AUT Uni Life

Controlling the pre-exam stress


By Tom Vasey

a stressed student, head in hands

Let me preface this by saying that you should absolutely not do what I did this past week, which was to pull not one but two all-nighters, got wound up by reading some absolute drivel in a student magazine, end up getting incredibly sick and stuffing your face with chocolate because you’ve missed the times you were supposed to be at the gym. While that may possibly discredit me right out of the gate, I’m going to invoke the rule my dad had and say “do as I say, not as I do,” because I’ve always been better at theory than practical work, anyway.

So, if you’re like me, then you’re probably pretty cognizant of the fact that we’re rapidly running out of semester. Many of you will be wondering what to do with yourselves. Whether there are extra assignments that need doing, or exam study to begin nice and early, or summer jobs to apply for, there’s a lot going on at this time of year. It’s pretty tough, not least because everyone’s can’t be stuffed meters are very nearly full at this point, and why wouldn’t they be? You’ve had a hard semester, and there’s still so much on the horizon.

Well, I’m going to start off by recommending that you start off by making sure that you’ve got a nice diet of fruit and veg, as much as possible. Having this sort of stuff helps alleviate stress and improve your overall mood. One thing I notice is that when I indulge myself, I always end up regretting it in the end, stuffing my face with chocolate and feeling bloated as heck for the next few days, and a little scared to go to the gym because I’m worried about what the treadmill will say.

Which brings us on to the next thing, the gym. Definitely see if you can make a commitment to spend even half an hour to an hour a day there. It’s really helpful if you have some excess energy left at the end of the day, or if you notice that you’re having trouble sleeping or similar. Everyone needs to let out some pent-up energy, to run around and just blow off some steam for practically no reason, like this guy.

Make sure that you make your home into as relaxing an environment as you possibly can. If you have further stressors there, then it’s the last thing you want. Moving out at this point would be nigh on impossible, so if you have someone who’s causing you grief, I recommend trying to deal with it as sensibly or hilariously as you can. We’ve got someone at my place who just threatened to take their roommate’s dirty dishes from the kitchen and stuff them into his pillowcase if he insists on letting them stack up. Not the best way to deal with it, but by far the most entertaining.

Next up, you might want to pick up a new hobby. At this point, you have limited time, so as long as you’re budgeting time properly, you should be fine to give it a go. I took up tabletop games again recently, actually.

…Yeah, I know. You’re all shocked. Someone who looks like a dork and writes like one too plays those sorts of games? Perish the thought!

Seriously, though, a new hobby is a great opportunity to have something to look forward to, to try something you’ve been looking at for ages but never had an excuse to have a go at, and it can really cheer you up if you haven’t been feeling great, lately.

Just make sure it’s something constructive. You don’t want to lose as many brain cells as these guys just made me lose.

Finally, check out the events that are on. I know that I’m going to be off to Armageddon this year, which has become something of a yearly tradition for me (I know, shock and horror again!) and it’s honestly a really nice time. If that’s not your cup of tea, then that’s fine, but definitely have a look to see what’s on. Even if it’s something small, then it’ll be a great way to wind down a little.

There’s a lot of work around at the moment, and a great many things to do, but I beg you to stay the course and do stuff you enjoy, every so often. Keep it interesting, and keep yourself nice and sane. We’re very nearly on the home stretch, and making sure that you’re not miserable or stressed out is conducive to getting your work done to the best standard, so it’s always worth doing!

Take care everyone.

…what, you want more dogs being silly? Oh, I suppose I could help you out…

Things I’ve learnt during my time at university


By Sharleen Shergill

Another university year is coming to an end. Looking back on my university experience so far, I’ve realised that I’ve grown a lot. In my first year, I had no idea what I was doing, I was just taking it assignment by assignment. Back then I thought “oh I’ll never need to do an all-nighter” but I spoke too soon. Within the first few months I was stocking up on the energy drinks and junk food to get me through the night to submit those assignments on time. There was also a time when I started cutting people off to focus on myself and my work but realised a social life is important too. Now, believe it or not, I am actually more organised, avoid all-nighters and try to get my work done at least a day before it’s due. Additionally, I’ve kept myself busy with extra-curricular activities and try to maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating clean and working out. Personality wise I’ve learnt the type of person I want to be, the mark I want to leave with people and have set goals for myself on what I want to achieve.

Here’s a breakdown of things I’ve learnt during my time at university so far.

Taking time out for yourself

There will always be work to do. There will always be assignments to do. So, you need to take time for yourself and do something that helps you relax. This could be painting, cooking, hiking, photography, reading a book – anything that’s fun for you. Otherwise, it’s really easy to stress yourself and burn out. I like to go outside with my camera and capture my surroundings, it helps me relax and actually take in what’s happening around me (the photo above is one that I took during my time out).

Importance of a social life

With the twenty other things going on in your life such as assignments and jobs – maintaining friendships is crucial. These are the friends who’ll be with you for the long run so spend the time you can with them before you all go off working full time jobs. Since I’m studying a double degree there were times when I felt like I had no friends since some graduated and I was still at university and others were no longer in my classes. I decided if I wanted to stop feeling alone I had to take action by making an effort to message people and making plans to hang out. Whether it be catching up in between classes or hanging out on the weekend. This really helped me get back on track and feel happier. It’s also good to join extracurricular activities such as clubs or even become a student ambassador to meet new people (it looks good on a CV too).

Stay Active

Take the time to get some physical exercise in. It will help you feel happier, positive and keep fit. You can even get some friends together and join the AUT Gym. One of my biggest regrets after high school was not continuing the sports I used to play. I encourage you to get involved in at least one sport whether it’s social or competitive. This is also a great way to build connections while doing something productive that will benefit you in the long run.

Put yourself out there

This one can sound scary, but I’ve learnt you need to step up and take the opportunities as they arise. Forget about what people will think and look at the opportunity as a learning experience. If you don’t put your hand up or apply for that job you’ll end up regretting it later. Whenever I can I always sign up for things even if it is volunteering, you can learn something from every experience. Additionally, if you gain this skill it’s only going to benefit you in the long run as employers like to hire people who can take initiative and are not afraid to take on a challenge.

Time management is key

Sometimes it feels like you’re drowning in assignments and work. That’s when you have to take a step back and prioritise your tasks. Make a list, keep a diary, note down dates on a wall planner – whatever works for you. It is key to set aside time to plan your week and your days, this way you have control over your life and are less likely to freak yourself out.

Small talk is good

This is a skill you’ll need for the rest of your life so it’s valuable if you start doing it during university. When you go to career fairs or networking events you need to know how to start a conversation with someone and keep it going for a few minutes so you can create an impression and make a connection. I used to hate small talk, but if I hadn’t taken initiative and gone up to introduce myself to others then I wouldn’t know half the people that I know today. Plus when you go out for interviews or get a new job this something that will make you stand out. You don’t have to ask any major life questions – just start with the basics.

  • Hi, how are you?
  • How’s your day going?
  • What have you been up to?
  • What are you working on?
  • How was your weekend?

Lastly, I’ve learnt more about who I am

This year I really got to know the type of person I am, the type of people I get along with and the type of people I want by my side. I’ve also realised what my values are and what expectations I have for myself and what needs to be done to achieve my personal goals. I found setting goals for myself to be helpful as it gave me something to focus on and work towards. Without goals for myself, I feel lost. I made different categories of goals for myself (it depends on what’s important to you). My categories include; university goals, job goals, gym goals and social goals. The more effort I put into these categories now I believe the better I’ll be prepared for what the future has to bring.

Doing Something Different


By Tom Vasey

Last week I went on an adventure. Well, it’s not a great adventure, strictly speaking, because I went about five minutes away from where I live and I was still in the city centre with 4G coverage, but hey, it counts!

Anyway, the point is that one of the big things that comes with this part of the semester is an issue where folks tend to feel stressed out or upset. Obviously this is when the results from the first few assignments tend to come back, and when the really meaty ones get given out as well, so it’s pretty much expected that a lot of people will start to feel the hurt, especially if things haven’t gone as well as you’d have liked so far.

University’s a stressful place to be, especially at this time of year, and there’s plenty of people who will suggest various ways to deal with the stress. Trust me when I say that you don’t need some happy pill or similar to feel a little better. If you’re a little sad, I recommend changing some aspect of your schedule. It doesn’t even have to be a big thing, and it doesn’t even have to be consistent. It can just be some one-off thing that you’ve never done before, but felt like trying all of a sudden.

I’ll give you a good example from last week. Out of the blue, I went to go and visit the Auckland Art Museum, as they have the Corsini Collection in. Well, that’s not entirely true – I was coaxed into checking it out by a really excited flatmate who came in raving about it (he’s an older bloke and he rarely gets excited about anything). I’m not a huge art kind of person, but I’m a massive history nerd, so I figured that it’d be neat to go check it out, just to get a little taste of the past (the Renaissance is my wheelhouse, though sadly I don’t have the wit or the looks to be considered a Renaissance Man). Also there was a student concession, so that was nice.

When I got there, it was pretty cool. Because I’m a huge nerd I understood a fair bit about the Corsini family and the world they lived in. Anyone who’s well-versed in history is probably going to find this cringeworthy in the extreme…and so is everyone else, quite likely, but I’ll attempt to explain it. The Corsinis were one of the powerful families of Italy during the Renaissance period, based in the city of Florence. Back then, northern Italy was part of this huge collection of city-states called the Holy Roman Empire (which was neither Roman nor altogether holy given the amount of incest in the royal family). The Italian city-states split from the Empire around that time, but the Corsinis stayed married into the Imperial Royal Family. Similar to the Borgias or the Medicis, the Corsinis were a very powerful and eminent Italian family, and didn’t really get where they were by playing nice.

With that history out of the way (because otherwise I could go on about the HRE and Renaissance politics forever, and then wonder why I don’t have a date) I can honestly recommend the display if you’ve even a passing interest in that sort of stuff. There are wonderful paintings in that collection, incredible sculptures, and the feeling of centuries upon centuries upon you. It really is like you have the weight of history bearing down on you, and that’s a rare feeling.

It was amazing how long I stayed there, actually. I was there for about two hours (and it’s not even a very huge display) and I ran into some lovely AUT students along the way. As soon as we realised we were all going in the same direction at the same time, we got together and exchanged Facebook details, and I have to say that it was a pretty amazing surprise.

What struck me as interesting was that I was freaking out a little over the marks I was getting back from my earlier assignments, and the new ones we’d just been given in class. I was pretty stressed out (and as is fitting for someone who looks and speaks like the awkward professor from Treasure Planet, I am very easily flustered). This was a spur-of-the-moment decision that I could’ve easily just not gone through with, but for some reason, that day I went and put myself out there, and did something I hadn’t done before. I’m pleased that I did, too, because it gave me the opportunity to meet some cool new people, embrace my dorky side, and I feel better for it.

On top of that, there’s a fair bit of evidence to suggest that it’s a good treatment for depression – albeit a pretty tough uphill battle because I know it can be really hard to will yourself to go outside. If you’re feeling down or anxious or anything, I recommend swinging by the local park next time it’s nice outside, or maybe doing something nice or a bit out there. Check out if there are events on – even if it’s the sort of thing you’re personally not into; take up some volunteer work for the sake of giving yourself a greater sense of purpose, and remember to always be kind to yourself.

Thanks guys, and I’ll see you next week.

Why I vote the way I do



By Harris Dowson

The election is this weekend and after many ups and downs, slogging through debates, social media madness, and an almost constant media frenzy; we will finally get to see what who will lead our country into the future.

I’ve written a lot about this election, trying my best to remain unbiased, presenting the facts and pushing people to get enrolled and cast their votes. I want people to take part in this election, regardless of whether their beliefs align with my own. Voting for our future is something no one should sit out.

I’ve come to learn that no political perspective is foolproof, there is always another side to an argument and everyone has the right to their own opinion. This blog is my perspective and is in no way meant to belittle anyone’s political leanings or beliefs; but rather to explain why I vote the way I do. Hopefully, it’ll cause you to think and reflect on why you’re voting the way you are too.

I think there are many policies in New Zealand government that it makes sense to debate, many reasons why a person might like one party over another but I think there are some things that affect us that simply shouldn’t be up for debate.

Issues that as a society we should agree on, the basic rights of humanity, the things that shouldn’t be up for discussion.

Things like freedom of sexuality, equality of race and gender and that in our developed country, no family should be living in their cars or on the street.

I’ve lived an extremely privileged life, I’ve been very lucky to have been raised in an affluent suburb, with a private education and a childhood in which I’ve never had to want for anything. On top of this, I am also a straight, white male. I’m incredibly lucky and live in a society catered to me. I’ve never experienced prejudice, racism or been made to feel unwelcome in my own country. I’m incredibly lucky and I know this, which is why I vote to help those who aren’t.

I vote for the Green Party because I refuse to believe that poverty, homelessness and children dying from respiratory diseases because of moldy homes is something that is just part of the status quo. I personally believe that, regardless of a person’s political leanings, they too believe this. No one would want a person to live in poverty but it’s happening and we can’t face this problem having an out of sight, out of mind perspective.

In New Zealand, there are around 622,000 people living in poverty. That’s one in seven households. Around 230,000 of them are children. 622,000 people who don’t have access to proper housing, food or healthcare. People struggling with poverty need our help and we must do more to help them. The system that is in place now is one filled with flaws. Benefits aren’t enough for a family to live on and the resources to help those who desperately need it are stretched critically thin.

Living in poverty is aligned with much prejudice, most commonly that those who are struggling finically must have brought it on themselves. That if they wanted to, they could get work and climb out of the hole they are in.

This is bullshit and it’s systemically rooted in our system.

International research shows time and time again that beneficiaries want to work but lack of employment opportunities, health problems and commitments to caring for their families make it near impossible.

These people are struggling; despite their best efforts, to provide for their families and they need our help.

Now, I’m aware that there will always be a disparity between those with and those without. This is part of a capitalist system and I accept that, however it’s the size of this disparity that I simply cannot accept.

I vote Green because I’m doing ok, and I know that with one tick I can help others that aren’t.

Of course, there are myriad other reasons as to why I vote the way I do. Caring for New Zealand’s environment, climate change policy, swimmable rivers, public transport initiatives, increasing our refugee quota and Te Reo Maori in schools are all extremely important to me. However, it is the state of poverty in our country I feel is most important.

Surely this is something all New Zealanders can agree on. Surely?

I believe that New Zealanders have a history of looking out for each other, and no matter how much we disagree, at the end of the day we want the best for everyone. Perhaps I’m being ignorant but I think living with any other belief is utterly devastating.

I’m not going to tell you how to vote, that is a decision you have to make for yourself and the choice you make will be incredibly important.

I’ll will, however, repeat the words of a political sign I saw that has kept coming back to me over this campaign.

If you’re doing ok, vote to help someone who isn’t.

Student Politics and Remembering the Human


By Tom Vasey

Over the past six years, I’ve seen the ugly face of students in politics across the board. Whether it’s the Evergreen College debacle, the National Union of Students in the UK seeing universities pulling out after the election of a president with anti-Semitic views, or the University of Missouri protests that resulted in a Professor of Communications being booted out for attempted forceful media suppression, there’s a lot of nastiness inherent in student politics worldwide. On the surface, this is understandable. After all, I said myself last week that we as students will ultimately have an effect upon the world we live in, and it’s never too late to start working towards change, but I feel that it’s important to talk about the potential consequences of our actions, too.

Why am I writing this? Well, the reasoning is twofold. First of all, it’s election season, both for AuSM and the New Zealand General Election. Now, whether you’re involved in this sort of thing or not, the latter is a pretty huge deal, as the policies that will affect everyone in this country will be decided upon by the parties with the most power, and even minor paradigm shifts may see the dynamics of parliament change. For that reason, yeah, you should totally go out and vote.

The second reason for this article was something I saw yesterday. When I picked up a student magazine and leafed through it, there was a two-page spread about the goals of a movement called Antifa, the worldwide anti-fascism movement. Having kept up with a lot of European and American news over the past couple of years, it was interesting to see something glorifying this movement in a magazine for students in New Zealand. Whatever this country’s flaws are, fascism certainly isn’t a huge deal here, but what concerns me is that this movement has consistently promoted and enacted property damage, assault, intimidation and other such delightful acts of destruction.

Here’s the thing; this movement comes from an understandable place. No one wants to be identified as hateful, nor should they. We all want to be good people at the end of the day, right? I’d be surprised if we didn’t all want to be good deep down, whatever the definition of good may mean to us personally.

The trouble is, Antifa, and many other political movements in this vein, are examples of good motives but terrible execution. There are a few reasons for this, but the biggest ones I can identify myself are dualistic thinking and a lack of leadership, so let’s touch on those.

Dualistic thinking is a big problem for a lot of people, but particularly for students in politics, I’ve noticed. What I mean by this is that there are many people who believe that there exist good guys and bad guys. Of course, we never see ourselves as bad guys, goodness knows. To quote my favourite author, Terry Pratchett (in Jingo):

"It was so much easier to blame it on Them. It was bleakly depressing to think that They were Us. If it was Them, then nothing was anyone's fault. If it was us, what did that make Me? After all, I'm one of Us. I must be. I've certainly never thought of myself as one of Them. No one ever thinks of themselves as one of Them. We're always one of Us. It's Them that do the bad things.”

Sadly, this is not an accurate viewpoint. If you look at the world in terms of pure good and evil, then you miss out on a lot of the nuance that exists, and it’s easy to dismiss and dehumanise your social and political opponents. This has happened to a significant degree over the last few years. If you don’t believe me, then what comes to mind when you hear the words Trump supporter?

Secondly, every major successful political movement has had the benefit of strong, capable leadership, allowing for organisation, a code of ethics that protestors are willing to follow, and cooperation with government authorities in order to keep protests and political movements legitimate. This sort of behaviour can let you sway moderates to your line of thinking, which is a big part of what made the US Civil Rights Movement so successful.

With many of these groups, and Antifa in particular, there is no leadership, or very weak leadership. In their case this has basis in the number of Anarcho-Communist members of the movement, but consequently it means that they are unable to define what is and isn’t the face of their movement. Without that, we have situations where the bike-lock attacks at UC Berkeley, the mass property destruction during the G20 riots in Hamburg, or picketing a massively outnumbered free-speech rally in Boston because CNN misreported the purpose of the rally. These are all as much the face of Antifa as any good they may be doing, which delegitimises the movement and drives moderates away. The truth is, this movement’s actions has rendered it equally morally bankrupt and hateful as those they claim to be fighting, leading to a situation in which it is difficult to justify Antifa or the alt-right.

In addition to taking a more nuanced view of the world and enacting decent leadership, in the wake of events such as Charlottesville, Boston, Berkeley, Missouri and other such protests and acts of violence, I want to give my own perspective about how we can change the world for the better. It’s going to sound like an after-school special, but I truly believe in this approach.

Quite simply, make kindness the order of the day. Be friendly towards people, be willing to hear opinions that conflict with your own, and be willing to speak your own mind, while respecting your fellow humans. Do something humanitarian, maybe even just once a year (if you’re not big on humans then the SPCA always needs volunteers). Be kind to others and remember that we are more alike than different. If everyone did this, instead of taking militant political stands, then the world would be a better place, and hateful dualistic groups would be seen for the ridiculous people they are. Through love, not blind hate, we will make the world a better place. It’s just a shame that we live in a time where it’s so difficult to see that.

Your vote is important


By Harris Dowson

The election and our opportunity to choose the future of our country is now less than two weeks away. You may think that “choosing the future of the country” with only a single vote might be going a little overboard but the reality is; that for us youth voters, our vote holds a lot of power. Youth voters usually have a pretty low turnout on polling day but still the votes of the younger generation cause political parties to scramble about, using bad memes, outdated music and generally poor attempts at relating to youth culture to secure them. So why put in all that often embarrassing effort if those votes don’t get cast on polling day?

Well it’s because those votes have the power to change the election. The youth vote (18-24 years) equates to the second largest age demographic of voters. 460,890 of us are eligible to vote, which out of the eligible 3,569,830 of the New Zealand population is no small number. However, less than two weeks out, over 150,000 of us are still yet to enrol. You may think, over 300,000 enrolled is still solid; which I suppose it is, but enrolment doesn’t guarantee a vote come the 23rd. In the 2014 election, 338,269 of us youth voters were enrolled and only 212,204 turned out on the day to cast their vote. This time around however, we’re already doing much better with youth enrolment and engagement up by 38,000 since last time. However, without youth voters actually turning up on voting day to cast an informed vote, all those new enrolments won’t mean anything.

I can understand how many young voters don’t see how one vote can make a difference – last election over 100,000 enrolled youth voters didn’t vote as they most likely thought their one vote wouldn’t change anything. In reality, 100,000 votes could have drastically changed the end result in 2014.

At the end of the day, your vote is important, no matter what you or anyone else may think. Your vote is your ability to have your say on what you want the future New Zealand to look like. Although it’s hard to look ahead sometimes, especially when the problems of the today dominate your life. This is totally understandable but the problems youth voters and AUT students face today are still incredibly relevant to this election.

If you drive a car, use public transport, care about our environment, are renting, struggling to live on a student allowance or have a student loan then you need to cast a vote in this election.

Every vote come the 23rd is important but it might be that the youth votes 24-year-olds important. We 18 to 24 year olds have a very real ability to influence the outcome of the election.  So get enrolled, if you haven’t, and if you have, pester someone who hasn’t. The future of our country will be decided on the 23rd, make sure you have your say about what kind of country you want that to be.


Suicide Awareness


By Shannel Milne

September is suicide awareness month and September 10is World Suicide Prevention Day. Although there is an entire month dedicated to suicide prevention the issue is constant. People struggle every single day and only a few speak out, but so many people don't. Recently I have come across multiple pictures of people laying out shoes all across New Zealand to represent lives lost to suicide in the past two years. A number of shoes in each picture is truly heartbreaking. The idea is a beautiful representation of each person, you can tell a lot about someone by the shoes they wear and it brings heart to an issue that is usually portrayed as a statistic when reported in the news. Each pair of shoes had an owner, a life and a struggle. And by using shoes it shows that suicide affects people from every walk of life. From trainers to high heels to boots, small and large in size, demons don’t discriminate.

For so many years struggling and suicide has been romanticized in movies and media and even considered a 'phase', and has become almost comical and people find it easy to joke about. Too easy. Something this serious shouldn't be joked about and ignored to the point that people can't ask for help. Suicide is not Millennials being dramatic. Suicide affects everyone.

Logic and Alessa Cara performed a song called 1-800-273-8255 at the VMA's, the title of the song is a suicide help line. Kesha also gave a speech encouraging people to speak out and seek the help that they need. It's steps like these and the laying out of shoes that is slowly breaking down the stigma around mental health.

Suicide is a silent killer and most people don’t realise that their friends, family or acquaintances are struggling until it's too late.

So please speak out and ask for help. Whether you call a hotline, speak to a counsellor or tell a friend, whatever works for you. There is help out there, you just need to speak out.

Here is a list of numbers to call:

Lifeline (open 24/7) - 0800 543 354

Depression Helpline (open 24/7) - 0800 111 757

Healthline (open 24/7) - 0800 611 116

Samaritans (open 24/7) - 0800 726 666

Suicide Crisis Helpline (open 24/7) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Alcohol Drug Helpline (open 24/7) - 0800 787 797. You can also text 8691 for free.



By Tom Vasey

It struck me recently that we really are living in a world that’s changing pretty rapidly. It’s kind of difficult to reconcile with human nature since as a species we’re pretty big on finding patterns where we can. That makes it easy for us to slip into a mindset that keeps us from accepting new information quite as easily. We’re living in a time when cultural impulses, technology, values, and politics are evolving and changing too quickly for us to reliably do that, especially in more powerful or tumultuous parts of the world.

I guess the reason I’m writing this is because every day I am exposed to a lot of people with minds that are shut tight (an occupational hazard of spending time online instead of making real friends). That, and it’s really impossible to imagine what technology and society will be like ten, twenty or thirty years from now. I mean, if you think about it, we’ve come a pretty long way. Now we live in an age where Google and Microsoft and Facebook are building AIs, smartphones can do more stuff than we ever thought possible, and everyone’s fighting each other in Europe and the USA over political silliness as if the world isn’t going to leave us all in the dust.

Maybe it’s my love of retrofuturism (seriously, how can you not love this?) or my recent interest in cyberpunk fiction, but I guess I’ve twigged onto the reality that the world isn’t going to stay as it is, and it’s not going to develop the way we think it will, either. If we had clairvoyance, maybe the lottery wouldn’t have jackpotted again this week.

What probably twigged me onto this line of thinking most, though, is the whole “University for the changing world” tagline that AUT uses. To a great extent, it is. One of the great things about AUT being so young is that it isn’t subject to the same inflexibility that hampers older universities, which allows it to be dynamic (and it’ll hopefully remain so, well into the future). The only issue is that that should also be a major lesson we learn as students here, too. As students, we’re a big part of the future, and our time at university is meant to prepare us for being part of that future. Some of the stuff we’re taught is only current knowledge or even outdated, but it serves to provide a foundation upon which we can build new knowledge, allowing us to adapt with the times.

However, the only way this can possibly work is if we allow it to. I’m not going to accuse people of not being open-minded, because that wouldn’t be fair and it wouldn’t be applicable here in all honesty. There are so many places in the world where the ability to think dynamically and openly is quashed, and other places (such as the aforementioned Europe and USA examples) where the stereotype of a college student is that of an infantilised creature that is desperate for validation rather than knowledge, using university as a means to put off real life for a few more years. If that’s the angle you want to look at it from, then by all means do, but I think a lot about how we can be prepared for the world yet to come.

The truth is, there really isn’t a hard-and-fast rule for predicting what the future will be like. We can’t reliably extrapolate data that well yet, and what we find super important in 2017 might not be super important in 2030, 2025, or even 2018. I mean, reflect upon the last three years or so, or even last year. Consider just how much has changed, and then imagine what’ll be different tomorrow.

That’s why we’ve got to keep our minds and our hearts open, as students. In fact, because we’re students, it’s vital that we do that. The world’s really bad at staying consistent a lot of the time, which is something of an inconvenient truth, and we’re going to be encountering the challenges of tomorrow, which means we’re going to be using the tools of tomorrow. While it’s fine to just get the grade, earn your expensive piece of paper and move into the workforce, the truth is that the only way we can have access to the tools of tomorrow is to embrace the knowledge of today and be dynamic thinkers.

What does that mean, though? Well, it means that nothing is necessarily sacrosanct. Going into university with the understanding that you don’t know everything, and that’s okay. Questioning everything is a virtue, but it requires you to question your own preconceptions and ideas, too. Remembering, too, that you’re never too old to learn something new, is more virtuous still. The idea of learning being a lifelong trip is pretty amazing and says a lot about what we are capable of as humans.

The world is an exciting place, and in spite of the ills that people are experiencing right now, the future is an incredibly fluid thing, which means that we must be, too. At the very least, we mustn’t be inflexible, because it’ll be our responsibility to carry the torch someday, in whatever capacity we choose.

So question the ideas you were brought up with, the things you believe to be true, even if in questioning them you come to accept them even more. Not everyone who comes through here will change the world to the same extent – I’m not saying that we’re all Elon Musks waiting to happen – but I believe that this flexibility will make us better, stronger, more questioning people, and that’s got value beyond just money (though people totally pay a lot of cash for creative or dynamic thinkers).

Thanks guys. I hope you have a lovely week!

Griffiths Garden


By Shannel Milne

"Your inner city backyard!"

I live outside of the city so multiple times a week I travel back and forth for work and uni. And as I am a poor student, I use the bus. I take the same route every time. Recently I have started to notice a community centre/garden located just up from Queen Street. It's called Griffiths Garden. The area is decked out with picnic tables, a small garden, and seesaws. And it is always busy! Just the other day as my bus had stopped at the traffic lights a man ran over and gave the bus driver a container of food. This random act of kindness made both my and the driver’s day. Griffiths Garden always does food drives for anyone who is hungry. I think this is SO important with Auckland's population of homeless people. The fact that Griffiths Garden is run by the community gives me hope for humanity.  Griffiths Garden can be used by anyone for activities and small functions and it’s in the heart of the city!

Griffiths Garden is a biology teaching hub that offers classes on how to make Auckland a safe city for bees, the vision was created by Sarah Smuts-Kennedy called "For the love of Bees". So if you love gardening and getting your hands dirty, or want to help out and learn a little then head over.

I can't say it enough but I love love looooove the idea of Griffiths Garden. It's the best part of my bus trip into the city.

Here are some pictures:

Up in the air?


By Harris Dowson

Only a month is left before New Zealand goes to the polls to decide on the future leadership of our country. For many however, the question of who they’ll end up casting their vote for is still up in the air.

Political debates have already begun, with Maori television kicking them off on 22 August. A myriad of debates across the political spectrum and the ever important leader debates are all set to air over the coming weeks (times of which can be found here). These will certainly help the undecided voter but a few hours of debating isn’t a long time to truly understand the parties as a whole. In our lives too, appointment viewing isn’t always easy so while helpful, debates aren’t always the best way to go.

This is why I think the best way to figure out where you lean politically is with the range of new and handy decision tools that have popped up over the last few weeks. If you haven’t seen them, a collection of websites have been developed over the past few weeks, with the help of political analysts and statisticians, that offer varying styles of questions and policy messages. These tools help show how your views and beliefs relate to each individual party and can be a major help to those who are undecided.

On the Fence

This tools works by offering you questions relating to a range of policies relevant to New Zealand, letting you move a slider to choose which way you lean. The best thing about this website is that you don’t need to pick a definitive side, politics is complicated and a definitive answer isn’t always available. You may feel slightly strong about one issue, so you can put yourself 65% towards and 45% against, allowing for a more balanced perspective of who you align best with.


Isidewith works by offering yes or no stances to questions across the political spectrum. From areas such as housing, national security, environment, etc. Isidewith; much like On the Fence, understands that a lot of these questions are much more nuanced than a simple yes or no answer, so offers a third bracket: other stances. The third bracket brings up a range of more detailed perspectives that New Zealanders have had surrounding this issue. It even has an option for you to fill out your own individual perspective, which too is added to the list of other stances to choose from.

Vote Compass

TVNZ’s election tool works on a Likert scale method of A-D, strongly disagree to strongly agree. Vote Compass has the same policy focus as other websites but also looks into party preferences and how you perceive them. From how likely you would be to vote for leaders along to your likeliness of voting for specific parties. This is good because it mixes the policy and perception of politics into one bag and offers you an overall perspective of who suits you most, along with how others in your area are feeling.


The spinoff’s version of helpful decision maker, lets you focus on what you specifically want this election to be about. The options here are all encompassing, policy, housing, environment, etc. You are then able to view all of the parties’ policies that relate to your focus, letting you save the policies into a ‘best of’ bag. You can go into your bag at any point, see how the policies you chose best even out, and align yourself to a party.

These tools are all really helpful but watching debates, news and social media feeds can be just as helpful come making an election day decision. Worst case scenario, if you’re really struggling to decide you could always just throw a party.


Please click here for a list of past articles.