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Living the dream: Nate Telford’s top 5 Zeal wins

After an incredible 2.8 years of living the dream with our incredible team at Zeal, it’s come time for me to say thank you and good bye, with a wedding and a very exciting opportunity opening up my world at the end of September.

I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for being such an important part of my journey with Zeal and for the contributions you have all made to our work in championing young people through creativity and offering youth employment through our Zeal Event Box. We’ve achieved some incredible things together and for that, I am eternally grateful.

In continuing on the theme of my life – you know it… ‘living the dream’, I thought I’d take a quick moment to share my favourite highlights at Zeal with you. Check out my top 5 below.

5. Festival of Noise

Convincing our team we could run a festival with $10k and one month’s prep – what an adventure! With no marketing budget, we printed 500 A3 posters on the Zeal printer and hit the streets, plastering posters outside every school on the North Shore between 11pm – 4am. Mammoth effort!

Attracting 22 artists all under the age of 22, coming together with the support of 500 supporters and fans, Festival of Noise was definitely one of the biggest ‘pull the rabbit’ out of the hat moments I’ve ever been a part of, and it birthed the start of some incredible relationships – including our videographer, Christian Tjandrawinata, who shot video for the first time at this event (look at him now), an epic band called Joe Says No (check out their full set here) who I’ve journeyed close to across the last few years, and meeting Keegan Farrow (one of our key guys on event box now).

Big shout out to Brook, Vivek, Pete Wood and JP for all going the extra mile on this one too!

4. Paint Party

Running one of the largest and craziest youth events, our Auckland Paint Party was definitely the event of 2017, with 50+ young people actively helping with promoting across 20+ high schools, setup over 2 days, and jumping in the team to make it all happen on the night.

With cyclones hitting the event site four days out, our Facebook event page mysteriously disappearing and our budget incurring more and more expenses that we didn’t plan for, it started to look more and more impossible. However, amongst all odds, we delivered an event that will forever be my favourite whilst at Zeal, creating a magical moment bringing our Live For Tomorrow, Zeal West Team, Street Youth Work Team and Event Box team together for an incredible collaboration. Thank you so much to all who jumped in, got involved and gave it their all!

We also worked hard alongside the talented Grace Stratton who helped us create a blog and look at how we could make our events more accessible to young people in wheelchairs, not to mention creating our Paint Party as an incredible case study for our NZ Youth Events Guide. Check out Grace’s event blog here and our paint party highlights here.

To my shock, it was also the first ever youth event I ever received positive encouragement from our neighbours. Check out the read below.

Congratulations Nathan! I’m a resident of Freemans Bay and rolled my eyes when I received your (very courteous and informative) letter advising of the event on 7th April in Western Park, my mind racing to think where I could go to get away from it on Friday night! I was amazed when the event did go ahead after such foul weather and then was completely won over by first the passionate screams of enthusiasm from the clearly happy and delighted young audience (not loud enough to disturb) and the courtesy you all provided by keeping the music at a volume  which didn’t drive the neighbours crazy, finishing on time, and from wo to go presenting what sounded like a highly successful and appreciated event with out causing any physical or aural disruptions ( as events at Western Springs tend to do). Very well organised.

3. Youth Events Guide // Zeal Event Bootcamps

If you know my story, you’ll know I’m where I am today thanks to some incredible youth leaders and mentors who got around me at an early age, believed in me and allowed me to take some crazy risks – much like what we do here at Zeal today! This has always inspired me to actively look for opportunities to pay it forward and do the same for other passionate crazy young misfits out there.

Working alongside Brook, Chris, Mark, James, Pete, Christian, Sarah and many more who have helped launch our first Zeal Event Bootcamps around the country, and NZ’s first best practice guide (Good Vibes) around alcohol-free youth events is definitely something I am soooo stoked about! Keep an eye out for its launch later this month.

I believe with all of my heart that young people totally don’t need alcohol to have a good time whilst growing up and love that Zeal is developing resources to educate, equip and inspire groups and young promoters to develop epic youth events that are 100% safe.

2.5. Schools Tour 2017

I love that we get to go into schools and work with staff and students to create positive experiences. Way back in the day as Zeal West was starting up in 2008 I still remember when Stacey, Dave and James brought Zeal’s huge PA to help me run some events in my school at Henderson High. I was forever grateful and now I get to see that same joy across thousands of students. 

In the last 12 months alone I think we’ve completed 29 school activations alone which have been huge! Event Box, Soccer Field, Freshmens Dance Crew, Gateway Students, Zeal Teams, Young People… massive wins, and great memories. Huge thanks to Hadz for helping take our Auckland Schools next level. It makes such a big difference bro!

I’m so thankful for guys like Christian, Lochie and Paul who have also helped us capture it all on Video to help strengthen our relationships with young people in schools to online. The content has been absolutely chewed up with thousands of positive engagements making me super happy! You should see our funders faces when we present stats… it’s priceless! Thousands of hours of content being watched and shared!

2. Event Box

Seeing the event box go from an idea into a reality, creating a brand new tool for Zeal allowing us to mobilise and collaborate like never before. Wow, wow, wow!

Flip the amount of heartache and ‘stop go, stop go’ moments we had on this project was unbelievable. Even still today its a massive challenge, but boy am I proud of what our team has achieved with this project, not to mention the endless possibilities in front of it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you – to every person who contributed an idea, supported, or encouraged us along the way. From those who helped with fundraising, supported the build or have spent early mornings or late nights packing it all down after events. I love you all, and appreciate your investment! Big shout out to Murray, Goff, Brook and Linda for all playing massive parts here!

Since launching in Sep 2016, the Event Box is kicking big goals, creating a massive profile for Zeal and enabling us to mobilise like never before. Check out some of the highlights so far;

  • 53 events have been run in Auckland, Hamilton, Taupo, New Plymouth, Wellington, Kapiti + Blenheim.
  • Approximately 48,341 young people have attended these events.
  • The Event Box has visited 29 schools creating celebration moments and performance opportunities as well as involving groups of students in the planning and execution of the event. (video here)
  • Ran 5 Zeal organized and promoted events e.g. Auckland and Hawkes Bay Paint Parties, Shake the City Hamilton, Summer Shindig Henderson (video here).
  • Secured 11 private hires with audiences up to 2000+ e.g. Cuba Dupa, Homegrown.
  • 24 Zeal Event Management interns helped to organize and put on 9 events.
  • 10 Event Management interns to receive paid employment on future Event Box jobs.
  • 70 young people under 22 years old have received training and 2602 hours of paid employment through the Event Box and The Production Co.
  • Purchased our own inflatable soccer field used to positively engage young people as a part of our school tours.
Above all though, my personal highlight with the Event Box has definitely been the relationships I’ve developed alongside young guys like Josh Anderson and Andrew Johnstone! Its been awesome to hang out and watch them develop and grow over the last 2 years, with both of them given opportunities to work at The Production Company now. From driving lessons to winning at life – there’s nothing those young guys can’t do!

1. Our Team

From my humble beginnings in early 2015, it has been an absolute privilege and honour to serve young people across NZ with the most passionate and creative misfits I know. 

The talent and heart across our team here at Zeal ozzes with goodness, with many often serving and completing the hard yards without being seen or praised. Thank you to each and every person for who you are and what you bring to our team. 

Keep up the good work, and don’t settle for the status quo. Young people around NZ need incredible champions in their lives, and whether you know it or not… you walk in those shoes just by working at Zeal, or supporting the work Zeal does with young people around the country.

Give people the benefit of the doubt, continue to challenge with love and respect and in all things NEVER GIVE UP.

So with all that said and done, thank you, thank you, thank you! May you forever ‘keep living the dream!’

Read more from Event Box:

Young people came from across Auckland, Hamilton and beyond to listen to eleven seasoned Event Management professionals hold six workshops throughout the day, covering everything from the dream, all the way to the reality.

At Zeal’s Paint Party, I was lucky enough to all the colourful and epic things that were happening. Thankfully, my platform wasn’t too far away from the action – I still have specks of neon-coloured paint on my wheelchair to prove it!