From its inception, this event was going to be like no other. On 1-2 December 2015, 100 people attended an invitation-only two day symposium to re-imagine the mental health and addiction landscape. 

The idea for the symposium grew from the aim to get people involved in the thinking behind On Track: Knowing where we are going (Platform Trust and Te Pou o Te Whakaaro Nui, 2015). 

“We knew to do this, we would have to run the symposium in a different kind of way”, says Emma Wood, relationships and workforce planning manager at Te Pou.

“We needed to stretch our thinking and get ourselves into a future thinking space to generate future thinking”, says Emma. 

Tahatū Rangi translates to the meeting place of sky and earth or sky and sea. It represents potentiality – what lies beyond. It symbolises courage, unconventional and strategic thinking and the open space to perceive from a new perspective.

Te Pou and Platform Trust, a national network of non-government community organisations, planned the symposium with several strategy consultants. Marion Blake, chief executive of Platform, says bringing new voices into the conversation helped create an inspiring space.

“We as a sector are not good at talking across organisations, but if we can find links and networks with people around common issues, by linking together in a different ways, then the actions of multiple organisations in multiple spaces can make changes that are so important for people using services.”

Marion was surprised about people’s appetite for discussion and change at Tahatū Rangi. 

“We are ideas rich but time poor, so Tahatū Rangi gave people the chance to get talking about innovations and ideas. People were really interested in hearing others’ feedback on them.”

“There is really cool stuff happening in New Zealand but we don’t share it enough and therefore don’t find out about it. As sector leaders, we need to shine a torch on this stuff and connect people who are doing similar things. And in ways that make that easy for people.”

Marion says Platform and Te Pou’s role in all of this is to share the stories about the great work that is happening and making differences in people’s lives. 

The challenge is to discuss the difficult things as well.

“Hearing from people using services is so important. And as sector leaders, we have the ability to connect people so they can collaborate around changes that need to take place.”

Marion says Te Pou and Platform are planning a follow up to Tahatū Rangi to continue engagement.

“We heard from people who are providing services that they want to do the very best they can for the people and communities they support and Tahatū Rangi provided the opportunity to share enthusiasm and ideas.

“The challenge now is how do you keep channelling the energy? How do we keep the momentum of change and transformation going when we’re all so dispersed and we’ve all got other things on our mind?”