The 20th biennial NZSA conference brought 150 delegates to sunny Tauranga from the 20th to the 23rd of November. The theme ‘Beyond the Possible’ encouraged both delegates and presenters to stretch their thinking resulting in papers of a high calibre and insightful conversation throughout the conference. The organising committee put together a full and varied programme, balancing technical papers with highly relevant external speakers.
Following a successful AGM on Sunday afternoon, the conference was opened by Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller who shared his thoughts on what Beyond the Possible might mean for New Zealand over the coming years. Tony Alexander, Chief Economist at BNZ, kicked off on Monday morning with a very engaging plenary session on the state of the NZ economy, highlighting his thoughts on the key influencing factors for NZ’s economic growth over the coming years. He also discussed the continued failure of quantitative economic models in a post GFC world. Andrew Patterson’s presentation was very much ‘to theme’ as he shared examples of global technological advances, particularly in relation to robotics and the amazing ways they are being utilised around the world.
Monday evening saw us make the journey from Tauranga to Matamata for the social evening at Hobbiton, sponsored by Taylor Fry. We began our evening with a tour of the film set and drinks in the Green Dragon, followed by a buffet dinner in Bilbo’s party tent. You would be forgiven for thinking that Frodo and his fellowship had come to join the party, but on second glance would have recognised the Conference Committee and some lucky (or unlucky!) Council members in full Hobbit regalia!
Tuesday morning began with a lively presentation from Maggie Eyre who had us all up on our feet learning a few tricks to successful public speaking. We reconvened after the day’s concurrent sessions to hear from Mike Allsop who shared his approach to setting and achieving goals which, among other achievements, enabled him to climb Mt Everest. The delegates then went their separate ways for their chosen recreational activities which included blokarting, white water rafting and golf.
Despite a distinct lack of wind, the blokarting group did manage to get in half an hour sailing round the course, with only one person “capsizing” their cart.
Proving what an adventurous bunch our members are, the white water rafting was the most popular activity with almost thirty delegates braving the rapids. The rafters came back buzzing after their exploits on the water which included navigating rapids and drops, culminating in a plummet down a 6m waterfall. Their wild ride only resulted in one accidental swim with others voluntarily having a quick dip before heading home to spruce up for the GenRe sponsored gala dinner.
The gala dinner at Mills Reef vineyard was a night filled with delicious food and wine, and of course plenty of music and dancing. Recent achievements were also celebrated including William White’s recent award from the Institute of Actuaries, new Fellows admitted since the 2014 conference and the victory of the Auckland team captained by Darren Fleming in the recent Great Debate.
The conference closed with presentations from Grant Spencer, Deputy Governor and Head of Financial Stability at the RBNZ, and Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell. Grant shared his observations about some of the key issues currently facing the insurance industry in NZ while the key take home message from Diane was that we, as individuals, need to do all we can to encourage greater financial awareness and capability in NZ.
Thank you to everyone who attended the conference and to employers for supporting attendance – it was a great turnout and made the conference all the more stimulating and engaging. Many thanks also to all of the sponsors, without whom the conference would not have been possible.
We look forward to seeing you in 2018!