Reflections: AFN Conference, Raglan 2017

January 27, 2017 

The AFN (Australasian Facilitators Network) Annual conference was held in Whaingaroa / Raglan from 30th Nov-2nd December 2017. The theme for the conference was Tuakana  / Teina, which refers to the concept of older or more experienced siblings teaching and guiding younger siblings. This is not necessarily age dependent. I work within the technology industry and all ages definitely have something to contribute!

A number of our Zenergy whanau attended the three days; Dale, Stephen, Akasadaka, Kārena and myself. Somehow we all booked into Solscape and stayed in a range of accommodation from eco-apartments to an old train carriage.

AFN Whaingaroa / Raglan

AFN Whaingaroa / Raglan

The conference started on Wednesday with us gathering at the entrance to Poihakena marae and we were formally welcomed on to the marae and to the conference. We agreed our tikanga/culture for the conference, made connections and signed up for that day’s field trips. A range of eight field trips were offered that symbolised how community facilitation is occurring in Raglan and the powerful impact it is having eg: Xtreme Zero Waste which has diverted 75% of waste from landfill and become the area’s second largest employer. I decided to have some fun and went along to Takaro Maori ki Paphua which was an opportunity to experience traditional Maori games; a mechanism being used as a way to facilitate learning, strategy, creativity and teamwork.

On Thursday we moved to Kokiri Centre, where we were formally welcomed and learnt about the history of the place from Angeline Greensill, Eva Rickard’s daughter. The day then moved on to the workshop streams where we were offered twelve 90 minute workshop options over three time slots. Most people had trouble choosing as they were all so interesting.

The workshops offered by our Zenergy team were Unleashing Wholeperson Expression (Akasadaka and me), Coaching & Mentoring facilitators (Dale, supported by Kārena) and Facilitating online groups (Stephen). I chose to attend one by Miranda O’Connell which focused on deep listening practice with coaching circles from Theory U which was very well received.

The key learning for me was that when someone shared their issue, the listeners could only reflect back using metaphors for what they heard – this was very powerful and really highlighted how difficult (and often ineffective) it is when people coach in a way that projects purely from their own experience. Akasadaka and I had fun in our session, which was held in “The Stage”  where we explored the impact of physical intervention on connecting participants to their authenticity. Akasadaka had been doing the 22 Pushups Challenge to raise awareness of suicide in NZ, and we started the workshop with a group video!

Australasian Facilitators Network

Australasian Facilitators Network

The food on the marae was beautiful and tasty; mostly made with locally produced food. All workshop leaders were given a marae cookbook which I have tried a couple of recipes from since. On the last night, we enjoyed the wonderful sunset views from the Raglan Surf Club as well as some local entertainment. The conference closed on Friday morning, with reflection and learnings and a symbolic handing over; an intention has been set for next year’s conference to be held in Sydney where Indigenous Australia will host.

By Kelly Townsend 


Michelle Rush commented on 01-Feb-2017 10:31 AM
Hi Kelly, thanks for the lovely write up on the conference! Helen, Tuihana and I were really pleased with how it all went… a bit scary having to organise a whole conference. And many thanks for your and your Zenergy colleagues’ contributions and help!

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