Frith Walker’s Future Auckland Leaders experience
Way back in 2010 I was happily ensconced in a career in theatre – helping to make plays and dance pieces and musicals that I knew were serving the cultural and civic life of this city I call home. Back then I was super proud of what we were making – and I thought I had a wide view.
Then a call came – I had been recommended to follow in the footsteps of my very dear friend and clever colleague Shane Bosher and join the Committee for Auckland Future Auckland Leaders programme. “Who, me?” I thought. “Ha! I’m not a leader”. But I had deep faith in those that were so generously recommending me and so, as my private and professional lives fell apart around me I stepped into a new opportunity and a whole new set of perspectives.
The programme was challenging (I am never fully comfortable about revealing just how much I snore so thank you to my cohort for your patience during our noho marae), exhilarating and beyond informative. I heard from speakers that remain inspirations to this day and met people that remain close friends and influencers in my life.
To be given a backstage pass to our city – to learn how its infrastructure works and how some of its most influential leaders have found their way – left me with an overwhelming sense of opportunity and drive. To help make a city that can, to quote my dear grandfather by way of my dear uncle, take the weight – the weight of all the people – that haven’t been born yet.
Cities are magnetic places that attract people to do business, celebrate, protest, have fun and so much more – bump spaces where civic life is forged and put to the test. They are made by multiplicities of communities that bring culture, commitment, and passion to their places.
As Tāmaki Makaurau’s regeneration agency, Eke Panuku has a vital role to play in making places where people feel a strong relationship with their communities and a commitment to make things better. As part of the Placemaking at Eke Panuku I now have the very great privilege of helping with the creation of successful public space networks, supporting the programming and activation of Auckland’s public spaces, (and as my bio says) “enthusiastically supporting the difference a healthy public realm can make in terms of creating liveable cities for all”.
To put it very bluntly, I would not be in this role without the Future Auckland Leaders Programme. Partly because of the connections and learnings it afforded me, but also because of the passion it stirred up in me, I now work with an incredible team who are genuinely committed to working for this city in a way that enables all its peoples to enjoy resilient, equitable, well designed and well-planned places. To misquote Winston Churchill (from the front cover of my FALP project report back in 2011) “We shape our public spaces, thereafter they shape us”. Or as another essential hoa mahi says “place makes us”.
I remain forever indebted to CfA for making space for an enthusiastic theatre maker and helping her find her way to becoming an enthusiastic placemaker. I promise to keep working to make it count.
Thank you for reading, Dear reader.
Ngā mihi maioha.