Taking our lead from the complex story of degradation described in State of the Gulf reports, we decided to enable systemic change.

We researched which sectors and organisations might be in nodal positions to create positive improvements in the Gulf region now; and we asked which might, in the spirit of collaboration and innovation, contribute to much greater health, abundance and wholeness in the Gulf environment of which they are a part. We interviewed players across the system to identify which individuals we should invite.

There are only 12 places on the project; participation is by invitation only
—Participants are recognised as decision-makers with potential to tackle the wicked problems described in the 'State of the Gulf' reports; they have been identified as pioneers who can set direction for their own organisation and sector.

Participants will spend time with some of New Zealand's greatest leaders
—They will undertake a challenging journey alongside 11 impressive peers. They will learn directly from Sir Graham Henry who, as Patron, will co-host a part of the project.

Participants are at the top of their existing hierarchy
—Their sense of meaning and purpose calls them to give back to the social and ecological landscape within which they live and work. They are ready to take their skills and passion to new places. They will be supported and challenged to pinpoint their own unique way of contributing.

Participants want to future-proof their organisation
—They know that early innovation brings significant advantages, especially in a context of increasing environmental compliance and legislation. They can see that a whole-system perspective is core to longevity in this fast changing world.

Participants are resilient and up for a challenge
—Taking part in the project is not easy. It demands commitment and real openness to new ideas and perspectives. There will be both ups and downs - inevitable aspects of engaging with emotive and difficult issues. Participants are willing to be stretched.

Participants want the region to develop and the Gulf to thrive
—They will have an unprecedented opportunity to help the Hauraki region develop strongly, along the shores of a vibrant, healthy Gulf - once again abundant with marine life. They want New Zealand and Auckland to exemplify sustainable best-practice on the world stage. They want to be part of a turnaround process that leaves this legacy to their children.