Finn Boyle’s Story
“Whatatrip! I learnt so much about water conservation and the efforts to save our wildlife. Not only
that, I also learnt more about myself. Dealing with group dynamics, stress and the weight of people
relying on yo combined to make the WaterWise program one of the funnest and most educational experiences of my life. I will always remember the things I learnt and the people I met on the trip.”
- Me at the tender age of 17 – June 2012
I wrote this little reflection soon after I went through an intense transformational process. That process was the WaterWise program in the Waitaki River catchment in North Otago run by Untouched World Foundation (UWF). Seventeen-year-old me was right; I do remember the things I learnt and the people I met to this day, 7 years and many iterations of myself later.
That experience was a turning point, indeed a catalyst, in transforming me into the person I’m proud to be today.
I have reflected on those experiences many times over the years and the theme that always surfaces is Kaitiakitanga. That first WaterWise program filled me with such an empowering sense of kaitiakitanga that to this day I hold close a sense of responsibility to guard the beautiful, enriching world around me – to speak for that which has no voice.
2017 – Our paths cross again.
In a turning of the wheel of fate, or perhaps that of karma, I was once again a part of an UWF program. At this point, twenty-two-year-old me was a 2nd year student in Food Design at Otago Polytechnic. This time I had been sought out as someone with skills in hospitality and a passion for sustainability.
In the 5 years passed I had been following my nose down the pathway of Kaitiakitanga and sustainability and I was beginning to find my feet firmly grounded on that path.
So, when asked to be on the Canterbury WaterWise programme in May 2017 I jumped at the chance. I would be acting as a tertiary leader, facilitating the group of younger students and I would be coordinating the food for the week. I couldn’t wait to share my passion for food and to help catalyse that shift in mindset and empowerment that I had experienced myself years earlier.
“I took it upon myself to incorporate the essence of the WaterWise program into the menu. I wanted to use food as a medium to communicate holistic sustainability and demonstrate leadership by illuminating alternative foods that do not rely on the exploitive industries that we would be studying. I hoped that doing this would empower some campmates to explore these alternatives in their personal lives and disseminate these ideas in their communities.”
- from a reflection written in June 2017
Food had become my world, and my work. I’d come to a place of deep connection with the food I eat and I held a deep-set belief that our food systems are the key to changing, and saving, the world. The things on my plate were now so much more than just flavours and nutrition. Now, each ingredient was a story about a farmer and each morsel had a measurable impact on ecological wellbeing and, of course, water usage.
2019 – To this day.
I’m in deep now. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been a part of a handful of UWF programmes including Waterwise Otago, Oruawairua (Blumine Island) and an advanced leadership programme in the Matukituki Valley. With every step I’m building a better sense of my personal leadership style, honing my passions and skills into meaningful tools for contributing to the transformation of many young lives and the planet & society we share and cultivate together.