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Meet the future at Auckland Museum’s TEDxYouth event

Press Release – Auckland Museum

What do the national director of NCEA Campus, the creator of the worlds longest piano, the founder of anti-shark finning campaign Stop the Finning and a sailor who circumnavigated the globe alone have in common? Theyre all under 25 years …

Meet the future at Auckland Museum’s TEDxYouth event this Saturday
What do the national director of NCEA Campus, the creator of the world’s longest piano, the founder of anti-shark finning campaign “Stop the Finning” and a sailor who circumnavigated the globe alone have in common? They’re all under 25 years old and sharing their stories at Auckland’s first TEDxYouth event.

TEDxYouth coordinator and Auckland Museum Digital Strategist Nils Pokel says selecting the speakers for the inaugural Auckland Museum TEDxYouth event has filled him with optimism for the future.

“When you meet these young people and hear what they’ve achieved already and what they are planning to do next, it makes you feel incredibly hopeful about the future. They don’t seem to be held back by the ‘what-ifs’ that a lot of adults live by, they are more likely to think ‘why not?’,” says Pokel.

“The overarching idea of TEDxYouthAuckland is to spark conversations, to provide a space to voice brave new ideas or fresh views on old ones – to surprise, entice and enable new thinking.”

“There is such incredible content on the TEDx platform and this event is a chance to introduce New Zealand youth to the platform and see where they take it.”

“This is a chance for Kiwi kids to get global exposure and access to other great minds and then who knows where it will take them or who it will bring them together with.”

Pokel says the event has been deliberately scheduled around the school term to allow both teachers and students to be involved.

TEDxAuckland organiser Elliot Blade, who this week announced the second TEDxAuckland event will be held this August, says the decision to work with the museum was an easy one given the similar ethos of the two teams.

“Having the TEDxYouthAuckland event will make the TEDx experience in Auckland that much more complete. It’s really not about prescribing what it will be for the youth – we want the youth to take charge of this platform and make it their own.”

Over 500 tickets for the event sold out within days of going online but the museum will have the talks livestreaming into their auditorium and online:

Visit for more information.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED- like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x=independently organized TED event.

The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.

More info on the TED website:

Auckland Museum TEDxYouth speakers

Ella Buchanan
Slime mould and yeast aren’t necessarily the average interests of an intermediate student but listening to Ella Buchanan, perhaps they should be. She credits having a dad who is a scientist for helping to spark her own fascination with science and now, at 12 years old, she has a growing stack of awards recognising her own scientific research. In primary school her first project saw her replicating how Alexander Fleming had inadvertently created penicillin. Last year Ella entered the Niwa Auckland Science Fair with her project ‘Slime Mould, My New Pet’ and gained first place and the award for Excellence in Biological Science. This year her project ‘Yeasts Feast on Sugar and Sound’ won first place in the Material Worlds category, the award for Original Research Years, and the Premier Gold Award for Best Project for Years 7-13. Currently Head Girl at Auckland Normal Intermediate, Ella is motivated by her love of the intrigue and processes in science, and sharing new discoveries with others.

Elspeth Carroll
At 16 Elspeth Carroll has a growing list of film credits for acting, direction and production of fiction short film, documentary and an ad for the Fair Go ad awards. In 2011 she decided to make her love of film into something tangible and created her own film company Fluffy Socks Films (named due to a fondness for the comforting item of clothing). Among her film credits are Phasma Phamatis, which won a stack of awards in the Youthtown NZ Short Film Challenge 2011 including Best Film Runner Up, and An Education which saw Elspeth win the Best Documentary award for Year 9-13 in Auckland Museum’s Making Movies competition. So far her love of film has already taken her to New York and her longer term plan is to become a producer but for now she’s gaining experience across all the aspects of filmmaking.

Laura Dekker
At 16 years old Laura Dekker became the youngest sailor to circumnavigate the globe single-handedly. During her 518-day voyage Laura took on six-metre-high waves, extreme weather, dangerous reefs, disturbed sleep, cramped living conditions, food rationing and absolute solitude. She also kept up with her schoolwork. Evident in her writing during this journey was a real passion for the water and for all marine life. Her desire to raise awareness of our marine environment and protect it is a desire that continues to drive her.

Taylor Finderup
A keen surfer and certified beach lover, 14-year-old Taylor Finderup loves the ocean and is taking real steps to protect it and the animals that call it home. On a day-to-day level, Taylor uses her spare time to go down to the beach and collect rubbish that could end up choking marine animals or birds. Not satisfied with just taking action in her own life though, her love of sharks has seen Taylor start her own ‘Stop the Finning’ campaign to bring an end to shark finning – a practice still legal in New Zealand. Taylor has developed her own website educating people about shark finning and how they can do their bit to stop it.

Brian Gashema
Brian Haley Gashema is a 17 year old Kenyan/Burundian student attending Northcote College. The second oldest of five kids, he was mothered by Hip Hop and adopted by Poetry. He is blessed by circumstances, choices and family. He fell in love and got into a serious relationship at a very early age with basketball but due to the wrong stars aligning and weak ligaments he traded the orange ball for a ball point pen which he hopes to use one day when carving his initials and thoughts into the world. Part of Grace Taylor’s Rising Voices Youth Poetry Movement, Brian recently shared his work “I am Me” at the TEDx event and received a standing ovation from the 2000-strong audience.

Mohamed Hassan
Mohamed Hassan is a spoken word poet and journalist from Cairo, Egypt. He has spent the majority of his life in Auckland, navigating the spaces between two cultures and languages. A storyteller at heart, his poetry uses characters, narratives and humour to explore identity and society. He strongly believes in the power of poetry to build foundations for young people to speak and be heard. He is the winner of the Rising Voices Youth Poetry Slam 2013, and has been performing across Auckland stages for three years. He is part of a young collective of poets called the Waxed Poetic Revival.

Arizona Leger
Of Samoan, Tongan, Fijian, Maori and European descent, Arizona Leger is an advocate for sharing culture, embracing the evolution of Aotearoa’s multicultural youth and letting young voices be heard. Arizona took part in the Urbanlife youth project last year culminating in an exhibition at Auckland Museum and she’s a spoken word poet with Navigating Spaces. Currently head girl at Epsom Girls Grammar, Arizona was also recently chosen as a UNICEF 3News youth reporter.

Adrian Mann
Working with a large allen key and a 12mm socket, Adrian Mann tuned his first piano age 12 years old. The tuning was self-taught and it was a sign of much bigger things to come. At age 15 the talented pianist carried out an experiment with a very long piece of piano wire to see what sort of sounds he could achieve and just how far he could take it. Adrian went on to build the world’s longest piano – the Alexander Piano, which he named after his great, great grandfather Alexander Barrie Mann. The 5.7m piano has since spent time in the Otago Museum and been used for multiple local concerts.

Isabella Lenihan-Ikin
Western Springs College student Isabella Lenihan-Ikin has a vision for the future that would see carbon emissions diminish and recognition for young people as change makers in society. And she’s working hard to make it happen. At school Isabella has worked with others to reduce waste to landfill by 50%, she’s a member of youth climate change organisation Generation Zero and one of the founders of S.E.A.L Socially Environmentally Active Leaders. In 2012 she took part in the once-in-a-lifetime journey to the Kermadec Islands after being selected as a student voyager by the Sir Peter Blake Trust and she is currently serving as a youth MP.

Jade Leung
National Director for youth-run organisation NCEA Campus, Jade Leung is tackling the issue of equity in education head-on. A founding member for the not-for-profit, 19-year-old Jade has overseen it grow to a team of 180 tutors providing education and support for more than 3000 NCEA exam students. She is also involved in a number of NGOs and social enterprises seeking to create lasting positive impacts on others and paving the way for equal opportunity. Jade is currently studying towards a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) at the University of Auckland and hopes ultimately to delve further into social enterprise, education and humanitarian development.

Vandan Patel
Student by day. Developer by night. Vandan Patel is making plans to solve the world’s need for cheap technology. Right now he is a 15-year-old software engineer making solutions for start-ups and creating robots in his living room. He can use the programming languages C# and Java and he’s on the verge of creating his own company. Central to what he wants to achieve with his talents in technology is his belief in the community-minded principles of volunteer organization BAPS NZ. Part of a worldwide network the ethos of BAPs is to care for the world by caring for its societies, families and individuals and its members donate hours of their time to serve others. Other ambitions: to become New Zealand’s best innovator.

Christian Silver
Christian Silver is on a mission to make programming more accessible to youth. He has already developed games, websites and has an app running on mobile. While his intermediate school years introduced him to a love of mathematics, science, technology and more specifically computer programming, the demands of education have often seemed to push him away from his talents in the digital media space. To counter this negative push – something he sees being caused by both too little engagement with ICT education and a consumerist attitude to the technology we use – Christian is in the process of creating a system, Decode, where young people can easily learn to program.

Shruthi Vijayakumar
Shruthi Vijayakumar’s journey into youth activism and entrepreneurship began with a trip to Cambodia in 2009 as a World Vision Youth Ambassador, visiting development projects and communicating what she’d learned to her peers back home. In 2010 she became involved with the youth-for-youth charity P3 Foundation, taking on the role of CEO in 2011 and growing P3 from 20 volunteers to a national organization with over 100 volunteers. In 2012 she was selected as a Young Explorer for the Mike Horn Pangaea Project enabling her to explore the Swiss Alps and the Amazon Rainforest on an environmental expedition. She co-organised The Plastic Bottle Kayak Expedition which saw 25 young people from all over New Zealand kayaking the Whanganui River in kayaks made of plastic bottles to raise awareness of the need for ethical consumerism. A semi-finalist for the Young New Zealander of the Year Award, Shruthi recently completed a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Auckland and now works for the Boston Consulting Group.

Tristan Yang
A genuine love of learning and the ability to focus are two of the characteristics that have seen 11-year-old Tristan Yang achieve so much in such a short time. Year Seven at Ficino School, Tristan teaches himself at home and has been sitting Cambridge International Exams since he was nine and earning top grades. He will be a university maths student by 2014. He is a cadet of St John, squad member of the swimming club, member of Mensa, member of the New Zealand Association for Gifted Children, and a piano player. He enjoys all science subjects, literature and philosophy. Tristan believes the key to excelling is to: think big, plan ahead, get organised and go for it.

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