Who We Are
Ministry of Awesome is the starting point for making things happen in Christchurch. We exist to create a thriving, connected, and activated city where people can follow their passions and have the support to do just that. Our work is all about promoting a culture of inclusion, positivity, and progress.
We believe that meaningful change happens when people with big ideas are connected to the tools, resources, and a supportive community. Collaboration is where the magic happens--where dreamers become change-makers and the community is transformed along the way.
Ministry of Awesome was founded by the ambitious, forward-thinking team of Kaila Colbin, Sacha McMeeking, Sam Johnson, Vicki Buck with support from Grant Ryan, Jules Cone, Huia Lambie, Kimberley Gilmour, Jackson Rowland (and many more!) and Rata Foundation as a way to make things happen in post-earthquake Christchurch. At a time when no one was looking, when people had ideas and room to play, we gathered together to activate our networks, break down barriers, cut through the red tape, and enable people to contribute to our city.
Our work is currently focused on the entrepreneurial hot-bed of Christchurch, New Zealand, where the community has a unique opportunity to develop and grow their ideas while transforming the social and environmental canvas of the city. We have strong connections with national and overseas entrepreneurial ecosystems and envision a world where each community has a Ministry of Awesome connecting and activating entrepreneurs and social innovators.
Lauren is our Chief Awesome Officer. She is committed to people living a life they love whereby people have the freedom and support to follow their passions. Her background is in non-profit management, international relations and conflict resolution. She believes that Christchurch is the city where anything is possible; the perfect place to test your idea, start your business and explore your passion and is excited to lead Ministry of Awesome as an organisation that makes all this possible.
Lauren Bliss Merritt
Chief Awesome Officer
Erica is our Event Awesomist. She is an architectural graduate and is interested in how creative disciplines, businesses, community organisations and individuals can work collaboratively. With a Master’s degree in Architecture and a passion for making Christchurch awesome, she sees Christchurch as a place to experiment and grow creatively.
Catarina is our Start-Up Activator. She comes from a unique and extensive sales and marketing background at other awesome companies like Catchafire in NYC and Better World Books in Atlanta. Driven by her passion for entrepreneurship and literacy, she founded Connect The Dots Press in 2014.
Gina is our Community Guru. She has a background in applied management with a strong interest in event management. She is passionate about connecting like-minded people and creating events that serve as a platform to do this. Gina loves a good challenge and creating environments that thrive and reflect the creativity of the people in them.
Board of Trustees
Kaila is the co-founder and trustee of Ministry of Awesome, is the Curator of TEDxChristchurch, NZ Ambassador to Singularity University and the founder and director of New Zealand social media consultancy Missing Link. She is also a PMP® certified Project Manager, Chairman of the Board of the New York-based Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts, Deputy Chair of CORE Education Ltd, and a member of the Advisory Board for the Christchurch Transitional Architecture Trust.
Co-Founder & Chair
Geoff is the founder of GBJ Innovation. GBJ is working with various organisations, entrepreneurs, and startup companies to help startups succeed in New Zealand. Prior to GBJ, Geoff was a co-founder of SLI Systems and held positions of CFO, VP of Marketing, and VP of Business Intelligence. Geoff is the Chair of Canterbury Software, a mentor and organiser for Startup Weekend, directed Lightning Lab Christchurch and holds an MBA from Massey University.
Rachel is passionate about helping people reach their goals. She has more than 15 years experience as an intellectual property lawyer in NZ and the UK, and has learned that innovators are often not aware of the details necessary for running an effective business. Rachel is currently working as General Counsel for intellectual property investment company Powerhouse, and is also founder of aRc intellectual property through which she helps individuals on a case-by-case basis.
Lloyd Mander is a successful entrepreneur with extensive experience in leadership and governance. He brings start-up experience at all levels, from starting a company to taking it through a high-growth period to negotiating its successful sale. He also has governance experience in the not-for-profit sector, currently serving as an Independent Trustee of Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust, and volunteers with Business Mentors NZ and the Young Enterprise Scheme.
Sue Suckling has an outstanding track record of driving innovation and transformation in both the education sector and commercial sectors through her roles with NZQA and Callaghan Innovation, as well as extensive experience in private sector governance. She has a profound strength in strategic thinking and is well respected for her relentlessness and focus to make things happen.