapeshifter, and Fat Freddy's Drop. As well as a surprise performance from the ones I've forgotten and will regret. 

I hate these kind of questions because now I'm ludicrously excited about something that's never going to happen.


Who is someone we can all learn from and why?

We can all learn a lot from ourselves if we stop to listen every now and again! There are so many pressures around us about what we should do for a living, when we should buy a house, what kind of music we should like, what kind of clothes we should wear, how many people we should sleep with, how we should act after a certain age, and so on. I feel that, underneath all this pressure, we often forget to check in with ourselves and consider our OWN thoughts about all these things. I think that if we all did this more often, the world would be a far more honest and genuine place.


Tell us three things that inspire you.

Kindness, selflessness, and mastery of art.

Are you keen to join The Thomas Oliver Band in the giving evolution? Click here to get involved.

Loren Taylor Interview

Loren Taylor has been acting, writing, producing, casting, and creating for New Zealand's film and television industry for over a decade. She is most recently known and loved for her depiction of Lily in Eagle vs Shark. Loren is one of those rare individuals who likes to step outside of her creative limits and challenge herself constantly.


What’s rockin’ in the world of Loren Taylor? 

I've been very lucky to get funding from the Film Commission to direct a short film. I adapted the story from my sister Anna Taylor's book ‘Relief’, which she adapted from a true story that happened to my Mum. Very exciting to have a chance to tell a story I love on 35mm! I'm working with a powerful creative team, and I feel blessed to have a chance to do what I love.   


Imagine the world the way you want future generations of children to inherit it.

It'd be a world with polar bears, frogs and elephants in it for a start. There'd be no more carbon producing aeroplanes – huge, fast sailing ships would have replaced them. The miserable capitalist system would have crumbled and in its place would be green socialist democracies. Everyone would have enough to eat, enough work to do, and enough time to rest, sing, dance and express their gifts. Animals would be cared for and respected – no more factory farms, no more abattoir trucks. Humans would have stopped poisoning the air with carbon, polluting and decimating the oceans, and soaking the earth with pesticides – all farming would be organic… I could GO ON FOR PAGES. And society would be a matriarchy i.e. Run By The Ladies.


Describe something you loved or loved doing in your childhood.

Icing dog biscuits and feeding them to my Mum's (unsuspecting) piano students. I tried them on my (little and also unsuspecting) sister Anna first, so I knew they weren't poisonous. A nice thick coating of carob icing and they go down a treat.


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

In the end these three things matter most. How well have you lived, how fully have you loved, and how deeply have you learned to let go. And 'Make of yourself a light'. (Buddha's dying words, so obviously I didn’t get that piece of advice directly from him). 


Tell us three things that inspire you and why.

Bio-Energetics – an extraordinary form of therapy. Remarkable for healing survivors of trauma, sexual abuse and violence.

Adam Curtis documentary maker – The Power of Nightmares, Century of Self. 

This quote from Andrei Tarkovsky – “During the last one hundred years one has somehow arrived at the false conclusion that an artist can manage without the spiritual; the act of creating has suddenly become something instinctive! The consequence of this is that the artist's talent, or gift, does not necessarily put him in a position of responsibility. This is why we have arrived at this lack of the spiritual element which characterizes contemporary art to such a large degree."

A sense of responsibility is a very beautiful quality – if your work is grounded in a desire to make people laugh and feel joy, or wake up to the truth about something, or make them feel enraged so they can use that energy to make change – it will have a deeper significance. In a world where there is so much suffering it feels vital that those of us lucky enough to have a chance to work creatively are very conscious of what we are doing and why. 

Surely at this stage in humanity’s evolution we should have learnt that humans are happier and function better when they feel like they belong. As my Mum just said to me, ‘cynicism is a disease of an alienated mind’. We are saturated with stimulus that encourages individualism, egotism and selfishness – high time for a paradigm shift. Here's to community, and the collective revolution!

Are you keen to join Loren in the giving evolution? Click here to get involved.

Louis Baker Interview

Louis Baker is described as having a vocal tone straight out of the Detroit Motown era. He’s supported and performed with some of Aoteroa’s finest musicians and was selected in 2012 as The New Zealand Participant for the Red Bull Music Academy in New York. He describes his music as, “love, soul, beauty, peace… meaning”.


What place does generosity have in the world of music?

Music is tremendously powerful. There is a oneness that is felt when a collective or group hears music together. When one approaches music with the spirit of generosity, it has the potential to change lives in the most positive way. 


Describe a perfect weekend.

Friends, whanau, food and lots of sun.


What’s rockin’ in the world of Louis Baker?

2012 has been one of the most musically fulfilling years of my life so far. I will be playing at Rhythm & Alps, Rhythm & Vines and La De Da, and am looking forward to these with great excitement. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my manager, Cushla Aston, for all her hard work, and for guiding me through times when I had lost my way.


Who is someone we can all learn from?

Ralph Waldo Emerson – "Give all to love; obey thy heart."


What was something you loved doing as a child?

I used to love going down to the park with my father and playing cricket or rugby. It was usually after school, and sometimes we would stay until the sun went down. I think playing sport, for a young child, or anybody, helps to give that person an understanding of communication and unity. A father is the biggest role model in any boy’s life generally and I am very fortunate to have a father that still believes and supports me to do what I choose to do. It is good to appreciate our parents and our friends. We sometimes give our all - in the sense that we do our utmost to create positivity in whatever form it may be - and feel it is not returned but whether it is in the immediate future or down the line, it is always returned.


Tell us three things that inspire you.

  • Reading. This is the most important tool. It gives me a deeper perspective for music and helps me understand my own creativity process.
  • Poetry. R. Tagore, T. S. Elliot, W. Whitman, Lao Tzu, Alan Watts.
  • Life, in all its shades, gives infinite inspiration and it is nice to write from experience.

Are you keen to join Louis in the giving evolution? Click here to get involved.

Mel Parsons Interview

She's got a smile that will stop you in your tracks and a voice to match. Singer-songwriter Mel Parsons has spent the last ten years on and off the Kiwi dirt track taking her beautiful tunes to the masses and making a difference along the way.


What’s rockin’ in the world of Mel Parsons for 2012?

This year seems to have disappeared into a suitcase! I have just finished a 45 date NZ Tour of woolsheds with a theatre/comedy act called 'The Bitches' Box'. So I'm looking forward to some time writing for the new record over the next couple of months. A few shows over summer and then off to OZ late in the summer for some shows & festivals over there. Always looking forward to the next mission – I will keep you posted! 


How have current business trends and technologies influenced your creative model?

To be honest I don't have a lot of experience with past business trends – but I can see that our industry has been a rapidly changing beast over the past 10 or so years. I think in terms of technology, the fact that almost everything can be accessed online levels the playing field for independents to a certain extent. Via web based media it is much easier to get your material and profile out into the public domain. This accessibility though only goes so far in terms of building a loyal fan-base and growing audience – for me it still quite grassroots, which means that touring remains a key part of the equation. 


What place does generosity have in the world of music?

Hopefully generosity has it's place across all industries and 'worlds' , so quite difficult to pin down it's 'place' specifically to the world of music. I think generosity is manifested in all different forms – not necessarily to be measured via financial contributions. For example many people who work as creatives in our industry may not have funds spare to donate, but are certainly generous with their time and knowledge.


Which artist, musician or creative do you think has created the biggest positive social change in this world?

I think that most artists contribute in some small way to positive social change. At a base level by bringing enjoyment, or relaxation, or inspiration to even one other person I like to think that this has the potential to have a positive a knock-on effect. In terms of the big stuff, it would be hard not to mention Bob Geldof and Live Aid, and artists like Bono and Sting who have used their celebrity to bring about social change and increased awareness.


If you could imagine the world the way you want future generations of children to inherit it – what would it look like?

Phew. Ideally it would be all sunshine and lollypops where everyone loved everyone and nothing was endangered… In reality, if we could find a better balance between development and the way we are treating the environment I think that would be a positive starting point. I would like those generations to still have wild places to explore, and enough trees to enable everyone to live a healthy life. 


Who would be in your ultimate super group and why?

Stewart Copeland, John Paul Jones, Mark Knopfler, Tori Amos and Ray la Montagne. Because I think they are all brilliant. There would be fights over who would sing, but I'm sure they would be able to work something out. 


Can you tell us three things that inspire you and why?

Seeing a good live band; Eric Clapton's autobiography; Being outside. Because they all remind me that there are endless possibilities. 

Are you keen to join Mel in the giving evolution? Click here to get involved.


Camilla Stoddart Interview

Camilla Stoddart is the woman behind the lens of some of the best adventure sports images you're ever likely to see. She lives on a high country farm in the belly of the Wanaka Queenstown landscape and she travels around the world snapping images that quite literally take your breath away.


What’s rockin’ in the world of Camilla Stoddart?

I live an unusual life. A life that has no two days the same and no year the same, leaving it a hard question to answer! I have never been a planner, living each day as it comes and following my heart (with a little head to keep me on the right track, whichever track that is!) I have a vision but no plan. So back to the question. I am fortunate enough to call my work play and go on adventures and call it work. But it's not really as easy as all that. Many things don't work out and many roads lead to dead ends. However, I have a few ideas of things I want to achieve. Firstly comes the NZ winter. I am going to book myself on a couple of courses: firstly a backcountry course so I can learn more about avalanche awareness and safety in the backcountry. I want to shoot more ski adventures so need to make sure I keep myself safe! I also want to take a ski mountaineering course. This one will be work. I want to photograph girls learning the skills needed so they can climb and ski some amazing NZ peaks. 

Summer. I have been thinking I want to take some more photos of mountain biking in other parts of NZ. Maybe I'll organize a road trip to the North Island, explore single-track trails that they have to offer and shoot some photos away from my backyard.


What place does generosity have in the world of art?

I think artists should give as much as any other working person. I have always said, when I feel comfortable in my incoming cash flow, I would give to a charity I feel passionate about. I don't think anyone should feel forced to give to charity but if you are in a place where you feel you can spare a dollar or two, why not spare it on a good cause instead of that extra coffee at lunch time. There are so many good things happening out there. Awareness plays such a huge part in charities’ success and with wonderful things like One Percent Collective, people can see how easy it is to give to a good cause and help a little. No matter if you are an artist or a banker, we should all have the right to help. A banker may earn a lot more than an artist however and an artist may be able to help in a slightly different way. Donating their work for that banker to buy, with the proceeds going to charity for example. We can all help. 


Imagine the world the way you want future generations to inherit it?

I would love to imagine a world where governments take control of packaging, plastics and the colossal amount of rubbish we produce. Put laws on the manufacturers to limit the amount of plastic they wrap their products in, make them out of compostable corn syrup packaging or recycled cardboard, like the Charlie's water bottles, which can all be commercially composted. I would love to imagine a world where there are no monopolies on energy providers halting development of sustainable energy. A world that is sustainable. I think that's what we all want. A world without greed and corruption. Greed is the biggest flaw in every government. 


Who would you most like to collaborate with?

I would love to collaborate with a charity that would use my work to bring awareness to their cause. I think as a photographer we have a strong and very useful skill to bring immediate visual awareness to people who need our help. If a charity asked me to go and document something that they wanted to show the world and make them aware of a wrong that needs made right I would jump at the chance. I am not saying I would step into the front-line of a war, or put myself in immediate danger but I would love to go shoot something that would help put a charitable cause on the map and in the minds of people to inspire them to help. 


Tell us three things that inspire you?

Brian Nevins – a surf photographer who won a recent competition I was a finalist in. Every year he takes time out to go and shoot photos in one of the worlds biggest dumps La Chureca, Nicaragua. Hundreds of families live in this dump and call it home. He has gone there to shoot photos and make the world aware of the rubbish these families, women and children live in who are ignored by their government, their people and everyone. 

A film by Lucy Walker called 'Waste Land'. This documentary is about a Brazilian artist called Vik Muniz. He lives and works in New York but travels back to Rio in Brazil to do a project on the biggest landfill in the world. He meets the people that live and work on this landfill and takes photos of them to create gigantic installations out of rubbish. He then uses rubbish from the landfill to make these huge portraits of the characters he photographs. The photos he takes of these works of art were then sold at auction in New York and all over the world and sold for millions. All the money he made went back to the landfill and to help the people who live there. A truly inspiring story. And I guess all this leads to why I hate unnecessary rubbish in this world. And there is SO much of it…

New Zealand. Soppy as it sounds, I really get inspired by NZ's beauty every day. This country we are fortunate enough to live in is so beautiful, so young and as a result relatively unspoiled and I REALLY hope we are wise enough to learn from other countries mistakes and keep it pristine. By all means let it grow as I see development as a good thing – it has to happen to keep us economically stable but do it wisely. We are of a generation that is clued up enough to what works and what doesn't. Keep it clean and green and it is such an exciting place to live. It can only grow and I hope so much that we can do it well. 

Are you keen to join Camilla in the giving evolution? Click here to get involved.

Cut Collective Interview

The Cut Collective is a powerful example of creative collaboration in action. The Cut Collective comprises four central artists, Enforce1, TrustMe, Ithink and Component but is essentially a living, breathing collective of artists who believe in teaching others and establishing dialogue in a community. They have been involved in many different gallery exhibitions, public murals, commercial design and illustration and apparel. We talked to TrustMe about their work and what they believe in.


What’s rockin’ in the world of Cut Collective right now?

This year is all about making art, having shows, balancing the need for paid work against doing what we love and trying to contribute something more meaningful than another ad campaign! 


How have business and technology influenced your creative model?

We always try to keep our work accessible to a broad reaching public. Innovations in technology, especially in the form of social media and portable devices mean that we can upload and document images and blog on a regular basis. This is a great way of keeping in touch with our community and helping people see the creative process in real time. We have seen the benefit in live blogging our documentation as we go through stand-alone Tumblr blogs. It means we aren't faced with a million images at the end of a project to process and people can see in real time how we progress through our projects. It's quite a transparent and revealing approach.


What place does generosity have in the world of art?

Generosity comes in many forms. Art, especially well thought out street art and graffiti, has the ability to enhance our everyday environment and the generosity of spirit from artists willing to do it is always admired by us. It's funny how people always ask artists to contribute towards good causes when artists are always struggling and in need of fundraisers themselves. Is it because we are typically more generous types or the fact that people feel our output has more value than say that of a banker?


Which individual do you think has created the biggest positive social change in this world?

Bono. Just kidding. I'm pretty sure none of us know about them as the biggest philanthropists, be it in money or time and energy, are always anonymous right? 


Describe the world the way you want future generations of children to inherit it.



Who is someone you guys would love to collaborate with?

Someone with resources, passion, yet an ability to trust in what we do. Basically someone to underwrite our fantasy projects without question. If you know someone who fits the bill please pass on our details. 


Tell us three things that inspire you.

  • Local creatives grinding outside of the established channels because stubborness is a virtue.
  • Community spirit that values our immediate environment geographically, economically and culturally because if it's not about the people you live, play, work and fight with who is it about? 
  • @Peace playing the sunset slot at Splore 2012 with Esther Stephens tearing it up. That shit was just magic.

Are you keen to join the Cut Collective in the giving evolution? Click here to get involved.


The Nudge Interview

If you're lucky enough to have found your dancing feet listening to The Nudge then you know exactly what they mean when they describe their music as, 'psychedelic swampy blues with an element of party'. These boys know how to collaborate and create music that moves people. Literally. James Coyle gives us the latest low down on the trio.


What’s rockin’ in the world of The Nudge?

Hmmm. You know Pat, we have always had a few ambitious plans, which have gotten a lot more humble since we started. We are always trying to play in new parts of the world, and to be consistent about going back to those places. But plans aside, the most continuously rockin' thing about The Nudge is the music we play. Now this doesn’t sound very humble but it's completely to do with us as friends and contemporaries. I really like how Iraia (Whakamoe) plays drums, and how Ryan (Prebble) sings and plays guitar. The Nudge has another album project in the pipeline and we are loving our new creations as a band.


How have business trends and technologies influenced your creative model?

He he. Our technologies are not very recent! In fact, we are pretty committed to going backwards in time. Funnily enough Iraia is the most progressive technologically. He has recently invested in a flash drum pad, which we might be recording old sounds into very soon! Ha ha.

Business, on the other hand, is very important to us. The Nudge is growing into a model that in a small way financially supports us as individuals. We are interested in the realities of the music business at the moment. For example, there is money in touring and playing shows, licensing and gig merchandise, but very little else.

Despite this, it's very important to continually create music, release albums and make videos. While this obviously satisfies the creative outlets of an original music band, it also creates news and interest, which ultimately leads back to ticket sales.


What place does generosity have in the world of music?

That is an interesting question and I might have to step outside of The Nudge and answer this as James. Generosity is vital and it will always come back to you in some way or form. The first thing that comes to mind is about being the host ... when a touring band comes to town that I'm supporting or something, I always like to make the effort to help host their time in Wellington. When you can be kind with your resources, time and facilities, you should. 

But if we are talking about playing charity or benefits concerts ... to be generous to one organisation means you have to say 'no' to something else and from experience I know you can't please everyone.


Which artist or creative do you think has created the biggest positive social change in this world?

Fuck Pat that is a big call. I don't really know man. That song, "I Just Called to Say I Love You" by Stevie Wonder always makes me feel good and happy, which I am pretty sure is pretty universal. In fact it often makes me cry 'cos I associate it with a memory, either true or made up, of me and my mum singing it together and happy times we had together when I was young. 

So there it is. Stevie Fucking Wonder. But you know, are we going to idolise the faces of popularity for bringing social change to the world but turn a blind eye while government and corporate armies rape and pillage their way through developing countries and destroy the small amount of beauty and diversity we have left? This shit is happening now and is more widespread than ever. Bob Marley was amazing for singing about the inequalities of his land but Jamaica is now crushed under the thumb of the IMF. Who of his high profile admirers did anything about Jamaica's debt problems? Who stopped the IMF and American apparel companies turning the ports of Jamaica into a privatised state, where workers could get paid under the minimum wage set by the local government?

One guy I really really admire is Fela Kuti. That guy really stood up for himself in a corrupt state. He declared his compound an independent zone and fought hard every time the powers-that-be try to take away his independence. That song 'Zombie' about the African Army culture is top notch. But then again, the guy had 17 wives, so what does that say about social change in respect of feminist principles? Speaking of feminist principles, the feminist historian and writer from Christchurch, Elsie Locke, brought about a lot of social change; from initiating Family Planning, writing NZ History books that shared Maori and Pakeha perspectives, nuclear-free campaigning, Avon river clean up, to forcing groundbreaking changes to the Resource Management Act. Bless her soul!


Imagine the world the way you want future generations of children to inherit it. How does it look? 

I want the bush and birds back in NZ. Fuck dairy farming, fuck mining, and fuck heavy metal industries. I actually quite like the current plan for Wellington to advance the trend of becoming service providers, not manufacturers. I am also a big fan of small-scale productions, like People's Coffee, but I fucken hate that Exide Battery Factory in Petone. Good riddance Exide. 

I really like cities and I see cities as key to the future of the population; to become more dense and have less suburban sprawl. Less cars. But to be really clever about how we bring small-scale bush and food production and birds back into that kind of environment. When I was at University I worked on this idea of a hydroponic forest that could travel around the world. I still really like the idea that we all live really close together but can enjoy fresh air and clean food.


Who would be in your ultimate super group?

I was lucky enough to just be in a great super group: the Fly My Pretties show. That was awesome.


What inspires you?

I'm still inspired by anything Jack Kerouac wrote.

Are you keen to join The Nudge in the giving evolution? Click here to get involved.

Warren Maxwell Interview

Warren Maxwell is a man with music and mana coursing through his soul. A founding member of Trinity Roots, Warren was also a saxophonist for Fat Freddy’s Drop and the leader of psychedelic blues quartet Little Bushman. He is renowned for pouring his heart and soul back into his community.


What’s rockin’ in the world of Warren Maxwell? 

My big buzz right now (apart from being Super Dad!) is having our live music venue up and running in Masterton. This provincial medium-size town, I feel, has been in need of some 'cultural lovin' and celebrating for some time now so we (myself and business partner Carl) have opened a cool little boutique music venue to bring all sorts of crazy, eclectic and amazing live bands to hopefully enrich the population of Masterton!


What was something you loved as a child growing up?

Man I used to LOOOOOOOVE going on family camps up North! Fishing out in our little 16 ft parkercraft and cooking up fresh snapper or yellow belly flounder with HEEEAAAAPS of butter in a pan over an open fire. We used to throw a tent and all our gear in the boat and then we'd just cruise around until Dad found a good place to camp – kind of squatting for a couple nights – basically anything to do with the sea and I would be there. Swimming, diving, sailing, windsurfing – mean! When I was a teenager I used to love hanging out with my friends and singing at parties. We didn't have DJs cos we were the entertainment! Three or four guitars and heaps of out-of-tune bros singing as loud as we could – heaven.


What’s something you’ve done recently that you’re proud of?

I have recently become involved with a youth programme in Masterton called the SPOT. Basically its a safe place for youth where they can hang out after school. We've had a couple of concerts for them and I've just talked to them about my travels and adventures with all the groups I've been involved with. We are currently working on building a recording studio for them. A lot of them are really, really talented but wouldn't know where to even start a career in music so we figure if they had their own studio they can write and record their own music and be proud of their achievements. A lot of these kids come from pretty tough environments so it's nice to offer them a bit of hope. If a bro from Whangarei can make it, anybody can!


What place does generosity have in the world of music?

Music for me is that intangible media that encapsulates ALL of the qualities about being human. This includes generosity. Minstrels in medieval times relied on the generosity of their audience to enable their survival. Even to this day, musicians still rely on the support and generosity of our audiences and our fans. Music is one of those strange 'things' that we don't really understand why we need it, but we do. Composers document the political arenas of our times as well as the timeless qualities of love and deep emotional torment. Guaranteed when there is any kind of disaster or famine it will be the musicians and bands that bring people together to raise money and awareness of what's happening. Music and musicians have the sincere ability to bring people together for an event and in doing so re-create ancient rituals that make a community. We all work long hours for that pay cheque which is the reason why, when you give generously out of that hard-earned pay packet, you know the true value of being human.


Describe a perfect weekend.

Ooooo… that's a tough one! Well it's definitely being with my family somewhere. You know I would love to re-create my childhood for my children and be able to take them fishing and swimming and sailing – relive my childhood through them. Yep I reckon that would be it. Actually probably with a few of my 'out-of-tune' brothers and their families as well – the perfect weekend!


Tell us three things that inspire you. 

The first inspirational person that comes to mind is Ruia Aperahama whom I had the most humbling time filming 'Songs from the Inside' with. Ruia is the most grounded, sensitive, intelligent, articulate, modest yet hard-case bro you will ever meet. When I was working with him I felt like I was sitting beside Dr Martin Luther King or Noam Chomsky. Ruia is so genuinely loving for people and communities and his culture. He is a teacher of Te Reo Maori & he inspires me everyday.

People who dedicate their lives to helping others, inspire me. It's almost a socialist perspective without the focus being on distribution of money and more a distribution of caring or hope. You inspire me Pat. This One Percent Collective inspires me. I would love to see this concept global my friend I think it would be incredible. Chip away at the mountain and it will be tamed.

TED.com, Youtube, The Reed Maori Dictionary, John Campbell, Gareth Morgan, Aung San Suu Kyi, Helene Ritchie for her nuclear free stance, kids inspire me, people inspire me Pat, every day because it is people who are initiating all of these other great things. He aha te mea nui, he tangata, he tangata … Arohanui.

Are you keen to join Warren in the giving evolution? Click here to get involved.

TK Robb on Triathlon and Sustainable Coastlines

TK Robb on Triathlon and Sustainable Coastlines

Te Kawa Robb is a triathlete with a twin passion for the sport he does and the country he represents. In early 2010, Te Kawa gave up full-time work to pursue his sporting dreams while also studying Exercise Science full-time at University. Te Kawa became involved with Sustainable Coastlines because of his passion for the environment and his close affinity to the land and the sea, which is a bi-product of his Maori heritage and his childhood spent as close to rivers, lakes and beaches as possible. He now acts as an official ambassador for Sustainable Coastlines, working alongside them to spread local awareness about the need to use our natural resources more sustainably.

Joan Leung tells us about volunteering with RMTC

Joan Leung is passionate about psychology and working alongside individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities. She’s currently studying her BAHons in Psychology at the University of Auckland and hopes to study a Masters degree in the Neuropsychology of Autism. She moved from Hong Kong to New Zealand over four years ago and became involved with Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre (RMTC) through a family friend. Joan has a bent for volunteering; having helped disabled orphans in Xining, Mainland China and children in Costa Rica during her travels. RMTC helps children and young people with a wide range of special needs, including those needing support with physical, intellectual, developmental, behavioural and emotional issues. It is New Zealand’s only music therapy centre and Joan has been volunteering with them since the beginning of 2009.


What prompted you to volunteer for RMTC?

Having only recently arrived in New Zealand I was on the lookout for things I could get involved in to fill up the huge amount of free time I had during my first year of university. I initially heard about RMTC through a family friend who had just read an article about the Centre in passing. Knowing a bit about my background and how much I enjoy playing music, she suggested that I give this place a second look. To be honest, it was mostly curiosity that drew me towards RMTC. I had no idea what music therapy was until I got involved here. My appreciation for this approach has only increased.


How can music be used to help people at RMTC? 

Music helps children with intellectual and physical disabilities communicate in the absence of words. In the cases where talking or understanding speech is not a feasible option, it is important to keep in mind that there are many other ways to teach basic skills that can help them cope in a social environment. Music, which includes the simple act of creating a rhythm, is easy to master and attention-grabbing. By engaging in the process of ‘making music’ with the therapist, children are able to grasp the concept of things like sharing, taking turns, reciprocating meaningful gestures and forming relationships. I think one of the reasons behind RMTC’s success is that the therapists offer music-making experiences of exceptional quality that not many people can match.


What drives your passion for volunteering and working with people who have disabilities?

My parents never cease to remind me that life is really quite simple and that everything eventually boils down to health and happiness. I guess the fact that I have both factors makes me appreciate them and also acknowledge that not everyone turns out so lucky. This drives me to use the best of my abilities to work alongside those who start off at a disadvantage. These people are in no way responsible for the condition in which they were born and yet are expected to live with the consequences. The fact that people with disabilities are still present in our population somewhat reflects the inherent goodness of human nature. If it was otherwise, only the physically and mentally strongest individuals would have survived the process of evolution. I believe that using one’s strengths to help another go through life with relatively less complications is goodness in its purest form.


Who inspires you?

People who launch into a job, taking on all its related responsibilities, just for the love of it. People who choose to help and provide a service for others without first considering how much they will get paid for it or whether it will gain them public recognition. Selfless people.


Describe for us one of your most memorable RMTC experiences.

One of the best experiences I have had so far falls on RMTC’s most recent Open Day. Hearing the music therapists give talks about their own sessions and the progress that the kids are making as a result of coming to the Centre; as well as seeing crowds of supporting parents, children, teachers and local people arrive at the door; makes me reflect on how happy I am to be given the opportunity to be involved in the organisation and running of such a special place.


Why do you believe in the work that RMTC do?

I believe in what I can see. And what I see are children who show significant improvements in their behaviours, confidence, trust and relationships after having music therapy at RMTC. I also see a team of people at the Centre who give these children everything they’ve got on a daily basis to ensure there is more than enough support in order for development to occur. The amount of effort the staff at RMTC put into providing such a unique service deserves to have the encouragement of everyone behind them.


What does volunteering mean to you?

Volunteering is really a way for me to exercise my passion for working with and helping people without a qualification. It keeps me busy and involved while I go through the laborious process of studying to eventually be able to serve others on a professional level. Volunteering keeps me in touch with what goes on outside the University lecture halls. It actually helps me grasp what I am learning more easily because I am able to apply the theories to what I can see and experience while taking time away from the textbooks.


What more can be done to support RMTC?

Run a fundraising event – be creative and come up with an idea to raise funds for RMTC. Car cleaning, bake days, mufti days and entering marathons and other sports events are just some of the ways supporters help raise funds via fundraising events. Either give RMTC a call or email with your event idea and they will help you with promotional material and advertise events on their website.

Steve Boyd on working with Amped4Life

Steve Boyd on working with Amped4Life

Steve Boyd is one of those wonderful teachers who lives and breathes the work he does. He is the Assistant Principal at Aorere College where is in charge of Pastoral Care, Discipline and Student Management. Born and raised in Papatoetoe, Steve comes from a teaching background, growing up in Papatoetoe as a young man but  traveling each day to attend Howick College where his mother was Head of PE. He started his teaching career at James Cook High School in Manurewa and has been with Aorere for just over seven years. Steve became aware of the  Amped4Life programme about four years ago at the Papatoetoe West Rotary Club where Pat Buckley was presenting. Steve believes that Pat Buckley's message is vitally important and reaches students in ways that other education and awareness programmes often don't.

James Bushell on Little Lotus Project

James Bushell is a man of many talents and has the unique ability to employ them in both the business and charity sectors to great success. After studying psychology at Otago University, James turned his capable hands to building companies including Colonial Limited, a vineyard in Blenheim which grows grapes for other wineries, Bedrock Limited, a development property, which was converted from a motel into seasonal worker accommodation and Bushell Consultants Limited which is his consultation vehicle for companies that need help. He's also responsible for starting a free educational programme in Thailand catering to over 200 children, speaks fluent Thai, volunteered with an elephant sanctuary near Bangkok and was a crew member for the 2011 Spinning Top Little Lotus Project. He's currently working on the launch of a social media start-up called POPin.


How did you get involved with the Spinning Top Little Lotus project?

I had been living and working in Thailand for several years when I heard my friend Pat was involved in a charity on the Thai/Burma border. I had previously established a free education programme in Thailand so was naturally curious about the work of Spinning Top Little Lotus. I decided to travel through the night to meet with Pat and his team in Mae Sot. I was impressed by their vision and work and have been involved ever since.


Tell us about SpinningTop?

SpinningTop brings vibrancy and creativity to charity work by the unconventional means of art and music. It is this unorthodox approach, which really appeals to me. Of equal importance is that this method does not dictate the type of work they do. SpinningTop plays an important role in the community, connecting with local communities and schools to find what will best improve the quality of life for those involved. They have supported many grassroots initiatives such as the knowledge sharing and agricultural programmes, which are led by Burmese groups.


What is it like on the Thai/Burmese border?

Hot! In some areas people live in shanty huts made from rubbish scraps. On the same road you may see huge houses, demonstrating the level of disparity all around. The people are very humble, kind, and extremely generous. I spent time visiting a local hospital and saw landmine victims in need of prosthetic limbs – this brought home the reality of how different my life is from theirs. We live in a country where we have so much freedom, to speak, paint, and to express ourselves, whereas in Burma they have to fight for this.


What advice can you give other charities or groups trying to work in that region?

My advice would be not to go in thinking you have the solutions. One needs to earn trust, build relationships, and deal with local needs. Many people believe that just ‘giving’ is enough to make a change. This can have detrimental effects on these micro communities. I would recommend understanding their culture and working with (not for) the communities to bring about positive change.


What did you learn about yourself during this project?

I rethought my ideologies of happiness. This experience gave me greater perspective of what is really important to me. It was also really inspiring just being around a great bunch of people who are incredibly talented and creative.


Do you have any future volunteering projects in the pipeline?

I have an on-going relationship with SpinningTop and I am helping prepare for the art exhibition in October 2012. We will display the skills of artists all over the world, inspired by the children in the Mae Sot community from our last visit. It will be held at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery and I’m really excited about it. It will include live art demonstrations, music, and New Zealand school children sharing their ideas and artworks. The whole event is going to be a lot of fun.


Describe how you see business philosophy and charity work merging?

I think there is a lot of potential in this area. Given the right tools and support I believe that many successful businesses can be created. This is a great way of initiating self-sustaining projects. It will also provide local employment and inject money back into local communities. The process would need to be approached carefully as to avoid abuse and ensure the best outcomes for local communities and groups involved.