Dr Carwyn Jones, speaking at the start of the workshop in Changing Room 1 at Westpac Stadium

The TacklingPovertyNZ workshop officially kicked off at Westpac Stadium on Sunday. The 36 TacklingPovertyNZ participants, who have come to Wellington from all over New Zealand, gathered in the stadium’s changing rooms to start getting to know each other and to prepare for the task ahead. 

All our workshops follow a similar process, as outlined in the diagram below.

I firstly explained that the three days of the workshop would be action-packed and intense. Carwyn Jones, Senior Lecturer in Law at Victoria University of Wellington, then shared his ideas on having safe and productive discussions. Before joining the Victoria University Faculty of Law, Carwyn worked at the Waitangi Tribunal, the Māori Land Court, and the Office of Treaty Settlements. Carwyn’s speech helped to prepare the group for the challenging conversations they would soon find themselves in the midst of, by discussing ways to communicate effectively, respectfully and productively. He summarised these intro three key points:

1. Respectful conversations

2. Keeping focussed on what is important

3. Keeping an eye out for moments of agreement

We also introduced a new idea for this workshop. While on sabbatical I had a moment to review the workshop process. I always felt I lost a day before participants jelled and I was thinking – how can I make that part of the process speed up? I have always loved reading Vanity Fair, and while reading the back pages, I had an ah ha moment. Using the concept initially developed by French writer Marcel Proust in the late 19th century, the magazine developed a questionnaire to  illustrate the character of  celebrities. Could we instead create a questionnaire designed to allow participants the ability to have a quick and accurate insight into how they might best they might work as a team?

This has proved so successful, I wanted to share with you – both the (i)  questionnaire, what we are calling the ‘Getting to know each other’ questionnaire and (ii) the questionnaire results. Within 30 minutes the groups were laughing and enjoying each others company, ready for Day 1 of the workshop proper.

20151208 'Getting to know each other' Questionnaire page one 20151208 FINAL TPNZ questionnaire - plenary results page one