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A person-centred future in New Zealand

A person-centred future in New Zealand

Author: Tautoko Support Services/Tuesday, 30 August 2016/Categories: News

"He aha to mea nui o te Ao? He tangata he tangata he tangata."

What is the most important thing in the world? Tis people, tis people, tis people.

Bringing New Zealand's principles to life, together

Here in New Zealand we have some powerful key documents that underpin the way we strive to interact with each other in our country, Aotearoa. 

The first is The Treaty of Waitangi. This Treaty is a fundamental document to guide the unique way in which we operate in New Zealand society to honour the partnership between Tangata Whenua (the indigenous peoples of the land) and Tauiwi (people of other descent). The concept of partnership is captured in a Maori whakatauaki – proverbial saying – which states:

“Nau te rourou, naku te rourou ka ora ai te iwi". This translates to "with your basket and my basket, we will cater for our guests".

In the context of our work this saying is interpreted as being able to combine resources, collaborate and cooperate to get ahead. It's my belief that person-centred approaches provide a process and the tools to make this uniquely New Zealand concept a reality, and this is one of the reasons I'm so excited to be bringing the knowledge and learning from Helen Sanderson Associates worldwide teams home.

Another key document is the New Zealand Disability Strategy, which was published in 2001 and preceded the U.N Conventionon the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It presents a vision of NZ as a “fully inclusive society”. One of the objectives of the Disability Strategy is to value families, whanau and people providing ongoing support. Later, the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was ratified by the New Zealand Government in September 2008. The Convention reinforces the right of disabled people to:  education, access and protection by the legal system, make their own decisions, be part of our community, be informed and participate in cultural life. 

All activities must include the participation of persons with disabilities:

‘Nothing about us without us’

United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


I see at as part of our role at Helen Sanderson Associates New Zealand to provide the support and tools for individuals and their family/whanau (a Maori term meaning extended family) and networks to use in a manner which accords them dignity and respect. This will help us bring the principles, ideas and vision of these documents to life.

 From policy to practice

Individuals tell us that they do not want to be told what to do, but want to be shown how to do things differently where they can have control and choice over their life.

Families tell us that they want to be acknowledged as knowing their child best, but also need to feel able to ask for support to learn how to best meet their child’s needs.

Person-centred thinking makes both of these aspirations possible, also links to the current key government initiatives.

There are new service designs, funding and reporting requirements which place the individual in the central position of choice and control and focus on achieving outcomes in an effective and efficient way that build towards the vision of an inclusive society. The principles of Enabling Good Lives have been adopted across Government Agencies of Health, Social Welfare and Education. These principles are: Self determination; Beginning early; Person-centred; Ordinary life outcomes; Mainstream first; Mana enhancing; Easy to use; Relationship building.

These key government commitments are admirable and what is needed alongside them is knowledge that can be operationalised and embedded in the system

We believe the considerable knowledge and resources that have been developed by Helen Sanderson Associates in person centred approaches will be helpful in aligning service governance, delivery models, workforce capability, accountability measures, monitoring and evaluation with the vision and principles of the transformed system. The beauty of person-centred approaches is that they entirely flexible and inherently adaptable to local ways of working, customs and traditions.

 Mā te rongo, ka mōhio; Mā te mōhio, ka mārama; Mā te mārama, ka mātau; Mā te mātau, ka ora.

Through resonance comes cognisance; through cognisance comes understanding; through understanding comes knowledge; through knowledge comes life and wellbeing.

What's next?

In the run up to our launch on 1st November,  we will be working with our colleagues in the UK and Australia to make available in New Zealand the wealth of resources in person-centred thinking practices developed by Helen Sanderson Associates.

We are currently working with key people in NZ to produce a NZ version of Progress for Providers - checking your progress in using person-centred approaches (for managers). This resource will be available at the launch.

We have four trainers who are being mentored under the auspices of our Australian team to facilitate person-centred training workshops and are offering our first workshops at the end of September in Palmerston and Nelson. Our trainers are also developing a New Zealand version of the eLearning modules currently available through HSA. Click here for more information.  These are just our first steps in supporting the development of person centred approaches across New Zealand's society, and we're so excited about what's to come. We hope you'll follow us, or even better, join us on our journey.

To find out more about Helen Sanderson Associates New Zealand, contact Jan Perkins, our New Zealand Lead, via janp@helensandersonassociates.co.uk or tweet @Jan_HSANZ.

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