Introducing a thought gathering

where people can ponder new and important questions and expand their understanding.

It's a place to listen, speak, and learn,

a place to find out what we have in common as well as where we respectfully disagree. 

This forum fosters glimmers of insight

and nurtures them into a reasoned, respectful and rigorous conversation that can spill over into our communities and strengthen New Zealand.

Ko te kai a te rangatira, he kōrero
The food of chiefs is dialogue

Public debate could be a powerful force for good in New Zealand

Genuine debate in a spirit of respect can expand our horizons. It can bring people closer together to create new solutions, share wisdom across traditions and boundaries, and develop mutual understanding. It also helps us to grow as individuals, as we test and develop our intellectual capacities and, through robust debate, identify our errors and exchange them for truth. 

But public debate doesn’t always live up to our hopes. Clickbait and soundbites keep us awash in ephemera, local discourse too often apes international voices and trends, and polarisation and conspiracy theories divide and derail many of us. And with mainstream media increasingly sheltered behind paywalls to protect themselves from the behemoths of the internet, traditional sources of quality information are slipping beyond reach and out of mind of many.

The Inkling tackles some of the most important questions, opportunities and challenges facing New Zealand today through a series of distinctive events.

That's why we created The Inkling

Hon. Peter Dunne on The Inkling's distinctive difference: 

"I accepted the invitation to be a discussant at the Inkling's inaugural event with a measure of scepticism. I had been to similar events previously which rather than being a genuine forum for discussion and debate had ended up no more than a platform for the recitation of the entrenched views of the participants. This event was not like that at all. It was a well-moderated, genuine discussion on the impact of aging on our future society, where the discussants engaged with each other, listened to what was being said, and responded as appropriate, and where no dogmatic views prevailed. It was a superb format in the most congenial of surroundings and the format lends itself to considered, rational discussion of all manner of views on an important issue. In a world that is becoming increasingly polarised it is often becoming harder and harder to have genuine discussion on important issues. The format adopted by the Inkling makes this possible once more. I thoroughly enjoyed being part of it, and would thoroughly recommend the experience to anyone who has the opportunity to take part in a future event."

The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.

Joseph Joubert

The Inkling has been created to rekindle passionate and nuanced debate about important issues

A diverse gathering of current and future leaders engage in enriching roundtable discussion facilitated by an expert moderator, in good faith and in a spirit of intellectual curiosity. The format has been designed to enable the cross-pollination of ideas, mutual learning and innovation, and to break out of the echo chamber.

The Inkling is an opportunity
for growth and service

The Inkling was created to help strengthen a New Zealand-specific culture of healthy intellectual discourse, one that is true to our circumstances and to this land and not simply an echo of other discussions in other places. It’s also aligned with the fundamental human drive to ask deeper questions of life, a drive that helps each of us to grow. By building intellectual and conversational muscle throughout New Zealand, The Inkling serves the wider community and the generations to come. 

The Inkling's commitments

The Inkling is founded on a commitment to genuine debate with a generous ethos. It’s a commitment to understand rather than argue, to delve rather than dismiss, and to value the humanity and integrity of each participant. The Inkling also believes in focusing on the issues that matter most, not simply what’s in the headlines, and especially on issues that are overlooked or under-discussed.

WE SELECT Topics that are:

RELEVANT to New Zealand
IMPORTANT, especially if uncommon

We value:

RIGOUR in debate
RESPECT for others
HUMILITY about our limits
CURIOSITY about ideas

We'll develop topics under these headings:


International relations





"I was impressed by the open and frank exchanges, views freely aired and received with mutual respect and genuine curiosity.  The evening was my best experience of an ‘intellectual gathering’.  I believe that such gatherings encourage us to think beyond the square, and challenge us not to become too comfortable in our long-held assumptions."

Professor Manying Ip, University of Auckland

"Differing views got a fair hearing and were well moderated and debated. The ability to then spend time with some of the audience to talk about the subjects leisurely around a dinner table provided for a congenial evening of social and intellectual discussion."

Prem Maan, Executive Chairman, Southern Pastures

"The Inkling is a serious effort at respectful conversation about big issues, with a range of people with varying views. A fun evening to boot."

Shamubeel Eaqub, economist and commentator

"It was a unique opportunity to practice deep listening skills, hearing a wide range of views and engaging in debate in a secure, private confidential environment. Such endeavours provide an opportunity to encourage the cooperative bi partisan approach that we require as a country to tackle the existential issues we face in the 21st century."

Associate Professor Susan St John, University of Auckland

“I accepted the invitation to be a discussant at the Inkling out of a combination of curiosity and a habit of doing things that can sometimes appear scary or intimidating. The reality is that the experience was neither scary or intimidating, and more enlightening and empowering. The event was nothing short of extremely professional and a pleasure to be a part of. As a discussant I found the programme comfortable and the audience engaging and genuinely interested (and interesting). A fine evening out!”

Vaughan Couillault, Principal, Papatoetoe High School

“The Inkling’s mission to hold public, civil discussion on important topics is strongly aligned with my values. The event offered an opportunity for dialogue between experts with differing viewpoints on this important topic. The presence of the audience enabled both the spirit and substance of the event to be promulgated. I especially enjoyed the dinner conversation during which discussants were able to continue the conversation with audience members. This event exemplified the way in which ideas should be discussed in a democracy.”

Michael Johnston, Senior Fellow, New Zealand Initiative

“It was great to share and debate in a safe space where you know your viewpoint may differ from others but is respected. If you are passionate about a topic, participate in the conversation because important ideas deserve diverse viewpoints and to be tested in a safe setting.  Often we can make assumptions because we only hear one side of a story.  This is an opportunity to hear others' stories and broaden your mind.”

Regina Rasheed, Principal, Zayed College for Girls

The founder and the AdvisorsThe ethos of The InklingPrevious eventsTopicsContact details