By Paul Bradley
Creative Waikato OG from 2012 – 2022
My journey with Creative Waikato began over nine years ago, when our organisation was a new baby. We had huge dreams and clear values from day one. We wanted to see a Waikato bursting at the seams with creativity. For us this was people being proud, supporting meaning making and sharing and celebrating identity. We wanted everyone to have a voice. We held a deep understanding that creativity (in all its infinite guises) is where humanity shines.
All of our work since has held these aspirations at its core. Our work is love in action.
Over nine years later it fills me with joy to see how far we have come. Dreams are becoming reality. New dreams are being born. We have far to go, but we are also right here with you, right now.
A whakatauki I hear a lot in Waikato is He aha te mea nui o te ao, he tangata he tangata he tangata. What is the most important thing in the world, it is the people, the people, the people.
Creative Waikato isn’t just a team. These people aren’t just my workmates. We’re family. We have laughed together (every damn day), we have cried together, we have celebrated, and sometimes clashed – as families do – worked it out together, and then become stronger for it. The support for each other has been unconditional. We don’t leave our humanity at the door, because our humanity is our greatest asset.
I have also had the privilege of working with arts people all over our vast region. The range of folks I have encountered has been endlessly fascinating. It’s no exaggeration to say that their brave and tireless work is life changing. Their work binds communities together, it’s a bridge of understanding, it uplifts our spirits, gives us hope, and it gives us places to grow.
My work over the years has involved knowing when to encourage bravery. Sometimes people are looking for the right push towards what they already know they must do.
David Bowie said “Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”
The time has come for me to find that next exciting place, just out of my depth, my heart racing.
This is not a goodbye letter. While you won’t find me at Creative Waikato, I’ll still be working alongside you. In many ways I will be continuing the same mission, working towards the same dreams. Most likely with my sunhat on, a paintbrush in my hand, high up on a scissor lift.
To everyone I have worked with through my Creative Waikato role, I offer you a deep bow of appreciation. I bow to your creativity, your courage, and your dreams. Whether you know it or not, you have all given me great gifts. Through you, I have learnt more about myself than I could have imagined. Your work has inspired me with a loud and clear message: a deeply connected and highly inspired world isn’t just possible, it’s inevitable.