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Futures Online: Thinking Beyond the 21st Century

Futures Online is a catalyst for Participatory Futures Thinking (PFT).

Below are interviews with a diverse group of New Zealanders containing insights on how to build a sustainable future.

Educators and students can use these videos to spark further discussion about the potential for change and what they would like to see happen between now and 2065.




- Macolm Menzies & Graeme Baumgart



Taster Video - A 6-minute mash-up of some of the videos
Alan Bollard, Executive Director, APEC Secretariat
Jonathon Boston, Professor of Public Policy, VUW
Rick Boven, Director, Stakeholder Strategies
Brent Edwards, Director of News Gathering, RNZ
Rawinia Higgins, Professor of Maori Studies & Vice-Chancellor Maori Research, VUW
John Hinchcliff, President, Peace Foundation
Guy Ryan, CEO, Inspiring Stories
School Groups - WHS Girls
School Groups - WHS Boys

You can send your thoughts and feedback to us here.

What is Futures Online?

Why now?

What questions have we asked?

Video presenters

Who are we?


What is Futures Online?

As much as we may remember or dream about the past, or revise our interpretations of it, the past is not something we can truly influence.

The future is different

It is in our power to create the future we want to both enjoy and pass on to following generations. Many developments affecting our population, infrastructure, economic base or the physical environment, are extremely long-term processes. It's important to set off on the right path. As with climate change, to find out in forty or fifty years that we have taken the wrong turn could be disastrous.

PFT approaches reduce the chances of wrong turns, and increase the likelihood that people alive in 2065 will enjoy a sustainable future.

Futures Online aims to promote PFT in New Zealand. 

Why Now?

Beginning in 2015 New Zealanders have been thinking a lot about the First World War, even though it happened outside living memory.  Events that are long-past have again been brought back into the present.  

There has been a huge amount of change since 1915, but some things remain the same and would be recognised by those who were alive a hundred years ago. Then, penicillin and mass air travel were far in the future, but some of us still live in houses that were built before ANZAC troops landed at Gallipoli. 

The same contradiction will apply to the rest of the 21st century.  Change will continue apace, but for people 50 years hence looking back to our present, some things will still be familiar.  The past, present and future are tightly interwoven.

Citizens of 2065 will have an advantage over us - they will know what has happened between now and then.  But they will not be able to change the past in the way that we still have influence over the future.  What will they want from us?

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What questions have we asked?

Futures Online imagines ourselves in the shoes of the people of 2065, looking back at what they will want us to have done to build and protect for them a thriving society, economy, and environment.  Will our actions match their expectations?

Each interview follows a unique course, but the key themes or questions have been:

  • What major changes have you seen in your field or are you aware of over the last 40-50 years?  What developments are likely or possible in the foreseeable future?  What sort of “wild cards” might change the game completely?

  • What do you think New Zealanders need to do in the next 50 years to ensure a thriving, sustainable future for the benefit of those who will be alive in 2065?

  • What sort of institutions and leadership (local, national and international) will be needed to make these things happen?

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Video presenters

Graeme Baumgart has recently retired from a career in education, involving secondary teaching and educational administration in New Zealand, the Republic of Maldives and Singapore.  He is Ian Baumgart's youngest son.

Alan Bollard is the Executive Director of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Secretariat.  He has previously been the Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Secretary to the Treasury and head of the Commerce Commission. He has edited or written a number of publications about economic reform in New Zealand.

Jonathan Boston is a Professor of Public Policy at the School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington. He has published widely in the fields of public management, tertiary education, social policy, comparative government, New Zealand politics and climate change policy and has served as Co-Chair of the Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty.

Rick Boven is a professional strategist and management consultant spanning commercial, economic, social and environmental issues. He is formerly Director of the New Zealand Institute, a non-partisan think tank with aims to improve long term economic, social and environmental outcomes for New Zealand

Brent Edwards is director of news gathering at Radio New Zealand (RNZ).  He was previously Political Editor at RNZ, has convened the EPMU Print and Media Council and acted as New Zealand's representative with the International Federation of Journalists

Rawinia Higgins is Professor of Māori Studies and Assistant Vice Chancellor Māori Research at Victoria University of Wellington.  Of Tūhoe descent, she has written Māori material for Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, is a member of the Waitangi Tribunal, and is on the board of Te Māngai Pāho, the Māori Broadcast Funding Agency.

 John Hinchcliff was a director, president and vice-chancellor of the Auckland Institute and University of Technology from 1984 to 2004. He also has a long history of national and international involvement in Peace issues.  Locally he has served on community and school boards, Rotary and the Auckland City Council.

Malcolm Menzies was chair of the New Zealand Futures Trust between 1996 and 2001, and co-editor of Future Times in 2002-03.  He has been a manager of knowledge transfer from Universities, and is currently a Team Leader at Superu, aka Families Commission.

Guy Ryan is Founder and CEO of Inspiring Stories, which is growing a movement of young New Zealanders who can, and will change the world.  He was recognised as the 2015 Young New Zealander of the Year Award for his leadership and contribution to youth development in New Zealand.

School Groups 1 and 2: The school groups are made up of ten 2015 year 12 and 13 geography students from Wellington High School.

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Who are we?

Futures Online has been made possible by a bequest made to The New Zealand Futures Trust by Ian Baumgart, who died in 2013.  Ian was New Zealand’s first Commissioner for the Environment and a committed futures thinker.

Futures Online is a partnership between the Futures Trust and the Institute of Governance and Policy Studies.  We have more interviews in mind and hope the project will continue to grow.

The videos were made by Jared Gray and the interviewer was Malcolm Menzies, who was co-editor of a book version of Futures Online (Our Country: Our Choices; he tumanako mo te tau rua mano rua tekau) published in 1997.  We’ve come a long way since then!

Our special thanks to: All the interviewees; the Baumgart family; Steven Arnold and Yvonne Curtis of the New Zealand Futures Trust; Annie Ferguson and Mark Lapsley; Henry Hollis from Wellington High School; and Associate Professor Michael Macaulay of the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies.


Ministry of Transport Futures



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