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‘Tis the Season - Exploring social change in the silly season: Tāmaki Makaurau - November 2023

On Wednesday 29th November, we hosted a panel event in Tāmaki Makaurau highlighting social and ethical challenges during the holiday season.

For many, the silly season is a time to come together and celebrate, often with good kai and a thoughtful gift or two. However, it’s not all festive fun and games with whānau across the motu experiencing heightened food insecurity as well the effects of poverty. 

The holiday period brings many challenges, whether it be the environmental consequences of commercial holidays, or social pressure for whānau to provide the ‘Christmas experience’. 

We had the privilege of hosting an inspiring kōrero with four wonderful panellists, who addressed these challenges and shared how we can make Christmas a time of action.

  • Ainsley Harris - is Social Media Advisor at Kiwibank, and Social Media and Marketing Specialist at The Good Registry. Social impact and sustainability are the heart of The Good Registry. Driven by purpose-led work, Ainsley feels lucky to have found mahi that aligns with her values. 

  • Anna Santure - lecturer in biology at Waipapa Taumata Rau - University of Auckland. Anna has been a Trade Aid volunteer since high school and is currently the co-chair for the Auckland Trade Aid Trust. Trade Aid embodies all that Anna is passionate about. More than paying a fair price for beautiful artisan products, the long-term partnerships Trade Aid establishes enable communities to grow and thrive, providing training, health facilities, environmental initiatives, and educational services for their members. 

  • Brook Turner - is Head of Services Development and Partnerships at VisionWest. Brook's values are based on his strong training in empowerment-based practice and upholding the mana and dignity of every individual, while working to create strengths-based solutions to wicked problems. 

  • Judy Keats - for 12 years Judy has instigated and operated multiple community gardens across the Auckland region, the most recent being at Kelmarna Community Farm. Working as a compost facilitator for Compost Collective, and growing skills educator under her own label Green Sister, Judy's goal is to empower those choosing to take their first steps towards a healthy environment by composting at home and 'growing your own'.

We discussed a range of themes based on the holiday season, ranging from how to make the most of the waste we create, to how the holiday can exacerbate poverty due to pressure on families to deliver big celebrations.

Two big themes emerged on the night: firstly we explored the intersection between individual goods and the systems that we live in and the balance of social change and existing in our capitalistic system. Our speakers encouraged us to keep vocal but to participate in the system and drive change from within - using our consumer dollars to be intentional and do good.

We also considered community and how spending time with each other whether sharing simple meals or sharing gifts provides us a chance to bond and ease social isolation which is another big issue in the silly season. Ultimately, the holiday season is about aroha and there are multiple ways for us to prioritise connection which can often be the greatest gift of all.

Taking the kaupapa forward:

1. Shop consciously

It’s easy to get swept up in the flurry of holiday sales. Look into more sustainable giving options, such as giving someone an ‘experience’, buying from purpose-led organisations like Trade Aid or a charity donation. Consider whether your purchases align with your values.

2. Reach out 

As Brooke explained, Christmas can be a lonely time for some, connection goes a long way during the holiday period. Look to those around you, is there someone in your neighbourhood or wider community who may be alone or vulnerable this Christmas? Is there a local retirement home you could visit? You could share some Christmas baking, volunteer with Auckland City Mission or simply invite someone over to share a meal, or simply reach out for a kōrero. 

3. Share your knowledge 

Many amazing initiatives and organisations support positive change during the silly season! Ainsley discussed how spreading the word among your friends, whānau, and wider network is a good way to encourage action. As an example, a gift card from the Good Registry makes for a nice corporate gift alternative, or perhaps you and your whānau could create a new tradition, like volunteering at the Christmas From the Heart initiative.


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