This two-day forum aims to bring those who work in this challenging field together to share knowledge, recognise innovation, and develop professional knowledge and skills.

  • 20 Feb 2023-21 Feb 2023
  • 09:00 - 17:00
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  • Rydges Hotel, 75 Featherston St, Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington, Wellington City, New Zealand
  • 835.00 (plus GST) Members
  • 960.00 (plus GST) Non Members
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About this event

The Engagement Forum is the annual professional development and networking opportunity for those who work in the exciting field of community engagement, with a specific focus on local government.

We open with the elephant in the room – sector reform – via an update on the reform processes. Each has challenged the sector to engage more and engage differently, so we reflect on how ready the sector is for the challenges that come next.

This will be followed with a series of case studies of real-life tools, techniques, and methods that are being used by councils to engage with communities including:

  • deliberative democracy,
  • LTP engagement,
  • co-design,
  • electoral engagement, and
  • co-governance.

And with other sessions on engaging with younger people and measuring success, there’s something for everyone. There will also be plenty of opportunity to share your own experiences with your peers.

Day one

9.15 am Registration and tea and coffee on arrival

9.45 am Mihi whakatau

10.00 am Welcome
Elizabeth Hughes, Managing Director, Elizabeth Hughes Consulting

10.05 am All change: where are we at with 'the Reforms'?
Kath Ross, Manager Strategy and Reform, Taituarā

The current wave of system reform, and reforms to the functional legislation, have been collectively described as the "biggest reforms to subnational government since the abolition of the provinces in 1877". To begin, an update on the progress of the Resource Management reforms, Three Waters, and (of course) the Future for Local Government reforms.

10.50 am The reforms: are we ready for what’s next?
Simon Markham, Managing Director, Simon Markham Consulting
Elizabeth Hughes, Managing Director, Elizabeth Hughes Consulting
Natasha Stubbing, Acting Community Engagement Manager, Northland Regional Council
Raymond Horan, Chief Advisor, Taituarā (moderator)

A panel discussion focussing on what the reforms mean for engagement professionals. How ready is the sector to pick up challenges the reform processes lay down?

12 noon Lunch

12.50 pm Show and tell
At your tables

To get you interacting post-lunch, please come prepared with a 3–4 minute anecdote of something you’re proud of, want to share, or want to ask advice on. You’ll get time to share with your table buddies and others.

Note: The chair will pick a few people at random to share their stories with the whole audience.

2.00 pm Deliberative democracy
Carol Hayward, Team Leader Operations and Policy, Auckland Council
Eddie Tuiavii, Auckland Council

2.45 pm Afternoon tea

3.05 pm Hello future district: a case study of LTP engagement
Emily Watton, Strategic Policy and Planning Programme Director, Western Bay of Plenty District Council
Luke Balvert, Communications and Engagement Manager, Western Bay of Plenty District Council

Free family fun days, the return of the wellbeings, and having to go purely digital due to COVID-19.
Hello Future District is Western Bay’s story of how it turned its traditional engagement approach on its head in order to successfully reach beyond its frequent flyer submitters – achieving more than 40,000 pieces of feedback across the Long-Term Plan process.

3.45 pm It’s Flaxmere’s Time!
Nigel Bickle, Chief Executive, Hastings District Council

A revitalisation programme for Hasting's lowest socio-economic suburb, with its predominately Māori and Pasifika population (80 per cent plus) is reaping rewards; not just in new homes, facilities, and programmes for the community, but also in less tangible ways: growing trust and engagement between council and the people. It’s an investment in a place and its people, and it's helping to grow pride. It has taken comprehensive community engagement, the commitment of councillors and staff, and an investment of circa $200 million by council, government, and community partners.

It’s Flaxmere’s Time was the winner of the Beca Award for Placemaking at the 2022 LGFA Taituarā Excellence Awards.

4.25 pm Pride of Place
Erin Bates, Strategic Partnerships and Governance Manager, Matamata-Piako District Council

Pride of Place (POP) is a programme that aims to build vibrancy in the Matamata-Piako town centres, using co-design and placemaking. It invites the community to imagine the future of their places, and by using temporary activities and initiatives, plant the seed for this future now. It is about building genuine relationships and trust with our communities, and partnering with them to help them build the vibrancy that they desire in their town centres.

5.10 pm Sum up
Elizabeth Hughes, Managing Director, Elizabeth Hughes Consulting

5.15 pm Networking drinks

Day two

9.00 am Welcome to day two
Elizabeth Hughes, Managing Director, Elizabeth Hughes Consulting

9.05 am Northland’s 2022 electoral engagement
Natasha Stubbing, Acting Community Engagement Manager, Northland Regional Council

Councils across Northland worked together to prepare for the local government elections. While not new, there was a backdrop of ongoing distrust and loss of confidence in councils especially amongst Māori. The four councils wanted the election campaign not just to inform the community of the elections and new features such Māori wards/constituencies, but also to make a start on embedding positive change.

9.45 am Table-top discussions
Led by Elizabeth Hughes, Managing Director, Elizabeth Hughes Consulting

A table-top session: “As communications and engagement professionals what advice would you give LGNZ and Taituarā about their future initiatives in electoral communications and engagement?”

10.20 am Morning tea

10.40 am A view from the future: Engaging with young people
Councillor Sophie Handford, Kāpiti Coast District Council

11.20 am Ngāti Tūrangitukua and Taupō District Council’s Mana Whakahono a Rohe partnership agreement
Cornelia Dempsey, Taupō District Council and Christian Asher from Ngāti Tūrangitukua

Taupō District Council and Ngāti Tūrangitukua have built on an existing Mana Whakahono to extend this into planning and decision-making under the Local Government, Reserves and the Ngāti Tūrangitukua Settlement Acts, as well as in Taupō District Council’s co-governance structure.  

This genuine desire to empower mana whenua in joint decision making across the council made this a most worthy winner of Te Tohu Waka Hourua – The Buddle Findlay Award for Council/Māori Partnerships in the 2022 LGFA Taituarā Excellence Awards.

12 noon Lunch

12.50 pm The sector update
Raymond Horan, Chief Advisor, Taituarā

What’s happening in the policy and regulatory environment, in local government, and with Taituarā and its work on behalf of the sector.

1.20 pm Measuring success in engagement
Wilma Falconer, Chief Executive, Environment Southland

Some perspectives on measuring success in engagement with our communities.

2.10 pm Evaluating engagement
Anne Pattillo, Managing Director, Pattillo

3.00 pm Sum up
Elizabeth Hughes, Managing Director, Elizabeth Hughes Consulting

3.10 pm Close


Raymond Horan
Chief Advisor, Taituarā Read Profile
Kathryn Ross
General Manager Strategy & Reform, Taituarā Read Profile
Elizabeth Hughes
Principal, Elizabeth Hughes Strategy&Communication Read Profile
Simon Markham
Director, Simon Markham Consulting Ltd Read Profile
Emily Watton
Strategic Policy and Planning Programme Director, Western Bay of Plenty District Council Read Profile
Luke Balvert
Communications and Engagement Manager, Western Bay of Plenty District Council Read Profile
Sophie Handford
Paekākāriki - Raumati Ward Councillor at Kāpiti Coast District Council Read Profile
Anne Pattillo
Founder and Director of Pattillo Read Profile
Natasha Stubbing
Marketing and Engagaement Manager Read Profile
Carol Hayward
Principal Advisor Panels Read Profile
Nigel Bickle
Read Profile
Erin Bates
Strategic Partnerships and Governance Manager Read Profile