People and Places: Rethinking New Zealand Histories

April 24, 2016

Professor Tony Ballantyne, described as New Zealand’s ‘most innovative historian’, presented a new take on the cultural history of Otago and Soutland at this Catalyst Trust talk.

He challenged the prevailing narrative of New Zealand history that elevates ‘the nation’ as the best way of understanding our past. This focus on our national story, he said, obscures as much as it reveals: “We do not just live in a nation but in specific places, and our personal stories adhere to those places.”

Arguing that national identity – what it means to be a New Zealander – is not as important to us on a day-to-day level, Professor Ballantyne explained how place is essential to shaping us as people. Making a case for the relevance of local history, he prefers to examine in detail the histories of towns and suburbs that, though small, have big characters that shape communities, evoke a sense of belonging and imprint themselves onto the people that live, work and play there.

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Tackling Poverty Queenstown McGuinness Institute Workshop

March 29, 2016

Around 50 people from high school and university students to the chief economist of New Zealand Treasury took part in the McGuinness Institute “Tackling Poverty” workshop in Queenstown, kick-starting what is to become a New Zealand roadshow tour towards solutions for this growing nationwide issue.

Catalyst Trust approached McGuinness Institute in the wake of their TacklingPovertyNZ three-day workshop at Treasury last December to trigger the conversation at a local level. Six participants from this workshop came to give national context to the issue in Queenstown, alongside Treasury chief economist Dr Girol Karacaoglu and Dame Diane Robertson, chair of the Data Futures Partnership and former chief executive of Auckland City Mission. Nicky Mason from Happiness House and Salvation Army’s Hine Marchand provided the local context before participants spent the afternoon workshopping the issues and potential solutions.

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Educate a Girl, Educate a Nation

March 23, 2016

It takes only $300 to put a girl through school for a year in Sierra Leone, and yet the impact on her prospects, health and ultimately the education of her own children is huge.

“When a girl is educated, everything changes: she rises from poverty but also her family, community and country rises too,” said Danelle Jones, who is an ambassador for charity One Girl, which supports girls in Sierra Leone to stay in school.

Sixty-six million girls in the developing world are missing out on school. The barriers to education in Sierra Leone are significant. Girls get limited or no education because many are married when they are young (44% before they turn 18), become pregnant as teenagers and leave school (5 in 6 girls never get to high school), or cannot afford to attend (more than 70% of people in Sierra Leone earn less than $2 per day).

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