Message from Paul Nixon

A message from Paul Nixon, Chief Social Worker, Ministry of Social Development, New Zealand 

Kia ora te whanau (greetings to our wider family).

I am sorry I cannot be there today to share in your discussions, but I am there in spirit.

For us in Aotearoa New Zealand, building strong healthy relationships are at the heart of  everything we do. The central building block for this is family. The concepts of whanau (family in its widest sense) and whakapapa (all the connections we have; to people, places, history) are the starting point of these relationships, so we organise our services and our practice around these key connections.

We are now part of a wider family or whanau connecting us to our colleagues and friends in Nova Scotia, Hull and Leeds, and now Canberra. We have learnt so much from this International Learning Community and believe these strong alliances across jurisdictions can only enhance our understanding and improve results for all our communities.

To develop this approach in Whanganui, we continue to build relationships across agencies and across the sectors. We have found that leadership emerges in the most unexpected places! We have a strong narrative about what we are doing. We have political support and an approach to evaluation. To succeed we must see families at the heart of this work and engage indigenous leadership and world views to shape and define the process.

Have a great day. I will be there next time!

Mauri ora (bless your spirit).


Paul Nixon is the Chief Social Worker, Office of Child, Youth & Family, in the Ministry of Social Development New Zealand (responsible for youth justice and child protection).