Eric Stoller giving a keynote at the Australian New Zealand Student Services Association (ANZSSA) annual conference in Auckland, New Zealand

Reflections on the ANZSSA Conference in Auckland, New Zealand

The Australian New Zealand Student Services Association (ANZSSA) Annual Conference in Auckland, New Zealand was one of my favorite events of 2016. It took almost a year’s worth of planning and prep for me to make it to the Southern Hemisphere, but in the end, it was an epic conference in a wonderful city.

Special thanks to Alison Dow, Andrew Tui, and Jordi Austin for the opportunity to give multiple talks including a keynote at the event, a pre-conference workshop, and a special presentation for staff at the Unitec Institute of Technology.

I’ve included my slide decks for all three presentations at the end of this post.

ANZSSA Conference in Auckland, New Zealand

ANZSSA Conference in Auckland, New Zealand

ANZSSA Conference in Auckland, New Zealand

One of the most meaningful cultural and educational experiences that I’ve had in my career took place at the Te Noho Kotahitanga Marae at Unitec. The Noho Marae was an introduction and welcome to Māori language, culture, and history.

At the conclusion of the conference, I was presented with a manaia bone pendant made by Hohepa Renata. Hohepa is a lecturer at Unitec and creates magnificent works of Māori art. Jessica Aranui and Whaea Lynda Toki who led the Noho Marae (along with Hohepa) presented the manaia to me. They sang a Māori song, performed a hongi with me, and told me that the manaia would protect me on my travels.

A hongi is a traditional Māori greeting in New Zealand. It is done by pressing one’s nose and forehead (at the same time) to another person at an encounter. … In the hongi, the ha (or breath of life), is exchanged and intermingled. The breath of life can also be interpreted as the sharing of both parties’ souls.

New Zealand is a beautiful country and its residents are some of the nicest, kindest, and thoughtful people that I’ve ever met. I can’t wait to go back again to explore, learn, and catch up with my new friends.

Eric Stoller wearing a manaia from New Zealand

Here are the three slide decks from my presentations in New Zealand. The first deck is for a talk on digital identity that I gave at Unitec. The second slide deck is from a 3 hour workshop that I led on building community by way of digital engagement. And, the last slide show is from my keynote at the ANZSSA Conference at the Auckland University of Technology.

More about my work and my contact information.

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