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CoJam 2020: A step towards an inclusive and diverse Aotearoa, NZ

04 March 2020   /   News & reports

Photo: The CoJam Community

What does it mean to “belong”? How can we encourage inclusion in New Zealand? What does the future look like for resettlement in Aotearoa?

These are just some of the questions that participants spent 48 hours trying to answer at the inaugural CoJam – a two-day hui which brought together a diverse group of young changemakers, design coaches and resettlement community organisations, united by the dream of a more inclusive and diverse New Zealand. The CoJam experience, which was hosted at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) in February, was dreamt up, designed and delivered by a collaborative team from Foundation North, Centre for Social Impact, AUT, The Draft Studio and Auckland Co-Design Lab.

“The idea for CoJam evolved out of another co-design workshop convened by Belong Aotearoa,” said Foundation North’s Jade Tang-Taylor. “Community leaders identified that there is a need to support and celebrate young people who are exploring new cultural multi-identities.”

Over the course of the weekend, young people from ethnically diverse backgrounds were supported by coaches from Ākina, Courageous Conversations, CX Collective, UX Homegrown, ThinkPlace and a handful of other design and creative agencies to co-imagine, co-create and develop innovative ideas to increase a better sense of belonging in Aotearoa.

The room was filled with some amazing youth, some from refugee backgrounds, and leaders who drew on their lived experience to challenge thinking and inspire change” said Dr. Sapna Samant, one of the coaches.

CoJam also saw Tamkeen Saeid (Peace Foundation), Fatumata Bah (Inspiring Youth Leader and CoJam Council) and Faysal Dhamuke (Somali Education Development Trust) take to the stage to share powerful stories about their resettlement journeys to New Zealand.


Photo: CoJam teams creating and developing their ideas

The activities throughout the programme were intentionally designed to give participants the skills, inspiration and confidence needed for the finale of CoJam – pitching their ideas to The Wise Council – a group of community leaders which included Foundation North's Kaumātua Kevin Prime and Trustee Naisi Chen. Each team had five minutes to pitch their idea, with the hope of winning a $10,000 prize fund from Foundation North to further develop their prototypes. The role of the Wise Council was to challenge the proposals, ask questions and provide feedback to the teams.

Each team delivered thought-provoking, powerful and promising concepts, which included an online network to support new migrants, and a culture hub to tackle discrimination. The whole CoJam community was then given the opportunity to vote for the idea that they believed should receive the financial support. Foundation North's Pou Ārahi, Aroha Harris, announced the results - the winner was Team RFLCTR’s Project Pūrākau which puts pōwhiri and pūrākau (Māori Storytelling) at the heart of belonging, and emphasises the importance of introducing new migrants to Te Ao Māori (The Māori Worldview).

What I thought was particularly special about this proposal was the sense that these changemakers wanted to explore pathways to connect and engage with tangata whenua in authentic ways,” commented Aroha Harris. “Their kaupapa was driven by the desire for meaningful relationships and indigenous knowledge”.

Project Pūrākau will receive the $10,000 prize fund from Foundation North and will also be supported by the coaches to develop their idea into a fully formed prototype. We are excited to see what happens next!

Photo L-R Standing: Nandita Mathur, Maria Hayward, Fatumata Bah, Naisi Chen, Kees Baker, Kevin Prime, Abaan Yor
L-R Kneeling: Shivani Narsai, Isabel Clack, Te Uranga Royal

Click here for more photos!