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Co-founder of the Graeme Dingle Foundation, a charity that runs development programmes for children and youth.

What does the Graeme Dingle Foundation do? 

The foundation is a child and youth development charity that is building a positive, vibrant and successful New Zealand, by transforming young lives forever.

Our proven programmes are designed for young people aged 5 to 18 years old. They focus on the needs of children and youth in their communities. The changes kids make while they are part of the programmes is what we call the ‘Transformational Journey’ – a journey that helps young Kiwis become more confident and resilient, find purpose and direction, and achieve success. 

How do you want the work of the foundation to change New Zealand and New Zealanders?

New Zealand’s negative child and youth statistics – suicide, family violence, incarceration, dropouts from school, and so on – are far too high. I want to live in a New Zealand that can lay claim to being the safest place in the world for children and young people. 

We can do it, because we are caring people living in a beautiful land. We just need to get the mix of social strategies right; and part of that is better collaboration within and between the different government and non-government agencies. 

What are the challenges of your role?

Recognising opportunities, getting in the door, and getting the money in the bank are my three main challenges. To be good at all of these requires the mind of a survivor; thinking laterally and acting in a focused manner, which are things I have learned well as a mountaineer.

What concerns you most about New Zealand today?

The growing divide between rich and poor. Inequality has always been the most destabilising factor in societies. 

New Zealand used to be one of the most egalitarian countries in the world, and we must strive to return to that position. It’s not healthy to have a large part of the population struggling to make ends meet. 

How important is financial education to young New Zealanders, and why?

Financial education, from an early age, is a vital ingredient of education. Because without it, young people will find it desperately hard to get ahead. They’ll be likely to not budget and to waste money, be ripped off by loan sharks and make poor investments, to not save or plan for the future, and to not pass on good financial habits to their children. 

When my daughter Ariaan was five, I was dead keen for her to be more financially literate than me. I took her into a bank and asked the teller to open a cheque account in her name. 

The teller went for the manager, who declined my request. I asked why. “Because she can’t sign her name.” 

My daughter stepped up to the manager and signed her name. A cheque account was opened.

What can we do to help create a generation of successful, confident Kiwi kids?

This is the most important question and deserves a 100,000-word answer. However, let me try to precis it. 

The greatest disservice we can do to our kids is to tell them they can do anything – because it’s not true. What they need from us is direction.  

The best thing we can do is to try to recognise their talent, and to encourage them onto a path where they can use that talent. But it has to be their path, not a path that we have chosen for them.