It’s hard to believe that 2019 is coming to an end. As we head into Christmas and look forward to a much-deserved break with family and friends, it’s also an opportunity to reflect on the year that was.
While there has been much to celebrate this year, it’s hard not to view 2019 through the lens of the two tragic events that bracketed the year – the shocking massacre of innocent citizens on March 15th and the recent Whakaari/White Island disaster. Both events have changed our view of ourselves as New Zealanders. We’ve all been forced to recognise that our nation is not as tolerant or as safe as we like to believe, but we’ve also been reminded that when the chips are down, we are a whānau that cares for one another.
The last few weeks have been tinged with personal sadness for all of us at COMET with the sudden passing of our friend and colleague, Malia Uaisele, who was one of our Talking Matters champions. Her passing is a reminder to make the most of life, friends and family, and to care for one another.
Looking back on our work this year, the theme that stands out is listening - not assuming what the people we work with need, but asking, staying quiet, hearing, reflecting, and then shaping approaches together. It sounds simple but it’s amazing how often we all forget to do it; and how powerful it is when we do.
At a national level, the government seems to be working on listening too. They spent 2018 asking what people wanted, through the multiple education consultations. This year they have been reflecting back what they heard by publishing draft strategies – for Tomorrow’s Schools, NCEA, vocational education and more. Now is our chance to check whether they have heard our messages, by having a say on the last few strategies that are out for consultation this summer.
Listening needs to lead to action - 2020 will show if we have really been heard.