Mental health, addiction, disability nursing brought to forefront at Te Ao Māramatanga – New Zealand College of Mental Health conference

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Te Ao Māramatanga New Zealand College of Mental Health Nurses will host its international conference ‘Weaving the threads of wellbeing together’ at Whitireia Community Polytechnic in Porirua on 1 to 2 October. Ahead of the conference, on September 30, attendees are encouraged to watch the free screening of a groundbreaking US documentary about mental health - Healing Voices.

The conference, ‘Weaving the threads of wellbeing together’, will provide solutions, practical advice and information to nurses and health practitioners supporting people with mental health, addiction issues and disabilities.

“The attention wellbeing is receiving in New Zealand is a relief to the thousands of nurses who have seen the distress of many people,” says Suzette Poole, president of Te Ao Māramatanga New Zealand College of Mental Health Nurses.

“Our health sector needs to work collaboratively, hence our theme of weaving threads together. The yellow thread of hope is key,” says Ms Poole.

“Mental health, addiction and disability nurses are extremely skilled in supporting people with mental health, addiction issues and people with disabilities, and are an integral part of the workforce to support better wellbeing for New Zealanders,” says Ms Poole.

“Sharing expertise and bringing together different ideas is critical to continuing to develop our specialist nursing skills - and our conference will do exactly this,” says Ms Poole.

Speaker line-up

Opening speakers at the conference include Margareth Broodkoorn, the Chief Nursing Officer for the Ministry of Health, and Dame Margaret Bazley, who is the patron of Te Ao Māramatanga New Zealand College of Mental Health Nurses.

Other experienced academics and practitioners who will share knowledge at the conference include:
Dr. Maria Baker, Chief Executive of Te Rau Ora; Dr. Sione Vaka, Senior Lecturer at Auckland University of Technology; and Robyn Shearer, Deputy Director General of Mental Health and Addiction at the Ministry of Health.

Matt Ball, Australian mental health nurse and psychotherapist, will attend as the international keynote speaker. Matt was awarded the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses Mental Health Nurse of the year in 2017 for bringing alternative approaches to working with people labelled as experiencing psychosis. Matt has developed an explanatory framework - ‘Dissociachotic’ – a concept that explains ‘psychotic’ realities. He is Founder and Co-Director of the Humane Clinic and recently convened Reawaken Australia, a 5-day international event that focused on compassion, connection and meaningful action to shift paradigms in mental health, trauma, and addiction.

The conference will close with an address by Kevin Allan, Mental Health Commissioner at the Health and Disability Commission.

“We are delighted to host this very important conference,” says Chris Gosling, chief executive of Wellington Institute of Technology and Whitireia Community Polytechnic, who will be presenting at the conference. “The government’s timely focus on wellbeing and mental health services creates an urgent need to train more health professionals with skills in these areas. As nationally respected providers of quality training in health and social services, Whitireia and WelTec is pleased to play a role in meeting this need.”

“Amongst other programmes, Whitireia and WelTec deliver mental health and addiction programmes from level 3 to level 8, the strong nursing, postgraduate Nurse Entry to Specialist Practice (NESP) programmes, counselling and addiction practice programmes, and the newly developed Peer Support programme,” says Carmel Haggerty, Head of the School of Health and Social Services at Whitireia and WelTec.

Read the full conference programmeconference speakers and details of the 13 workshops on offer.


Details of the conference:

The 6th International Conference of Te Ao Māramatanga Weaving the threads of wellbeing together, Mental health, addiction, disability nurses responding with hope for the future.

Where: Whitireia New Zealand, Porirua, Wikitoria Katene Building, Entrance 1, 3 Wineera Drive, Porirua (Free parking available on site)
When: 1-2 October 2019, free movie screening on 30 September
Register: Register here
Registrations close this Thursday 26 September. The College offers special rates for non-waged, Kuia, Kaumatua, retired nurses, new graduate nurses, student nurses, service users/tangata whaiora. Please register by downloading the form for special rate here and return to


Information about Te Ao Māramatanga New Zealand College of Mental Health Nursing:

Te Ao Māramatanga New Zealand College of Mental Health Nursing is the professional body for practising mental health nurses in New Zealand. It represents the professional interests of psychiatric and/or mental health nurses in Aotearoa New Zealand and those enrolled nurses who work in mental health setting in Aotearoa New Zealand. In 2018, the College launched a national Disability Nurses Branch and a National Addiction Nurses Branch. 


Information about nursing at Wellington Institute of Technology and Whitireia Community Polytechnic

The School of Health and Social Services at Whitireia and WelTec remains strong and is open for applications in 2020. Nursing in particular is continuing to grow and over 80% of our graduates have been offered employment within the first three months post registration. The School has developed a national reputation over the last three decades for producing work ready nursing graduates highly regarded by industry.