Latest News

Unique approach to addressing hardship in Aotearoa

On Thursday 29 August Emerge Aotearoa and Vaka Tautua launched The Generator with the support of the Ministry of Social Development and Westpac.  The Generator is an innovative approach to addressing financial hardship in poorer communities.  Click on the link below to view the press release issued by the Hon Carmel Sepuloni who opened the service.

Te Whānau o Uenuku, Rainbow Roopu holds Inaugural Hui

Te Whānau o Uenuku, our Rainbow Roopu held its’ inaugural hui and what a fabulous 2 days it was!

The Roopu is made up of whānau from the Rainbow community and allies.  A safe, caring and supportive environment was quickly formed as the group came together and bonded.  The overarching themes from the hui were around acknowledgement, support, learning and focusing on the future. 

Nic Coom our Director of People and Strategy issued the Roopu with a wero at the beginning of Day 1 to “think big and be aspirational” so that is exactly what we did.  We talked a lot about how as an organisation we can influence and be more welcoming and supportive of diversity. 

We were fortunate enough to have Alice Anderson who is the Executive Director of Qtopia talk to us about diversity and inclusion.  Qtopia provide social support groups for the Rainbow community.  They connect people to services and provide wrap around support.  They provide a safe space for people to ask questions without judgement.  Likewise, they provide training in diversity and inclusion.  They work to bring about social change and initiate conversations. 

Alice provided us with so many rich and wonderful ways in which we can create an ally environment so that anyone walking into any Emerge Aotearoa space knows we are diverse friendly.  Alice’s most important take home message is that if you do nothing else, do just two things:  1. use the correct pronouns when talking to whānau, 2. have gender neutral bathrooms….”tiny changes can be mighty”!

Our CE, Barbara Disley joined us via Zoom and shared with us her reflections during her time on the MH&A Inquiry panel.  It was great to be asked what it is that we need to create a safe and diverse friendly workplace for kaimahi and tangata whaiora.

Michelle Dawes, our Learning Advisor based in Wellington shared a presentation on what is means to be and have rainbow allies.  A straight ally is a person who supports equal civil rights to LGBTQIA+ or Rainbow people.  It’s about being able to help others.  If you would like to learn more about allies visit

We kicked off Day 2 hearing from Taine Polkinghorne who is the Human Rights Advisor SOGISC (sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics) with the Human Rights Commission.  Taine has developed a paper that will be published in the coming months that provides recommendations around rights pertaining to healthcare, information, work, recognition within the law and discrimination for the LBGTIQA+ community.  We will be sure to share this paper with you when it is released but in the meantime our take home message is that building awareness of human rights is not enough, action is required.

Katie McGregor from our Tiakina Service in Christchurch presented a thought-provoking piece on “intersectionality”.  She highlighted how things such as race, gender and class influence how you can be seen in society.  We talked a lot about privilege and what this means   

The Roopu spent time talking about Rainbow competencies and training for Emerge Aotearoa.  What would this look like? who would help us provide it? how could it be rolled out? were a few of the questions we posed. 

We were thrilled to hear from Nic about the strategic plan for the next 3 years.  It is encouraging to see diversity recognised as a strategic priority for Emerge Aotearoa.

It was the most incredible two days.  Te Whānau o Uenuku would like to thank Barbara Disley and Nic Coom for their recognition and leadership of the Roopu and would like to say that we accept the challenge of supporting the organisation when it comes to ensuring a safe and diverse friendly environment and culture across Emerge Aotearoa. Finally, we would like to thank Cynthia Spittal for pulling the hui together and making it such a rich and memorable experience for all who attended.  From the presenters to the decorating of the room, we felt such manaaki and aroha.

“Diversity is being asked to the party and inclusion is being asked to dance”

Ngā mihi

Te Whānau o Uenuku

In this pic: Te Whānau o Uenuku

Opinion Piece:  NZ Herald, 25 June 2019

The Shift Aotearoa Conference 2019 

The Shift Aotearoa Conference 2019 was an inspiring opportunity for members of our housing team to take part in discussions around the need for a functioning housing system for NZ and the change required to make it happen.  The Conference was hosted by Community Housing Aotearoa and the Building Better Homes, Towns, and Cities. 

The name of the conference, The Shift Aotearoa, refers to the change needed to develop a functioning housing system to ensure All New Zealanders are well-housed. To make these changes will require different ways of working – with greater collaboration and genuine partnerships between government, iwi, civil society and business all working towards a shared vision.

Our Group CE Barbara Disley and National Housing Manager, Hope Simonsen presented on day two of the conference.  Barbara spoke about housing and mental health and her learning from the Mental Health Enquiry. Hope spoke in her capacity as Auckland Community Housing Providers' Network (ACHPN) Chair and National Housing Manager, Emerge Aotearoa about the mahi of the ACHPN and how they are working towards everyone being able to realise their right to have a home to call their own.

The video Hope shared can be found here:


EaseUp, a fresh approach to youth alcohol and drug support

On Wednesday 5 June the Health Minister Hon Dr David Clark launched EaseUp, a pilot programme for young people struggling with alcohol and drug issues in the Tāmaki region.

 The two-year pilot, which has been self-funded by the Emerge Aotearoa Trust, offers a community-based Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) service for young people aged 13-20, which focuses on assertive outreach, early intervention and involving whānau.

The EaseUp pilot programme will operate as a clinician and peer support partnership community service in the Tāmaki district between the hours of 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday with flexibility to work outside of these hours for pre-planned appointments.  Clinicians and peer support specialists (people with their own experience of overcoming AOD challenges who have specialist training) will work with each young person to tailor goals based on their individual needs. Introductions to the service will be received from a range of channels, including self-referral, schools, marae, community policing, youth justice, Oranga Tamariki, church leaders and sports coaches.

 Whānau will be at the heart of each person’s support, with rangatahi being asked to define what whānau means to them. This will give each young person a chance to build support in a safe and meaningful way.  

Emerge Aotearoa would like to thank Minister Clark and Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei for their support in launching this service.

Media links to the EaseUp launch

Auckland Community Housing Providers Network website now live

The Auckland Community Housing Providers Network (ACHPN) brings together 21 community housing organisations operating across Tāmaki Makaurau of which Emerge Aotearoa is a partner.  The Network is a collection of community housing providers committed to increasing the supply of, affordable, healthy, and quality housing options for the people of Auckland.

Click on the link below to view the ACHPN website.

Auckland Youth Mobile Team attends Kooza Cirque du Soleil 


We may work in a challenging field, but every now and then we surprised with wonderful opportunities!

Thank you/ka whakamihi to the Circability Trust and Kooza Cirque du Soleil from the Auckland Youth Mobile Team. Rangatahi, their whānau and kaimahi had an amazing opportunity to attend the Kooza - Cirque du Soleil show on Valentine’s day.

Kooza is a sensory experience which pays homage to the original circus idea. Acrobatics and clowns combine with a fun, slightly scary storyline. It was a sensory experience like no other bursting with lights, sounds and colours which highlighted a beautiful story.

Rangatahi who attended this event enjoyed this spectacular show and were in awe of the abilities of the performers. This was an experience like no other that would have been beyond reach for many of the young people we work with. The show was thoroughly enjoyed by the rangatahi and their whānau who were lucky enough to attend. 

The following feedback highlighted how amazing the performance was: ‘’Wow, this was the best thing I’ve seen. It was brilliant. It was funny, breath-taking and awesome. I absolutely loved it!’’

A BIG thank you to the Circability Trust who gave us complimentary tickets for this amazing show.

We look forward to doing more combined events in the future.


He Ara Oranga Released

Read He Ara Oranga : Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction released on 4 December here.

Emerge Aotearoa hosts 13th Biennial Asia Pacific Mental Health and Addiction Conference

Nō mātou o Emerge Aotearoa te whiwhi, nō mātou te hōnore ki te whakatū i te Hui-a-Ao tekau mātoru (13th) o Asia Pacific Mental Health i Aotearoa a te tau 2018.

Emerge Aotearoa under the auspices of the Richmond Fellowship Asia Pacific (AsPac) Forum and in partnership with key New Zealand organisations is delighted to have hosted the:

The two-day conference, themed “Healthy Futures: Inspiration, Inclusion and Integration”, brought together a diverse collective of international and indigenous thought leaders and delegates.   Over 270 delegates came together from the mental health, addiction, housing, corrections and other social sectors to discover home-grown and international innovations that will support Aotearoa’s response to the distress experienced by so many in our communities.

International keynote speakers included Australia’s first indigenous doctor, Professor Helen Milroy and member of the recent Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse as well as Yale University and Founders of ‘Citizenship and the Citizens Project’ Professor Michael Rowe and Patty Benedict, a member of the Abenaki Nation of the Odanak reservation in Canada. 

The Citizenship and the Citizens Project is an initiative that recognises the importance of ensuring citizenship and social inclusion for people who continue to be marginalised, particularly people with mental health and addiction challenges, people who are homeless and/or people re-entering society after time in correctional facilities.  It is about recognising the importance of addressing the basic needs in people’s lives such as housing, work, family, community and safety so they can be engaged citizens and live well.  

Professor Milroy has developed and implemented multiple national approaches for the provision of culturally aware health services. As a member of the Royal Commission of Inquiry, she advocated for compassionate processes that allow people to disclose abuse in a way that is healing.  Professor Rowe has dedicated his work to focus on social inclusion, and founded the world-leading Citizenship Project that has supported social equity for 17 years

We were also honoured to hear from several home-grown keynotes such as Josiah Tualamali'i who spoke about culture, engagement and identity, Fiona Trevelyan who talked about 'growing stronger, together – a healthy future for all' and Shreya Rao who addressed the issue of 'what happens when a youth consumer advocate grows up?'. 

We welcomed 86 speakers in total, who presented some of the most innovative approaches to bettering services.

Links to presentations from the conference can be found below.  

Day One - Wednesday 31 October:

Barbara Disley - Welcome

Helen Milroy - In 1978 a little boy started crying....In 2014, he still is.

Josiah Tualamali'i - Keynote

Lisa Philips - How 'well' are addiction practitioners in NZ?

Katie Pui-Fan - Peer support service: A critical stepping stone to recovery based practice in Hong Kong

Manu Sione & Will Gonzales - The value of authentic cultural change

Kimina Andersen & Kingsley Bedwell - Closing the gap or widening the problem?

Emma Wood & Caro Swanson - Enhancing connection through values-informed practice

Carla na Nagara - Breaking the mould of suicide investigation

Emma Skellern & Paora Jospeh - Healing in the aftermath of my brothers suicide

Sho Isogai & Nicky Stanley-Clarke - Exploring an understanding of homelessness in mental health in urban Auckland

Sheree Veysey & Codey Bell - Two+ rethink programme: Engaging for inclusion (housing and education)

Aaron Ward, Ruth Duddling, Siri Embla & Zack McCracken - Smile though your heart is aching, smile even though it's breaking

Janet Peters - To treat addiction and mental distress, treat trauma and loss of connection

David Codyre, Nicholas Cao, Leona Didsbury & Pallaui Mishra - Incresing access to wellness support in primary care: Meeting people at the top of the cliff

Sarah Childs & Kingsley Bedwell - RFQ hospital to home programme: evaluation report

John Sinclair - Yoga education in prisons

Day Two - Thursday 1 November:

Michael Rowe & Patty Benedict - Citizenship, Mental Health and the Citizens Project

Shreya Rao - Our Healthy Future

Helen Hamer - Fostering social inclusion in clinical practice for mental health consumers through 'acts' of citizenship

Bronwyn Dunnachie & Anna Nelson - Towards family inclusive service delivery: Highlights of the supporting parents healthy children guideline implementation

Liz Hosking, Jacob Batten & Kiri Phillips - E tū Rangatahi:  Co-designing for Impact

Paul Hanton - What are your best hopes from our talking together?

Arno Grueber, Hellen Falla, Simon Ogilive, Zheyne Tahana & Chris Butcher - The Cookease project: A look into a unique community mental health project

Sarah Childs - Healthy Futures: Integrating body and mind

Hayley Bruce & Suellen Lembke - MST: Proven results for families and communities

Larry Stapleton - Disruptive technology? Implementing a 'state of the art' client information management system

Magdel Hammond - The big E ain't always easy

Davina Sanders - Making wise choices: community support for consumers with borderline personality disorder

Rufo Pupualii & Jonathan Pouli Lefale - From the pasifika villages perspective: How the Peau Folau measuring tool outlines the partnerships, inclusion and cultural focus of the organisation?

Leilani Maraku - Kaitiakitanga: Te pataka mauri ora/The stonehouse of wellbeing

Kelly Feng & Ivan Yeo - Asian peer support group programme: Integrating eastern philosophies with western therapeutic models

Roz Sorensen - From seclusion to inclusion: Informed by lived experience

Katey Thom & Dave Burnside - A digital story of peer support in te whare whakapiki wairua

Kay Fletcher - Housing solutions: Listening, learning and acting on consumer experience to inform modern mental health approaches to housing. What works?