Jump to content


6 Dec 2023

Shared experiences to connect futures

There is real power in a cup of tea or coffee.

The shared connection that emerges through the ritual of a ‘cuppa’ feels like it can transcend time and space. It is deeply woven through experiences of manaakitanga in local culture. 

Living in Aotearoa, when people come to our space we often welcome them with a cup of tea (or coffee). This is a ritual that provides an opportunity to sit together and experience a shared sense of warmth, hospitality and friendship. The ritual of preparing the cup of tea is found in many cultures. When we want to connect with our communities and to build meaningful relationships, the sharing of drink and food is fundamental. 

The conversation that can emerge over the process of the cuppa can be a useful catalyst for meaningful change. It is the process of collective sense making that emerges through the time and space set aside for conversation and connection. It happens in so many ways and in so many spaces, but if we can make time to mindfully engage in the process, and use these opportunities when at the table to have values-led conversations about things that feel important, perhaps we can connect through shared experiences to shape our collective future.

That might be a bold statement for a simple cup of tea.

As the connection grows and the conversation flows, the possibilities from that cuppa are exciting – particularly if both parties engage in the process with a goal to listen with an open mind. I’m sure if you think back, there have been amazing creative discussions that have emerged in your life over a cup of tea. 

Even the process of making tea or coffee can be a mindful moment. To engage fully in that activity, and then to allow space to enjoy it. It can feel like a luxury. Especially when we move quickly from task to task, from meeting to meeting. Or focus can be distracted. So, to make time to actually share that moment and wholly engage in conversation with the person you are with is a powerful act. 

In that time for conversation, we can be reminded of the wonder and possibility of our shared humanity, how we connect as citizens in a community, and the potential in the world that surrounds us. We can share imagination, engage in a state of play, and engage in a shared state of flow where the conversation is engaging and the time disappears. The cafe, tea house or coffee shop has long been a place of interpersonal connection, sharing of ideas, and a place of discussions and decisions.

Making time for conversations over coffee or tea can create space for deep creativity.

We can make space for a new kind of thinking and sharing – a space for collaboration, courage, creativity and imagination. A practice of exploring how we can collectively shape the world around us. But this practice takes space and crafting to develop – and our communities can assist in developing that.

When we think about creating a future that is better for everyone, a space of equity and inclusivity and connection, the conversations we can have over a cup of tea can be the catalyst for collective impact. This prioritisation of time to connect and share can be a seed for long term change. A component of a journey of system change. And while the sharing of a hot beverage is a useful frame, it could also exist in other ways – such as moments of stillness or moments of creativity.

So when thinking about how to face uncertainty, and set new intentions for the end of this year and the year ahead, we can see opportunities for a regular cup of tea as space to explore. Share in this spirit of manaakitanga in an intentional way. Allow space to connect, to share and to explore collective futures.

‘Ahakoa he iti, he pounamu’ – ‘although it is small, it is as precious as greenstone’.

This whakataukī is a reminder that small acts of care and kindness are previous. This means that the offer to share a cup of tea is a “small gesture of hospitality, but one that wields the highest respect towards others. It is a precious action of manaakitanga and a culturally accepted ritual of achieving whakanoa through the action of breaking bread together.”

Sitting together to engage in conversation over a cup of tea is a potential catalyst for change and creates a unique space for shared experiences to flow.