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“Licence to Write" by Shirley Johnson

04 December 2019
Shirley Johnson YEP

A big thank you to all of you who have made a difference to the lives of young people in your region this year.

I hope you have wonderful breaks planned with whānau and friends to replenish and restore.

For those people who are moving on to new challenges, I wish you the very best for what lies ahead.


Over this year we have become much clearer of our vision, which is to ensure every 14–24 year old in New Zealand is employable. This has shaped a reinvigorated approach to collectively making this happen. Wherever I go I now ask the same question, ‘what will it take to make this happen?” — whether this be in Gore, in Ruatoria or in Taihape. What will it take for every region, every area to come together to make this happen? What will it take to make this happen in Aotearoa, New Zealand?

Resource, capacity and capability are constantly the boulders on the road that obstruct and, at times, defeat us. I’m thinking that in 2020 we start building boulevards and drive right around those boulders and work out how we make things happen with the limited resources we have got.  

Scarcity is a great platform for creativity, innovation and enterprise. I was so heartened in a recent training in Whakatāne when participants started looking at how they could pool resources across the Bay of Plenty to support each other to succeed.  

Wouldn’t it be fantastic as we move into the next decade to really start working collaboratively, disposing of competitive models along with one-use plastic bags? Why not have everyone succeeding together? 

My gift for you for 2019 is thinking about how we all live BIG. Ensuring we have good boundaries, both personal and professional. Ensuring we live with integrity and finally living life generously. This is not just about charity, it is a belief that people, for most of the time, do the very best they can with the resources they have. This belief means we can be a bit kinder, a little less judgemental and whole lot more loving and understanding. Merry Christmas everyone! 

Arohanui, 

Shirley 

COMET