Get ready to be inspired and challenged by local and national people changing the world with their unique ideas. Our speakers for 2018 include:



Suzy Cato | MC

TEDxYouth@AvonRiver attendees will remember Suzy Cato from her iconic TV show, Suzy’s World, or more recently, from her appearance on the latest season of Dancing With The Stars. Suzy will be hosting our event to give you a blast from the past in between our forward-thinking speakers.


Nico Porteous

Nico Porteous is a 16-year-old Kiwi freeskier who came home from the 2018 Winter Olympics with a bronze medal around his neck - making him NZ's youngest ever Olympic Medalist. Nico grew up in Christchurch but moved to Perth shortly after the Christchurch earthquake, returning every winter to pursue his passion for the snow. He now spends his year going from winter to winter trying to be the best skier he can be.


Deborah Lambie

Deborah grew up embracing opportunities: she is a qualified medical doctor, former Miss New Zealand, and now an investment banker.

Deborah noticed, however, that many young people did not have access to the same opportunities she did. This led her to co-found LearnCoach, an accredited online school, where every student can learn, sit real exams and gain real qualifications.


Rosa Flanagan

Rosa is a middle distance runner who has represented Canterbury and NZ numerous times over her successful career.

As she became more focused on her athletic success, Rosa became obsessed with her weight and how much exercise she was doing. She began to eat less and train more. Unbeknown to her, this did serious damage to her body which she is now having to overcome.

Rosa is now excited to help people understand the importance of making health and wellbeing a priority, whether male or female, athlete or non-athlete.


E Wen Wong

Year 11 Student E Wen is a passionate environmental advocator and founder of plastic pollution organisation, P.S. Our Beaches.

She was a recipient of one of this year’s New Zealand Youth Awards and in the past two years, has initiated litter audits, awareness posts on sustainability initiatives and interviews with the Department of Conservation and UNESCO to raise the profile of the beach pollution issue. The Burnside High School student is also a UN Youth High School Ambassador and volunteer with 350 Aotearoa.

Graci Profile Photo.jpg

Graci Kim Cribbens

Graci is a New Zealand diplomat, writer, and social entrepreneur. Her career in the Foreign Service has taken her from negotiating wine trade agreements in South America to walking down the red carpet in Beijing, to representing New Zealand at the WTO in Geneva. Following stints in Taiwan and China, she is currently based in Aotearoa with her husband and imaginary dog. Graci writes Young Adult novels about magic and family under the name Graci Kim and has founded three start-ups in the creative tech space, including producing and hosting the online cooking show “Graci in the Kitchen”. A proud Kowi (Korean-Kiwi) raised in West Auckland, Graci is passionate about #ownvoices storytelling, youth empowerment, lifelong learning, and hacking the way to living our best lives.


Shanna Moe

Shanna is 11 years old and loves to read Harry Potter and think about what the future will be like. She was born in London and lived in Tokyo and Sydney before moving to New Zealand 3 years ago. She will be sharing, “What adults forget when they grow up”.


Jacob Anderson

Jacob is the Environmental Programme Manager for the Sir Peter Blake Trust and a PhD student at the University of Otago. He is a Sir Robin Irvine Scholar and has participated in five scientific expeditions to Antarctica studying past Antarctic climate and ice sheet behaviour. At the Sir Peter Blake Trust, he manages environmental education programmes and has participated in Young Blake Expeditions to the Kermadec Islands and the Sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands, where he led the science communication and outreach on board.

Screen Shot 2018-10-14 at 8.04.12 PM.png

Jaye Pukepuke

Previously a member of the Warriors, New Zealand Maori, and New Zealand rugby league teams, Jaye Pukepuke is now the founder and director of the successful alternative education programme 'Bros for Change'.

With his experiences working with young people Jaye has successfully developed a programme for helping young people labeled as problematic and dysfunctional to learn valuable skills and set realistic goals for the future.