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Hoki whakamuri, kia anga whakamua – Look to the past to help forge the future

“If an officer is found to be succumbing to the views of the Bob Joneses of the world then send them to Dr Simone Bull’s (Ngāti Porou) wall walk to learn the history of policing and the law through the eyes and experience of Māori.”

The Spinoff

Part theatre, part study, part kōrero, The Wall Walk® is an interactive half-day workshop designed to raise collective awareness of key events in the history of New Zealand’s bicultural relations. It sits nicely with any organisation committed to building stronger relationships with Māori.

Through the knowledge gain or refresh, the walk invites participants – before, during and after – to think more about the impact of history on today’s social outcomes, and to think more about our role and effectiveness today, tomorrow and ahead.

Each attendee plays a small role in the walk, requiring a little bit of preparation (not much, and interesting stuff). All participants need to commit to doing the preparation, which is given two weeks before the workshop.

The workshop is not a physical walk; it’s a room-based event, a walk through time and events. The walk invites new or deeper consideration about particular events, and their impact for Māori and for Aotearoa New Zealand.

It is engaging and informative, conducted within a very collaborative and supportive environment.

More info on The Wall Walk® can be found here

Here’s what The Wall Walk® sets out to do, in ‘learning and development’ speak…


Origin Story

My interest in racial equity and the history of bicultural relations in New Zealand stems from the time I spent as a child with my Nanny and our wider whānau.

When I went to University in the 1990s I probably puzzled the lecturers by including something to do with Māori in most of my projects.

 By the time my University days had come to an end, I’d done a PhD collating statistics about Māori in the criminal justice system from the 1850s onwards and using what little history I could access (back then) to help explain some of the patterns . Sadly, Nanny didn’t live long enough to see me graduate with my doctorate.

Eventually, my personal and professional interests coincided and my pursuit of racial equity in the New Zealand criminal justice system began in earnest.

While working at Police, the (then) Deputy Commissioner Viv Rickard ‘voluntold’ me to lead one of his monthly sessions with District Commanders from across the country. The topic was Police’s operational target: reducing re-offending by Māori by 25%.

Viv said,  “That’s your area of expertise. You lead the day with the District Commanders. Help them to understand why this is important. Whatever you do, put it in historical context”.

Under the influence of caffeine, I concocted the idea of an interactive timeline of key milestones in the history of Māori contact with the criminal justice system. This was my PhD (and related work) but in a user-friendly format. I decided to give the District Commanders topics in the timeline to research and present on the day – not a popular move!

Next, I took my eldest child into work with me on the weekend to create a visual timeline spread across 6 sheets of flipchart paper. It was supposed to be a covert history lesson – she spotted my motive a mile off. We made a mighty mess in Viv’s office.

D-day finally arrived – in 2017. The hand-drawn and sellotaped flipcharts went up along one wall. I started talking, moving back and forth along the wall as the story progressed. The Wall Walk had been born. Looking back, it was nowhere near as polished as it is now. Nonetheless, to my surprise, the District Leadership Teams started asking for it.

When Viv left Police to become a Deputy Chief Executive at the Ministry of Social Development, he asked me to run the Wall Walk with the Executive team there. By word of mouth, it continued to spread. By August 2022, more than 13,000 people from over 50 organisations had done it.

Oh, you were expecting to read my whakapapa? All will be revealed when you invite me to run a Wall Walk.

Early Adopters

People from these agencies have participated in The Wall Walk®

Police, Ministry of Social Development, Ministry for the Environment, Treasury, State Services Commission, Te Arawhiti, Ministry of Education, Accident Compensation Corporation, The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions, Social Wellbeing Agency, Westpac, Vodafone, Community Patrols NZ, Victim Support, New Zealand Transport Agency, Ministry of Transport, Chief Ombudsman’s Office, Ministry of Justice, Department of Corrections, Oranga Tamariki, Just Speak, Fire and Emergency NZ, Department of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, Chief Censor’s Office, Auckland Transport, Health Promotion Agency, Ministry of Health, Te Puni Kōkiri, Serious Fraud Office, Victoria University, Waikato University, Massey University, SADD, Statistics NZ, local Iwi representatives, James Cook High School, Kahurangi School, Capital E, Open service Design, New Zealand Defence Force, ESR, NIWA, Auckland University, Walking Access Commission, Crown Law Office, Ministry for Primary Industries, Ministry for Pacific Peoples, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, Kainga Ora, Wellington Regional Hospital, Raroa Normal Intermediate School, Pharmac and more…

Leadership teams from these organisations have had their own sessions…

New Zealand Police, Ministry of Social Development, Ministry for the Environment, Inland Revenue, Oranga Tamariki, New Zealand Olympic Committee, The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions, Institute of Environmental Science and Research, Accident Compensation Corporation, Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, Tamaki Regeneration Company, Hastings District Council, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, Commission for Financial Capability, Banking Ombudsman Scheme, Napier City Council

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