It’s Groundswell time! ‘I’m so glad we found you, love being around you! We’ve tilted this blog as an ode to the Plain White T’s catchy tune to kick-off the vibes for days one, two and three of the Festival. We’re stoked with how things are tracking, this year has definitely started with a bang 💥 

Here’s what you’ve been up to: 


Creative Views: 

Meander through Red Square over the next two weeks and you’ll catch a glimpse of Creative Views. A collaboration of creativity, this pilot provides a taster of what can be achieved in vacant spaces in the Tauranga CBD. 

Colour and vibrancy put the buildings back into the spotlight whilst the spaces create a platform for creatives and the community to share their stories, messages and talents. 

Who knew empty shop fronts could be so stunning? 

Artbite: Behind the Scenes of Terminus 

This mind blowing exhibition will transport you to other worlds. With their pioneering use of virtual reality, artist Jess Johnson and designer Simon Ward, have created a mysterious universe of alien architecture populated by humanoid clones and cryptic symbols. We went to the first of two sessions at the Tauranga Art Gallery to get behind the scenes on the Tauranga version of this impactful and innovative exhibition. 

Johnson’s drawings are transformed from analogue into digital, animated by Ward and enriched with input from developer Kenny Smith and sound composer Andrew Clarke to create a virtual reality quest; a choose-your-own-adventure into the technological.

Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge – Round One: 

48 of the top management school students from around the world travelled to Tauaranga this week to compete in Waikato Universities: Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge, which is held during Groundswell. 

They are in the Bay for one week – and during each round have a crack as management consultants, solving real-life challenges facing businesses and organisations in Tauranga. 

With four people per team, from 12 universities, including students from as far as Hong Kong, Vancouver and Illinois they pitch between closed doors to judges who rank them, deciding finalists for the next rounds. 

They are tense, nail biting sessions – where the young people give it their absolute all – to access, impress and add value. 


Young Innovators Awards Finalist Workshops with Erik Hay from Weta Workshop

Erik led two three hours sessions with our 50 finalists – making monsters! 

The processes the finalists went through was fun, engaging, imaginative and most important creative. Erik set the environment up as a safe space – the best place for innovation and creativity can truly flourish – free of put downs, mistake, failure or criticism. Instead it was full of fun, learning, positive feedback and engagement. 

Through a series of 5 iterative rounds the young people developed monsters – and came up with everything from ‘Nameless’, to ‘Greg, the Magnificent’. 

Most importantly: the kids LOVED it! 

The Versatility of Creativity: How the creative process sets young people up to succeed. 

After a day with 50 teenages Erik cracked into his session with 50 teachers from InStep Schools from around the Bay. 

His talk focussed on how the creative process can be applied to almost any sector, and unpacked how the attributes that it takes to be creative in a team and often commercial environment are key to success in any arena. They are learned skills, and the most important transferable skill set for success. 

He shared the key attributes that he looks for in future employees. These are:

Enthusiastic: Come up with heaps of ideas and stay positive

Resilience: Bring energy to your ideas and bounce back

Communicative: Don’t get stuck in the mud. Reach out to others. 

Hard working: Exhaust all creative options. It doesn’t need to be 9-5, but it’s your responsibility to create something of value that is remarkable. 

Collaborative: Broaden your field of vision. Being creative is not an excuse to disregard other people’s views or feelings. Don’t play the tortured artist card. 

Tenacious: Stick to what you know is right and try not to let go. Have conviction to stick up for our ideas, but don’t be stroppy. 


Dragon’s Den TGA: The International Challenge (part of the Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge): 

This is where the rubber meets the road, and the four finalist teams, as selected by the rounds so far, pitch to eminent business leaders and experts in front of a live audience. 

Held in the brand new lecture theatre at the University of Waikato’s Tauranga Campus – the stunning facilities were put to good use, as the top contenders argued, convinced, clarified and elaborated on their strategies. 

They can question time – where they answers some clangers from the judges who did not hold back. 

This new event for Groundswell was open to the public for the first time and boy did we enjoy it! Definitely not one to miss next year!  

The Future of R&D 

This event was sold out, and I’m pretty sure a few extras managed to sneak in the back – to see heavy hitters from Tauranga’s local innovation scene lay our their key learnings in R&D and to hear about the government’s new tax breaks for investing doing more of it. 

We’ve got a guest blog just on this event here (link to the Groundswell page with the blog) for you to check out, written by one of our key sponsors Cucumber. Thanks guys! 

Also, Locus Research who hosted the event has also done one, which includes a link to the slides from the speakers (bonus)! Check theirs out here. (link to

Design Thinking Xperiment 

This year’s Design Thinking Xperiment is off to a cracking start. The teams and coaches actually started work and their up-skilling process before Groundswell event started (#extraforexperts). 

Now onto session five, with 6 happening tomorrows teams are moving through the Design Thinking Process, applying their learning, under the wise supervision of local expert design coaches to real-life challenges facing businesses and community groups across the Bay. 

We are super excited to see what they come up with. If you’re keen to check it out – their conclusion event is open to the public. Register here to hear what they have been up to.