Our 2024 Speakers and Performers are here!

We have an incredible line-up of individuals who defied the odds and took the leap for the betterment of humanity.
From reimagining spaces and places for communities to thrive – to innovative marine biology conservation – to the inspiring story behind the world’s most beloved umbrella, and so much more – this year’s premier event will have you inspired, connected, and thought-provoked.

Kia ora to our Speakers & Performers of 2024!



Dr. Shelley Brunskill-Matson

Dr Shelley Brunskill-Matson is suicide-postvention researcher, educator and practitioner with over 20 years experience supporting those affected by suicide. Shelley cares deeply that people affected by suicide receive the care and support that’s right for them. She recently completed a PhD to further inform her work with children. Shelley’s research explored the care and support experiences of children aged 6 to 13 years, following the suicide of someone close to them. Her research identified the critical role of mattering, in care and support. Shelley believes that this new knowledge has the potential to transform the way children affected by suicide are cared for and supported.


Jake Dylan Nash

Jake Nash is an Architectural Technologist, and the Group Digital Support Lead at Warren and Mahoney Architects, boasting 13 years of dedicated service to the firm. He spearheads digital innovation, integrating novel concepts, workflows, and technology across seven studios in New Zealand and Australia, benefiting a team of 350 amazing creatives. With a fervour for education and empowering individuals to harness their architectural zeal, Jake’s current focus involves delving into data, analytics, Artificial Intelligence, and pioneering digital strategies to shape the future of the AEC sector.


Rachel Thomas

Rachel Thomas is originally from Katikati and has been a Wellingtonian since 2016, where she works as a senior health journalist at The Post. When she isn’t doing that she is riding motorbikes, spending time in or around the sea or wandering the aisles of Bunnings Warehouse. At the age of 16 she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, then at the age of 28 underwent major surgery which left her with a ‘barbie butt’. Rachel will be delving into her semi-colon story, the intricacies of serious inflammatory bowel disease and invisible illness and explain why a bag on her stomach opened up a world of confidence she never thought was possible.


Kii Small

Kii Small is a creative entrepreneur behind the works of SaySo Project, a digital journaling platform for young people in Aotearoa who lack access to mental health and wellbeing services due to their location or other factors beyond their control. Kii was selected as 1 of 3 Obama Leaders to represent Aotearoa in the 2023 Obama Foundation Leaders Alumni. Kii’s work on SaySo revolutionised the way wellbeing and tech collided in New Zealand by offering youth a safe space to start, curate, and create their own journal safely and securely during Covid-19. He is also the co-founder of Coalesce based in Wellington.


Bex Howells

Bex is a community activist and advocate for paid training in healthcare, education, and social work. Originally from the UK, she moved to Aotearoa 10 years ago to study and stayed. Bex has worked in the public sector and her local community, Te Awakairangi (Hutt Valley). A failed attempt to train as a social worker became the catalyst to advocate for labour rights and equity in education and training.

Bex is now writing her Master’s thesis on unpaid clinical placements in healthcare professions. She founded Paid Placements Aotearoa alongside this to unite students to campaign for paid training in essential services. Her passion is sustainable workforce development for student wellbeing, diversity of staff, and accessible services for thriving communities.


Apera Woodfine

With over a decade of experience producing and performing music internationally and a background of Te Reo Māori immersion, Aotearoa based kaiwaiata Āpera Woodfine extends a warm invitation to cast away fears of mispronouncing our Māori place names and brings to the table a fun and innovative approach to pronunciation through the magic of music. 


Greig Brebner

Greig Brebner, a constantly curious character, grew up with his dad’s workshop as his playground, the perfect stage to invent, build and tinker. He dreamed of one day creating a ground-breaking product, the very best of its kind that people around the world would love. Greig firmly believes that makers and creators of products have a deep responsibility for the products they bring into the world that extends far beyond the purchase transaction. With the right design, the right materials and the right after sales care, people can have much healthier, deeper and longer lasting relationships with the products they own.

Today, Greig is best known as founder and inventor of BLUNT, a beloved brand stretching to all corners of the globe. When he isn’t ideating new product designs he is playing on the water or working the land at his northern Auckland property.


Ash Holwell

Ash [they/them] is a pioneering design activist dedicated to radically changing our relationship to space and place. Through a meandering and rigorous series of experiments, including squatting, professional dumpster diving, going to clown school, commandeering a church, running for mayor, and managing a commercial property portfolio, they have developed a practice of creating transformational community spaces.Their mission is to cultivate environments that nurture cultures of sharing, empowering individuals to safely develop the bold practices needed to create a just and sustainable world. Ash’s work embodies a commitment to creating places of community that resonate with both our ancestral wisdom and the aspirations of future generations.



Dr. Nicole Miller

Dr. Nicole Miller is a well-known citizen science leader with a special interest in marine ecosystems. She works with community groups across New Zealand to document, restore and protect the marine environment. As the founder of Explore Your Coast Nicole is passionate about bringing New Zealand’s underwater world above the surface, inspiring people to engage with their local marine environment. Nicole is Chair of the Friends of Taputeranga Marine Reserve Charitable Trust and a member of the Green Gravel Action Group, an international network of seaweed restoration experts.


Telesia Tanoa’i

Telesia Tanoa’i is a Samoan New Zealander with an international view of the world. As the daughter of a diplomat, she has spent her childhood in Taiwan, Fiji, and New Zealand. She is a year 12 student at Wellington’s Samuel Marsden Collegiate, where she is the Māori/Pasifika representative on the Head Girls’ Committee. For Telesia, the issue she cares about the most, and the one she considers to be critical for her generation is climate justice.

Telesia’s film “Telesia 2 the World” has so far been selected for four Film Festivals in the US, UK and New Zealand, including Māoriland Film Festival. For the last three years, Telesia has been a facilitator for the “Pasifika Youth Short Film Competition,” run by social entreprise Poporazzi Productions, where she helps Pasifika youth to tell their stories through film.



Jesse Armstrong

Jesse is the co-founder and CEO of VAKA, an education company on a mission to ignite the next wave of STEAM entrepreneurs by teaching people how to make money from 3D printing. He is of Māori and New Zealand European descent with whakapapa to Ngāti Hine and Waikato. He frequently draws inspiration from learning about powerful examples of ancient innovation through the lens of his ancestors and hopes to instil this spirit of innovation in the hearts of many young Māori & Pasifika youth. He is passionate when it comes to working with people of all ages and backgrounds in the pursuit of guiding them into the wonderful world of entrepreneurship, through the use of 3D printing.


Get your tickets here: TEDxWellington – Take the Leap