Public Trust among the first to employ women in New Zealand

Public Trust employed some of the first women in Public Service from 1892 — a year before women won the right to vote in New Zealand.

The typists’ room at Public Trust head office on the 1920s.
AADV W5534 24782 149 R24236683 Archives New Zealand

In 1892, Maud Harrap transferred from the Postal Department to the Public Trust Office as a short-hand typist and became the first woman on staff. Maud was joined later that year by Susan Dimant, and, in 1895, by Julia Skerrett and Emily Smythe, all as short-hand typists.

Elvie Mooney started working for Public Trust Auckland’s office in 1962 as a shorthand typist.

She left five years later to bring up her family and during her nine-year hiatus, she studied to upskill herself. She returned in 1976, joining the Takapuna branch and later becoming the first female District Public Trustee, based in Thames with five staff.

Says Elvie: “There were opportunities there [in the State Services Commission], and, if you were willing and able, you could take them. I was never one to stand back, I put my hand up for anything going and was eager to learn.

The 1970s workplace was hierarchical, sexist, and smoky (smoking was commonplace in the office) and nearly everyone was a public servant. 

On Monday, 4 December 1978, a young Shona Devoy, straight from a secretarial course at Waiariki Community College, started as a typist at the Public Trust Office in Rotorua.

“We got to serve tea to the bosses in their rooms. Very menial stuff. We weren’t allowed to wear trousers in the office. We weren’t allowed to drive the office car, or anything like that,” recalls Shona.

Members of the Public Trust team in Rotorua, 1980s

From starting at Public Trust as a typist in 1978, having worked on the frontline as an estates officer, in management roles as Customer Centre Manager (Hamilton/Thames) and as Area Manager for the Central Region, to today where Shona holds a senior role as Service Quality Manager.

“I suppose the biggest change that I’ve seen is the change of the role for women in the organisation,” says Shona.

Shona recalls it was monumental’ when Elvie Mooney became the first woman to be appointed a District Public Trustee at Thames – “it was a landmark”.

In 1990, Public Trust’s adoption of an Equal Employment Opportunity policy recognised the need to increase the gender balance and ethnic diversity of staff to better serve New Zealand’s bi-cultural foundations and increasingly diverse society.

EEO Coordinator Deborah Mullis became the first woman on the senior executive team in 1995 and the following year Rhondda Murphy joined the executive team as Communications Manager and later General Manager of Communications and Marketing.

Today, the Public Trust workforce is 67% female and is led by its first female Chief Executive, Glenys Talivai.

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Keep spreading those wings

Published by The Selwyn Foundation

Nostalgia – The concept of emotional growth is usually the domain of children. As we age there are still opportunities to let our feelings evolve and grow.

Emotional or Psychological growth means different things to different people. For some people, it means greater freedom to do what they want, live as they want, and pursue their interests. Others seek to understand themselves better, develop their personal capacities, plus experience new things.

There is a connection between mental and emotional growth according to internet-based WebMD.

While the terms mental health and emotional health are sometimes used interchangeably, they are distinctly different. That said, you really cannot have one without the other and an imbalance in one can pull the other out of balance as well.

In simple terms a division agreed by many experts is mental health refers to your ability to process information. Emotional health, on the other hand, refers to your ability to express feelings which are based upon the information you have processed. If your cognitive function (often explained as the processing functions of the brain) is hindered by depression or anxiety, for example, you may struggle with accurately identifying familiar people, places, items, etc. This can then trigger inappropriate responses because those responses are based upon inaccurate thoughts.

Past thinking
Nostalgia plays a role in helping to continue psychological growth by cultivating inner potentialities, and seeking out optimal challenges and new experiences into the self-concept. At a time of great change, as New Zealand has experienced, the mind will ‘reach’ for positive memories that are generally more crystallized.

There is an element of ‘living in the past’ to this process, but nostalgia can also provide a safe and secure platform as well as a stabilizing force.

Psychology Professor Krystine Batcho (Le Moyne College, Syracuse, New York) believes that nostalgic memories tend to focus on our relationships, which can comfort us during stressful or difficult times.

“Although we’ve become independent and mature (perhaps even a bit jaded), we’re still our parents’ child, our brother’s sibling, and our lover’s confidant. In developing a retrospective survey of childhood experiences, I found that remembering that we experienced unconditional love as children can reassure us in the present – especially during trying times.”

“These memories can fuel the courage to confront our fears, take reasonable risks and tackle challenges. Rather than trapping us in the past, nostalgia can liberate us from adversity by promoting personal growth.”

“People with a greater propensity for nostalgia are better able to cope with adversity and are more likely to seek emotional support, advice and practical help from others. They are also more likely to avoid distractions that prevent them from confronting their troubles and solving problems.

“Ultimately, when we focus on our own life experiences – falling back on our store of happy memories – nostalgia is a useful tool. It’s a way to harness the past internally, to endure change – and create hope for the future.”

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Aotearoa’s Fractured Housing Continuum

The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services
Kaitātari Kaupapa, Policy Advisor Rachel Mackay

NZCCSS have identified a number of issues and pitfalls in this model that are resulting in the model itself standing in the way of everyday New Zealanders from attaining housing security and a Decent Home.

What is the Continuum and why does it matter?

Since the early 2000s, Aotearoa has been using the concept of a ‘Housing Continuum’ to describe the way different parts of housing and housing support fit together. This model is used internationally to show the different forms of housing in a community, but in a New Zealand it also illustrates the different financial supports afforded by those living in the specific kind of housing. The model, like most models, is a reductionist view of the housing ecosystem that makes it look like an easy and straightforward process to move along the continuum from homelessness and housing instability all the way up to home-ownership.

The barriers to progression, both as a result of insurmountable financial jumps between categories and the ongoing national housing shortage, are not illustrated whatsoever. 

The continuum itself also does not address programmes and parameters of housing that exist outside of it, such as Housing First, Papakāinga, Co-housing, and Aged Residential Care. 

Also not outlined is how the different sectors of the continuum may or may not meet the definitions of ‘A Decent Home’ as outlined by the Decency Principles in the Right to a Decent Home inquiry being undertaken by the Human Rights Commission. 

The Right to a Decent Home

The Right to a Decent Home is based upon Aotearoa New Zealand’s signing to several International Human Rights agreements – principally the International Bill of Human Rights, but also the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and importantly the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  

Coming out of these documents and the breadth of international law around the Right to a Decent Home, it has been determined that a “home” is so much more than just sufficient shelter. This marries with the mātauranga of Te Ao, which highlights the importance of whenua and kāinga on the hauora of an individual.

 Seven key principles can be applied to a home to determine how decent it is – 

  • Affordability
  • Habitability
  • Accessibility
  • Security of Tenure
  • Proximity to Education, Employment and Healthcare
  • Access to Core Services
  • Cultural Adequacy

The Housing Continuum

Homelessness and Housing Instability  

  • Having no fixed address at which the needs of the individual or family can be consistently met in terms of shelter and amenities.
  • Includes sleeping rough, couch surfing, sleeping in cars, and other such circumstances.
  • Individuals and whānau at this stage are eligible for assistance, but can or do not access it for a variety of reasons.

    By definition, meets no decency principles of a decent home.

Emergency Housing 

  • Short term intervention funded in 7-day increments by MSD, designed to provide temporary support for those experiencing homelessness and housing instability while they find more permanent accommodation.
  • After the first 7 days, recipients are expected to contribute 25% of their household income to accommodation costs (Income Related Rent Subsidy)
  • Not a tenancy situation, and as a result not covered by the Residential Tenancies Act, no matter the duration.
  • Emergency housing is likely to be in a motel or shelter environment and are likely to only meet affordability and habitability principles. 
  • In December 2022 wholesale change to Emergency Housing was proposed by the Labour Government, however as of publication this has not eventuated.

Transitional Housing 

  • Interim housing solution while individuals and families wait on the Social Housing Register to obtain social housing (or private rental).
  • Funded in 12-week stints by HUD and subject to Income Related Rent Subsidy, transitional housing is accompanied by support from providers (usually either CHPs or Kāinga Ora) for programmes to enable more security of future tenure, such as budgeting or computer literacy courses.
  • While intended to be in a more home-like setting, due to overwhelming demand for the Social Housing register many Transitional Housing clients are now living in motel environments for prolonged periods of time.
  • Not a form of tenancy, so not covered by the RTA no matter the duration – HUD is in a work stream of creating a Code of Practice to help regulate this space but not yet in effect.
  • Depending on the form of transitional housing assigned, this step on the continuum will meet between four and seven of the Decency Principles.

Social Housing 

  • Permanent accommodation, reserved for those who have been placed on the Social Housing Register
  • Subject to the Income Related Rent Subsidy, meaning tenants pay only 25% of their household income as rent, with the rest paid by HUD. Provided by Community Housing Providers and Kāinga Ora. 
  • There is no time limit on how long individuals can remain in Social Housing, they must simply remain within the eligibility requirements of the Social Housing Register.
  • Tenancies are protected by the RTA. 
  • Whānau are only assigned to housing in that it fits their needs, and all Social Housing must comply with the Healthy Homes standards as of July 1st, 2023. Tenants have security of tenure provided they continue to meet the eligibility requirements of Social Housing, and as a result all Decency Principles either have been or will be met at this step.

Assisted Rental 

  • Rental properties in the main market which have their rent levels intentionally set below market rates.
  • Often further functionally subsidised by Accommodation Supplement due to the individual’s income eligibility. Accommodation supplement is not a requirement of being in an assisted rental, nor is being housed in a property with below-market rent is not a requirement of receiving accommodation supplement.
  • Tenancies covered by the RTA, and as private rentals the property must comply with the Healthy Homes standards. Depending on location of property, this step is likely to meet all of the Decency Principles, although most are not guaranteed, as a family may take a home that does not meet all their needs to obtain accommodation.

Assisted Ownership 

  • Programmes designed to support low-income individuals and families into home ownership
  • Includes shared and co-ownership schemes, affordable equity, and rent to buy schemes
  • Not historically used within Aotearoa but becoming more widespread – the NZ Housing Foundation and the PHO fund through HUD both facilitate this form of ownership, as do a number of iwi. Subject to regional restrictions on availability and income limits
  • Eligible for Home Start and Kiwisaver contributions in most circumstances
  • Depending on location of property, this step is likely to meet all of the Decency Principles, although some are not guaranteed as a family may take a home that does not meet all their needs to obtain accommodation.

Private Rental  

  • Market rate rented accommodation in the main market.
  • No regulation on cost, and many who can afford this form of accommodation are ineligible for Accommodation supplement or other housing related financial support. 
  • Tenancies covered by the RTA, and as private rentals the property must comply with Healthy Homes standards. Depending on location of property, this step is likely to meet many of the Decency Principles, although none other than Healthy-Homes compliant habitability are guaranteed as a family may take a home that does not meet all their needs to obtain accommodation. Private rentals have no requirements to meet affordability assessments, and many do not under current market conditions.

Private Ownership  

  • Ownership of own accommodation, purchased from the private market or built, with and without a mortgage. 
  • No regulation on costs of housing, and minimal financial support – none of which is not also available for Assisted Ownership individuals. 
  • This step on the continuum is likely to have the most freedom to meet all the Decency Principles, with the probable exception of affordability under current market conditions.

Why does the Continuum matter?

The Housing continuum underlies all the planning, decision making and funding of New Zealand’s housing system. Where you are along the continuum determines how much assistance you receive from the government in terms of special needs grants, income related rent subsidy, or accommodation supplement. The steps along the continuum define the categories of housing that are available from a planning perspective, both in terms of building and in procurement by social agencies.

It gives us a framework to understand the current state of housing security (or insecurity as the case may be) in our country and provides target demographics to observe for data collection around housing related issues. It also gives the illusion that the continuum will, inevitably, continue – that with some effort and dedication anyone in the country could work their way up from absolute housing insecurity and homelessness to a Decent Home. This, however, is not the case. Like any model, the Housing Continuum looks like an excellent concept until it is forced to interact with reality.

We have identified a number of issues and pitfalls in this model that are resulting in the model itself standing in the way of everyday New Zealanders from attaining housing security and a Decent Home. Join us over our series into the Housing Continuum to understand these issues, some key groups who are being particularly let down by them, and how we can take on housing in New Zealand.  

The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS)

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Research reveals New Zealanders are willing to make trade-offs to keep the pension age at 65.

A University of Otago study commissioned by Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission has shown widespread opposition to means-testing superannuation and raising the age of eligibility but a willingness to increase taxes now rather than burden future generations.

Almost 1300 people throughout New Zealand across all demographics were surveyed to examine their preferences over seven aspects of retirement income policy. Five of the seven aspects related to NZ Super, including the amount, the age of eligibility, means-testing, willingness to increase current taxes to pay for the pension, and willingness to increase taxes on future generations to pay for the pension. The other two aspects related to savings comprised the desirability of accumulated savings and the importance of saving flexibility.

The same study was conducted in 2014 and has been replicated to ascertain whether attitudes to retirement income settings have changed.  It is designed so that respondents are asked to indicate their preferences about two scenarios that have different combinations of two criteria (or aspects) of a choice, such as keeping the age at 65 and paying more tax now or moving the age to 67 and not paying more tax now. The responses result in the ranking of each of the seven features by area of importance.

The results in the 2022 study are broadly similar to the results from 2014. The three highest-ranked criteria still relate to means-testing, future taxes rates, and the age of eligibility.

Almost a quarter of people ranked keeping the age of eligibility at 65 as the most important aspect of NZ Super (compared to almost a fifth of people in 2014). The number of people who ranked the age of eligibility as the least important has fallen by 4%.

Raising the age of eligibility to 67 was ranked by 61% of respondents as the worst policy (of the seven options), making it the option ranked worst by the largest number of people. The unpopularity of this policy has increased relative to 2014.

Respondents expressed a strong preference for universal rather than means-tested pensions.

Respondents were also opposed to policies that result in steep increases in taxes on future generations.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Andrew Coleman, says the results suggest that New Zealanders’ preferences about the structure of the Government’s retirement income programmes have not changed much between 2014 and 2022.

“Where we did see small change this time round was more people wanting the age of eligibility kept at 65 years than was the case in 2014.

“Secondly, support for universal pensions rather than a means-testing regime is less pronounced than was the case in 2014. Nonetheless, it is still comfortably the most important policy to the largest number of people.

“The findings showed a greater opposition to increases in current taxes than in 2014. Despite this reduced support, a majority of the respondents still would support higher current taxes to reduce the size of future tax increases, given plausible investment returns.

“This means there is still considerable willingness amongst people of all ages to support initiatives such as the New Zealand Superannuation Fund that reduce the costs on future generations.”

Interestingly, the results indicate that even though preferences about retirement income are diverse, they still do not depend much on observable characteristics such as age, education, income or ethnicity. Rather, New Zealanders’ preferences reflect unobservable characteristics, “people differ more by how they think than how they look,” says Dr. Coleman.

The 2022 results have shown more people are feeling less confident they will have a comfortable retirement (15% difference compared to 2014).

Retirement Commissioner Jane Wrightson says these latest findings further support the key recommendation made as part of the 2022 Review of Retirement Income Policies to maintain the NZ Super age of eligibility at 65.

“It’s once again been demonstrated just how critical the role NZ Super plays to large numbers of New Zealanders now and in the future.

“Today, 40% of people aged 65 and over have virtually no other income besides NZ Super and another 20% only have that, and a little more.

“To provide good retirement outcomes we need to maintain NZ Super at current settings and explore other mechanisms to support those where this is not enough on its own.”

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Mānawatia Pakeketanga: the importance of Community Support by and for Māori

Loosely translated Mānawatia Pakeketanga means ‘celebrating the elderly’ – and it’s the fitting name of a new programme to support whānau living with dementia (mate wareware) in rural Northland.

The pilot has been developed and delivered by the Frank and Judy Solomon with support from Alzheimers Northland.

It is now into its last week and the mid-northern Kaeo community appreciate the support that has been provided so far.

This is the first support group programme in the region which is delivered by and for Māori (although not exclusively for Māori) and targets many of the challenges faced by whānau living with mate wareware who live rurally.

The sessions for kaiāwhina (carers) and pakeke (person with dementia) are run with both participants together offering support and respite for both parties – and eliminating the need to spend extra hours driving to separate support groups.

Alzheimer’s Northland General Manager Trudi Bridges says the programme addresses some of the challenges the region faces, particularly in terms of accessibility.

A high proportion of the Northland population is Māori and often experiences inequities in the current health system. Many whānau Alzheimers Northland supports live rurally and face additional costs to travel to support services. Often, dropping off and picking up a whānau member at a day programme can involve several hours of driving from home to town and back again.

The sessions are three hours long and are built around whanaungatanga (getting to know each other) incorporating waiata (song), karakia (incantations) and kai (food).

Traditional activities such as Poi were used in the latest session, which many pakeke enjoyed and commented they hadn’t used poi since they were children. Games and puzzles are also popular and participants explored ways to keep the brain engaged, breathing exercises and korero about their journeys.

“Most people came away with a real feeling of wairua (soul) in the room, of belonging, compassion and support. And just the feeling of love and aroha.”

“They really expressed how they felt. A couple of people said they feel heard, and they feel they’ve got a connection now in the community to support their mate wareware journey.”

Judy and Frank Solomon, and their daughter Kiri, facilitated the sessions with Alzheimers Northland Volunteer Maree Kilkoly and Community Advisor Phillipa Cooper.

The Solomon whānau have whānau in Northland, and were keen to get the pilot up and running in the region following the recent success of a pilot they ran in Manurewa, Auckland.

Trudi said this was an important opportunity to provide the support that meets a community need, and for Alzheimers Northland to be able to offer support with their experience and knowledge of mate wareware.

Although it’s early days, Trudi is hopeful the programme will continue in the community in some form with a view to expand into other areas of Northland.
If you, or anyone you know needs more support, reach out to your local Alzheimers or dementia mate wareware organisation for more support

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Celebrating 150 Years of Public Trust

2023 marks a special anniversary for Public Trust, 150 years since it was established as the world’s first public trustee services organisation.

The Crown entity is now well-known for its provision of estate planning services, including wills and enduring powers of attorney (EPAs), but what is less known is that it was set up to protect some of our society’s most vulnerable people.

Late nineteenth-century New Zealand society was haphazard; settlers lived dangerously and moved frequently around the country and beyond. Women and children were particularly vulnerable if widowed or orphaned, as appointed estate trustees had a habit of disappearing.

On a walk from Parliament along Lambton Quay in 1870, Christchurch MP Edward Stevens and the Colonial Treasurer Julius Vogel discussed the sad case of the trust fund theft from a widow and her family. Stevens suggested the idea of a government-owned public trustee service providing certainty and integrity to vulnerable New Zealanders’ estates.

The idea for the government to protect the assets of vulnerable people was a progressive solution to the problems of colonial society.

For the next two years Vogel, who was to become New Zealand’s eighth premier in 1873, repeatedly pushed bills through Parliament, aimed at establishing such a service. He was finally successful, and the Public Trust Office Act 1872 created a government-owned and managed public trustee service – the first in the world when it opened on 1 January 1873.

Public Trust’s duty to advocate for New Zealanders extended beyond protecting estates – it was one of the first government departments to hire women in the 1890s, to provide Māori and Pacific scholarships in the 1990s, and to fight for the recognition of mental illness in the 2000s.

“During our 150-year anniversary we will be taking time to reflect on our proud legacy of advocacy for all New Zealanders.

“Our team’s role as current stewards of our organisation is to set Public Trust up for a future in which we can continue the important mahi of protecting New Zealanders’ legacies for the next 150 years,” Glenys Talivai, Chief Executive.

Today, 150 years on and now an autonomous, self-funding Crown-owned entity, Public Trust lives a proud legacy every day of being an advocate for all New Zealanders.

About Public Trust

Public Trust is a self-funded autonomous Crown Entity employing over 400 people across our corporate offices and network of customer centres.

Our purpose is to empower all New Zealanders to build and protect their legacies. We do this through our work as New Zealand’s largest provider of estate planning and management services. We are also one of the country’s largest charitable trust administrators and advisers, helping more than 420 charities to set up trusts and distribute funds back to our communities.

Our investments team manages around $1.2bn of funds, primarily for charities, estate beneficiaries and students (through our Fee Protect service). Public Trust’s Corporate Trustee Services offer some of Australasia’s best-known institutions a full range of trustee services and we supervise a number of KiwiSaver and superannuation scheme providers.

Published by Public Trust – March 2023

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How Covid changed university for me.

By Anjali Thulkanam, Student, BA in psychology and history, Victoria University of Wellington

On the 2nd of March 2020, I started my very first day of university. I was only 18, excited to learn new things, to meet new people, and have new experiences. At least that’s how I think I felt.

On the 25th of March, lockdowns began. I remember being hesitantly excited for the first lockdown. The freedom of it appealed to me. Staying inside all the time, working on my own time, mid-trimester break early, and no mid-terms? It was a completely novel idea.

At the time I didn’t know the impacts ongoing and repeated lockdowns would have. Trimester 2 of 2022 was the first time I could say with complete certainty that I recognised people on campus.

I’m 21 now, in my extended third year of university and still trying to get over that isolation. What started as a requirement became something I imposed on myself. Covid created significant change in my life and I’ve spent the last few years considering and discussing the changes and the impact it has had on me.  

Life at home during lockdowns was very different from anything I had ever experienced. On one hand I had complete control over what I was doing and when. However, the only contact I had was with my family.

Cut forward a few months, schools and work places returned to in-person. University continued to be online. It was just me alone from 8am until 6:30pm every day. Even then, the only people I saw were my family.

A study by Barr et al., ‘Adolescent Adjustment During COVID-19: The Role of Close Relationships and COVID-19-related Stress’ explored impacts of lockdowns in relation to personal relationships. In the study, family relations were found to be a greater predictor of coping than close friendships.

In my own experience, the relationships I had with my family were important in my coping with lockdowns. Without the support of my family, I likely would’ve found myself more isolated. Being around them allowed me to have people I could talk to about how I was feeling and the obstacles I found myself faced with.  In the long run, however, I found that those relationships weren’t enough.

Under covid conditions social interaction with peers was almost impossible. As I mentioned, when lockdowns started, I was just starting university. I had made no friends there – a few acquaintances, but no friends.

The friends I had were from high school and we were now spread out across the country. Even now, 3 years on, they are still the people I’m closest to. And it’s good to have people who are close to you, but when they live in different cities and have their own lives, it can end up being very isolating.

I started participating in study groups as the university started moving back to in-person. This was one of the best things I could’ve done for myself. I made friends. People who I would meet up with once a week and just talk to.

I realised through these study sessions that I wasn’t the only one who had been missing that social connection. On one particular day I sat in one of these study sessions with someone I barely knew and talked to her about nothing for three whole hours. I felt like I had gained something important. After that I started trying to talk to people more and more. It could be exhausting, but knowing I now had people I could message about uni work or grab a coffee with was freeing.

Returning to campus in 2022 caused a few big realisations. For the first time I knew the face of the person marking my work. I’d talked to them. I’d asked them questions. I recognised people on campus, in the library, in my tutorials, and in my lectures. The realisation that I’d been missing a key university experience was unexpected. Purely by being on campus,  I found myself driven to do my work on time, to contribute to discussions, and to try harder.

I think something really important to remember about lockdowns is that the initial jump to online wasn’t a big, horrible thing- in fact, it was exciting. The prospect of staying at home, not having to worry about travel, and waking up late was appealing. Working from home at first didn’t make doing the work harder, in fact it almost made it easier. Trading off sleep for an assignment was easy when I didn’t have to think about what time I needed to wake up and the classes I needed to attend.

But I lost valuable experiences that I likely will never have now. I didn’t meet people I might have, or try new things that I could’ve liked. And there really is no changing that. The only thing I can do, that we all can do, is turn to tomorrow and take it day by day. Take the opportunity to meet new people, send a friend a text, and say yes to new experiences instead of no.

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Celebrating 10 years of Cognitive Stimulation Therapy

Published by Alzheimers New Zealand

Dr Kathy Peri training CST facilitators in the classroom

A once relatively unknown evidence-based, non-pharmacological intervention is celebrating 10 years of improving the quality of life for New Zealanders with mild to moderate dementia.

Developed in the UK and later adopted in at least 38 countries, a Cognitive
Stimulation Therapy (CST)
 feasibility study was conducted in Aotearoa New Zealand in 2013/14 with support from Te Pou.

So well-received was it by participants, one wrote a letter to the facilitators detailing the benefits they, and the therapy group they were a part of, experienced. The author also pleaded for the trial’s extension.

“The course is of huge benefit and we beg for your compassionate consideration that it may continue into the future,” the letter reads.

The structured treatment programme runs twice weekly across seven weeks, stimulating participants’ minds in an optimal learning and social group environment.

As the institutors of CST programmes in Aotearoa New Zealand, Dementia Learning Centre Director Dr Kathy Peri, and School of Medicine Associate Professor at the University of Auckland Dr Gary Cheung, couldn’t be prouder of their 10-year journey.

“Before there was widespread knowledge of CST in New Zealand, people with dementia were encouraged to participate in socialisation and activity groups – which can be beneficial,” Dr Cheung says.

“But, other than in Hawke’s Bay in the early days, there was no nationwide treatment available with this same level of scientific evidence.”

The pair have trained hundreds of CST facilitators over the past decade, many of whom have gone on to run their own CST programmes to improve many New Zealanders’ cognitive and social functioning.

They continue to host CST training workshops in Aotearoa New Zealand and are now planning to support the training in Australia, too.

“There weren’t a lot of treatment options for people diagnosed with dementia – they were often told to get their affairs in order,” Dr. Peri says.

“But now, CST has changed the focus of care for people with dementia and is a viable treatment with so many benefits.

“We know, thanks to feedback from facilitators that we’ve trained and mentored, that they have found the programme has made a significant difference in a lot of people’s lives.”

The evidence also speaks volumes; the size of CST’s effects to improve cognition is similar to currently available anti-dementia drugs. It can also improve well-being.

Drs Peri and Cheung collaborated with Dr. Makarena Dudley and Tai Kake, of the University of Auckland-Waipapa Taumata Rau, to adapt the therapy for Māori since 2019. Last year, Alzheimers New Zealand partnered with Dr. Dudley to disseminate CST-Māori.

Dr. Dudley has also been working with Dr. Peri to train Māori CST facilitators and will soon help to deliver the adapted programmes.

Her adaptation of the CST programme for Māori will be launched at Te Mahurehure Marae, Point Chevalier, in Auckland next month.

To honour 10 years of CST programmes in Aotearoa New Zealand, CST-trained facilitators will be invited to celebrate their contribution to dementia intervention in three regional network meetings.

What is CST?

CST is a structured group therapy treatment for people with mild to moderate dementia. The therapy consists of 14 sessions with a range of activities and discussions aimed at the general enhancement of cognitive and social functioning.

The sessions actively engage people with dementia, while providing an optimal learning environment, and the social benefits of being part of a group.

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Hints for Economising

Judith Davey

Reading about the difficulties that many older people experience, with the cost of living going up significantly, reminded me of the work I did for the Retirement Commission in 2009. The aim was to find out how retired people spent their incomes. I first looked at the most recent Household Economic Survey, which records how much people spend in various areas.

The broad findings included differences based on age, gender, housing tenure, and household composition. For example, households of people aged 75 plus had, on average, lower expenditure than those in the 65-74 group. This was especially the case for one-person households. Men tended to spend less on food, especially fruit, and vegetables, but more than women on alcohol. Men spent more on recreation and private transport. Women spent more on clothing and personal care.

Based on what I found in the statistics I developed a range of “model” budgets. These were presented for discussion to focus groups of older people from Wellington/Kapiti/Wairarapa communities. They were asked to consider how realistic were they in their own experience. I then created seven “case studies” of how older people, in different circumstances, were managing their expenditure. I don’t look at these here because a lot has changed over the years. But here are some suggestions for economising strategies suggested by focus group participants.


  • Where gas usage is low it is cheaper to use gas bottles, although these must be changed and refilled regularly. Many older people cannot lift the bottles, so they need to be delivered.
  • Carrying and chopping wood may be too much for older people.
  • Heat pumps are easy to use and effective, but they are expensive, and people must consider if they are worth the expense of purchase and installation.
  • If you move to a smaller house or unit, it will be easier and cheaper to heat.
  • You can cut down on heating costs by using electric blankets and hot water bottles for personal heating. Keeping warmer may save money on doctors’ bills.


  • Shop around to find cheaper telephone, internet, and pay TV rates and packages.
  • Ring when special rates are available or get people to ring you.
  • An internet connection is important for entertainment and education and for contact with commercial and public sector services.

Housing (mainly relating to homeownership)

  • Unexpected costs (e.g. replacing a water tank) may need urgent attention and are very expensive. Use capital if you have it or take out a loan/mortgage or an equity release scheme (reverse mortgage).
  • If you can, budget for one major piece of house maintenance per year.
  • Cheaper and reliable tradespeople can be found through community organisations (Grey Power and for example), but often what is needed is a handyman to do small things like changing light bulbs. A relative, friend, or neighbour may be able to help.
  • Help in the garden can sometimes be covered by a Disability Allowance.

Furnishing and appliances

  • It is often uneconomic to repair appliances. Try to look after them and extend their lives. Reconditioned appliances can be good buys. Discount stores and sales are good for buying small appliances.
  • Small bench-top ovens, separate grills, and slow cookers are good for older people living alone and are economical on power.
  • Sell off surplus furniture items and use the money to buy special chairs and beds and gadgets to help if disabilities develop.

Food and groceries

  • Grow food if you have a garden and can manage the work.
  • Make economies by buying food in bulk and going for “specials”. This may need freezer space.
  • Supermarket shopping is cheaper than using local shops. Pre-prepared and delivered meals have greatly increased in availability since 2009.


  • Free public transport with the Gold Card is much appreciated. Lobby to extend the afternoon free period. In rural areas, it may be difficult to fit trips into the current free period.
  • Cutting down on car use can have advantages in terms of health (getting exercise), environmental protection, and economy (given car and license-related costs).
  • Older people often stay at home more and cut down on travel, as it is often difficult to ask family or friends to provide lifts.
  • Community transport is often available for medical appointments. Ask local service groups about this.
  • Total Mobility vouchers cover half the cost of taxis for those who are eligible.

Entertainment and fun

  • Find out which cafes in shopping centres give pensioner discounts. Meals out can be combined with going to the cinema and doing shopping.
  • Take advantage of cheaper fares – older people can travel at less popular times.
  • Holidays can be visits to relatives or to the holiday homes of friends and family.
  • Club subscriptions can be costly, but some provide meals at reasonable prices and then visitors can be taken there, sometimes using group rates.
  • Excursions with clubs can provide holidays for older people, e.g. bridge, and bowls tournaments.
  • “It’s amazing what you can live without.” But cutting down on entertainment and socialising is a major cause of isolation and loneliness, which are clearly linked to mental and physical health deficits.

Clothing and footwear

  • Many older people are not averse to buying clothes in “op-shops” or using “hand-me-downs” within families.
  • Good shoes– not second-hand – are essential if you have bad feet.


  • Find out what subsidies are available – dentures, glasses, hearing aids. (There are now no-cost prescriptions in some pharmacy outlets).
  • Dentists try to preserve natural teeth, but some older people prefer extraction because of the cost. People said it was hard to be assertive against the advice of a dentist.
  • Some medical practices have cheaper fees, but many people prefer to stay with a “family doctor” even when they move house.
  • Podiatry is important for older people who have difficulty cutting toenails or have diabetes, but expensive. (It would be helpful if organisations for older people could negotiate discount rates.)
  • Many people must decide between being on a long hospital waiting list or paying for private treatment if they have no insurance. Such a decision requires consideration of pain/suffering and priorities for the use of savings/options for borrowing, or equity release.

Gifts and donations

  • Despite much reduced incomes, many older people feel they should continue to give to charities, out of duty or conscience, or because people close to them have used their services. But charity-giving may have to be selective, or help may be provided in other ways, e.g., volunteering, or fundraising.
  • Family members must understand that expectations of marking birthdays and Christmas with gifts may be embarrassing for older people. An outing with grandchildren to the cinema in school holidays can cost a sizeable chunk of a weekly income.
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2023 Census – It is about all of us

The main marketing campaign for the 2023 Census has now begun, says Stats NZ.

Excitement is building around the census with the rollout of ‘All of Us’ campaign encouraging people across the nation to be counted in the 2023 Census. 

The New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings is the only official survey of all people and dwellings in Aotearoa New Zealand. Census Day is on Tuesday 7 March 2023.  

“With the census just six weeks away, we want to ensure that everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand not only knows about it but understands why they are being asked to be part of it,” Simon Mason, Deputy Government Statistician, and Deputy Chief Executive Census and Collection Operations said. 

“The 2023 Census is about us here today, about honouring those who came before us, and those who will come after us. This campaign and census are about showing and sharing who we are and the communities we represent.” 

Data gathered through the census is used by communities, iwi, councils, businesses, and government to make important decisions about where to fund and locate services and infrastructure across the country.  

“Census data is used to make important decisions that impact every person and community in Aotearoa New Zealand. The opportunity to be part of the census only comes around every five years. It is our chance to represent ourselves, our families, whānau, and communities to create change,” Mason said. 

The census will be able to be completed online or on a paper form and is available in different formats. Households will start receiving their census forms from mid to late February. 

Information about the census is available in 29 languages on the census website including New Zealand Sign Language videos. Information will also be available in Braille and as Audio files. 

“There will be a lot of assistance available to help people complete the census. The aim is to ensure every person in the country has the information, formats, and support they need to take part and be counted by Census Day on 7 March 2023,” Mason said. 

Watch the video on YouTube:

When we all take part in the 2023 Census, all of us count – Tatau tātou

The next census is coming. It will be held in early 2023, with Census Day Tuesday 7 March 2023.

The census is a nationwide survey that happens every five years. Every person who is in the country on the night of Tuesday 7 March 2023 will need to do the census.
By taking part in the census, you help create a better understanding of your community and what it needs. People’s responses are combined to produce statistics that provide a picture of life in Aotearoa New Zealand and how it is changing. Your identity is kept private and confidential.

To learn more about the 2023 Census, visit

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