He was judged New Zealander of the Year in 2014, but Dr. Lance O’Sullivan wasn’t always someone who would be worthy of such an accolade.
“At 14 I got expelled from my first school,” he says.
“Then I was sent to Timaru Boys’ High School because my mother’s family were there. I got expelled from there too. So you can still be New Zealander of the Year. Don’t let your mistakes define you.”
Lance was speaking at the second Disruptive by Nature seminar held in Hamilton on Tuesday and says he was exposed to violence in his whānau when he was growing up.
“I was three years old when my mother took me to Mt Eden Prison to visit my father. There was a lot of violence, alcohol abuse, drug abuse in my whānau.”
What changed his outlook on life was attending a rongoa Māori hui in Māngere when he was 17.
“I saw this man speaking, and he was well dressed, eloquent, I was in awe. In 45 minutes, he inspired me. At the end of that hui, I said ‘I’m going to be a doctor.' Dr. David Gilgen was that man, and I call him my 45-minute man. You can be in someone’s life for 45 minutes and inspire them.”
Lance says his experience in the health system prompted him to adapt a disruptive mindset where he is now pioneering digital health services.
“I’m disruptive because the things I saw in the medical system, this healthcare delivery system sucks. I want to take healthcare out of clinics and into houses, schools, churches, and marae.”
He’s doing that digitally and says using technology to deliver healthcare digitally where and when it is needed is the future.
“Think of like Netflix for health. A real game changer. That is how I see the vision for health. I want a system that doesn’t have judgement in it.”
He says it's risky being disruptive but it’s something Māori are good at.
“It is in our nature to be disruptive. It is in our nature to resist. I’ve got a passion not to let predicted pathways play out.”
Lance was among several speakers at the day-long seminar, and organiser Jade Chase says she hoped those who attended would be inspired.
“We’re always looking for ways forward to uplift people, especially in the rangatahi space,” she says.
“We want people to apply what they have heard to their practice. Kaimahi were engaged and interested in what they were hearing, and the feedback so far is that people have been challenged and are enjoying the korero.”
This year the event had also included other community organisations, and Jade says that provides good networking opportunities.
“One organisation has already expressed a desire to work with us.”
Other speakers at Disruptive by Nature included Rich Rowley from The Mind Lab at Unitec, basketballtanga kaimahi Jordaan Tuitama, Hauraki mental health advocate Turaukawa Bartlett, makeup artist Miria Flavell and young entrepreneur Livi Hirawani.
The day also included a youth panel and several workshops.