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Future Search is a principles-based planning meeting model that brings the ‘whole system’ into the room

It is a globally renowned process that brings together people who share an interest in a particular issue or challenge to collaborate to find solutions. The process is formed around four principles:

  • Get the “whole system” in the room. Invite a significant cross-section of all parties with a stake in the outcome – those with authority, resources, expertise, information and need.
  • Explore the “whole elephant” before seeking to fix any part. Get everyone talking about the same world. Think globally, act locally.
  • Put common ground and future focus front and centre while treating problems and conflicts as information, not action items.
  • Encourage self-management and responsibility for action by participants before, during and after the Future Search.

When utilised in Aotearoa/New Zealand, a fifth principle of Treaty Partnership guides the Future Search process:

  • From co-leadership throughout the project planning to co-facilitation at the wānanga, running a Future Search in Aotearoa embraces Treaty partnership.

CSI associate, Miranda Cassidy-O’Connell is a member of the global Future Search Network and has facilitated several Future Search events in Aotearoa since 2013, including Nelson, Waiheke Island, an online workshop for Government and most recently at the end of September in 2023, co-facilitating a wānanga in Kaitaia for the restoration of the mauri of Te Oneroa-a-Tōhe (Ninety Mile Beach).

Miranda drew on her experience planning and facilitating these events and was joined by her co-facilitator Lisa McNab for the Te Pūaha Talk, Future Search - helping people transform their capability for action.

This online webinar provided insights into how the Future Search process can bring people with diverse interests together to work through complex issues and find opportunities for shared action. A recording of the webinar and Q&A from the webinar are available below.

In addition, associated resources from Future Search events held in Aotearoa are made available below.

Future Search Aotearoa resources

Te Oneroa-a-Tōhe Future Search

In this video, Miranda and her co-facilitator, Lisa McNab, talk about the steps involved in this three-day event in 2023, from the months of pre-planning to the various activities that helped participants explore their past experience of the beach, its present state, and find common ground around its desired future.

This article from the Northern Advocate provides additional insight into the process and the participant experience.

Sustainable Seas workshop for Government

In 2022 Miranda co-facilitated with Dr Dan Hikuroa a workshop for Government departments responsible for the natural environment, to explore the Future Search method. As part of this workshop, a panel of participants who experienced the Waiheke Marine Project Future Search in 2020. This video shares some brief reflections of the participants:

  • Alex Rogers – Executive Officer, Hauraki Gulf Forum
  • Dr Andrew Jeffs – Auckland University Senior scientist and member of the Auckland Conservation Board
  • Matt von Sturmer – Waiheke Island resident, fisherman, and business owner
  • Pippa Coom – Ex-Councillor for Waitematā and Gulf Ward and Ex-Co-Chair of the Hauraki Gulf Forum
  • Lucy Tukua – Ngāti Paoa and Ngāti Whanaunga descent with whakapapa ties to Tāmaki Makaurau including Waiheke Island, member of the Hauraki Māori Trust Board and Kaihautū Whakarito (Technical Director Regenerative Outcomes) for global consultancy firm Mott MacDonald
  • Apanui Skipper – Ngā iwi o Hauraki Tainui, Scribe for the Future Search

Waiheke Marine Project Future Search

In 2020 Miranda co-facilitated the Waiheke Marine Project Future Search. The Waiheke Marine Project is a collaborative mana whenua and Waiheke Island community partnership which aims to protect and regenerate Waiheke Island’s marine environment using action-based kaitiakitanga - guardianship. Details on the myriad of outcomes that have emerged from the foundations of the 2020 Future Search can be found on the Waiheke Marine Project website here.

More information on the Future Search process and the global Future Search Network is available here.