The Ngakau Project – an Invitation

This project has arisen out of the Transit of Venus Forum held in Gisborne in June 2012. This event was designed to mark the Transit of Venus by considering how Aotearoa New Zealand can lift its horizons, and how, in the words of the late Sir Paul Callaghan, the originator of the Forum, it can become a place “where talent wants to live”.

The Ngakau Project, incorporating the Maori notion of ngakau, or heart, mind and seat of emotions, is a training and development initiative. The last of the six discussion sessions at the Forum focused on people, and their role in the development of New Zealand. For people to be ready to take up the challenges laid down by Sir Paul, they need the capability to lead and to follow, to participate and engage, to work across cultures, and to incorporate the best thinking from science, technology, business and the humanities. The project is aimed to foster these capabilities.

From within the field of psychotherapy, particularly group psychotherapy, a model of working has evolved known as Group Analysis. Its founder, the psychoanalyst S H Foulkes, defined the small-group version of Group Analysis as psychotherapy in the group, by the group, and of the group, including the conductor (the name used for the therapist or facilitator in this tradition).

Within the field of psychological therapies in Aotearoa New Zealand there is considerable scope for training in this tradition, and for that training to contribute to a range of aspects of service delivery. However, these ideas are not limited to therapy, and have a role to play in education, science and technology, business, and life in general. Also, although there have been few systematic attempts to link the tradition of Group Analysis with aspects of Maori culture, it is clear that there are a number of significant overlaps, particularly in relation to how the individual is seen. In Group Analysis, the individual is seen not, as in some Western psychotherapy traditions as the sole focus, but as a nodal point in a network or matrix of relationships. This matrix includes both what is pre-existing, seen as the foundation matrix, as well as the dynamic relationships created within and between people in a particular situation, seen as the dynamic matrix.

The Project aims initially to recruit a Steering Group to establish a range of training and development opportunities, in order to meet the needs outlined above. Given the scope of the project, this Steering Group needs to draw on people from the Social Sciences, but also from Science and Technology, Business and the Not-for Profit Sector. It is also absolutely fundamental that the Project has a bi-cultural basis, a multi-cultural vision and that it incorporates a research and teaching component. It is envisaged that there will be core elements to what is provided (such as events and programmes that will bring all participants together), as well as specialized streams of activity for particular needs amongst the various participants. This document is an invitation for expressions of interest in any aspect of this Project.