Many commentators say New Zealanders lack ambition, and that aspects of the New Zealand character or our comfortable lives limit our achievements. We are said to be too keen on time off, too concerned about everyone fitting in, suspicious of people who try too hard, enthusiastic about humility, afraid of risk and failure, and unmotivated everywhere but on the sports field. And yet Kiwis achieve at the very highest levels both at home and abroad.
Julie Fry and Hayden Glass look at what ambition means to New Zealanders. They review what has been said about us over the years, and compare these comments with the results of an online survey and a set of face-to-face interviews they conducted. Along the way they explore the connections between ambition and economic performance, national identity, and satisfaction in our personal and family lives, and explore the science of ambition and achievement.
Their book Ambition: What New Zealanders think and why it matters will be released on 8 March. Find out more about the project.
About the presenters
Julie Fry is a consulting economist who divides her time between New York and New Zealand. She has worked for the New Zealand Treasury, Te Puni Kōkiri, and HM Treasury in London, on issues including productivity, migration, Māori economic development, and wellbeing. Julie is the CEO of AmbitionNZ, an organisation that aims to encourage more New Zealanders to be more ambitious about more things.
Hayden Glass has long worked as a consultant on labour market and other public policy issues, and the impacts of data and technology on the economy. He has worked for the Sapere Research Group, the New Zealand Treasury, for Vodafone New Zealand, and for Figure.NZ, a charity working to make data about New Zealand more readily available.