Keynote Speakers

We are delighted to announce we have secured a number of well-known and engaging speakers:

Stress is not a threat to avoid but a challenge to embrace - with Dr Paul  Wood - ACE New Zealand

Dr Paul Wood

As an 18 year-old, Dr Paul Wood was completely off the rails. He wasn’t coping with the impending death of his mother, he was dependent on drugs, and was an unemployed high-school dropout who was committing crimes to feed his habit.

Two days after his mother died he lost control when his then drug dealer attempted to sexually assault him. Paul was convicted of murder for this offence and then spent more than a decade in some of New Zealand’s toughest prisons. During this period Paul became the first person in New Zealand’s history to progress through undergraduate and Masters degrees while in prison. He was also the first person to begin a Doctorate while incarcerated. Paul’s educational pursuits dovetailed with a journey of personal exploration and change, both of which gave him a profound understanding of the ingredients required to successfully strive towards our potential, deal with the challenges of change, and build the mental toughness and resilience necessary to flourish in adversity.

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Masterchef winners Karena and Kasey Bird's encounter with Ed Sheeran | New  Zealand Woman's Weekly

Karena & Kasey Bird

Karena and Kasey were brought up in the small Bay of Plenty coastal village of Maketu with a population of just over 900 people. It was there they learned the values of fresh produce and celebrated traditional Maori recipes that take advantage of nature’s bounty. Life was simple but full. During their teenage years they developed a love of food and eating, saving their modest allowances to spend weekends in Auckland dining at the latest hot spots.

In 2008 following school the sisters went their separate ways, Kasey to Melbourne and Karena to Wellington, the culinary meccas cementing their appreciation of good food. On returning to Maketu the sisters perfected their cooking style. Importantly, they entered Masterchef with a study and practice plan to fill in the gaps in their culinary knowledge and skill base. The challenge became a family affair with dad providing words of caution helping the sisters realise they would have to make sure their odyssey was worth it. Meanwhile mum encouraged their enterprise, buying kitchen equipment and washing the piles of dishes resulting from the culinary quest.

The Masterchef victory, the first for a duo anywhere in the world, was to change their lives. Their love of creating delicious food based on their unique Maori heritage has seen the sisters establish themselves as award-winning book publishers, authors and television hosts