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All wrapped up | A recap of the 2021 Symposium with Jo Wilkins

NZ Symposium attendees in a session

On Monday 24 and Tuesday 25 May, New Zealand engagement practitioners met at the Hilton Hotel in Tāmaki Makaurau for the ‘What’s on your mind?’ NZ Symposium.

Things started with waiata, a karakia and a mihi whakatau. Auckland Council’s Ngā Matarae team led us through a wonderful ‘hooking up’ ice breaker, so we could find out more about each other. They then talked to us about kia mataara (being prepared) – including the basics: communication (location is important), engaging early, whakawhanaungatanga (relationships), working collaboratively (use your colleagues), and ditch the kupu kino (jargon). It’s also important to remember that big decisions can be made over the kai (food)!

Diane Owenga and Jayne Foster from The Policy Project, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet – talked about the link between good policy advice/development and how best to reflect the views and perspective of those who will be affected by the policy. Check out their toolbox here . Anne Pattillo gets a shout out for the assistance she provided in creating the Design Tool – to be used upfront by Policy Developers and Government Agencies 👏

Day two began with a panel discussion titled ‘Engaging with Diverse Communities in a post-COVID-19 world’, it was wonderfully facilitated by Eddie Tuiavii.

Key themes threaded throughout the discussion were:

  • Being genuine and authentic
  • Have the right people doing the engagement
  • Going beyond your own ethnicity and culture…and being curious to find out more
  • Understand the environment and the context.

Kenneth Aiolupotea, from Auckland Council, gave those present an overview of what’s happening in the engagement space at Aotearoa’s largest council. There are some internal and external challenges of working in a large council, on behalf of a large, diverse population and often on complex projects.

Judge Andrew Becroft – Children’s Commissioner was a highlight, he started with a great vision/quote: “Take care of our children. Take care of what they hear, take care of what they see, take care of what they feel. For how the children grow so will be the shape of Aotearoa.” Dame Whina Cooper.

Children have a right to participate…and in Aotearoa, children are 24% of the population. What does that look like in terms of best practice? For more on ethical engagement with children and young people visit: occ.org.nz/listening2kids/resources/.

There were lots of interesting topics covered throughout the symposium during the break-out sessions – one of the fun and informative ones was the pecha kucha style session. Ashlie Carlyle gave an insight into Ebeye and the Marshall Islands, including some of the challenges to engaging in this part of the world. Anna Mickell, self-described ‘old dog’, who’s learnt some ‘new tricks’ from recent IAP2A training and tools – great honest kōrero, we’re all still learning! And, John Henare presented wonderfully (and quickly) on the mahi he’s involved in for Te Arawhiti helping agencies lift their treaty response.

Finally, Dr Paula Blackett from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) presented to the group about serious games to engage with people on the serious topic of climate change. The games NIWA have developed have real world outputs and as Paula says, you can gamify anything!

Check out more via: niwa.co.nz/natural-hazards/our-services/serious-games-as-a-tool-to-engage-people

Key take-aways:

  • One of my favourite points – children make up 24% of the population right now, but they are 100% of the future.
  • Engagement professionals have an important role in healing the past, building a future and growing the spirit with, and through, our communities (Ngā Matarae).
  • Think about how to procure services to get people in their community to do the work.
  • Trust starts with showing people you are going to do what you said you were going to do…
  • Communities have the solutions!

Finally, we took the opportunity to snap a picture of IAP2A NZ based Board Directors past and present.

Anne Pattillo, Moira Lawler, Carol Hayward, Ray Tye, Priscilla Steel, Jo Wilkins

L-R: Anne Pattillo, Moira Lawler, Carol Hayward, Ray Tye, Priscilla Steel, Jo Wilkins

For more perspectives, search #NZSymposium2021 on LinkedIn or Twitter.