We bring people together to create enduring solutions that everyone owns
For more than twenty years, our expert ToP facilitators have supported teams, groups, partners and stakeholders tackling the big stuff: environmental issues, policy changes, team dynamics and change. Whether you are in a farming community grappling with catchment issues, a company needing a strategy that all staff will actually own, or an NGO needing to design a new service programme, we can help. We are professional facilitators. We can work directly with you. And we can train you and your team in facilitative leadership skills to do this effectively yourselves.
In 2007, we asked master carver Nathan Foote to design us a logo.
Nathan wanted to know what we did, and why.
Helen explained that facilitation is about creating a safe space within which people could have honest conversations.
“He was also interested in the creativity that an effective facilitator can bring about – the idea of the group generating something new together” Helen says.
Nathan then brought to the task his magical ability to tell a story through mahi toi. In our case this was a flowing charcoal drawing that reminds some of a germinating seed, others of a water droplet, and yet others of a wave rider, depicting the essence of facilitation and being a facilitator.
Our earth colours, reflecting the natural resource spaces within which we mostly work, completed our logo creation.
Nathan is well known for his carvings, including Māui, the Western Pou/Tomokanga at Ātea a Rangi – Star Compass at Waitangi regional park in Te Matau ā Māui (Hawke’s Bay). We feel privileged to have had his input early in our journey.
How we started.
In the early 1990’s we got to see and experience first-hand the power and effectiveness of the Technology of Participation (ToP™) techniques in natural resource management and planning, the fields in which we were both working at that time. We saw the methods used by trained facilitators to bring together farmers, community members, council staff and others to the task of mutually solving complex land and water issues. This catalysed our passion for effective group facilitation and our own journeys of becoming trained, professional facilitators.
In 2000, we came together to research, design and deliver a nationwide training programme for the Department of Conservation titled Community Conservation Partnerships Ruia te Käkano, Kohia te Kai Rangatira, heralding the start of our professional partnership. Our interest in building others’ capacity, confidence and ‘can-do’ had begun.
We realised that the Technology of Participation (Top™) techniques had much to offer Aotearoa New Zealand, and we thought that if we could train others in these globally proven methods, we could build real capacity in organisations and groups to work far more constructively and productively on the tricky environmental and people issues facing our country.
A key part of this was recognising that the methods needed to be culturally appropriate.
In 2005 we began working in partnership with Te Mauri Tau on a journey exploring Māori perspectives on facilitation and facilitative leadership alongside Technology of Participation (ToP™) thinking and methods.
This journey, which continues today, has significantly enriched both our training offering, and our facilitation and engagement services. It continues to strengthen our commitment to biculturalism and being ‘indigenous-informed’.
In 2022 we welcomed Associates Katerina Kupenga and Robyn Irving to our organisation, bringing new gifts and fresh ideas, and providing us with the capacity to start offering online training in the ToP™ methods. We look forward to a future of continued co-creation!
Our Philosophy & Approach
We live our values when we work with you. When you hire a ToP™ professional, you can expect the approach to be:
We work in partnership with you at all stages – planning, delivery and follow-up.
We foster authentic dialogue and sharing of ideas in a way that unleashes creativity and full human potential.
Respectful and culturally sensitive
We engender trust and full engagement and through this the creation of solutions that people own.
Participatory and inclusive
We create spaces where power imbalances are set aside, enabling all participants to bring their best selves to the task at hand
We make every minute together count, and ensure the group identifies clear conclusions, and a clear pathway forward.
Our events are highly collaborative and harness diversity to create new, fresh ways of solving problems
Suitable for complex and challenging situations
We are process design experts. We work with you to map out the steps required to help a group navigate and process information, explore options and create solutions.
We can co-create with you a productive hour-long session, a two-day retreat, or a complex multi-year collaborative engagement process
We operate in accordance with the International Association of Facilitators Code of Ethics: we work to our client’s needs and provide independent neutral facilitation where the products developed are the group’s.
What our clients have said
"Our team now have the skills to immediately improve how we run events and to do so in a way that builds connections and understanding from the beginning."
Ariana Te Whetu, Tokona te Raki
"The strength of the facilitation process built respect for the different views and encouraged all to participate. Michelle harnessed the diversity of the committee and assisted it to reach 109 unanimous recommendations."
Peter Gawith, Chairman, Ruamahanga Whaitua Committee
“Just want to say a huge thank you for being a dream facilitation team! Some very constructive discussions and some good relationships built to move the review forward.”
Aidan Burch, MBIE
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