Be. Leadership 2020 Mid-Year Retreat

A blog from one of our 2020 Participants, Madeleine Uaine

A smiling woman with a colourful dress and white jacket.

Our mid-year retreat was three days at the end of July spent together at the Sudima Hotel Christchurch City. Because of Covid-19 and lockdown, it was our first time seeing everyone in person since February.

We are thankful for technology to connect with our loved ones and to continue with our sessions through Zoom Meetings, however, we all agreed that it was draining, we found ourselves more exhausted staring at our screens for long hours and we were missing that sense of physical human interaction. If anything, this may have taught us how important human physical interaction is, how time flies by so fast and that we should make the most of everything, creating friendship, ideas and memories throughout our Be. Leadership journey.


During the three-day session, we explored with speakers on the word ‘resilience’ in leadership, in the community and in our daily lives whether it is at home including the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch and 2020 global pandemic.

Friday afternoon, our first speaker was Helen Leahy, CEO of Te Puhitanga o te Waipounamu. Helen filled the room with her bright and strong charisma, not only with the way she held herself but her use of Te Reo, singing us a song, and sharing stories of her family and friends. From observing and listening, it was clear what her values were. She shared an important metaphor, that life was like a river. Life will continually ebb and flow, and that we cannot control it.

The next day we had two speakers. In the morning, we were greeted by Dr. Zhiyan Basharati, who shared her experience as a refugee from Kurdistan, and memories of her family. It may have been one of the most intense and overwhelming speeches we have had, after she shared the obstacles and traumatic experiences she has gone through. On Saturday afternoon, we had an alumni panel, Cate Grace, Maree Welgus, Jasmin Taylor and Dr Susan Rapley, who spoke about their time and experience in the programme, and after it. I realized they all mentioned some things in common in regard to the importance of their Leadership journey: Taking good care of their mental health, finding their identity, and their values in life.

Throughout the three-day session, we were given the opportunity to have 10 minutes to share with everyone “My Journey”. It was the highlight of the mid-year retreat for me, because it was a safe and comforting environment with everyone in a circle and it gave us a more authentic understanding of each person. This session was special by far- there were tears, laughter, openness, trust and because of that, including the long absence (four months) of no human interaction, it has brought us closer than ever.


+64 9 309 8966
The Be. Lab Office
Suite 204
Level 2
48 Greys Avenue
Auckland Central
Auckland 1010
(Visits by appointment only)

PO Box 874
Shortland Street
Auckland 1140
New Zealand