Shaping Tomorrow Together

Shaping Tomorrow Together

Exploring the deliberative democracy journey


In democracies around the world, attitudes to giving feedback and the way people have their say constantly change and evolve. Councils, government organisations and agencies all face a similar ongoing challenge – to make sure that the voice of local communities is heard and – more than that – reflected back in the assets, services and activities that are delivered.

Trust and confidence in democracy is so critical for communities to grow and function well. 

But is it time for democracy to evolve again? 

Deliberative democracy is not a new concept. The roots of this approach go back to Aristotle, an ancient Greek philosopher considered to be the father of politics.

Deliberative democracy approaches are gaining momentum, with emphasis on inclusive, informed discussions, and citizens actively contributing to the decisions being made. So why is this ‘new deliberative wave’ sweeping the world and where does it fit alongside other decision-making processes?

How can both Auckland, and Aotearoa New Zealand, learn from the experiences of others and implement these processes to foster stronger community connections? Surely the ‘sweet spot’ for councils is decision-making empowered by citizen engagement and public participation? 

This Auckland Conversations looks into the significance of informed, collective decision-making. Our speakers will explore democratic processes both past and present, and together we’ll discuss some of the barriers, challenges, and opportunities that come with this driving force for change. 


Tuesday 26 March 2024
5.30pm - 7.30pm 

Max Rashbrooke

Senior Research Fellow, Victoria University

Max Rashbrooke is a Wellington-based writer and public intellectual, with twin interests in economic inequality and democratic renewal. His latest book is Too Much Money: How Wealth Disparities are Unbalancing Aotearoa New Zealand, based on research he carried out as the 2020 J. D. Stout Fellow at Victoria University of Wellington. His previous works include Government for the Public Good: The Surprising Science of Large-Scale Collective Action and Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis, both published by Bridget Williams Books. A senior research fellow (adjunct) at Victoria University’s School of Government, he writes a fortnightly column for The Post, and his work appears in outlets such as the Guardian and Prospect magazine. His talk on upgrading democracy has been viewed 1.5m times.

Penny Hulse

Local Government Specialist

Penny was on the Local Governance Review panel. She has had a long career in Local Government both as part of Waitakere City Council and the amalgamated Auckland Council. Her commitment has always been to push for genuine community interaction with council and to seek new ways of authentically empowering communities to take charge of their wellbeing.

Dr Anne Bardsley, MNZM

Deputy Director, Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures

Anne is the deputy director of Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures, a non-partisan think tank and research centre at the University of Auckland. She is director of the Koi Tū Forum, a new unit focusing on constructive public dialogue using methods and tools of deliberative democracy.

Drawing on previous experience in science advice for policymaking and research in deliberation, her work focuses on improving collective decision-making on complex, long-term, and contentious societal issues.

She has been involved in designing and facilitating deliberative processes including New Zealand’s first full citizens’ assembly with Watercare in 2022, forums on transport issues, and online dialogues using interactive engagement tools.

Mark Thomas

Managing Director, Serviceworks and a Director of the Committee for Auckland

Mark Thomas is the Managing Director of Serviceworks which specialises in smart mobility, city digitisation and climate technology. He is a director of the Committee for Auckland and co-leads the State of the City international benchmarking report now undertaken annually on Auckland. He is on the boards of the Smart Cities Asia, digital technology organisation NZRise and is Co-Chair of NZTech's sustainability sub-board. He is the immediate past Chair, and a current board member, of the ASEAN New Zealand Business Council. Mark was a Deputy Chair of the Ōrākei Local Board 2010-2016. He was a founding member of the Australia New Zealand Smart Cities Council’s Future of Place Taskforce, and wrote the first history of smart cities in New Zealand Making New Zealand's cities smarter in the industry Technology Professionals of New Zealand's 60 years of Tech in New Zealand.

Alec Tang

Partner, KPMG

Alec is a Partner at KPMG New Zealand, co-leading the firm’s Climate Change, Decarbonisation, ESG and Sustainability practice, and is also a lecturer in Sustainable Business at AUT University. As a Chartered Environmentalist and Fellow of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, Alec has focused his career on addressing the breadth of sustainability challenges and opportunities that are increasingly shaping our communities, society and economy. This has included a range of leaderships positions in academia, business and the public sector, most recently as Director of Sustainability at Kāinga Ora and leading the Chief Sustainability Office at Auckland Council through the development of Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan.

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