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Marian College student Brook Sowden talks wellbeing

What better place to start learning about wellbeing than in the classroom?

The third Positive Education Conference was held in Christchurch on April 8-9 2019 and featured a range of speakers talking about what whole school wellbeing is, and why is it important.

Building on the success of the previous two conferences - which attracted educators, counsellors, sports coaches, researchers, policy makers, parents and board members nationwide – this year's focus was less on the 'why' of wellbeing in schools and more on the 'how and what'.

Positive Education NZ conference convener and New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience (NZWIR) director Dr Lucy Hone said: “Schools no longer need to be convinced that they need to understand the dynamics and processes of what promotes and prevents wellbeing in schools, they all get that. What they seem to be asking for now is help and support with what to do – where to start and what actions to take. Each year the content of PENZ has changed, reflecting where NZ schools are on their journey with understanding and promoting hauora/wellbeing. This year’s conference was very much led by schools sharing what they’ve tried, what’s worked, what’s been hard, and how they are overcoming obstacles.”

Speakers included psychologist and television personality Nigel Latta, NZWIR founder Dr Denise Quinlan, Chris Jansen from Leadership Lab, and Geelong Grammar School vice principal Charlie Scudamore.

In the lead up to the conference, students and teachers across Christchurch were asked what wellbeing meant to them, with their responses featured in a video series.

Each video explored the pressures young people felt, what programmes were being carried out in schools and how attitudes towards mental health were changing.

Rātā Foundation chief executive Leighton Evans said the series put a spotlight on youth wellbeing.

“Hearing students tell these stories in their own words has a strong impact, you really get a sense of how wellbeing initiatives in school’s are evolving” he said.

“There are so many amazing initiatives being created by students for students to ensure wellbeing is part of their everyday lives. Taking care of your mental health is so important, now more than ever, and to have that being resonated through schools is great.”

Rātā Foundation is a primary sponsor of the conference. Mr Evans says that wellbeing aligned perfectly with the organisation’s funding priorities around education and wellbeing initiatives.

For more information go to and to view the full video series go to Rata Foundation’s community stories page