CreativeMornings/AKL reflections:

Everyone is creative. Everyone is welcome.

This is the first & final line in the CreativeMornings manifesto. And one I still truly stand by since the Auckland Chapter started in 2011.

From the early days of following SwissMiss (Tina Roth Eisenberg, founder of CreativeMornings) on Twitter, to the seed of an idea of bringing the CreativeMornings concept to New Zealand, pulling a makeshift team of talented volunteers together, skyping Tina & Kevin (The Original CMHQ team) and having them trust us with their baby as the 10th official chapter worldwide!

Now, 5+ years on, 180+ chapters worldwide and 60+ CreativeMornings/ Auckland (CM/AKL) events later. I’m stepping back from co-hosting & co-organising CM/AKL, but will always remain a part of this creative community. A community that is kind, that is generous, that is diverse & inclusive, that is extraordinarily creative and that, for a long time, felt like an extended family.

Over the years, there has been so many highlights and I’ve learnt so much from the speakers and the community alike, so thought I would take this time to share some key reflections:

  • Right from day one, I was constantly overwhelmed by the generosity & creativity of CM/AKL speakers, our partners, our team and of course our community!
  • If you create a safe, welcoming environment, amazing stories of failure, triumph and everything in between are shared, embraced and celebrated.
  • Hugs are a great way to greet people first thing in the morning!
  • On that note, not everyone is a morning person (even if they turn up that early) so a note to myself: respect personal space in the A.M.
  • Always humbled by the people we’ve met along the way, and their professional stories and personal perspectives shared.
  • CreativeMornings truly is a global community of interesting people who are always interested. I experienced this first hand at the  CreativeMornings Summit in 2016.
  • Trust, delegate and let go… As a self-confessed control freak, I found this particularly challenging, but it was the only way for CM/AKL to grow and flourish.
  • Last but not least, I’m immensely grateful to everyone that has trusted us and been on this creative community journey with us over the years… esp. the amazing team at CreativeMornings/HQ & esp. “mama bear” Tina.

Thanks to all the speakers that have shared their creative journeys with us, the ups, the downs and the lessons learnt along the way.

Thanks to all the partners that have generously supported us over the years, we really appreciate your financial, in-kind and in-person support.

Thanks to all the volunteers that have been part of the team over the years, we couldn’t have done it without you!

Thanks to our community of for registering so promptly, for showing up so early in the morning, for being curious, kind and no doubt creative.

And of course a huge THANK YOU to my wonderful co-host and friend Kaan Hiini. From photographer, to videographer, to co-host/organiser and every other unofficial role in between. I truly couldn’t have done it without you, and I know CM/AKL would not be the same if it wasn’t for your care, creativity and leadership. So again (without *tears* this time ;)) I would like to express my deep gratitude to you, for helping me grow, nurture and cultivate the CM/AKL community to what it is today. Thank you Kaan.

As we step back and handover the reigns and responsibilities to the new hosts of CM/AKL — Sarah Longbottom & Molly Parker, who both have a proven track record of putting on extraordinary creative experiences. I am equal parts: excited and jealous. Excited by all the amazing new ideas, energy and creativity they’ll bring to each event, and a little bit jealous about the wonderful convening of creative minds in our community who get to experience this every month.

I wish you both all the very best of luck (not that you’ll need it) but we’ll be waving from the sidelines, cheering you on as your number one cheerleaders, supporting the team as your biggest fans and creative advisors if/when you do ever need us. At the end of the day, CreativeMornings truly is a labour of love.

So this is not good-bye, more of a see-ya later with a different hat. And with that, I thought I’d leave you with the CreativeMornings manifesto:

Everyone is creative.A creative life requires bravery and action, honesty and hard work. We are here to support you, celebrate with you, and encourage you to make the things you love.We believe in the power of community. We believe in giving a damn. We believe in face-to-face connections, in learning from others, in hugs and high-fives.We bring together people who are driven by passion and purpose, confident that they will inspire one another, and inspire change in neighborhoods and cities around the world.Everyone is welcome.

Hugs & high-fives all round!
Jade Tang-Taylor :)xo
This blog was originally posted in my Medium (with a few more photos too!)

CreativeMornings with Johnson Witehira
Friday 29 September, 8.00am-9.30am
Studio One Toi Tū

Compassion is a pause button that reminds us of a fundamental truth: we’re all stumbling and nobody has it figured out. The best part about compassion is that it’s a learned trait—unlike your height or eye color—and the more we practice accepting others the sooner the easier it becomes to accept ourselves.

When this is at the forefront of our minds, we give people a chance to show up and be seen. When in doubt, the answer is compassion. It’s something that is essential in graphic design, and something our speaker for this month, Johnson Witehira, has been investigating and practising himself.

At High School Johnson dreamed of being a video game designer. At the time though this didn’t exist in New Zealand’s education system. So, with a love of art and computers He ended up studying the next best thing, graphic design. Typography. Grids. The Bauhaus. It was all so new and exciting. Yet, for some reason it also felt wrong. Why? Graphic design has its roots in Europe in America. What does it have to do with being Maori, being Pākehā or being a New Zealander?

In search of answers, Johnson went on to complete a Masters in Graphic Design (2007) and a Doctorate in Maori Visual Art (2013). A the same time, his many art and design projects, which have been profiled by Monocle Magazine, Novum and AIGA, are responses to the challenge of how we might develop unique approaches to art and design here in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Join us on Friday 29 September at Studio One Toi Tū to hear about Johnson’s explorations and discoveries. Registrations open on Monday 25 September at 11am.

CreativeMornings with Jeremy Hansen
August 25, 8:00am - 9:30am 
Hosted at Coffee Supreme HQ

Genius is a label, a shortcut that signifies the remarkable achievements and abilities of an individual. Thomas Edison famously quipped that genius was one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. But genius also hinges on the voices of the community, the support of the people.

If you were to unpack this centuries-old label, you might realise that the habits of a genius are already baked into your daily routines. Geniuses are exceptional at failing, learning from mistakes, and cross-pollinating insights from various domains. They’re working, not for money or fame, but because they’re compelled to pursue a particular craft or interest; they’re compelled to solve the problem, paint on the canvas, or breathe life into an idea.

Today, opportunities and resources to tame your talents and sharpen your skills abound. The real battle is less external and more internal—facing your fears, quieting your ego, enriching your mind, and dancing with failure. Perhaps Mozart got it right when he said, “Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.” Tackling this complex topic in Auckland is Jeremy Hansen, editor of Paperboy, a free Auckland-centric weekly magazine.

Jeremy grew up without television but with The Listener, and has been keen on telling stories ever since. He started his career in journalism making coffee for better-paid people on brutally early radio shifts. Since then, he’s been a feature writer in Hong Kong, a producer of RNZ National’s Morning Report, a TV arts reporter and a contributor to a bunch of different magazines.

More recently, he spent 11 years editing architecture magazine HOME, where he advocated for smart, environmentally conscious design over bloated real estate nonsense. Nowadays, he and the Paperboy team are hoping to excite readers about Auckland’s possibilities by engaging them in a conversation about the city’s future.

Join us Friday 25 August to hear Jeremy’s take on genius and what he’s learnt from his career. Registrations open Monday 21 August at 11am sharp.

CreativeMornings with Sacha Judd
Friday 21 July, 8.00am-9.30am

We imagine a world where we’re seen and heard, respected and valued, not for our appearance and privilege, but for our work and character. A world where anyone, anywhere, has equal access to opportunities and resources to become the person they dream about. A world where we make sure no one person in our communities and in our industries are treated differently or less favourably than any other.

The roadmap to to achieve that kind of equality is a work in progress, and this work won’t be achieved through one powerful instrument but through collaboration, a symphony of sounds adding richness and texture to the bigger picture.

Our speaker for July, Sacha Judd, is adding her own richness and texture to this picture.

Sacha’s first career was a corporate lawyer, where she became a partner in a national law firm and lectured at the University of Auckland. In 2015 she turned her back on the legal life, and now runs the Hoku Group, a family office combining private investments, early-stage tech ventures and a non-profit foundation.

She is the co-host of Refactor (a series of events around diversity in technology), and runs Flounders’ Club (a network for early-stage company founders). She also spends a confusing amount of time explaining why Harry Styles might be the answer to everything.

Join us on Friday 21 July at GridAKL to find out why, as we tackle the challenges involved with improving diversity and inclusion in design and technology, Sacha wants us to come back to the very first things we made and shared - and why what we love the most, even in secret, matters so much.

Tickets will be released on Monday 17 July at 11am over on our website -

We’re thrilled to announce Adobe is joining the CreativeMornings family as our Official Global Partner for Creative Tools. We’re partnering with Adobe to stretch our collective mission in connecting and empowering creative communities around the world.

Read more on our blog

CreativeMornings with Lana Lopesi
Friday 30 June
Studio One Toi Tū

The ability to overcome adversity and withstand waves of turbulent times is part of the human spirit. In our hardwiring, it is the oldest of threads that also fuels our creativity.

Stories of survival resonate because they remind us of our inherent power to adapt and change. A choice is always present, and survival is about choosing to move forward.

No one knows this more than our speaker for this month, Lana Lopesi. After attending art school, Lana quickly ditched the esteemed job title of artist to be a critic of art and culture. Lana’s writing has featured in a number of publications in print and online. She currently writes a monthly column for Design Assembly called Graphic Matters where she is also a Contributing Editor looking after the Aotearoa Design Thinking series. Lana is the Visual Arts Editor for The Pantograph Punch and was Founding Editor of #500words. Recent residencies include a research residency at RM Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand and Taipei Artist Village, Taipei, Taiwan. Upcoming projects include lei-pā: a curatorial project in collaboration with Ahilapalapa Rands at ST PAUL St Gallery, 2017 and Cold Islander a group exhibition at Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato, Hamilton, 2017.

Join us Friday 30 June at Studio One Toi Tū for a reminder that our fragility and complexity doesn’t make us weak; in fact, it makes us stronger. Tickets will be released at 11am Monday 26 June.

CreativeMornings with Joyce Campbell
Friday 25 November, 8.00am - 9.30am
The Idea Collective at MOTAT

The realm of fantasy is a space for us to imagine possibilities that seem beyond our reach. Fantastical ideas are exciting and tantalizing, especially to artists. Imagining something new and outside the constructs of the real world is liberating. It can also be used as a clever vehicle for the expression of controversial or subversive topics through allegory. And as we enter into a tumultuous and uncertain period, this approach may be needed more then ever.

Our speaker for November is someone very familiar with this technique. Joyce Campbell is an interdisciplinary artist whose work utilizes anachronistic photographic techniques such as daguerreotype and ambrotype, as well as conventional analogue and digital photography, video, film and sculpture. Using these tools, Joyce examines the collision of natural and cultural systems, and explores the play of raw perception against interpretation.

During the past 20 years, she has made projects in Antarctica, Los Angeles and her hometown, Wairoa, culminating in her nomination for this year’s Walters Prize, New Zealand’s largest contemporary art prize, for Flightdream II, a work fusing science fiction and video to reflect on people’s interaction with volatile and hostile environments in the process of transformation.

A dual citizen of the United States and New Zealand, Joyce feels the volatility of the current political moment more intensely than many of us here in New Zealand. And with a residency in California on the cards in the near future, she is fully grounded in the many issues that have been thrown up by the recent election, and wonders how to best deal with these issues. She with a questions whether the current preference for artists work to have a positive, ultimately redemptive arc is valuable. Or is it better to lean in to the darkness, and just maybe stir up a revolution?

Join us on Friday 25 November for a discussion about fantasies of the future, and what they contribute to the larger dialogue when they’re optimistic or pessimistic.

Tickets will be released on Monday 21st November at 11am. CreativeMornings are free to attend but spaces are limited. Sign up to our newsletter to receive a reminder email thirty minutes before registrations open, and create a profile to make signing up a breeze.

November is Fantasy

“Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living,” said Dr. Seuss. “It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.”The realm of fantasy is a space for us to imagine possibilities that seem beyond our reach. The bridge that connects the seemingly impossible with the possible is the greatest gift of our species: creativity. Together with Shutterstock , we’re exploring those possibilities by rallying the community to share fantasies and ideas for what it means to live #InACreativeWorld. The theme was chosen by our Lima chapter, presented globally by Shutterstock, and illustrated by Hayden Davis. This month with Shutterstock and in 157 cities around the world, we will delve into what it means to live #InACreativeWorld and how we can use creativity for the good of all. The most intriguing responses will then become illustrations that get featured here.

Get to know our Speaker: Morven McAuley

What does creativity mean to you and how does it play out in your life?
Creativity to me refers to a way of thinking and communicating. Designer Yves Behar once said “Good design accelerates the adoption of new ideas.” I strongly believe in that. Because I’m in the business of selling ideas to my clients it’s important the concept behind how I do that is appropriately creative.

What has been a truly memorable creative moment for you?
Re-designing and re-crafting my Mum’s engagement ring. My folks have been married for 52 years now. Due to arthritis in her joints, Mum hadn’t been able to wear her engagement ring for ages. Rather than resize it, she decided she might like to modernise it. She asked Dad if he would mind, he said no and was delighted that she wanted to do something new with it. I set about drawing some designs using the existing stones and gold and made her a new ring. It was pretty cool seeing a woman in her 70’s let go of the past while paying homage to it at the same time.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to unlock their creative potential?
If it’s simply a bit of mental block on an existing journey, get outside the box to think. Nature is restorative. If it’s a desire to change direction and find your creative self, find and talk to as many people as possible. It’s surprising how generous creative people are with their time if they can see you have a spark they might be able to ignite.  

Who has been a creative inspiration for you?
A lot of people but especially my Dad. We used to joke about how he was a dreamer. He’d always have some little idea boiling away in his mental pot. I think I got my ability to dream from him, along with my complete inability to stick to any one career!

How does transparency play a role in your creativity?
Transparency refines the idea. When I’m first working on something or trying to conceptualise something, it’s very murky and raw. Transparency trims, neatens up the edges, tailors the concept better and heightens the focus so I cater to the end objective - which is usually pleasing a client. 

What are you most excited about right now? 

Join us on Friday 28th of October to hear how Morven has come to experience the real meaning of transparency and why that has ultimately led her to choose a moniker that opposes it. Full details at

Photo: Emily Raftery Photography