Our stories: Evie O'Brien

Written by Alice Peacock.

EviePacking her bags to move from Whakatane to Oxford University to start her new job, Evie O’Brien found herself grappling with a bout of imposter syndrome.

“Māori don’t belong here - that’s what I thought,” she says. “This place is elite, it’s for the world’s elite. It is for people who have money.”

Evie, now the Executive Director of the Atlantic Institute: Rhode’s Trust, says it took “a bit of courage” to uproot the life that she loved, to move across the world by herself. Attempting to alleviate any homesickness, she packed artwork - pictures of her sacred mountains in Whakatane, and taonga, to hang on the walls of her new home.

But despite any feelings of unease, the reality was that Evie had been cherry-picked for the role. Her involvement with the Rhodes Institute began back when she was working at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, the Whakatane-based indigenous tertiary education provider, back in 2018 and was selected for the inaugural Atlantic Fellows Social Equity programme, based at the University of Melbourne.

Book review: Think Again

Written by Zoe Fitzpatrick.

Think again 2The power of knowing what you don't know, by Adam Grant

Getting together to discuss Adam Grant’s Think Again was a spirited and joyful event. Seven of us were lucky enough to meet in person at Ozone Cafe (with an exciting brand new brunch menu) and our group consisted of a mix of seasoned book clubbers and a few newbies too (myself included!).

Unanimously we all agreed that we enjoyed the book (or what we had managed to read of it so far), so the discussion flowed easily between us. Think Again is a fairly comfortable read, dotted with interesting footnotes and cartoons depicting, and poking fun at, a lot of the ideas presented. However we quickly realised that in this modern world we were not all reading the book per se. We had quite the mix of hard copies, e-readers and audio books between us. We discovered that not all mediums picked up these footnotes and images so well, so if you’re still wanting to give this one a read, then the hard copy might be the way to go - although Adam Grant himself reads the audio book which is quite the treat!

Our stories: Sera Hathaway

Written by Amelia Murray.

Sera scarfFrom a young age, fashion was always high on Sera’s agenda, even when milking the cows was involved! Growing up on a large dairy farm in Reporoa, a small rural community in Rotorua Lakes, Sera made many of her own clothes, describing her style as ‘a little different’. She explains, “I loved the farm, I loved growing up on the farm, but I would spend hours watching fashion TV and sketching designs.”

Attending St Peters in Cambridge, where Sera was lead soprano, she excelled in music and art. However, without having a set career dream, Sera took a year out after school as an au pair in Switzerland before returning home to work in a designer boutique. It was this role which then led her to pursue her childhood passion, completing a certificate in Creative Arts and Design in Wellington, followed by a Diploma of Fashion Design through the Tauranga Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology.

Our stories: Celeste Wong

Written by Alice Peacock.

190111 newton 0045It was during a mundane afternoon trip to a London bank back in 2014, that the idea for Celeste Wong’s 'The Girl in The Cafe' web series came about. Celeste, a Dunedin-born Londoner, was reflecting on what it was that she loved, and what she could do with her passions moving forward. The actress, marketer, writer and coffee expert decided to launch a project involving the three constants in her life: coffee, people and conversations.

The result was The Girl in The Cafe, a web series about London’s coffee scene, featuring Celeste as its host, interviewing both coffee connoisseurs and a few of her loyal customers. The series, which Celeste says is still the work she is most proud of, is online and was shown on Air New Zealand flights for about a two-year period following its launch.

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