7 July 2022
Poetry elevates a powerful voice
As part of our process of engagement, we invited Wellington-based poet and writer Emma Sidnam to present two spoken word poems based on the priority questions of the Review.
Emma, who is also a fifth-year law and literature student, selected two issues to explore through spoken word.
“Local councils do amazing mahi for local communities, and that’s what I’m all about. I want to bring people together and help communities feel represented,” says Emma.
Nō Tāmaki Makaurau ahau
Representation is the focus of her poem Nō Tāmaki Makaurau ahau. As a fourth-generation Chinese New Zealander on her father’s side and Malaysian-Chinese on her mother’s side, Emma asks “what about those that fall in between?”
From the forms we all fill in that limit our cultural identity to the ‘mainstream’ options and the attitude that Auckland’s diversity stops it from being considered as ‘real’ New Zealand, Emma holds to account the misconceptions that leave so many people feeling unseen.
A self-confessed ‘huge advocate’ for representation, Emma says she’d love to see a more empathetic Aotearoa.
‘“Everybody deserves to feel seen. I strongly believe we need to see art showing different ethnicities, sexualities, genders, abilities, religions and body types. I make art because I have to, because I love it, but I also hope that by adding my voice I’m helping somebody feel seen.”
“I love having the opportunity to reach people through my writing. If even one person feels seen by my poetry, I feel like I’ve succeeded.”’ — Emma Sidnam
Dear future daughter
Emma’s second poem, Dear future daughter, focuses on the effects of climate change that will be the legacy we create for the next generation. This letter from the poet to an imagined future daughter apologises for the difference between Emma’s own world, where in her childhood she “could stand barefoot in the grass at dusk, feel soft mud oozing through the gaps in my toes, Papatūānuku pregnant with the odour of dirt,” and laments “how easily we let nature disappear in our hands."
‘“Eventually, the earth that birthed us needed us to save her and we failed.”’ — Emma Sidnam
Emma issues a warning that we must move now to reduce the impacts of climate change; a concern shared by youth via Get Vocal in Your Local submissions who urge councils to take greater responsibility to care for the environment.
How Emma’s words are making an impact
Emma’s bold and confronting discussion of representation in Nō Tāmaki Makaurau ahau and her haunting warning regarding climate change in Dear Future Daughter will be used to extend our discussion and thinking in preparation for the draft report. It is our genuine hope that these poems inspire conversations around representation and climate change in the local government space.
Where to next for Emma
Emma is currently revising her debut novel, which presents her family heritage and racial identity, as well as preparing for a year-long exchange in France and Colombia to finesse her French and Spanish language skills. If you’d like to connect with Emma, you can find her on Facebook at Emma Sidnam – Performance Poet and Writer and on Instagram @emmasidnam.
28 Sep 2022
The voice of rangatahi: Get Vocal in Your Local
Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete our Get Vocal in Your Local digital tool. Submissions on the tool are closed and we've been analysing the results to help shape the Review’s recommendations in the draft report. These are the high-level findings from the tool.
2 Sep 2022
A new due date for our draft report
Our draft report is now due to the Minister of Local Government on 28 October 2022.
From its release, we will be encouraging people to read the report and take the opportunity to provide submissions to be considered towards our final report, which is now due in June 2023.
21 Jul 2022
Media release: Bold changes signalled for local government
Attendees of the Local Government Conference in Palmerston North were given a glimpse of the thinking into the future for local government today. The independent review panel members, Jim Palmer (chair) and Penny Hulse shared the key issues that will be included in the Panel’s draft report due for release in mid-October.