Dreaming of a better Aotearoa

An illustration by artist Taylor Te Atarua showing a person (with a plant for a head) watering some small colourful figures growing from the soil. The watercan says 'wairua' on it, and the figures are 'tangata.' The scene is in front of a blue body of water with a background of islands, planets, floating whales and a giant rainbow. They are seated by native plants including harakeke.

Illustration by Taylor Te Atarua

We all descend from dreamers. For some of us, we descend from the dreams of our tūpuna who guided us across Te Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa, and enabled us to survive and thrive. For those of us who arrived from beyond this moana, we descend from the dreams of our families who kept us safe and promised us new opportunities. We are the result of our ancestors’ dreams.

But right now, our communities are living the limits of what a profit-driven system can do for our people and our planet. For all our whānau, the intertwined housing, pandemic, mental health, inequality, and climate crises are impossible to ignore. As adrienne maree brown puts it, we’re living someone else’s vision: “inside the imagination of people who thought economic disparity and environmental destruction were acceptable costs for their power.”

It’s time for us to dream up something better, and collectively paint a picture of the future we want. Arundhati Roy wrote that the pandemic could be a portal between one world and the next, where the disruption to our ways of living force us to reshape them away from the ‘normal’ that wasn’t serving our whānau or te taiao (the environment). But we have to have the heart, the courage, and the imagination to see into the next, and the determination to make it happen together. The systems that shape our lives are ours to create, and ours to change.

That’s why in 2021, we took on the challenge of exploring the vision we want to see for Aotearoa. More than 400 people contributed to a collective visioning process that asked what Aotearoa would be like if we truly put the wellbeing of people and Papatūānuku first. We ran a series of online hui, an online survey, and interviews with (mostly) young people from a huge range of communities - including tangata whenua, tangata o le moana, tangata tiriti, LGBTQIA+ and takatāpui, disabled whānau, rural and urban.

In 2022, we’ll launch the community-powered vision into the world. Then, we’ll set up ambitious, collaborative, people-powered campaigns to bring key aspects of the vision into reality, and use our power to support communities, experts, and allies working toward it too. Watch this space!


A huge thank you to the young people who have been a part of this project (our Dreamer team on the left), our former Community Organiser Eilish MacEwan, our funders at the Peter McKenzie Project, our collaborators at Tokona Te Raki, The Workshop, Whakaaro Factory, and artists Taylor Te Atarua and Māori Mermaid. 

ActionStation relies on small donations from people like yourself, the members of the ActionStation community. We are committed to listening to young people and those with lived experience of being let down and locked out of our systems. 

Will you chip in to help launch this vision in 2022?