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DIALOGUE ON GENETIC ENGINEERING

TAUHARA CENTRE, TAUPO


22-25TH APRIL 2004

REPORT FOR THE


MINISTRY OF RESEARCH
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

“… dialogue is an altogether very different way of


talking together. Generally we think of dialogue as a
“better conversation”. But there is much more to it.
Dialogue, as I define it, is a conversation with a centre
not sides. It is a way of taking the energy of our
differences and channelling it toward something that
has never been created before. It lifts us out of
polarization and into a greater common sense and it is
thereby a means of accessing the intelligence and
coordinated power of groups of people”

- William Isaacs 1999, “Dialogue and the art of thinking together:


A pioneering approach to communicating in business and in life”
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Purpose: To provide an opportunity for New Zealanders to experience a new way of dealing
with otherwise intractable issues.
Outcomes: Enhanced trust, respect and understanding and the possibility for emergence.
Process: Dialogue.

The Dialogue on GE began when a scientist attended a gathering of Heart Politics at the Tauhara
Centre, Taupo in July 2003. Heart Politics provides a forum for social change issues, discussion and
education. The experience of having a conversation on GE that did not involve an argument over
facts or a debate over merits, being rather an occasion of listening and reflection, prompted those
involved in the conversation to suggest a similar opportunity be made available to a wider group.

A small Holding Group was established comprised of members of Heart Politics, Tauhara, and
representatives from the science community. Funds were obtained through Ministry of Research
Science and Technology [funding from the same intent as the Dialogue Fund], and extensive
planning was undertaken.

A central and less usual feature of the planning was the particular attention paid to interpersonal
clarity within the group. The Holding Group sought to establish an atmosphere of clarity, trust and
openness that would strike a note for the Dialogue itself, in a way that would be different to the
more traditional conference situation.

A range of participants was sought that would reflect as wide a range of stake-holders in the issue
as possible within the constraints of the venue and the funding, although the possible participants
far outnumbered the spaces available. Where invitations were declined, an invitation went to the
next person on the list, and, as far as possible, the breadth of range was maintained. The list that
generated the invitations was formed from contacts or suggestions from within the Holding Group,
and from the contacts' recommendations.

It was deemed important to invite families of participants, so that an inter-generational mix was
present, as well as having a living reminder of the interests of the future. Childcare facilities were
made available, yet no requirements were made for children or spouses to remain separate from the
Dialogue, although it was clear that the Dialogue processes were taking place in adult space.
Indeed, it proved valuable for spouses and children to be present and to participate in this way.

Invitees were given some background papers on Dialogue and invited to leave their corporate
identities behind, attending rather as informed and engaged individuals.

The Dialogue itself was structured to allow time for meeting and engaging, firstly, with the other
participants, then with the Dialogue concept, and finally with the GE focus of the Dialogue. Within
the programme, particular attention was paid to ensuring that the individuals' visions and concerns
were able to be heard.

The business/commercial interests in the technology and its applications proved the most
challenging sector to engage in the process. There were also one or two significant last minute
cancellations across the board. Nevertheless, given the commitment of the two workdays and one

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weekend that was required the range of participants was representative and inclusive.

The participants were immediately notable for the enthusiasm and goodwill that they brought
along. This posed an early challenge for the Holding Group which was required to respond
organically to the perceived needs of the group and resulted in some deft reformatting at times. A
mixture of monologue, duologue and small group conversation paved the way to the possibility of
whole group dialogue. In hindsight, more small group opportunity may have proved useful.

This and other feedback from both the Holding Group and the Participants is included in the
report, with more detail in the appendices. The Dialogue process served to bring the various voices
around the GE issue together. Some informal co-operative initiatives were formed between people
of apparently opposing points of view. Significantly, issues around decision-making power,
purpose, and responsibility took on as much, if not more, importance than discussion about the
technology itself. This raised the importance of the values upon which society is based, and
affirmed the need to keep focussed upon these societal values in the few opportunities to engage
with them.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ii

1.0 INTRODUCTION 1

2.0 PREPARATION FOR THE DIALOGUE EVENT 2


An Overview of the Organising or Holding Group Preparation 2
The Invitation Process 2

3.0 THE DIALOGUE EVENT 3


Who attended 3
Facilitation 4
Child Care Facilities 4
Spaces and Styles of Interaction 5
The Programme 5
Description of the Programme Sessions 7

4.0 FEEDBACK, EVALUATION AND LEARNING FROM THE DIALOGUE EVENT 13

4.1 FEEDBACK 13
Feedback of the organizing group to their employers, groups or communities 13
A Powerful Way to Experience the Dialogue On GE 14

4.2 EVALUATION 19
Evaluation by the Participants 19
Evaluation of Tauhara as a location for the Dialogue event 19
Evaluation of this Event as the First of the Tauhara Dialogues 20

4.3 LEARNINGS 20
The Learnings of the Holding Group from the Dialogue on GE 20
1. What worked well 20
2. What did not work well 22
3. What would we do differently next time 24
Thoughts on Dialogue and how to achieve it in a group 25

5.0 A PROPOSAL 25
A Second Event, “Dialogue on GE Plus 6” 25

6.0 BUDGET 26

7.0 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 27

8.0 LIST OF APPENDICES 28

8.1 PROPOSAL TO THE MINISTRY OF SCIENCE, RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY 29

8.2 CORRESPONDENCE RECEIVED BY PARTICIPANTS 34


Invitation to attend the Dialogue on GE 35

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Further information to invitees 39
Letter accompanying the Dialogue Reader 43
Dialogue Reader 44
First email sent to all participants following the Dialogue on GE event 52
Second email sent to all participants following the Dialogue on GE event 53

8.3 DOCUMENTATION DISTRIBUTED OR ATTAINED DURING THE EVENT 54


Information for home groups 55
Participant Feedback form 56
Compilation of the Evaluations of the Dialogue on GE 58
Evaluation from the throne 70
Image of Seed in Pastel 72

8.4 DOCUMENTATION ARISING FROM THE DIALOGUE ON GE 73


The GE Information Bulletin #22 74
Article in Tauhara Newsletter 78
Article for the Taupo GE Free group 80

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1.0 INTRODUCTION
This document tracks the processes involved in planning and holding a dialogue event on the topic
of Genetic Engineering/Modification (GE/GM). It is intended to provide a baseline for others
considering holding such an event, as well as an account of what happened at this particular event at
Taupo, held in April 2004, and funded through the Ministry for Research, Science, and Technology.

How did a biologist, a plant virus scientist, a documentary film-maker, an associate professor of
computing, a psychotherapist, a social scientist, an eco-village architect, and a business manager
end up planning an event together?

Most of us met through a commitment to social change, and a concern that the GE/GM debate was
potentially extremely damaging, whereas it might have the potential to add some new depth to our
communities. The range was particularly useful since there are stories - behind these thumbnail
sketches – of direct experience of the difficult process of communication, and the results of its
failure.

We imagined a situation where diverse interests came together not to score points off each other,
but to listen as deeply as possible. We envisaged putting difference aside without ignoring or
dismissing it, in order to pursue whatever common vision a group of concerned and committed
individuals might discover between themselves. We were inspired by influences as varied as
Quakerism and Quantum Physics, and in particular by commentators such as physicist David Bohm
who observed the field capacities of group mind available to human beings meeting with intention.

There was nothing particularly new about what our group intended – or about what Bohm had to
say. Human beings have always known that if you want to get to the bottom of an issue or problem,
a good place to start is sitting down together with a fairly open ended timeframe and a commitment
to mutual respect. The rediscovery, if that is what it is, was intentionality.

Some of us had had experience of Dialogue in this form, and it is often described in quite
metaphorical and even poetic language. For example, the tensions between different perspectives
have been described as being like the tension between the body and skin of a drum, noting that both
are needed to make an instrument and a sound. This way of engaging with paradox has been called
a “level shift” – and invokes Einstein’s observation that problems cannot be solved at the same level
of consciousness from which they were originally perceived.

From the start of the planning process it was deemed important to clarify any misunderstandings,
however apparently trivial, between individuals. Mostly we achieved this. Someone watching this
sometimes tortured process would have eventually recognised that particular attention was being
paid to understanding where we, as individuals, located our sense of our own identity.

The intention was made to establish a meeting where the more superficial aspects of individual
human doing could yield to the deeper potential of collective human being. It is an approach that
moves on from a confrontational and colonising Victorian vision of survival of the fittest to a vision
of thriving that comes from interactive co-operation – survival of the best fit.

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2.0 PREPARATION FOR THE DIALOGUE EVENT
An Overview of the Organising or Holding Group Preparation

The preparation for this event was enormous. The nine organisers in the “holding group” met
fortnightly, at night in a private home, and on a voluntary basis, and also went away for a planning
weekend together at Hahei. The total time of preparation was approximately 500 hours. The
sustaining drive was the possibility for New Zealanders to experience a new way of dealing with
otherwise intractable issues.

Key considerations during the preparation for the dialogue were:


• Distillation of the purpose, objectives, and process of the event.
• Determining what funding was appropriate for this Dialogue concept.
• Writing and revisiting the funding proposal.
• Determining the timing of the event.
• The invitation process: How were people going to be invited, who to invite initially and as
replacements,
• The involvement of children.
• Warming-up of participants to the dialogue process through one-to-one interactions and a
dialogue reader.
• Forming the shape of the gathering to fulfill the purpose, objectives, and desired process.
• The needs of participants, especially on the first day, and how to meet these.
• Facilitation of the dialogue process.
• The need for the organising group to be transparent about our purpose, involvement regarding
GE and our motivations for organising the event.
• Practical organisation details.

The Invitation Process

The initial intention was to create a flyer, distribute it to possible participants and ask if they were
interested in writing an expression of an interest in attending. We would have then selected those
we thought would have been suitable and invited them.

What we decided to do, however, was to identify the different sectors that we wanted involved and
then use our own personal networks to identify and invite people from those sectors who we
thought would be suitable and willing to participate.

Possible invitees were assessed on our judgement of their potential to be able to put aside their
preconceptions and assumptions, to suspend judgement and be willing to listen wholeheartedly. We
wanted to bring in whole people. Identity linked to the topic was seen as limiting the ability to shift,
and people were asked to come as individuals not representing organisations.

A short list was put together, and these people were contacted to see if they were interested in
participating. A written invitation was then sent to those indicating interest. There was a cut off date
for registering but this passed with only about half of the anticipated participants registering.
Further people were then invited from all the identified sectors

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The sectors used were as follows: Biotechnology Industry; Commercial; Educationalists; GE Free
Activists; Gene Scientists; Health Professionals; Heart Politics attendees; Maori; Media;
Musicians/Artists; Organics; Scientists; Social Scientists; and Women.

One group that was not invited was politicians. This was an early decision made on the
assumption that a politician, almost by definition, would be unable to suspend their position or their
party’s position, and listen with an open mind.

We also generally avoided journalists in the belief that it would inhibit a free and open exchange
of views, although one journalist did attend to contribute to the dialogue as an individual, but not to
report.

Early on we made the decision to provide childcare facilities and thereby enable parents,
especially mothers, to attend. We were also conscious that the presence of children might add a
unique dimension to the dialogue, as everyone would be able to connect through the young ones,
and we would have our future so visibly with us.

We kept a spreadsheet showing the different sectors and the acceptance rate across the sectors. We
then continued to invite further people from the relevant areas until we achieved as much of a
balance as was possible.

Unfortunately we had a number of key withdrawals close to the beginning of the Dialogue that
skewed the attendance from some of the sectors. This meant that we were under-represented by the
biotechnology industry, Maori and business.

One of the barriers to attending across all sectors was the need to commit to the full four days, and
this was most apparent in the business and Maori groups. Some invitees declined the invitation
when asked if they could come without feeling the need to argue their position. This applied
particularly to the scientific and GE activist communities.

3.0 THE DIALOGUE EVENT

Who attended

The event included 58 participants; 49 adults and nine children. Seventeen of the adults were
women, three Maori, two artists, three from business, two from the media, one educationalist, six
anti-GE activists, six gene scientists, one from the biotechnology industry, two medical
practitioners, four organic growers, three other scientists, seven social scientists, one church
professional. A number of the people crossed sectors as would be expected and this helped to build
links between people. The children’s ages ranged from 13 months to 15 years. The youngest adult
was 16 and the oldest was an octogenarian.

While it is not a simple question to answer, it appeared that the participants were split roughly
equally between being pro GE, not sure and being against GE. However as the dialogue discovered
it is very simplistic to even consider such a division.

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Facilitation
The Holding Group was comprised of professionals from a mixture of disciplines, skills bases,
experience and age. Initially, some were committed to GE as a powerful and useful technology,
others were less certain, and some were actively involved in the anti-GE protest. An outline of the
background of the holding group members is in the Appendix (8.2 Further information to invitees).
However, from the outset Heart Politics trustees had stressed the importance of “external
facilitation”, and, indeed, made their support contingent on this being addressed. The usual
facilitatory process may not always manage the transferential issues very effectively. Thus, whilst
facilitators may manage the structure and procedures well, they also take on a role of considerable
importance to the group. Comments that may be perceived as from a facilitator can trigger strongly
negative responses.

Therefore, contemporary facilitation may often include process facilitators, who are not associated
with those organising and running the event – thus “external”. A process facilitator was considered
as especially useful at an event that was aspiring to be different to a more traditional conference.
The role was seen as potentially offering mentorship in an unfamiliar environment, to provide
insight and clarification, and even discrete coaching to individuals. It was also seen that a Process
Facilitator might offer a neutral meta-comment on the process as it happened. Whilst they were very
cleanly delineated from the Holding Group, they were invited to give them feedback as deemed
necessary.
Process facilitators Richard Jakob-Hoff and Lynne Holdem are both experienced group workers.
Richard, trained with Zenergy, is a veterinarian and zoologist who has facilitated groups connected
with international wildlife conservation, whilst Lynne is a teacher of psychotherapy and personal
development courses with particular interest and skills in the process and dynamics of groups. They
envisaged their role as one of being around and attentive, focussing on process not content and,
where necessary, darting in and engaging clearly, visibly and sonorously. With this in mind they
decided to call themselves “tuis”. Their aim was to provide a mirror for the dialogue group; to
reflect back what they saw happening in the group, and also to be an independent resource for
participants to consult on issues of process.
Another significant aspect of the facilitation process was the establishment of Home Groups.
These were self-facilitated meeting groups of four to six people, designed to allow a more personal
and private reflection and reaction to the larger group meetings. Their intention was to allow
feelings and responses to events in the larger group to be processed in a manner that could receive
appropriate support and feedback from peers.

Child Care Facilities


Two childcare coordinators were paid to assist with the children. As the dialogue programme
began at 9 am and finished around 9.30 pm each day, it was essential to have good coverage so that
parents could participate as fully as they wanted to.

On the first evening the families met with the two childcare coordinators to establish how they
would interact and determine levels of responsibility. It was agreed that the children would have a
dedicated room that was their space and that the dialogue hall would be adult space with an open
door policy operating. In practice this worked exceptionally well with the children coming and
going in a mostly non-disruptive and positive way. The children were a powerful force in the event.

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Spaces and Styles of Interaction

The dialogue itself was held as a circle of people in the main hall. The words that were said and
heard in the dialogue space seeded knots of conversation elsewhere so that while taking a break one
could observe in the hallways, the dining hall, on the lawns, and in the bunk rooms, knots of people
earnestly engaged with each other. The conversations in these groups seemed to be in the attitude of
dialogue: inclusive, inquiring and open.
The toilets also had evaluation forms (Evaluation from the Governance Position, see appendix 8.3
for details) that acted as graffiti boards for ongoing conversations.

Other opportunities and styles of interaction apart from whole group Dialogue were: the Home
Groups formed to daily discuss matters in a small and constant group of people; interactions over
the children’s activities and their care giving; the café, an evening of informal entertainment arising
from the gathering and a great place to joke about the interactions that had been experienced;
mealtimes; and room mates.

The Programme
The programme that was developed used the learnings from Heart Politics gatherings such as
those in Winter and Summer and also the Wananga, an eight-day event exploring the process of
gathering itself. The programme that we developed was customised for the needs of the Dialogue
process and the high proportion of participants who had not previously experienced the Heart
Politics culture (see photograph below).

The sessions were developed to lead the participants through a structured first day starting with an
emphasis on the background and development of the Dialogue on GE event, and a building together
of understanding about the dialogue process on the second day, including the opportunity for each
voice to be heard in the circle, and then moved into an opportunity for dialogue on the third day. An
alternative interaction style was
provided through the caberet-style,
self-entertaining Café held on
Saturday night. The final day was
structured to reflect on the shared
process, to evaluate the event, to distill
and name the key “take home”
essence, and to farewell each other.

Due to the enthusiasm of the


participants and their perceived degree
of comfort with the Dialogue
environment, the programme was
altered. On Friday morning the
Ingredients session was brought
forward providing an opportunity for
each participant’s voice to be heard in
the circle naming their perspective on
the issue of GE.

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GE DIALOGUE PROGRAM – TAUHARA CENTRE 22ND – 25TH APRIL, 2004

THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY SUNDAY


Anzac Day observance
7.45 Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast
9 Ingredients Cooking Digestion – individual
Whole group round of deeper Silent reflection reflection on what are the new
introductions – what brought Whole group dialogue understandings, new
you here, and what is your relationships, new
relationship with GE responsibilities, then small
group discussion, then whole
group sharing of distillation of
above.
11 Feedback – in Home Groups –
written evaluation and
completing home groups.
12 Lunch Lunch Last Words - Final circle,
acknowledgments, farewells.
1.30PM Recipes Alchemy 1pm Lunch
3 Registration. Hosts welcome Group agreements, principles Reflection on process
people and make sure they of dialogue, then begin whole
know where their rooms are, group dialogue Whole group dialogue – linking
cup of tea. threads
4 Welcome to Tauhara Centre,
the land and the space.
Welcome to the Dialogue – its Reflection on process
5 purpose, organising group. Reflection on process Home Groups meet
6 Dinner Dinner Dinner
6.45 Children, family and child
carers meeting
7.35 Menu - Orientation, Home groups meet 7.45
introductions, history of the Café
event. Organising group name Chill out - entertainment
their relationship with GE.
Overview of programme,
introduction to home groups
8.30 Home Groups meet
9.30 Supper
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Description of the Programme Sessions

Each session of the programme, except the welcome, was facilitated by two people from the
holding group and has been described in terms of what was planned, what happened and the
reasoning behind these.

THURSDAY

The welcome was simple. It comprised of a welcome to the place, Tauhara; its environs, by
walking the scenic lawns and viewing the land and lake; and its people, through words of welcome
from the manager. This elicited an impromptu response from a Kaumatua, one of the participants.
We then welcomed the participants inside where two members of the holding group, key
precipitators of the event, met them. We then welcomed the participants to a Heart Politics event
and to a MoRST funded event.

Menu

What was planned


The Menu session was held in a circle of participants. It explored (A) the history of how we each
got to be together in this place and the importance of the central space in the middle of us all in the
circle. We then explored (B) the process of being together and creating the central space with each
of us at the rim forming the container for dialogue.

A B

What happened
What happened approached what was planned. It was clear that the participants were very keen to
interact and be involved with each other therefore the sociograms near the end of this session took
longer than planed i.e. about ten minutes each rather than the planned five minutes.

This is an unusual type of conference so we may as well start unusually. This is a poem from the
Four Quartets of TS Elliot, Little Gidding, Section 5.

What we call the beginning is often the end We are born with the dead:
And to make and end is to make a beginning. See, they return, and bring us with them.
The end is where we start from. And every phrase The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew-
And sentence that is right (where every word is at tree
home, Are of equal duration. A people without history
Taking its place to support the others, Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern
The word neither diffident nor ostentatious, Of timeless moments. So, while the light fails
An easy commerce of the old and the new, On a winter's afternoon, in a secluded chapel
The common word exact without vulgarity, History is now and England (here –Ed).
The formal word precise but not pedantic,
The complete consort dancing together) With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a Calling
beginning,
Every poem an epitaph. And any action We shall not cease from exploration
Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea's throat And the end of all our exploring
Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start. Will be to arrive where we started
We die with the dying: And know the place for the first time.
See, they depart, and we go with them.

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“I am a scientist from HortResearch and I was given the opportunity to attend a Heart
Politics gathering in the winter of 2003. I was also given the invitation by a fellow attendee
to offer a Conversation on GE. I decided to attend and offer this session, a Conversation on
GE. Going down there to Taupo I felt as if I was walking into the mouth of a lion, a solitary
genetic engineer going to talk with assumed anti-GE people. At the gathering we had the
Conversation on GE and it was a transforming experience. People met across difference,
were heard and respected even though they didn’t necessarily agree with each other. We
were inspired to share this with a wider group of kiwis. This seemed to fit with the culture
of Heart Politics as this is a group of people who are active community members.

The organizing or holding group formed and we have met voluntarily over many meetings
to develop this Dialogue on GE event. The holding group is comprised of a diverse range of
people. For us to be here with you it is important that we let you know a little bit about
ourselves especially in relation to GE.”

At this point each of the holding group named their background with regard to GE.

“This event was intended to be the first of a series of Tauhara Dialogues and some
individuals from Heart Poltics gifted money to initiate that concept. In addition, the holding
group discussed and applied for supporting funds from the Ministry of Research, Science,
and Technology, in short, MoRST. MoRST is very active in the field of supporting the
interaction between science and society and has developed a Dialogue Fund for that specific
purpose, to trial different dialogue approaches in the NZ cultural setting. Our timing had
missed that funding round and we applied for some funds from a pool of money aligned
with the Dialogue Fund. The proposal is available for you to read, copies are on the
resource table. In addition you will find information about MoRST in their booklet on the
resource table.
With funds in hand we were able to start inviting and developing the event. Our objective
was to invite an eclectic group of people of diverse backgrounds and ages. It is you that
have come.”

Participants were then encouraged to meet each other using three sociograms as tools.
Participants first distributed themselves within an imagined world map around the room to
answer the question, “Where you were born?” and to meet the two people closest. These
groups of three people were then asked to interact over the question “What hooked you in to
coming”. After discussion people were asked to look at the native animal on their name tag,
to group with people with the same animal (i.e. the home group) and then discuss “What do
you know about Dialogue, what don’t know you know about dialogue, what might it be?
What might happen?”

The process of dialogue was then described and likened to three blind people each
describing different parts of an elephant; each person may understand or hold clues to
particular aspects or viewpoints and together the whole is brought together and perhaps
understood. The programme during the rest of the Dialogue event was then loosely outlined.

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With the promise that there would be time for everyone to contribute and for lots of
conversations during the event, the purpose of home groups (to meet daily in small groups)
was explained and the home groups met in groups of up to six people for the next hour.

Reasoning behind the Menu session


We intended to give people the history of the gathering, to be transparent about the
holding group and our purposes. The aim was to allow the participants to feel comfortable
in meeting others, and to get an idea of the flavour of the gathering now that they were here.
A high priority in this session and the home groups was for people to have their needs of
safety met.

FRIDAY
Because people were so engaged in the Menu session the previous night, and so willing to
get into dialogue, and because the only those people in the holding group had had a chance
to powerfully speak into the big circle the night before, it was decided to change the order
of the Recipe and Ingredients sessions with the Ingredients going first. This allowed the
participants the opportunity to all speak their connection with GE into the big circle.

Ingredients

What was planned


The ingredients session was planned to provide all participants the opportunity to speak
once into the circle of the whole gathering. This was planned to happen after the Recipes
session and to initiate the Dialogue through serial monologue.

What happened
Participants seemed to be very keen to take action and be involved and therefore this
session happened first on Friday morning. Each participant verbalised their perspective on
GE to the circle. This session was very moving and spanned most of the morning.

The reasoning behind the Ingredients session


There is a power to knowing that you will be heard and also that you will have an
opportunity to speak freely. There is also responisibility in choosing your contribution as each
person has only one time to speak. This process brings consciousnes to contributing your voice and
for some a needed encouragement to contribute.

Images of a Pottery Seed Distributed by One Participant to Everyone During the Ingredients Session

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Recipes

What was planned


We planned cafe-style interactions, with successive rounds of small group conversation
around key questions, then recording the links and themes emerging. This would lead in to
large group sharing and the final principles of dialogue and group agreements.
The questions used during this session were:
1. What are the principles/key themes of dialogue that are important to us here?
2. What group agreements do we want to have in order to facilitate this dialogue?
3. Do we want to record and if so, how? (Notes, drawings, photos, video diary etc.)

What happened
Because we had all been in the big circle in the morning, and the experience was very
powerful, we decided that participants would be frustrated going back into small groups,
and were eager to get on with dialogue, so we facilitated the ‘principles of dialogue’ and
‘group agreements’ in the big group (recording them on large flip charts), and opened the
floor to dialogue. What happened was a ‘serial monologue’ mainly from the scientists
outlining the parameters of GE.
Before breaking for dinner, we had a 15 minute reflection on the dialogue process – i.e.,
were we acting within the principles of dialogue and group agreements.

In retrospect, it would have been a good idea to stay with the small groups, and drop in a
question like “what are the key questions for us to address in the GE dialogue?”

The reasoning behind the Recipe session


The aims of this session were: to facilitate people meeting each other in a relatively non-
challenging environment, and to participate in, and own, the agreements on Dialogue; to
evolve group agreements (recipes, a map, ways of being with each other) for being together,
including what and how we record information; to warm people up to the principles of
dialogue.

SATURDAY

Cooking and Alchemy

What was planned


These sessions were intended for dialogue and were loosely facilitated. Since dialogue
arises from a company of people yet cannot be prescribed, a space was allowed for it to
emerge.

What happened
Two people from the holding group introduced the day with notices and housekeeping,
and an outline of the day - a whole day session with breaks, with 15 minutes of reflection on
the process before lunch and at the end of the day. The participants were led in a few
minutes of silence where they were invited to breathe and notice all of the information

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around them. A bell was rung then the participants were reminded of some of the
agreements that were made together on Friday. Other points made included:

• We've been moving through different ways of talking to each other, from serial
monologue on Friday morning, to duologue on Friday afternoon. Let's learn how to
dialogue.
• Dialogue is about the flow of meaning between people - listen for when it's your piece of
the meaning that needs to be spoken
• Listen for the meaning of the whole dialogue, not just the last speaker
• Stand up, step into the space we create together, speak what is true for you, not questions
of others
• Be aware of and comment also on the process - what is happening here, how we're
speaking.
• The circle was then open for people to speak, which they did with varying levels of
passion and intellect, and on wide-ranging topics related to GE. The circle generally
proceeded well without any intervention from the facilitatiors, although a late and very
long contribution just before lunch could have been handled more actively to avoid one
person dominating the process.

After lunch there were some attempts to invite a short reflection on the process,
but participants were keener to keep talking. Talk and some moments of "dialogue"
continued for the afternoon. Late in the afternoon an invitation was put out from one
participant for members of the holding group to contribute rather than holding back from
the interactions, and it was suggested that this involvement from the holding group
members would possibly have been useful earlier in the process. Another period of
reflection on the process wrapped up the day.

The reasoning behind the Cooking and Alchemy sessions


The consideration was that the previous sessions would have warmed participants to the
point where we could spend a full day together in the circle and dialogue on GE with each
other.

Café
What was planned
The Café was loosely planned and relied heavily on the spontaneity of the artistic and
imaginative talents in the room.

What happened
The Café buzzed hot with dancing, performances, jokes, and songs (e.g. Gene Genie, a
duo sung by an anti-GE activist and a gene scientist). The children set the pace with lip-
synching to rock music and then initiated dancing by dragging participants up to join them.
The room was resounding with music and laughter long into the night.

The reasoning behind Café session


The Café provides an opportunity to interact at a totally new level; to entertain, to joke
both with and at each other. It provides a light relief to the more serious parts of the event.

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SUNDAY

Digestion

What was planned


We found it almost impossible to plan this session in advance, because it depended so
much on what went before. So this session was planned immediatly beforehand, by the
holding group and particularly the ‘Tui’ observers.

What happened
Participants were invited to participate in individual reflection on:
• new or increased understandings
• new or increased relationships
• new or increased responsibilities
that had emerged during the event. This started with individual reflection in a manner that
was personally comfortable (e.g. walking outside, sitting, drawing, writing) then after ten
minutes small groups (5/6 people) were formed for discussion and to further develop and
verbalise thoughts. The entire gathering then congregated to voice and hear the distillation
or ‘seeds’ or ‘memes’ that had emerged fro each person. In a round each person spoke to the
whole group for a minute. By agreement these were recorded in writing (See section 4.1 for
these words).

This session then dovetailed seamlessly into the feedback session.

The reasoning behind Digestion session


The intention of this session was to draw the threads of dialogue together, to verbalise
what was emerging from the group and to obtain a record of the distillations from the
dialogue event.

Feedback session

What was planned


This session was planned to break in to the home groups for; discussion about the event
and what had emerged; to allow the time to complete the relationships built and shared in
the home group; and to provide time to complete the evaluation forms.

What happened at Feedback session


Things went as planned and what happened was unique to each home group.

Reasoning behind the Feedback session


This session was intended to gather data to evaluate the event for both ourselves as the
holding group and for MoRST; to allow all types of evaluation i.e. art, words,
quantification/numbers (e.g. too little to heaps), and to appreciate and farewell the people of
each home group.

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Last Words

This final session was provided to allow participants to complete with the dialogue and
ready themselves for returning to their normal lives. The children were keen to be involved
and came into the centre of the circle of participants. The children were the first to
acknowledge others and to be acknowledged. The circle was then opened for any other last
thanks, regrets and acknowledgments and/or words that needed to be said to complete and
be ready to return to our lives beyond Tauhara. We ended on a song (“May the road rise
with you”). This last session was facilitated by the resource people who had initially met
everyone as they first arrived for the gathering.

4.0 FEEDBACK, EVALUATION AND LEARNING FROM THE


DIALOGUE EVENT
4.1 FEEDBACK
All participants were asked to feedback their experience and interactions from the event to
their respective employers / groups / communities. In addition, to foster interaction
following the event a contact list of all participants was distributed and a post-event
informal gathering was held at a private house.

Feedback of the organizing group to their employers, groups or communities

Members of the holding group for the Dialogue on GE have fed back their experiences of
the event in many ways including written reports or accounts, formal talks and also informal
discussions. A list of some of these is included below:

• Report back and discussions of the learnings and experience of the Dialogue to the
Heart Politics community at the Winter gathering July 2004,
• Report back to the Tauhara Centre Trustees about the process and what happened,
• Report back to the Tauhara Centre community including one article,
• Report back to Wananga community,
• An account of the Dialogue on GE was included in scientific presentations to
HortResearch, Massey University BioSciences Department (Palmerston North and
Albany campuses), Department of Microbiology and Biochemistry at the University
of Otago, and the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland.
• Report back to the Taupo GE Free group including two articles to the GE Free
Newsletter,
• Report back to the Taupo branch of the Green Party,
• Personal reporting of the Dialogue event to the senior executive team of
HortResearch.
• Report back to the Zoo Director

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• Description of the event in an Interim report for a Social Entrepreneur grant from the
Community Employment Group.
• Numerous informal discussions with a wide range of individuals e.g. Earthsong
community, HortResearch, Massey University, Otago University, and a Bioethics
conference.

• In development: Article on the Dialogue on GE on HortResearch web-site.


Report to the Psychosynthesis community, a community of
therapists.

• Future: Talk and poster presentations to the Sixth Australasian Plant Virology
Workshop (August 2004), and the International Association for Plant Tissue Culture
and Biotechnology Conference (February 2005)

• Many people additional to attendees are interested in receiving a copy of the report
when it is available.

A Powerful Way to Experience the Dialogue On GE

A powerful technique to experience the Dialogue event is for individuals in your group to
read a participant’s words that were said during the final circle. Each voice at the Dialogue
event comes alive through a voice in your group.

This was the final plenary session. The floor was open, and people simply stood and
spoke. Two scribes wrote down as much as they could of what was being said. Their notes
are in the appendix. The distillation below is a reconstruction from these notes, with minor
additions to capture the flow and feeling of the occasion. This was a moment when the
sense of dialogue was especially apparent, and one can sense the coming together and
weaving of ideas and expression as the account develops.

The words spoken are below and throughout this report.

1. As with genes, there are far more similarities and connections between us than
differences. However, there are differences and these can be seen as enriching, and are
beautiful and essential to diversity. Differences such as those we have experienced in the
room need to be valued and taken account of.

2. Almost everyone in the room has expressed their sense of being unheard in some
way about this issue in the past. If there were a more effective forum it would be useful to
influence government about process and issue.

3. It is important that even those who are suspicious of government use their positions
to be vocal and to be heard. Use your positions – become political.

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4. As an organic grower I am trained to look for how coexistence can be mutually
beneficial. I want to embrace this even more fully, and I am interested to see how science
can help organics – and how the organic vision may be able to help the processes used by
scientists.

5. I learned a lot from this. I am remembering something I read about the essential
“seven values”. It offers an amazing change from the usual fundamentalism, of science and
of activists - and in this NZ is different. The key is perspective, I think: we need to look for
the shared values between us, and this will help mend the relationships broken between
science and community, and even within science itself. We need to address values of
spirituality v/v practicality, and, in this how we approach the process is everything.
Regulation does not work. Prescription reduces shared values. There are two levels of
responsibilities, and it is important to bring representatives of the economy and the
corporate interests to these events, and attempt to achieve the clarity needed to heal
relationships and move, move forward together.

6. I have a deeper understanding of looking first for common ground. It is really


important to listen to those who need to be heard.

7. I stand for being a seed crystal for diversity of people around the issue of GE. It’s
time to include memes as well as genes in our decisions, and the way that we think. Memes
need to be anchored deeply and truly in society. And they need diversity of interactions to
anchor well.

8. It has been valuable to see that the scientists do not have horns. In our concerns for a
better society we are all trying to do the same thing.

9. This process is absolutely invaluable. It is a reminder that, in a civil society, we have


to take responsibility to engage and deal with people with influence when they forget to
deal with us.

10. It is true, we all have to balance the power and responsibility. We need to get clear
on the balance – and to connect, respect and acknowledge each other when we relate to
people who work with genes.

11. I appreciated this insight into dialogue – and especially the unexpected
understanding that arises through openness. It is great to be given deeper understanding of
the Maori world view and values.

12. I see that the dialogue is a beginning not the end. It is a process that holds the
promise to be able to work through issues to eventually be able to celebrate diversity

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13. It has been immensely valuable to recognise GE as much an issue about human
rights, democracy, and the global commons. It is about our relationship with all beings, and
the need to approach this with responsibility. It has been a wake up call for my own work.

14. It affirms the power of relationship, knowing who’s behind the face and the job, to
sit down together and to hear stories. I feel that I can trust more now, like having been given
hope. It is important to feel there is the power to influence government, rather than suffer
the tension of disempowerment.

15. The common ground here is, as it were, empty of content but it is positively sizzling
with values. It is refreshing to move beyond the “ists and isms” to see how we can hold
values together, to play together. It is humbling to able to contribute and put ideas into the
mix and see it start to bubble up and fizz like foam.

16. As a journalist I see my role as being that of looking over the shoulder to see the
middle ground –to move from the individual’s narrow view to see the wide view. Then it is
our task to voice our truths and give the community the chance to discuss the middle
ground. Its important to think that sometimes “No” might mean something different like
“slow down”. If these sorts of initiatives are to be successful they need to move at pace of
the slowest person in regard the ethical issues. It is always necessary to try and read the
subtext behind the slogans, and for those writing the slogans to recall that responsibility
comes with power. It is said that intuition favours a well-stocked intellect – and a well-
stocked intellect is often best guided by intuition.

17. I found that being in the large circle meant that some of us reached saturation point.
There are so many views in this room. Sometimes I just felt like it should all shut up!
However, despite that I discovered some real feelings of appreciation for scientists. It is
clear that vital linkages have been damaged and need restoring, not just for us but for the
children.

18. Ethics, principals and values are the way to overcome and find solutions to
problems. These can help us lead to real relationships. The context is important in helping it
to happen. For example, this has been a small group in NZ. The questions are difficult. For
example: what do we mean by finding balance? We must find the means or context of
holding these conversations, and we all have a responsibility to develop skills in this sort of
process. It is time to take GE out of the too hard basket.

19. And all around us the sky is burning and the seas are rising high. We have the
feeling and the wisdom of a child crying – kiwi is angry he’s so very angry that he can’t fly
away – tui sings, kokako calls, piwakawaka dances on holy ground. We must once again
seek ways to distil our sense of belonging in this place, and find ways to respect and honour
our responsibility.

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20. Well. I have been sitting here listening to all of this. And I am a woman, and we like
to keep our hands busy. So, I am doing this knitting. And I am knitting this jersey of scraps
of wool, … and look at it, some of these colours clash, but, in the jersey as a whole, they
manage to cohabit. In a way, what we are trying to do, or beginning to try to do, is to knit a
jersey for the next generation

21. I am struck by the importance of the power of listening to each other, and especially
to how difficult it can be, and how much it can hurt to be so misunderstood or condemned. I
see these as important steps in bringing these colours together.

22. I have enjoyed the power of this process. The freedom and lack of structure has
allowed all voices to be heard. I have seen the responsibility of science to look after the
environment. And it is important to listen to the potential of GE and not just close down my
hearing.

23. When we do these sorts of things, it seems that I/WE are in the process of culture
making. Legislation is a beginning point – but its not the end. It is vital that all the different
parties stay connected, name our truth – and listen deeply.

24. I now understand the context of why we all came together in this way. It seems like
there were some who had a huge weight of responsibility and now we can share
responsibility together.

25. It is valuable to be in such a circle of diverse viewpoints. I believe that we must keep
up to connect and engage with these issues.

26. It is raining today. My head was clear when it was still sunny. More difficult now –
feels more humid, and more cool. It is as if history is happening here. There is a sense of its
significance, and an incredible promise. I have much gratitude to those who made it happen.
I feel the responsibility to be vigilant with the truth about the goods and bads of technology,
the knowns and unknowns. I am changed forever by this experience, and have a hunger to
discuss and know more.

27. It feels a bit unnatural to stand up, but it feels natural to say – I really value this
sense of community that I have shared. And yes, I have expressed anger and frustration at
times, but now I feel moved to peace and confidence. And I am frustrated by the time
constraints we have set here, and I am sad that we could not examine all the values that are
beginning to be mentioned.

28. I have a renewed appreciation of significance of dialogue and its power in this sort
of issue to disentangle techniques and their use, to separate the people from the issues, and
to identify matters of power and control as separate from the technical people and technical
issues. There is a significant concern about the power relationships which can certainly
begin to be addressed as we start building values and begin to look both to what we don’t

17
know - and remembering that we don’t know we don’t know some things, and we need to
enquire into what isn’t there.

29. And we can live with difference. At an event like this we have seen that being
together isn’t necessarily agreeing together. But we can reach for a common humanity. I
feel relieved to see that the “Wicked scientist” was just so much movie propaganda.

30. I want to stand and acknowledge all of us – our spirit, scientists, activists, our
cultures and our expertise. And I value this holistic approach, it is also our way, a Maori
responsibility, to listen, talk and educate in order to move forward together. We need to
look at all perspectives, and to do so we need to look at the values of Maori, the other
important values and weigh them up against what is important to Maori. Balance is needed.
At the moment the economic outweighs culture, spirit, and conservation. The challenge is to
put yourselves into the middle, look at the issues, seek balance. When we leave as people
the land remains. The decisions we make now affect the environment for generations to
come.

31. Well, I came along to get the information I needed in order to win an argument with
a girl in my class. When I came along, it was as if I had one pillar of the knowledge, and she
had three. Now I think I have mapped the floor with new knowledge. And, thank you: the
process has been great. I have felt as if I am seen on an equal footing to you all. We’re all
equal here, whereas at school we usually get made to feel inferior, somehow.

32. I stand with a deep sense of appreciation to everyone for giving the time to honour
process properly – time to be really present, to really listen. Someone said something about
creating new culture, and I really believe that this is important for future, for a future for the
children.

33. The power of this understanding is amazing. The steps towards relationship
building, the wisdom, the integrity, the honesty and the intelligence in the room are simply
remarkable. I am leaving with a huge sense of the responsibility to do something with this
energy.

34. I also want to acknowledge everyone’s contributions. We have all mentioned values,
and it is amazing how shared common values serve to help create a community. The way
we have met about this GE issue is indicative of how we can withstand bigger forces. As
community of NZers we are increasingly challenged to contain and not be dominated by
science, technology and the market economy. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by such
powerful forces – like when they announced that Monsanto were going to plant in the South
Island. It seems essential to remember our shared humanity. And our role as parents: we
have a responsibility to the earth community and all its elements. We must learn to subsume
our power to the greatest good for all of these.

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35. I will never be lost, I am the seed that was sown. The song of Raiatea is about the
importance of knowing who you are and where you came from. If you know this you can
never be lost, you can carry the knowing with you on to other journeys. It has been great,
and I hope we don’t leave it here. Carry on this journey of understanding, don’t wait for
others to do it, do it at home and work.

36. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

4.2 EVALUATION

Evaluation by the Participants

The event significantly increased understanding of and respect for other perspectives
around GE and trust in other participants. Participants experienced feeling heard and that
their opinion counts. The length of the dialogue was about right as were the number of
participants. Participants felt that they understood what they were being invited to and that
the process of dialogue and the personal invitation were important in deciding whether to
come. Many enriching and valuable experiences were had although the process was not
always comfortable. An abundance of rich experiences, relationships, understanding and
hope was taken away from the dialogue event. The dialogue process was highly
recommended to address other issues and many suggestions were made for future dialogues.
The participants felt as if this was a landmark event and were extremely thankful for the
opportunity.

This is a summary of the evaluations that were received from the Participant Evaluation
Form. For specific remarks, comments and recommendations please refer to the appendix
for the entire compilation of evaluations.

Evaluation of Tauhara as a Location for the Dialogue Event

The vision of Tauhara is to be a place for everyone (www.tauharacentre.org.nz/vision).


Tauhara Retreat and Conference Centre is the expression of an unfolding vision. It was
founded to create a spiritual and educational centre which would draw together people of
differing viewpoints and methods of working, but united in their search for truth and the
establishment of goodwill and understanding in the world. Tauhara is a free association of
people from throughout New Zealand and beyond, who come from all walks of life, all
faiths, and who hold many diverse views.

We found that the purpose of Tauhara Retreat and Conference Centre, the beautiful
physical environment, and the caring for guests that is intrinsic to Tauhara values, added
very positively to the quality of interaction that was experienced at the Dialogue on GE
event.

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Tauhara Retreat and Conference Centre is more than a commercial venue; the philosophy
of care and service is embraced by both paid and voluntary staff; for instance a local GE
activist elected to volunteer in the kitchen as a contribution towards supporting this event.

The benefit of the shared bunkrooms was apparent during this dialogue event as these
provided yet another level of interaction between the diverse particpants.

Evaluation of this Event as the First of the Tauhara Dialogues

The Dialogue on GE was a huge undertaking and the next Tauhara Dialogue will need to
be organised in a way that uses less lead time and only two or three planning meetings. It
would be desirable to be able to hold these dialogues at a month’s notice, so that topical
issues can be addressed. The GE event was an excellent first event and has generated a lot
of ideas and experience on how to bring about a dialogue and how the next dialogue can be
most effective.

The planning of the first Tauhara Dialogue, the Dialogue on GE, was exhaustive and will
hugely benefit future dialogue events. The planning identified a basic structure and the
concepts required to hold and sustain the interactions between diverse views so that there
existed a space for dialogue.

4.3 LEARNINGS

Some contrasting views have been written and are juxtaposed below. These contrasting
views provide starting points for developing new aspects for a future dialogue and have not
yet been resolved by the holding group into clear recommendations.

The Learnings of the Holding Group from the Dialogue on GE

This section has been collated and summarized from the individual reflections of the
“holding group” members and the “resource people” as they addressed three questions in
the month following the dialogue event:
1. What worked well
2. What did not work well
3. What would we do differently

1. What worked well


Preparation before the event

• Our passion and commitment to the potential of dialogue


• All the planning
• Attending to our own process as a group well, such that we were well aligned and
formed a close connection as a holding group (given there were already connections of
pre-existing relationships and for most a shared culture of Heart Politics)
• Being able to spend a planning weekend together at Hahei

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• Being together as a group for the day and half at Tauhara immediately before the
gathering started, to pull all the loose ends together, and also to enjoy going together to
the hot river! This all gave time to connect-in and fine tune.
• Self and group reflection that allowed us each to clarify to ourselves and to the group our
position on the issue.

The venue
• Tauhara, the place matched the tone and intention of the dialogue event absolutely
perfectly, it also brought a sense of togetherness in staying overnight and eating together.
And the food was awesome too!

Children
• The child-care was superb and allowed families to come
• The help of the children
i. in greeting people,
ii. making the welcome signs
iii. writing their questions in the corridor
iv. participating in the Cafe and in the Final Words
• The kids seemed really happy, and came and went from the large group in a really
unobtrusive and lovely way. Parallel and complimentary to the whole gathering.

Holding group and Tuis at the event


• Holding group modelling transparency, respectful interactions, and depth of passion for
the event
• Our committment to the process and to the vision and intention of dialogue that held the
holding group through a difficult and sometimes painful process.
• Having Lynn and Richard as participant supporters and process observers was useful in
providing an 'independent' place for people to go and talk about process issues (they
were only used once for this but at a critical point in the dialogue and it did help to ease
the concerns of the participants who had spoken with them) and to mirror back to the
whole group what the “Tuis” saw happening.
• Holding group participating in the home groups.
• Holding group meetings over breakfast time - though these sometimes finished too late
for comfort (especially for those members who were also holding the morning session).
• Being flexible and not being too afraid.

The programme
• The children greeting people and making the welcome signs, these aspects seemed to
somewhat relax attendees immediately upon arrival
• The home group assignment process
• Having the program outlined on the whiteboard in the dining room at the beginning as
registration and cups of tea were happening. This gave people a focal point and a
conversation starter.
• The simple Welcome (no obvious ritual), especially Moira's walk and Andrew’s and the
two Robins’ welcomes and the Kaumatua’s response was wonderful

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• The hour-long break between the welcome and dinner
• In the orientation the brief sociogram and the small groups asking "what would you be
doing today if you weren't here?"
• The transparency statements by the holding group/resource people was good in
modelling honesty and openness at the outset
• Initial Home Group met around the participants’ understanding of dialogue
• Opening the space for everyone to introduce themselves more deeply on Friday am
• Changing the scheduled program on Friday morning to allow everyone to state their
position on GE, to introduce themselves more deeply
• The celebration café worked above my expectations, it showed that it can “happen”
without MC's doing more than kicking it off
• Emergence and evaluation flowed seamlessly and were a good example of the focused
use of time; they and the Final Words were excellent.
• Dinners were fantastic for the intense and diverse interactions that happened
• Staying in the large group
• Informal and formal small group meetings/process worked well
• Nearly managed to avoid all presentations, which allowed us to meet more equally, and
without falling into “as rote” states.

Invitation Process and Outcomes


• Diverse mix of people - everyone connected to someone
• The invitation letter and the concept of dis-connecting attenders from their work identity
• The personal invitation process, especially where there was good communication
between invitor and invitee
• The invitation to a different kind of conversation (dialogue) meant people were very
willing to engage from the start
• Participants were so willing to be involved and engage, they were primed for dialogue
through our invitation process
• People came with enthusiasm and openness to each other

Overall
• We occasionally struck the deeply resonating and all-moving centre of the drum-of-
dialogue
• We built a platform of trust

2. What did not work well

• It was particularly unfortunate that one participant had to leave in the middle of the
“Groan Zone”, where the way forward was not obvious, on Saturday lunch time.

Achieving Dialogue
• We were somewhat attached to ‘dialogue’ being a whole group process, so didn’t make
full use of small groups.

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• The dialogue rarely achieved a level in which the whole group got beyond the
intellectual and therefore missed out on what deeper meanings and insights might have
emerged. Maybe this was the best we could hope for a first try. Perhaps the holding
group could have modeled dialogue by being more involved

Facilitation and Leadership/Modelling


• Over concern about ‘safety’ - the process was very ‘contained’, stilted and controlled,
and therefore lacked the spontaneous spark of authentic interaction
• Meeting the concerns of participants on the fly, for instance there was a desire for an
‘agenda’, in retrospect I think would have been a good idea.
• We were a little tentative, handled participants with "kid gloves"
• We were overly concerned about ‘over-facilitating’, or respecting people. This resulted
in not interrupting or intervening to stop hijacks of the process
• Holding to time boundaries, and managing the flow-over where something else is
happening
• Difficulties meeting challenge. When we were hijacked by the demand to respect and
honour the wisdom of the old people, we might have countered with the need to do this
in a way that respects and honours the agreements of the current people!
• The regular reflection on process by the whole group at intervals through the gathering
should have been good, but didn't quite make it.

Programme
• Friday night felt like a non-event after home groups and yet there was not enough timely
spaciousness in programme.
• The orientation was too long for the time of day; for instance could have gone over the
program more briefly
• Holding group members did not stick to their commitment to brevity in their
'transparency' statements resulting in a long orientation and later contributions being
abbreviated
• Never enough time for Holding Group daily meetings

Planning and event development


• The long drawn out invitation time for people and the delays in registering was really
hard work, long, and involved.
• We were not clear about the implications of non-attenders from outset i.e the lack of the
best cross section of people that happened because of withdrawals.
• There were a lot of planning meetings and these were held in the evening when we were
tired
• A lot of email traffic
• Not having further explored and practised how to handle rudeness/challenge

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3. What would we do differently next time

Planning
• It would have been better to set aside a few weekend/whole-day meetings and had time
to group-build, be seen and heard, air concerns, have dialogue, and do more tasks
together.
• In this time we could have also practiced more deeply our facilitation methods as a
planning/holding group and therefore allowed this facilitation to be modelled or reflected
into the Dialogue event.
• We could have also had more dialogue on GE in the holding group prior to the event i.e
practise more and use the topic to identify, develop and learn about these dialogue
muscles, be confident in ourselves.
• Perhaps we could radically reduce the planning time – we lost some spontaneity. [e.g.:
What would happen if we just invited people to a nice place, with good food and
environment but without organizational structure?]
• Have fewer holding group meetings, and not sweat the details too early.
• Plan a pair of dialogues. One of which was much like this one, and the next [a month
later] with an extra day, and some processes built in that could be fleshed out from the
group at the first one.

Programme
• More small group interaction to start the event.
• Make sure everyone has a chance to speak into the big circle early on (as we did in the
change of programme for Friday morning).
• Stronger directions to Home Group facilitators to set a culture of emotional and personal
reflection, rather than discussion.
• Schedule time for group sporting activity

Facilitation
• Make more use of small groups for synthesizing themes and developing key questions
(eg. café style)
• Model debate, conversation and dialogue in a fun, memorable way at the outset and do
more modeling and guiding on what is dialogue.
• Contract with the group at the outset that facilitators will gently intervene so that
dialogue process is honoured, or, gently pause the speaker and check if this is working
for the group as a whole. This would establish the Meeting Agreements in a more
explicit way and then we could display them more prominently (i.e. up on the wall)
throughout the gathering.
• Share the insights we had on group processes (the Groan Zone etc) at the outset or during
the Groan Zone that we indeed experienced ourselves. Also we could have had the
known group processes on the wall. This would have provided a greater sense of safety,
a better understanding of the behaviours needed for dialogue to happen and would have
provided the intellectual understanding of what was happening in the group when it got
uncomfortable (and that this was expected and normal).

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• Had a time for people to give their presentations. This would have given participants the
opportunity, the time and space that they needed and have the benefit of people not
needing a space to hijack later in the event. This would have also allowed a platform to
be set i.e. a level playing field of knowledge (spiritual and intellectual etc).
• Holding group feeling more able to participate in the content, and model dialogue. The
holding group stymied ourselves by holding back in the interests of "impartiality" rather
than being more vocal and more interpretive of the process.
• Be more clear for ourselves about the roles of the Resource People such that they would
not be constrained and concerned about stepping on the toes of the holding group by
coming in over their facilitation.

Invitation Process
• Make it clearer at the outset that if people don’t respond to the invitation, or respond late,
or pull out at the last minute, that they are taking a place of someone else
• Be more courageous about inviting a wider range of participants – even the more
‘extremists’. This would now be easier as we have a base of previous attendees whose
personal contacts could be used to personally invite more people.
• Perhaps if we got people to pay a deposit with registrations it may have caused some to
think twice about registering

Thoughts on Dialogue and How to Achieve it in a Group

As a way of leading people into dialogue, perhaps it is not useful to describe what
dialogue and its elements are. It's a bit like explaining what sex is to someone who has
never experienced it and then thinking that the explanation could be helpful. Maybe it
would be useful. Maybe the explanation takes people into thinking about dialogue or maybe
it takes them to thinking about dialogue rather than doing it. Not helpful in sex or dialogue.

Modelling of dialogue is so important, particularly when the heat rises in the dialogue
environment.

It might have been useful to pause more often and talk about the process or just to have
had the holding group speak out more. Speaking out about the actual process in the room
rather than about the content of the dialogue.

5.0 A Proposal
A Second Event, “Dialogue on GE Plus 6”

This event would be held at Tauhara in October 2004, i.e. 6 months after the first. The event
would carry forward the idea of a pair of dialogues. The participants would be those that
attended the first event and their recommendations. This invitation process would draw on
the depth of experience generated thus far and widen the breadth of invitees. The
preparatory organization would be minimal. The event would be held Tuesday through
Friday.

25
6.0 BUDGET

Facility Use $ 50
Administration $ 724
Accommodation & Catering
49 Adults @ $324 $15,876
9 children @ $150 $ 1,350
12 Core Group @ $110 $ 1,320
Child Care $ 1,200
Report documentation, collation and distribution $ 1,200

Total $ 21,720.00

Funding: $21,720 (including GST)

Contact:
Dr Robin MacDiarmid,
HortResearch,
Private Bag 92 169, Auckland
Telephone (09) 815 4200 x7131
Fax (09) 815 4201
e-mail: rmacdiarmid@hortresearch.co.nz

Contracting Entity:
Tauhara Centre,
60 Acacia Heights Drive,
P.O.Box 125, Taupo.
Telephone (07) 378-7507
Fax (07) 3787528
e-mail: tauhara@tauharacentre.org.nz
website: www.tauharacentre.org.n

26
7.0 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

• MoRST for recognizing the need for dialogue between scientists and society, for
providing funding for this event, and in particular to Richard Meylan for his enthusiasm
and incisive questions,
• Tauhara and staff, and especially the cooks,
• The woman from the Taupo GE group who wanted to contribute and did so by
“WWOOFing” in the kitchen,
• Heart Politics trustees for endorsing, encouraging and guiding the concept and
development of a Dialogue on GE,
• Richard Jakob-Hoff and Lynne Holdem in their important roles as minders of the
process and resources for people to draw from,
• Heart Politics winter 2003 and summer 2004 attendees who helped form and guide the
Dialogue on GE event,
• The wider Heart Politics and Wananga communities for their experience and learnings,
• People and organizations who gave koha to establish and continue the Tauhara
Dialogues, including the “The Jobs Letter”,
• All the participants (including families who came) and also the people who were invited
but couldn't come at the last minute,
• Partners and families who supported their loved ones to come,
• Glenna Gerard & Linda Teurfs, authors of the chapter “Dialogue and Community-
Building”, in “A Dialogue Reader”,
• 2003 Public Conversations Project whose insights helped to create the evaluation form,
• Scientists at HortResearch and the University of Auckland who did not attend but acted
as sounding boards for the process as it developed,
• Childcare co-ordinators, Amy
Lilburn and Willa Christie, who
co-ordinated both the children
and their parents and who also
assisted in the children’s
influence and contributions in
greeting people and making the
welcome signs, writing their
questions in the corridor and
participating in the Café and in
the Final Words.

• And thanks to the kids. You


really rocked!

A quote from the holding group (including the “Tui” resource people)
You’re the best bloody team I’ve ever worked with!”.

27
8.0 LIST OF APPENDICES
8.1 PROPOSAL TO THE MINISTRY OF SCIENCE, RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY 29

8.2 CORRESPONDENCE RECEIVED BY PARTICIPANTS 34


Invitation to attend the Dialogue on GE 35
Further information to invitees 39
Letter accompanying the Dialogue Reader 43
Dialogue Reader 44
First email sent to all participants following the Dialogue on GE event 52
Second email sent to all participants following the Dialogue on GE event 53

8.3 DOCUMENTATION DISTRIBUTED OR ATTAINED DURING THE EVENT 54


Information for home groups 55
Participant Feedback form 56
Compilation of the Evaluations of the Dialogue on GE 58
Evaluation from the throne 70
Image of Seed in Pastel 72

8.4 DOCUMENTATION ARISING FROM THE DIALOGUE ON GE 73


The GE Information Bulletin #22 74
Article in Tauhara Newsletter 78
Article for the Taupo GE Free group 80

28
8.1 PROPOSAL TO THE MINISTRY OF SCIENCE, RESEARCH
AND TECHNOLOGY

29
Proposal

to the

Ministry of Research Science and Technology

for a

Dialogue on Genetic Engineering

Funds requested: $21,720 (including GST)

Contact:
Dr Robin MacDiarmid,
HortResearch,
Private Bag 92 169, Auckland
Telephone (09) 815 4200 x7131
Fax (09) 815 4201
e-mail: rmacdiarmid@hortresearch.co.nz

Contracting Entity:
Tauhara Centre,
60 Acacia Heights Drive,
P.O.Box 125, Taupo.
Telephone (07) 378-7507
Fax (07) 3787528
e-mail: tauhara@tauharacentre.org.nz
website: www.tauharacentre.org.nz

30
Dialogue on Genetic Engineering
"Dialogue is about creating an environment that builds trust, encourages
communication with respect, honours and values diversity as essential, and
seeks a level of awareness that promotes the creation of shared meaning
(culture) that supports individual and collective well-being"
Glenna Gerard & Linda Teurfs in Dialogue and Organisational Transformation.

Overview
A three-day Dialogue on Genetic Engineering (GE) will be held in April 2004 at the Tauhara Centre,
Taupo. The dialogue is organised and held through the synergy of the Tauhara Centre, Heart Politics and
New Zealand scientists, and is to be the first of the Tauhara Dialogues series. We intend to provide a safe
place of meeting for a diverse group to interact, communicate and learn about this topical issue. The open
dialogue on GE will provide an opportunity to tap the creative potential of bringing diverse viewpoints
together.

The Dialogue on GE will involve approximately 62 people including the core organising/culture holding
group (8 people), participants (approximately 42 adults, and up to 12 children). The culture for the dialogue
will be nurtured by Heart Politics (a group of active community members) both through participants who
engage in the dialogue as fully as they wish and assist in modelling and holding the culture; and culture
holders whose role is entirely that of holding the highest Heart Politics values of inclusivity and dialogue,
and will stay out of the discussion on the actual topic of GE.

Participants in the Dialogue on GE will be identified through a process of direct invitation and application
to attend, with selection by the core organisational group (augmented by two impartial individuals). It is
intended that an eclectic range of viewpoints and stakeholders (for instance Maori, scientists, primary
producers, artists, health care workers, economists, and family) will be represented and that participants will
be open to understanding and relating with others, regardless of their own view on the issue of GE.

Parents are encouraged to bring their children and weave an integrated social fabric of whole people in a
community over the three days. The presence of children will provide the opportunity of seeing each other
as loving parents, foster interactions across divides, and provide an added purpose to the dialogue as we
interact with the future of our country. Childcare will be provided at the Tauhara Centre and their
interactions with the participants will occur especially at meal times and evenings.

The word dialogue comes from the Greek roots "dia" and "logos", literally "through meaning". It is a
group communication process for collective learning and shared meaning. The format of the event is based
on Heart Politics gatherings and is arranged to build an environment where discussion and interaction can
occur before introducing the topical focus. The forum aims for an interweaving of different stories rather
than winning debate. Through dialogue we will explore between the polar extremes of this topical issue.
This event encompasses the ideals of national and community participation in science and technology.

Heart Politics
Heart Politics gatherings are held twice yearly at the Tauhara Centre and provide a forum to explore with
others the idea of "conscious participation in change". Gatherings are open to anyone who has a desire for a
more just and sustainable world, and recognises the links between personal ways of being and political
changes. Through networking for support and inspiration, developing skills, sharing questions and wisdom,
challenge, laughter and celebration, participants gain a better understanding of how to be more effective in
bringing about positive change in the world.

31
After 14 years of gatherings, the Heart Politics network and culture have reached a level of maturity that
can be of service to the wider community of New Zealand. It aims to provide a container within which
important and potentially divisive issues can be explored.

The Core Group


The core organisational / culture holding group for this event is comprised of people from the Tauhara
Centre, Heart Politics and our New Zealand science community. As needed, individuals will be invited
from identified stakeholder groups. The core group includes:

Robin Allison is an architect specialising in socially and environmentally sustainable design. She is the
initiator and co-ordinator of Earthsong Eco-Neighbourhood in west Auckland, a co-housing neighbourhood
developed by the residents as a model of co-operation and environmentally responsible construction. She
has been involved with organising Heart Politics and other gatherings for many years and is currently a
Trustee of Heart Politics.

Dale Hunter, is a facilitator, mediator and consultant in organisational and community development. She
is a founder of Zenergy Ltd., a facilitation, mediation and coaching company based in New Zealand and co-
author of several best-selling books on facilitation and cooperative ways working. She recently gained her
PhD in ‘facilitating cooperative processes in organisations’, and facilitates world-wide, including at the
World Summit on Sustainability in Johannesburg in 2002. Dale is a Trustee of Heart Politics and Vice Chair
International of the International Association of Facilitators.

David Jacobs, a documentary film-maker, lecturer and director of the Connected Media Trust. David has
been coming to gatherings at Tauhara over the last 10 years and has recently become a Trustee of Heart
Politics.

Peta Joyce , is a trainer, facilitator and mentor with many years experience in education, social change,
and therapeutic practice. She has been employed in her own business for the past 15 years, and works
throughout New Zealand and in the UK. She is an active member of Heart Politics and wananga gatherings.

Andrew Lilburn is the manager of the Tauhara Centre in Taupo. Since living at Tauhara he has become
involved with the Heart Politics and Wananga gatherings. Prior to moving to Taupo he was involved in
several community groups and was a District Councillor with an interest in Resource Management planning.

Robin MacDiarmid, is a scientist at HortResearch where she studies plant-virus interactions and leads a
group discovering plant gene functions. The work in Robin’s PhD formed the basis for the transgenic
tamarillo field trial in her home town Kerikeri, and she uses genetic engineering as a tool for discovery.
Robin has recently become involved in Heart Politics.

Mere Roberts is a biologist at the University of Auckland. She teaches indigenous environmental
perspectives, and her research interests are in Maori traditional ecological knowledge. Mere is also a
member of Nga Kaihautu Tikanga Taiao, the Maori advisory committee to the ERMA.

Mark Skelding, who has worked in marketing and fundraising for community and non-profit organisations
for over 20 year - arts, cultural and environmental agencies, including a World Bank project in Jordan.
Since 1997 he has been working as a counsellor and psychotherapist, and has been involved with Youthline
and mentoring projects. As well as a private practice in Auckland and Thames, he is also involved in
delivering the foundation course for a counselling and psychotherapy training programme, and in facilitating
a programme for children who have experienced domestic violence. Mark has been co-ordinator for Heart
Politics since 1998, and is a member of the Trustee group.
32
Tauhara Centre
The Tauhara Centre was founded to create a spiritual and educational centre, which would draw together
people and groups of differing viewpoints and methods of working, but united in their search for truth and
the establishment of good will and understanding in the world.
Tauhara is a free association of people from throughout New Zealand and beyond, who come from all
walks of life, all faiths, and who hold many diverse views. Through coming together to share and learn, to
give and receive - working together physically, mentally and spiritually - they extend and add richness to the
expression of Tauhara.
Fundamental to Tauhara is the vision of a free and loving network of people throughout the planet
dedicated to the realisation of the harmony within all creation.

Tauhara Dialogues
Using a whole-group dialogue approach, these gatherings aim to explore and deepen debate and opinion
on issues that have the potential to cause division within our society. The participants are drawn from a
wide range of experience and concern, science, art, psychology, health, economics, agriculture, community,
and from all sides of the political spectrum. They are selected as much for their role as culture shapers as for
their expertise on the particular topic, and a dialogue format encourages listening and reflection, more an
interweaving of stories than the spinning of lines. Tauhara Dialogues build a forum where discussion can
occur before introducing a topical focus. In April, the topic will be Genetic Engineering.

Agenda
Wed 2pm Full holding group assembles
The event (Thurs 4pm-Sun 2pm)
Thurs PM Registration; dinner; introductory comments
Friday AM Building culture
PM Exploring diversity
Eve Whaikorero
Sat AM Dialogue about GE
PM Dialogue about GE
Sun AM Dialogue about GE
PM Leave
Two weeks later Evaluation meeting
Two months later Completion of collation and summarisation of feedback from evaluation forms,
documentation and report distribution to MoRST and participants.

Feedback and the learning process


Feedback from the event will occur in two or more ways:
1. All participants are asked to feedback their experience and interactions from the event to
their respective employers / groups / communities. The eight core group members will
feedback to their respective employers / groups / communities.
2. Participants are requested to reflect and comment on the process of the holding of the event
through an evaluation form to be distributed at the event. A report summarising the event, the
learning from the process, and including the feedback will be created and distributed to all
event participants and to the Ministry of Research Science and Technology (MoRST).
3. MoRST will be invited to suggest a key participant from the Ministry.
4. Artists will be invited as participants and we hope they will use the experience as material for
their art e.g. song, sculpture, etc.
5. To foster interaction following the event a contact list of all participants will be distributed.
33
Contract holder
Responsibility for the reporting to MoRST and fulfilment of the contract will be on the holder of the
contract, the Tauhara Centre.

Budget
(GST included)
Assembly of the holding group (Wed 2pm-Thurs 4pm)
Tauhara costs: total of $110/person x 12 = 1,320

The event (Thurs 4pm-Sun 2pm)


Tauhara costs: total of $324/adult for the 4 days x 50 = 16,200
Tauhara costs: total of $150/child for the 4 days x 12 = 1,800
Childcare (2 people x 8 h x $25/h x 3 days) 1,200

Documentation, collation and distribution costs 1,200

Total $21,720

34
8.2 CORRESPONDENCE RECEIVED BY PARTICIPANTS

• Invitation to attend the Dialogue on GE

• Further Information to Invitees

• Letter Accompanying the Dialogue Reader

• Dialogue Reader

• First Email Sent to All Participants Following the Dialogue on GE Event

• Second Email Sent to All Participants Following the Dialogue on GE Event

34
GE : Where to for New Zealand?
Tauhara Centre, Taupo
22-25 April 2004

A Tauhara Dialogue arising from the interest and


input of the Tauhara Centre, Heart Politics gather-
ings, and the Ministry of Research, Science, and
Technology

‘Suppose that we were able to share meanings


freely without a compulsive urge to impose our
own view or to conform to those of others and
without distortion and self-deception. Would this
not constitute a real revolution in culture and
therefore eventually in society?’
— David Bohm, Changing Consciousness, 1992.
Dear

We are inviting you to be part of an eclectic group drawn from diverse backgrounds, experiences and
persuasions. We, the organizers, are individuals concerned about social change in a community network
called “Heart Politics.” Since 1989, Heart Politicians have met twice a year to listen to speakers, engage in
workshops, recharge our batteries, reconnect with friends, restore our hope and deepen our insights,
networks and understanding. The Tauhara Centre, where we meet, has a long history of encouraging
personal, social, and spiritual reflection and renewal.

The idea for this Dialogue began when an attending scientist from a Crown Research Institute initiated a
discussion on genetic engineering (GE) at a Heart Politics Gathering in July 2003. It was a refreshing, respect-
ful, and inclusive meeting in which all present found themselves challenged, inspired, and enriched. The
Ministry of Research, Science, and Technology (http://www.morst.govt.nz) learned of the impetus to enlarge
upon that experience and responded by offering funds to enable this event to be staged.

Our purpose is to engage in an experiment in communication and relationship building between scientists,
educators, activists, legislators, artists, youth, parents, farmers, economists, health professionals, and more.
The focus of the event is GE, and the challenge of this gathering is to move beyond the current polarisation
of viewpoints by way of an alternative approach called Dialogue (from the Greek “dia” = through and
“logos” = meaning, i.e. “the meaning that emerges through the word”). Complex issues such as GE reveal
the inadequacy of communication styles based on positioned argument, informed debate and the duel-listic
“viewpoints at dawn” mentality.

Because the nature of Dialogue is exploratory, its meaning and its methods continue to unfold. No formal
rules can be laid down for constructing a Dialogue because its essence is learning - not as the result of
consuming a body of information imparted by an authority nor as a means of examining or critiquing a
particular theory or procedure, but rather as part of an unfolding process of creative participation between
peers. Dialogue is not concerned with deliberately trying to change behaviour, nor to get the participants to
move towards a predetermined goal. Any such attempt would obscure or distort the processes that Dialogue
has set out to explore. Dialogue allows for creativity and insight among the participants.

You are invited to be a part of that process and potential. Your on-site registration is free, and includes meals
and shared accommodation at Tauhara (www.tauharacentre.org.nz), plus childcare facilities during the event.
A koha can be donated towards future Tauhara Dialogues. Offsite B+B accommodation is also available
nearby at local rates, and can be arranged on your behalf.

As numbers are limited would you please confirm your registration by 16th December, or your place will be
offered to others. To register, please fill in the form and return to Andrew Lilburn, Tauhara Centre, 60 Acacia
Heights Drive, P.O.Box 125, Taupo.

Please feel free to discuss this opportunity with me if you need further details.

Yours truly,

For the organizing group:


Mere Roberts Robin Allison
Moira Lilburn Mark Skelding
Andrew Lilburn David Jacobs
Robin MacDiarmid Donald Joyce
Peta Joyce
Registration form for:

GE : Where to for New Zealand?


Tauhara Centre, Taupo
22-25 April 2004

Name of Applicant ............................................................................................

Address .............................................................................................................

E-mail ................................................................................................................

Phone ................................................................................................................

Yes, I will attend

I will require on-site accommodation

Please advise me of nearby B+B accommodation

Number of Children accompanying me

No, I will not attend

Return by 16 December 2004


To Andrew Lilburn
Tauhara Centre
60 Acacia Heights Drive
P.O.Box 125
Taupo.
tuahara@tauharacentre.org.nz
FURTHER INFORMATION TO INVITEES

GE : Where to for NZ?


Tauhara Centre, Taupo,
April 22 – 25, 2004

A Tauhara Dialogue arising from the interest and


input of the Tauhara Centre, Heart Politics gather-
ings, and the Ministry of Research, Science, and
Technology

Suppose that we were able to share meanings


freely without a compulsive urge to impose our
own view or to conform to those of others and
without distortion and self-deception. Would
this not constitute a real revolution in culture
and therefore eventually in society?
- David Bohm, Changing Consciousness, 1992.

39
GE : Where to for NZ?
Tauhara Centre, Taupo, April 22 – 25, 2004

We, the organizers, are individuals concerned about social change in a community network
called “Heart Politics.” Since 1989, Heart Politicians have met twice a year to listen to speakers, engage
in workshops, recharge our batteries, reconnect with friends, restore our hope and deepen our
insights, networks and understanding. The Tauhara Centre, where we meet, has a long history of
encouraging personal, social, and spiritual reflection and renewal.

The idea for this Dialogue began when an attending scientist from a Crown Research Institute
initiated a discussion on genetic engineering (GE) at a Heart Politics Gathering in July 2003. It was a
refreshing, respectful, and inclusive meeting in which all present found themselves challenged,
inspired, and enriched. The Ministry of Research, Science, and Technology (www.morst.govt.nz)
learned of the impetus to enlarge upon that experience and responded by offering funds to enable this
event to be staged.

Our purpose is to engage in an experiment in communication and relationship building


between scientists, educators, activists, legislators, artists, youth, parents, farmers, economists, health
professionals, and more. The focus of the event is GE, and the challenge of this gathering is to move
beyond the current polarisation of viewpoints by way of an alternative approach called Dialogue
(from the Greek “dia” = through and “logos” = meaning, i.e. “the meaning that emerges through the
word”). Complex issues such as GE reveal the inadequacy of communication styles based on
positioned argument, informed debate and the duel-listic “viewpoints at dawn” mentality.

Because the nature of Dialogue is exploratory, its meaning and its methods continue to unfold.
No formal rules can be laid down for constructing a Dialogue because its essence is learning – not as
the result of consuming a body of information imparted by an authority nor as a means of examining
or critiquing a particular theory or procedure, but rather as part of an unfolding process of creative
participation between peers. Dialogue is not concerned with deliberately trying to change behaviour,
nor to get the participants to move towards a predetermined goal. Any such attempt would obscure or
distort the processes that Dialogue has set out to explore. Dialogue allows for creativity and insight
among the participants.

The number of people that we have been able to accommodate in this dialogue is small and we
recognise that many more people are interested in the topic, the event and the process. We would like
to freely provide information that arises from this event. If you would like to receive this information
please write to Andrew Lilburn, Tauhara Centre, 60 Acacia Heights Drive, P.O.Box 125, Taupo or
tauhara@tauharacentre.org.nz.

For the organizing group


Mere Roberts Moira Lilburn Andrew Lilburn Robin MacDiarmid Robin Allison
Mark Skelding David Jacobs Peta Joyce Donald Joyce

40
Heart Politics
Heart Politics gatherings are held twice yearly at the Tauhara Centre and provide a forum to
explore with others the idea of "conscious participation in change". Gatherings are open to anyone
who has a desire for a more just and sustainable world, and recognises the links between personal
ways of being and political changes. Through networking for support and inspiration, developing
skills, sharing questions and wisdom, challenge, laughter and celebration, participants gain a better
understanding of how to be more effective in bringing about positive change in the world. More
information about Heart Politics can be obtained from www.jobsletter.org.nz/hpx/hpx.htm.

After 14 years of gatherings, the Heart Politics network and culture has reached a level of maturity
that can be of service to the wider community of New Zealand. It aims to provide a container within
which important and potentially divisive issues can be explored.

Tauhara Centre
The Tauhara Centre was founded to create a spiritual and educational centre, which would draw
together people and groups of differing viewpoints and methods of working, but united in their
search for truth and the establishment of good will and understanding in the world.
Tauhara is a free association of people from throughout New Zealand and beyond, who come from
all walks of life, all faiths, and who hold many diverse views. Through coming together to share and
learn, to give and receive - working together physically, mentally and spiritually - they extend and
add richness to the expression of Tauhara.
Fundamental to Tauhara is the vision of a free and loving network of people throughout the planet
dedicated to the realisation of the harmony within all creation. Information about the Tauhara Centre
can be found at www.tauharacentre.org.nz.

Tauhara Dialogues
Using a whole-group dialogue approach, these gatherings aim to explore and deepen debate and
opinion on issues that have the potential to cause division within our society. The participants are
drawn from a wide range of experience and concern, science, art, psychology, health, economics,
agriculture, community, and from all sides of the political spectrum. They are selected as much for
their role as culture shapers as for their expertise on the particular topic, and a dialogue format
encourages listening and reflection, more an interweaving of stories than the spinning of lines.
Tauhara Dialogues build a forum where discussion can occur before introducing a topical focus. In
April, the topic will be Genetic Engineering.

FOR INFORMATION AND EXPERIENCES THAT ARISE FROM THE DIALOGUE, GE : WHERE TO FOR NZ,
WRITE TO ANDREW LILBURN,
TAUHARA CENTRE, 60 ACACIA HEIGHTS DRIVE, P.O.BOX 125, TAUPO
OR tauhara@tauharacentre.org.nz?

PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR NAME, EMAIL AND POSTAL ADDRESS

41
The Core Organisational / Culture Holding Group
is comprised of people from
The Tauhara Centre, Heart Politics, and our New Zealand science community

Andrew Lilburn, the manager of the Tauhara Centre in Taupo. Since living at Tauhara he
has become involved with the Heart Politics and Wananga gatherings. Prior to moving to
Taupo he was involved in several community groups and was a District Councillor with an
interest in Resource Management planning.

David Jacobs, a documentary film-maker, lecturer and director of the Connected Media
Trust. He has been coming to gatherings at Tauhara over the last 10 years and has recently
become a Trustee of Heart Politics.

Donald Joyce, associate professor and director of postgraduate computing programmes at


UNITEC in Auckland. He has held research and teaching positions at seven universities:
Auckland, Cambridge, Massey, Newcastle upon Tyne, Otago, Papua New Guinea and South
Pacific. He is a regular Heart Politics participant.

Mark Skelding, who has worked in marketing and fundraising for community and non-
profit organisations for over 20 year - arts, cultural and environmental agencies, including a
World Bank project in Jordan. Since 1997 he has been working as a counsellor and
psychotherapist, and has been involved with Youthline and mentoring projects. As well as a
private practice in Auckland and Thames, he is also involved in delivering the foundation
course for a counselling and psychotherapy training programme, and in facilitating a
programme for children who have experienced domestic violence. Mark has been co-
ordinator for Heart Politics since 1998, and is a member of the Trustee group.

Mere Roberts, a biologist at the University of Auckland. She teaches indigenous


environmental perspectives, and her research interests are in Maori traditional ecological
knowledge. Mere is also a member of Nga Kaihautu Tikanga Taiao, the Maori advisory
committee to the ERMA.

Peta Joyce, a social scientist with many years experience in education, social change, and
therapeutic practice. She has run her own business for the past 15 years, and works as a
trainer, faciltator and mentor throughout New Zealand and in the UK. She is an active
member of Heart Politics and wananga gatherings.

Robin Allison, an architect specialising in socially and environmentally sustainable design.


She is the initiator and co-ordinator of Earthsong Eco-Neighbourhood in west Auckland, a co-
housing neighbourhood developed by the residents as a model of co-operation and
environmentally responsible construction. She has been involved with organising Heart
Politics and other gatherings for many years and is currently a Trustee of Heart Politics.

Robin MacDiarmid, a scientist at HortResearch where she studies plant-virus interactions


and leads a group discovering plant gene functions. The work in Robin’s PhD formed the
basis for the transgenic tamarillo field trial in her home town Kerikeri, and she uses genetic
engineering as a tool for discovery. Robin has recently become involved in Heart Politics.

42
LETTER ACCOMPANYING THE DIALOGUE READER

Dear

We are delighted to have received your registration for the Dialogue on GE at


Tauhara Centre, Lake Taupo, 22nd -25th April 2004.

A brochure containing information about Tauhara and directions for finding the centre
is enclosed.

If you are staying on-site, your accommodation will be in a four-bunk bedroom with
bedding and towels provided. You will need to bring your toilet gear and clothes
suitable for Taupo’s cool climate at this time of year. We also suggest that you bring
togs and towels for the nearby hot pools and, if you wish, musical instruments, etc.

If you are bringing children, you will be met on arrival by the childcare co-ordinators:
Amy Lilburn and Willa Christie. They will be happy to discuss any special
requirements with you.

Registration is at 3pm on Thursday 22nd April, followed by a formal welcome. Please


arrive on time. We expect to finish at 1pm on Sunday 25th with lunch to follow.

Several people have requested more information about ‘Dialogue’, and we enclose a
reader that outlines one view that you may find helpful. It is important however, to
remember that all dialogues are unique, and what emerges at this gathering will be
shaped and influenced by you and the other participants. For this reason we appreciate
your commitment to being present for the entire gathering.

We hope to make available to all participants a variety of resource materials. So if you


have anything you consider could be of relevance, please bring approximately 60
copies with you.

Once again, we sincerely appreciate your interest, and look forward to participating
with you in this event.

Yours sincerely,

The organizing group

Robin Allison David Jacobs Peta Joyce Donald Joyce


Moira Lilburn Andrew Lilburn Robin MacDiarmid Mere Roberts
Mark Skelding Richard Jakob-Hoff

43
A Dialogue Reader

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing


There is a field.
I will meet you there.
— Rumi
Dialogue and Community-Building
by Glenna Gerard and Linda Teurfs

Suppose that we were able to share meanings freely without a


compulsive urge to impose our own view or to conform to those of others
and without distortion and self-deception. Would this not constitute a
real revolution in culture and therefore eventually in society?
-- David Bohm, Changing Consciousness, 1992.

THE SCIENCES OF THE 20TH CENTURY have brought us a profoundly new vision of how
the universe works. Individual parts have definition and meaning only by virtue of the
relationships between them. It is no surprise then that we find dialogue and community
building at the forefront of organizational change efforts. Both are about creating cultures
based on understanding relationships -- relationships between people, structure, processes,
thinking, and results.
For organizational change to be lasting, a shift of mind or change in consciousness has
to take place. Because we are talking about cultural change, it has to happen at both the
individual and group levels. Without such a shift, no restructuring effort will produce the
kind of lasting change we are seeking.
Popularized recently through the work of the late David Bohm, dialogue is a group
communication process aimed at exploring the nature and power of collective thinking and
how it shapes the culture of a group. When we learned that one of dialogue’s primary
purposes is to affect a transformation in collective consciousness, we recognized its potential
in the area of organizational change. While Bohm was working at a more global or societal
level, we were interested in how it might be introduced specifically into organizational
settings. We were not alone - Peter Senge devoted the better part of a chapter to dialogue in
his book The Fifth Discipline.
Over the last several years we have explored dialogue in a variety of settings. We are
seeing that it can serve as a bridge or how-to for community building and organizational
transformation. Dialogue can help organizations create climates that lead to greater
collaboration, fluidity, and sustainability. Its practice can provide the environment and skills
necessary for creating a cultural shift toward high levels of trust and open communications,
heightened morale, and alignment and commitment to shared goals.

THE WORD DIALOGUE stems from the Greek roots “ dia “ and “ logos “ and means “
through meaning. “ It is a communication form for discovering the shared meaning moving
among and through a group of people. “ Shared meaning “ forms the basis of culture.
Dialogue involves becoming aware of the thinking, feelings and formulated conclusions that
underlie a group’s culture or way of being with each other.
Although new to modern-day organizational practices, dialogue has been around a very
long time. It can be traced to the works of ancient Greece (for example, The Dialogues of
Plato ) and to forms of communication used by Native Americans and other indigenous
peoples. Aspects of dialogue can be found with in Quaker spiritual and business practice,
and in counseling models such as that of Carl Rogers, as part of certain Eastern meditation

A Dialogue Reader Page 2


practices and in the philosophical works of Martin Buber.
What is it about dialogue that gives such hope and evokes growing interest today? A
fellow participant in dialogue once said, “ Dialogue is about creating sacred space through
conversation. “ That’s a pretty powerful statement. Thinking about what values most
cultures hold sacred -- such as respect, trust, love, family, life, and the pursuit of happiness --
it does convey the power and potential of dialogue. Dialogue is about creating an
environment that builds trust, encourages communication with respect, honors and values
diversity as essential, and seeks a level of awareness that promotes the creation of shared
meaning (culture) that supports individual and collective well-being.
One useful way to describe dialogue is by contrasting it with discussion, a much more
familiar form of conversation. The roots of discussion are the same as those of percussion
and concussion, signifying “a breaking apart” or “fracturing” into pieces. The intent of
discussion is usually to deliver one’s point of view, to convince or persuade. Since points of
view may differ widely, discussion often leads to divisiveness and polarization in groups.
Opinions tend to be rigidly held on to and defended.
In contrast, dialogue asks us to “ suspend” our attachments to a particular point of view
(opinion) so that deeper levels of listening, synthesis and meaning can evolve within a
group. The result is an entirely different atmosphere. Instead of everyone trying to figure out
who is right and who is wrong, the group is involved in trying to see a deeper meaning
behind the various opinions expressed. Individual differences are acknowledged and
respected. What emerges is a larger, expanded perspective for all -- what Bohm called an
“impersonal fellowship,” a term he took from the work of Patrick De Mare’s Koinonia .
Dialogue informs and builds alignment without the need to pursue a specific outcome.
Bohm often spoke of being struck by stories of hunter-gatherer tribes that came together
frequently to talk without any agenda. In their day-to day activities everyone knew what to
do, what decisions to make. Bohm believed that it was during these seemingly aimless talks,
that individual members of the groups became informed by the shared meaning they
developed. Their alignment was a natural outgrowth of the shared meaning they created. In
refining the application of dialogue for the business environment, we seek to create a
modern-day equivalent.

THE “TECHNOLOGY” OF DIALOGUE as we have conceived it for organizational settings


consists of four main skill components we call building blocks and a set of guidelines. We
will first describe these skills and guidelines and then describe how they work to enhance
the day-to-day functioning of a group and lead to a transformation of its culture.
The building blocks involve learning a new way of being together and of interacting.
They involve skills that overlap and interweave in various ways. Often for one to develop,
the others need to be practiced.
Suspension of Judgment. Because our normal way of thinking divides things up and
creates what seem like ultimate “ truths’, it is difficult for us to stay open to new and
alternative views of reality. Our egos become identified with how we think things are. We
find ourselves defending our positions against those of others. We close ourselves off from
learning and do harm to our personal relationships. We can get into heated battles about
who’s right and who’s wrong.
When we learn to “ suspend judgment “ we are able to see others’ points of views. We
are able to hold our positions “ lightly “ as though they were suspended in front of us for
further consideration. It is not that we eliminate our judgments and opinions -- this would be

A Dialogue Reader Page 3


impossible even if we tried. In dialogue we become more open to other ways of viewing the
same thing. Later, we may discover whether our original perspective is still acceptable or
needs to be expanded or changed.
Suspending judgment in this way is the key to building a climate of trust and safety. As
others learn that they will not be “ judged “ wrong for having their opinions, they feel free to
express themselves fully. The atmosphere becomes increasingly open and truthful.
Identification of Assumptions. The opinions and judgments we hold are usually based
upon layers of assumptions, inferences, and generalizations. When we do not look at the
underlying belief system behind our judgments, we all make important decisions that lead to
disappointing results. Unable to figure out why we don’t get the results we want, we may
try adjusting our actions (based on the same unexamined assumption set) and still not get
the results that we want.
It is only when we are willing to peel away the layers of assumptions, that we can see
what might be giving us trouble: some incomplete or “ incoherent “ thought.
By learning how to identify our assumptions, we are better able to explore differences
with others. We can build common ground and consensus, getting to the bottom of core
misunderstandings and differences. We have found assumption identification to be
extremely useful in understanding and working with diversity and conflict in groups.
Listening. Listening is critical to our ability to dialogue. Of the communication skills
most often taught in schools: reading, writing, speaking, and listening; listening usually gets
short shrift. For this reason, it is often overlooked and taken for granted. In this skill area we
focus on how the way we listen impacts how well we learn and how effective we are in
building quality relationships. Going far beyond active listening techniques, we focus on
developing our capacity to stay present and open to the meaning arising at both the
individual and collective levels. Bohm likens the mind to a quickly turning wheel. It is only
when we slow it down that we can perceive the individual spokes. We bring attention to
slowing our pace down so that we can listen and perceive at ever more subtle levels (this
goes hand-in-hand with inquiry and reflection). We also work on over coming typical blocks
in our ability to listen attentively and to stay present.
Inquiry and Reflection. It is through the process of inquiry and reflection that we dig
deeply into matters that concern us and create breakthroughs in our ability to solve
problems.
Our problems cannot be solved at the same level at which they were created.
-- Einstein
By learning how to ask questions that lead to new levels of understanding, we accelerate
our collective learning. We gain greater awareness of our own and other’s thinking processes
and the issues that separate and unite us. By learning how to work with silence and slow
down the rate of conversation, we are better able to identify reactive patterns and generate
new ideas. It is this aspect of dialogue that can lead to what Bohm calls a more “ subtle state
of mind “ -- leading to a perception of common ground and a sensitivity to the subtle
meanings around us.

EACH TIME A GROUP comes together to dialogue they commit to a common set of
guidelines. These can be thought of as norms. As they are practiced over time, they become
integrated at a tacit level of understanding. As the group matures, they may no longer be
explicitly necessary (except as reminders).

A Dialogue Reader Page 4


A good way of introducing the guidelines is to first provide a demonstration. This is
probably due to the natural way we learn to communicate -- through the modeling we
receive as children. We have found a short video presentation to be effective. It gives groups
a “ feel “ of dialogue before they try it. After a demonstration the group can then be asked “
What makes this different from other forms of conversation? “ By generating the guidelines
themselves, the group can take ownership of them.
Essential guidelines for dialogue include:
Listening and speaking without judgment
Acknowledgment of each speaker
Respect for differences
Role and status suspension
Balancing inquiry and advocacy
Avoidance of cross-talk
A focus on learning
Seeking the next level of understanding
Releasing the need for specific outcomes
Speaking when “ moved “

THROUGH THE PRACTICE of dialogue, community is created and organizational culture


transformed in three ways: behaviourally, experientially, and attitudinally.
Through ongoing practice with dialogue, participants learn how to be with each other
differently. They practice skills and guidelines that encourage new norms. The more often
they are practiced, the more dialogical communication is used beyond the practice sessions --
leading to the actual state of community.
Dialogue sets up the conditions of community. While groups new to dialogue will not
be in full community when they first start out, the atmosphere induced by dialogue has the “
experiential feel “ of community. Individuals, thus begin to pick up at a tacit level what a
culture based on community principles feels like. They incorporate it at an intuitive level.
As group members experience the effects of dialogue, a profound shift takes place at the
belief and attitude level. This comes about as a byproduct of the incorporation of new modes
of behaviour and learning the “ feel “ of what being in community is like. Attitudes of rigid
individualism give way to attitudes of collaboration and partnership. Beliefs strengthen
around the “ value of the group as a whole. “
We can think of dialogue as though it were a practice field (a term coined by Senge) for
building community. Once a group has had the initial introduction to dialogue’s building
blocks and guidelines, it is ready to begin. The more often the group comes together in
dialogue, the faster it learns how to create and sustain itself in community.
Each group will have various ways and times of coming together for meetings. What is
most essential at this beginning stage is that a regular routine be established according to the
normal operation of the group. For example, if a group typically meets every other Monday
for two hours, they might decide to dialogue for one hour before the start of these meetings.
It is also important that the head of the group and/or organization be aware of and be
supportive of the transformative potential inherent in the process. A leader who is not

A Dialogue Reader Page 5


willing to let go of position, rank and authority during the sessions will stymie and
undermine the building of community. Ultimately, the leader will need to be able to support
the vision of “ shared leadership “ both during and outside of the sessions, if community is
to be built and sustained.

WE BEGAN OUR WORK with dialogue in hopes that it would allow us to work at deeper,
more transformative levels with our clients; that by helping groups and organizations think
and communicate differently, we could help them create lasting change within their cultures.
We have not been disappointed.
David Bohm maintained that if we could become conscious of our thinking process we
might be able to create a different kind of culture, one based on a holographic view of the
universe. Such a culture would bridge the needs of the individual and the collective leading
to increasingly deeper levels of community and adaptation to the environment. Two
important challenges for us have been how to best facilitate people’s ability to participate in
dialogue and then how to help them continue the practice and experience all of the possible
ways it can enhance the group.
Through introducing groups to the building blocks and guidelines and by encouraging
them to continue in their practice of dialogue, we are beginning to observe enhanced
functioning in practical, day-to-day ways. We are also observing changes taking place in the
cultures of these groups. There are signs that dialogue has a ripple effect within
organizations in which it is introduced. In other words, it can become contagious.
For David Bohm, the purpose of dialogue was to consciously create cultures more in
line with a relational, holographic universe. While Bohm, together with other new science
theoreticians, has provided us with models, the hands-on work of organizational
transformation remains. We believe that through the practice of dialogue, the fear of the
unknown can become less paralyzing. Dialogue can provide us with a clearer pathway to
making the organizational changes we so desire.

by Glenna Gerard & Linda Teurfs


edited from “Dialogue and Organisational Transformation”
http://www.vision-nest.com/cbw/Dialogue.html

A Dialogue Reader Page 6


Dialogue and Debate
• Dialogue is collaborative: two or more sides work together toward common
understanding.
Debate is oppositional: two sides oppose each other and attempt to prove each other wrong.
• In dialogue, finding common ground is the goal.
In debate, winning is the goal.
• In dialogue, one listens to the other side(s) in order to understand, find meaning and find
agreement.
In debate, one listens to the other side in order to find flaws and to counter its arguments.
• Dialogue enlarges and possibly changes a participants point of view.
Debate affirms a participant’s own point of view.
• Dialogue reveals assumptions for re-evaluation.
Debate defends assumptions as truth.
• Dialogue causes introspection on ones own position.
Debate causes critique of the other position.
• Dialogue opens the possibility of reaching a better solution than any of the original
solutions.
Debate defends one’s own positions as the best solution and excludes other solutions.
• Dialogue creates an open-minded attitude: an openness to being wrong and an openness
to change.
Debate creates a close-minded attitude, a determination to be right.
• In dialogue, one submits ones best thinking, knowing that other people’s reflections will
help improve it rather than destroy it.
In debate, one submits one’s best thinking and defends it against challenge to show that it is right.
• Dialogue calls for temporarily suspending one’s beliefs.
Debate calls for investing wholeheartedly in one’s beliefs.
• In dialogue, one searches for basic agreements.
In debate, one searches for glaring differences.
• In dialogue one searches for strengths in the other positions.
In debate one searches for flaws and weaknesses in the other position.
• Dialogue involves a real concern for the other person and seeks to not alienate or offend.
Debate involves a countering of the other position without focusing on feelings or relationship and
often belittles or deprecates the other person.
• Dialogue assumes that many people have pieces of the answer and that together they can
put them into a workable solution.
Debate assumes that there is a right answer and that someone has it.
• Dialogue remains open-ended.
Debate implies a conclusion.

— adapted from material prepared by the Dialogue Group of the Boston Chapter of Educators
for Social Responsibility (ESR)

A Dialogue Reader Page 7


• Dialogue is characterized by:
suspending judgment
examining our own work without defensiveness
exposing our reasoning and looking for limits to it
communicating our underlying assumptions
exploring viewpoints more broadly and deeply
being open to disconfirming data
approaching someone who sees a problem differently not as an adversary, but as a
colleague in common pursuit of better solution.

Dialogue Debate

Participants speak as individuals about their own Participants tend to represent a group with a specific
unique experiences and uncertainties; opinion;

The atmosphere is one of safety; and promotes The atmosphere is threatening, attacks and
respectful exchange; interruptions are expected;

Differences between individual participants are


Differences within the group are set aside or denied;
revealed;

Participants listen to understand, and gain insight Participants listen to refute other ideas, questions are
into the understandings of others; often rhetorical challenges or disguised statements;

Statements are predictable and offer little new


New information surfaces;
information;

Success requires exploration of the complexities of


Success requires simple impassionate statements;
the issue being discussed;

Participants are encouraged to question the


It operates within the constraints of the dominant
dominant public discourse, to express fundamental
public discourse, which defines the problem and the
needs that may or may not be reflected in the
options for resolution; it assumes that fundamental
discourse, and to explore various options for
needs and values are already clearly understood.
problem definition and resolution.

A Dialogue Reader Page 8


EMAIL ONE SENT TO ALL PARTICIPANTS OF THE DIALOGUE ON GE
EVENT, 4TH MAY 2004
The Participant List with all releasable contact information (as granted by participants at the
event) was attached.

Dear GE Dialoguer,

Thank you so much for your whole-hearted participation in what we feel was a hugely
successful gathering.

We see the GE Dialogue at Tauhara as a first step in a process of dialogue to bring new and
expanded perspectives, discussions and collaborations over the important issue of Genetic
Engineering, and also over how we New Zealanders can talk with each other about such
contentious issues.

We hope that progress follows from the new seeds of understanding and relationships sown at
Tauhara. To help maintain the momentum of communication and relationship-building within
the group we have attached the contact details of participants.

The holding group will meet within the next two weeks to review outcomes, including your
evaluations, and to begin to work on our report to MoRST. The report will be distributed to all
participants. We have a deadline of two months but aim to complete it within one month. We
will distribute a draft so that anyone who wishes can contribute their thoughts, insights or
other messages to the final report.

If you took your evaluation form away please remember to send it back to Tauhara as soon as
possible.

In the meantime, for those of you interested in some tools for organising dialogue on any
issue, there is a very useful toolkit at www.publicconversations.org

Arohanui

The Tauhara GE Dialogue Holding Group: Andrew Lilburn, David Jacobs, Donald Joyce,
Mark Skelding, Mere Roberts, Moira Lilburn, Peta Joyce, Robin Allison, Robin MacDiarmid

and The Tui Process Holders: Lynne Holdem and Richard Jakob-Hoff

52
EMAIL TWO SENT TO ALL PARTICIPANTS OF THE DIALOGUE ON
GE EVENT, 19TH MAY 2004
Dear GE Dialogue Participant,
This Update is to keep you informed about events since the Dialogue at
Tauhara and what's coming up.

1. MoRST Report
The GE Dialogue holding group met on the 5th May to share some reflections on the
Gathering, review the evaluations and feedback received so far and begin the process of
organising the report to MoRST. We noted that the personal stories we told each other -
and those that we've heard from other participants - provided valuable reflections of 'how
it was' for each of us and would be great to include in our report. Also, some people have
put some of their thoughts and experiences into writing and fed this out into their wider
communities (e.g. short articles were included in the Tauhara newsletter and the GE
Information Bulletin). We would appreciate receiving your personal stories and anything
you may have published about the Dialogue. Unless you request otherwise we would
include them in the report.

2. Post-Dialogue Gathering
You are warmly invited to a post-Dialogue Gathering on the 30th May at Richard and
Maggie Jakob-Hoff's house at 41 Sackville St, Grey Lynn, Auckland from 2 to 6pm.
Bring a drink and a plate of something to share for afternoon tea. This is an opportunity
to re-connect with each other socially and do a bit of sharing around the questions "what's
been happening since the Dialogue?" and "where to next?"

3. Koha
Thank you to those who have sent a koha to Tauhara to help seed future dialogues. If
you would still like to make a contribution but haven't got round to it please contact
Andrew Lilburn at Tauhara. He has invoice forms if this would help.

4. Heart Politics Gathering.


A number of you expressed an interest in attending future Heart Politics gatherings.
Please contact Robin Allison (ecohousing@xtra.co.nz) if you are interested in further
information.

If you want to send a reply to this e-mail for the whole group just use the 'reply all'
function.

We look forward to hearing from you and, hopefully, seeing you on the 30th.

Arohanui

The Tauhara Dialogue Holding Group: Andrew Lilburn, David Jacobs,


Donald Joyce, Mark Skelding, Mere Roberts, Moira Lilburn, Peta Joyce,
Robin Allison, Robin MacDiarmid

and The Tui Process Holders: Lynne Holdem and Richard Jakob-Hoff

53
8.3 DOCUMENTATION DISTRIBUTED OR ATTAINED

DURING THE EVENT

• Information for home groups

• Participant Feedback form

• Compilation of the Evaluations of the Dialogue on GE

• Evaluation from the Throne

• Image of Seed in Pastel

54
INFORMATION FOR HOME GROUPS
(can be clarified in the first Home Group Meeting)

Anzac Day
Tell mere Roberts if you would like to go to the Taupo Dawn Service (leave Tauhara 5:30am
or meet near the sanctuary at 6:30am for an on-site remembrance)

Bedding
Extra blankets and pillows and hot water bottles are available from the office

Library
Open all hours to all participants and the general public

Lights
If you’re the last to leave an area at night turn out the lights EXCEPT for those marked to be left on!

Fire alarm
There are instruction in the corridor to the dining room and each sleeping area

Hot Pools
The office can help with discounted entry to de Bretts or tell you how to find the “Hot River”

Phone
In the corridor between office and hall- dial 9 for outside line, local calls free, office sells cards

Resource people
You can approach Lynne or Richard (Tui name badges) with any concerns/suggestions about process

Resource table
In the corridor between office and hall – feel free to add to it

Sanctuary
Is a silent place – hexagonal building by the big gum tree

Staff
Prepare food, wash lunch and dinner dishes – we do our own breakfast dishes and keep our sleeping
spaces clean

Toilets
If there’s a queue for those near the office, you can go to those near the bunkrooms

Walks
There are some nice walks in the Tauhara bush – enter near the dining room or upper parking area

55
PARTICIPANT FEEDBACK FORM
This form will be used to evaluate the Dialogue on GE. The evaluation will be part of the
report submitted to the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology (MoRST) that will
be distributed to all participants.

Please mark the appropriate place on each rating scale.

1. Has this event increased your understanding of other perspectives around GE?
Not at all Somewhat Heaps
│ │ │
│ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │

Comments

2. Has this event increased your respect for other perspectives around GE?
Not at all Somewhat Heaps
│ │ │
│ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │

Comments

3. Has your level of trust in the other participants changed over the course of this dialogue?
Decreased Not changed Increased
│ │ │
│ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │

Comments

4. Did you feel heard?


Not at all Somewhat Absolutely
│ │ │
│ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │

Comments

5. Did you feel as if your opinion counts?


Not at all Somewhat Absolutely
│ │ │
│ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │

Comments

6. Length of the dialogue event


Too short Just about right Too long
│ │ │
│ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │

Comments

7. Number of participants
Too few Just about right Too many
│ │ │
│ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │

Comments

56
8. Did you understand what Yes No Other
Please state
you were being invited to?

9. What part of the invitation process decided you to come?

10. What was most satisfying, enriching, or valuable about your experience in the dialogue?

11. What was frustrating, disappointing, or less than satisfying?

12. Please say something about what you are taking away from the experience

13. Would you recommend the use of a dialogue process to address other issues? Why/ why not?

14. What advice or suggestions can you offer to people who want to plan and facilitate future dialogues?

15. Additional comments

Thank you for your participation in this event and for your contribution to the dialogue.
We hope that this has been a positive experience for you.
Yours sincerely,
The organizing group

Robin Allison David Jacobs Peta Joyce Donald Joyce


Moira Lilburn Andrew Lilburn Robin MacDiarmid Mere Roberts Mark Skelding
57
Compilation of the Evaluations of the Dialogue on GE
For questions 1 to 7, participants were asked to mark the appropriate place on a scale (that was later
correlated as 1 to 10)

1. Has this event increased your understanding of other perspectives around GE?

Not at all (1) Somewhat (5) Heaps (10)


│ │ │
│ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │

Results:
lowest 5, highest 10, average 8.2.

Comments:
• more open, less fixed
• clarified and modified
• didn’t know much
• already had fair understanding
• my goals are similar to those of scientists
• it helped, I still struggle with scientific definition
• by not defining GE, understanding was not confined
• good balance – each contributed own expertise in non-domineering way

2. Has this event increased your respect for other perspectives around GE?

Not at all (1) Somewhat (5) Heaps (10)


│ │ │
│ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │

Results:
lowest 5, highest 10, average 8.4.

Comments:
• respect almost all
• time to listen and not respond
• my respect already pretty high
• had heard only one view before
• it was a gift to hear people speak their own truth
• especially respect for the people behind the perspectives
• the world is already perfect – we need to balance differences
• people with different views share concerns for environment, humanity
• respect other goals – how to combine methods to achieve common goals?

58
3. Has your level of trust in the other participants changed over the course of this dialogue?

Decreased (1) Not changed (5) Increased (10)


│ │ │
│ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │

Results:
lowest 5, highest 10, average 8.5.

Comments:
• this was important to me
• enormous level of trust developed
• distrust in related community remains
• inevitably – as got to know them better
• lovely warm people, although views differ
• already high trust through previous contact
• everyone has a reason for their point of view
• pleasantly surprised at level of understanding
• reaffirmed trust in positive aspects of humanity
• mutual respect, suspect there are areas where we violently disagree

4. Did you feel heard?

Not at all (1) Somewhat (5) Absolutely (10)


│ │ │
│ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │

Results:
lowest 2, highest 10, average 8.0.

Comments:
• chose to hold back
• did not speak much
• very good listening
• by those whose hearts were open
• easily able to say what was important to me
• circle provided space and place for listening
• initially “just an ingredient”, then felt all ingredients were important

5. Did you feel as if your opinion counts?

Not at all (1) Somewhat (5) Absolutely (10)


│ │ │
│ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │

Results:
lowest 2, highest 10, average 8.1.

Comments:
• unsure at times

59
• all opinions count (2)
• my voice part of the all
• the two extremes dominated
• don’t have much of an opinion
• it seemed respect for others’ viewpoints was unanimous

6. Length of the dialogue event

Too short (1) Just about right (5) Too long (10)
│ │ │
│ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │

Results:
lowest 1.3, highest 10, average 4.9.

Comments:
• sessions too long – need breaks (2)
• perhaps an extra day (3) – add deepening
• OK to assess dialogue, need more time for issue
• slow, at times frustrating, but people needed time
• more time good but more difficult to attend/commit (4)

7. Number of participants
Too few (1) Just about right (5) Too many (10)
│ │ │
│ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │

Results:
lowest 3, highest 6.5, average 4.7.

Comments:
• 40-50 good
• could be more
• could be any number
• talked to almost all
• diversity required for fuller understanding
• more would make too impersonal and lengthy
• pros and cons about numbers – process is what counts
• particular voices/representatives absent (6) – industry (3 of 5)
• more would be good, but need more facilitation & education in dialogue
• balance of large and small groups at times unsatisfactory, but good compromise
• enough – could see individuals – if too few, only hear few views, if too many, not hear all

8. Did you understand what you were being invited to?

Results:
Yes, 25 Yes and No, 3 No, 0 No and Other, 1 Other, 5

60
Comments:
• somewhat
• how to know – it’s a mystery
• readings were good to explain what to expect
• to explore how to talk with respect and tolerance
• knew had to come with an open mind, but to what?
• could have had more pre-event material on dialogue
• told very late, unsure of my contribution and responsibility – leap of faith

Synthesis of answers to Questions 9 – 15


(Note only repetitive answers omitted – in most cases all answers included)

9. What part of the invitation process decided you to come?

The area of concern being GE. The diversity of the people invited and the manner of dialogue
being proposed.
Having an understanding of the dialogue process and my curiosity about using another process
to engage in a difficult multi faceted topic. Wanting to support a friend on the holding
committee in her attempts to bring something new to the argument around the issue of GE.
The seed planted at winter H.P 2003.
Interest in dialogue process.
The initial letter and hearing about it through Heart Politics network.
Interest in the process of dialogue as a means of working through a contentions issue of
national/international importance.
The information on dialogue was very useful in confirming what I was coming to but the
individual invitation made the difference.
No part, my decision was its inception.
The fact it was a four day residential hui. Previously I had been invited to a GE dialogue that
was a series of meetings.
Lack of information/understanding of GE issues.
Personal invitation from a person I respect.
The fact that the boss could not.

10. What was the most satisfying, enriching or valuable about your experience in the
dialogue?

Passionate positioning of diverse meeting making new contacts and opinions.


Ability to meet individuals directly – relationship building. Ability to listen and speak without
interruption – venue. Sensitivity of facilitators – entertainment on Saturday night.
Meeting the participants and forming relationships with people of opposing views.
Participating.
Hearing all viewpoints express in a safe environment. Being part of physical, spiritual/emotional
and intellectual meeting of viewpoints.
The full group moments when a kernel of truth was spoken and I was able to hear it. Seeing
little intense huddles of activists and scientists talking deeply and enjoying each other.
Meeting and hearing scientists talk about their work, GE and the issues they face. Everyone’s
contribution being respected and valued.

61
Creating a sense of community.
The small group discussions at the beginning and end were especially rich and fruitful and also
my home group. The ingredients session in which everyone stated their position/interest in GE.
The cooking and the way people stayed with it despite the discomfort. The informal times,
especially the café evening.
Listening to people who have a very different perspective on the issue – it was difficult to listen
past my own constructs of who they are and what they are saying but it was very valuable to
stretch.
A society based on human values.
Opportunity to contribute into such a diverse group. Opportunity to learn from such a diverse
group. Experience in the process particularly bringing it to new people.
Breadth of contribution, the number of different routes to view on the one issue.
The appreciation of how listening and slowing the process of exchanging ideas down can truly
enrich our understandings.
Being treated as an equal.
Hearing people’s backgrounds, views in both a collective and individual setting.
The range of participants and attention to being a whole person.
When I really felt that what I was communicating within the context of the dialogue was coming
from something greater than the self.
The personalization of the technology, being together as people, not labels, having our values
shared visibly, working out what the power behind and within the issue is and being aware of the
need to disentangle this – the technology of GE and the way it is used, being aware that the
ongoing concern and ethics responsibility is shared across difference.
The common will to live in a healthy environment.
The awareness of diversity being heard – spirituality and scientific voices blending together in an
understanding that came out of direct experience.
To meet the opposition on an informal level, to socialize and dispel myths, to share goals and
introduction to future dialogue.

11. What was frustrating, disappointing, less than satisfying?

That the facilitating group did not keep their management state of facilitation separate and fully
enter the dialogue from the beginning. Always a feeling of control and a break in the circuit.
Some points of view that could have been made by absent attendees, invitees.
Bit more time for extra-curricular activities would have been good. Potential for relationships
that were built, being broken again. Inevitable dissipation of the commonalities that developed?
The meandering and sometimes posturing would hinder progress too much if no
direction/facilitation is provided. Sometimes I felt I had to be something I’m not, it was all a bit
too PC at times.
Newness of the process by the majority – the beginnings of a culture take time to mature.
Not to be able to hear all conversations that took place, not able to hear all viewpoints.
The circle becoming bogged down in repetitive statements of viewpoints and consecutive
monologues. Not having a limitless evening whaikorero.
Personal slights – minimal towards people at the gathering but quite a lot with people not here,
particularly Green Party politicians.
Holding expectations of particular outcomes.
The way the bigger group tended to stay at the intellectual, information exchange level and
tended to avoid getting more deeply into values based issues.

62
Missing bits of the puzzle – no input from pro GE business concerns, no input from scientists
who are not in favour of application of technology.
People not understanding/feeling alienated or afraid of the process.
Not being able to verbalise.
Had no set expectations to then be disappointed.
Not enough small group work to tease out the breadth of the issues and also to facilitate the
development of relationships.
I felt some people were not listened to. How it was stopped for a break when people were (for
one of the first times) getting into a really good dialogue.
Not much. I did at times feel the facilitation was too loose (people talking too long, irrelevant
stories – my opinion), losing focus.
Focus on the individual , not group as a whole. Very restrictive, big concern for safety, may
have inhibited spontaneity. Lots of information in the air, very little picked up and gone deeper
– possible another long session, long talking time.
Some participants’ lack of awareness re how they use the space (long monologues).
I would have benefited from a more concentrated input at the beginning of the event from
people, say one person x one issue x 10 minutes x six slots to give non-judgmental overview on
six key issues.
Wanting to flow and get involved in the dialogue but finding the spoken word somewhat
limiting to what I wanted to communicate.
I found response ways of being difficult to sit with over long periods of time as well as a lack of
silence.
Not getting to the guts of the issue eg the values in the Royal Commission Report.
The process is one that I trust and these feelings did not arise.
Some trains of thought that I thought were developing well were squashed by people who were
bored with the situation. Perhaps flag a feeling but don’t judge others’ ways of enlightening.

12. Please say something about what you are taking away from the experience?

A sense of hope and inclusion in an incredibly important matter. And a new way of
communication although I found it no different to being at a hui except there were more
pakeha. I feel richer for this dialogue.
That confirmation of inclusive and comprehensive community discussion needed.
Renewed respect for other voices. Hope for movement in both (many) directions. Extra
weight.
I feel I am now a member of a community that includes everybody.
The realization again that shared ethics, principles and values are fundamental for
communication. Memories of a good time and Catherine’s great food. Friendship.
A significantly less polarized view of the issue, an increased optimism of the possible future.
Elation. Huge sense of excitement and anticipation of what will continue to emerge within and
from the participants. More confidence in and belief in the value and power of
developing/growing the dialogue process of culture.
Understanding, relationships, responsibilities.
A sense of responsibility for meeting, talking and creating spaces for others to do this. A
renewed respect and love of tangata whenua and their unique view. Renewed interest in
dialogue, diversity. A clearer understanding of what GE is and my position.
Relationships both with myself and what I see of others relationships. Fantastic.

63
I would like to actively facilitate the expansion of community in New Zealand and to be part of
further dialogue processes. I would like to expand a community of physicians and scientists
who embrace their share identity and shared responsibility.
Expanded understanding of and experience in the dialogue process and an enthusiasm to pursue
it further in different fora – including at my workplace. New and renewed relationships. Some
greater appreciation of a wider range of perspective. A desire to get a deeper understanding of
Maori perspective, language and culture.
A confirmation that the processes are useful ones. A new appreciation of scientific research. A
clearer picture of the parts of the GE path that need attention.
Hope, enthusiasm, relationships, commitment to being a seed, crystal for diversity.
Values – he tangata, he tangata, he tangata.
A flicker of understanding to bring the dialogue process into my world.
A good foundation has been laid. Let’s start building on it.
An enriched understanding.
The experience.
The affirmation of the value of the process and the intention to structure it into experiences I
have the opportunity to design.
An experience of dialogue as a technique for New Zealanders to discuss divisive issues.
Profound reflections the importance of which is not really apparent at this point.
A better understanding of GE and what other people think of it. Also a sense of belonging.
An experience of the power of relationship. Hope that we can influence government as a result
of the dialogue method.
The sense of possibility for diversity in New Zealand. The courage to do something myself,
more self responsibility.
New relationships. Enlarged perspective. Will to include the enlarged perspective in decision
making.
Better understanding of points of views on GE issue. New contacts to further continue
dialogue with/everyone has common goals. That ‘professionals’ are people first.
GE is a conversation about human rights, public/private ownership and democracy/power (who
decides). I have a responsibility as a citizen to engage in decision-making.
Greater understanding of others, GE, the process.
A much greater sense of where, to whom I can go for more learning. Greater respect of other
perspectives. Greater sense of my own role and responsibility.
A better ability (discipline) to listen deeply to others. That what I have to contribute to the
process matters very much.
Openness. Feeling of the enormity of opportunities for more mutual understanding.
New commitment to working through trusting relationships across difference to promote and
context of collective enquiry into what we don’t know we don’t know and what we don’t know
that we know. Not supporting polarization. New trust, new learnings.
A confidence in what I feel about GE.
The will to reach out to authorities and asking them if the regulations/controls are really
sufficient and that the general public voice is a loud one.
An even deeper sense of excitement about a new way of being with each other, honoring our
diversity through understanding our values and looking to seeding our future by consciously
being in the present.
Contacts – not just windows but doors to the issue that I feel invited into (by some).

64
13. Would you recommend the use of a dialogue process to address other issues?
Why/Why not?

Yes, 35 No, 2

Yes I would because few people have the experience of the collective opinion as held especially
in a safe and respectful environment.
Not all! Some issues may require greater urgency and detailed content.
Yes if respect for the length of time required is retained ie don’t try to short circuit the process.

Yes with modification. It provides a respectful way to hear all views. The modifications of
facilitation or defined topics would assist the forward movement towards issue resolution.
Activities would be great. Setting a platform of information at the beginning when technical
issues are involved would assist discussions.
Yes it’s useful and rewarding.
Yes. The simple meeting is a significant step. The creation of a space for non-confrontational
discussion strongly encourages examination of our own motivation.
Totally yes, yes, yes. Gives a space over days to explore, network, connect, and enjoy each
others perspectives. Helps us to remember who we are as human beings.
Yes although I’d add small group processes (or more of them) in the early stage. I’d love to be
part of other dialogues eg foreshore and seabed, mental health.
Yes based on this experience I think it’s a very powerful tool for breaking down barriers based
on strategies and finding ways towards new and expanded understanding – a basis for better
decision making.
Definitely yes, only way to know and respect the person behind the name/label.
It’s clearly appropriate as a social integration tool for many issues.
Yes. It is important to allow conversation which engages people at a different level beyond the
focus on the specific issue that divides us.
Yes. Because everyone gets a chance to be heard so people get to speak uninterrupted. This is
good because they get to state their entire point without being entrapped or criticised.
Yes, it’s about bringing our humanity and stories into the issue interface. This builds
relationships which then builds empathy and understanding.
I would incorporate other things beyond listening – see that as first step for change and
transformation.
Yes/no. aspects of dialogue in my view need to be refocussed in order to gain maximum
results/outcomes.
Yes, with some changes eg small groups occasionally. I don’t think it’s the form that works but
the intention.
Absolutely – invaluable, so useful – a new way of being together that could so serve us as a
country, something we need to learn so much more through and about.
Yes. The GE issue needs to be combined to cover other controversial issues in society such as
foreshore and seabed and Treaty of Waitangi.
Yes but realizing that it is a very slow process. Also I want a constructive outcome, not just talk.

65
14. What advice or suggestions can you offer to people who want to plan and facilitate
future dialogues?

Do not be so focused on outcome. This is the responsibility of the participant and how they
take the dialogue, our info, their environ. This must be a creative engineering.
Secure (where possible) all/most ‘players’ involved in issues, to attend.
Be aware of strong connections being made and the fact that there will be a disruption when the
process ends thus a feeling of loss. Be aware that dialogue cannot be sped up.
If it is a way for people to get things off their chest then in its current format it is fine but if we
wish to use dialogue to come to a position where we wish to influence decision
makers/government, we need to facilitate the process through assisting the discussion –
facilitation defined topics.
Make sure you have plenty of people familiar with the process and remind them that they can
share by facilitating in any way they can or suggest some ways. Remember safety is very
important. The safer people feel the deeper they can go. Be prepared as things can go wrong.
Make sure you have the physical situation which is comfortable and good, food and long
enough meal breaks. Make a space at some point for individual time. Possibly more use of
smaller groups on the first day would be helpful. Making some arrangements for physical
exercise each day eg dancing, drumming, aerobics, Frisbee etc.
A wide diversity in participants – sharing of meals and relaxing time, inclusion of families.
Not forcing structure within space created for dialogue.
Although the organization/holding may not have seemed very obvious or visible to the success,
I believe it was crucial and also crucial that it is lightly held. Do your homework. Start from a
place of belief in the value of all perspectives.
Planning – have a wide range of people do the planning. Facilitation – be prepared to
modify/throw away the plan.
More small groups. Loved the graffiti boards. An evening long circle. Keeping building
diversity of people. Building a culture.
Give it time.
Focus on the burning edge issues eg foreshore debate, energy, Ahmed Zaoui, balance of
research funds spending ie organics, CF, GE.
This was a good process – use it again and incorporate its learnings. Consider more small
group discussion to deepen the conversation. If possible, circulate the report widely and/or
market the process and its outcomes to encourage more GE interest groups to participate in the
future.
I know you tried to get the other bits of the puzzle together but that seems to be something to
take on. Have confidence next time round – you were somewhat tentative in the beginning.
Keep the fluidity – replanning as you go. Having the process listeners to feed this.
Congratulations.
$ free allowed people to be free from unconscious constraints.
Know the process works. Clarify the process. Trust it.
Modeling the process is useful.
Talk to the organizing group.
Just do it.
Have more small group work, have a critical mass of people experienced in the process to carry
it.
Use Tauhara Centre as the venue.
If there is a flow and people are getting into it, don’t stop it.

66
Our holding group is a wise and potent group who will provide the strongest resource. They
have got it right.
Be aware that the group itself also needs to be heard, the energy level shifts and other language
sessions, verbal, that also help us get to meaning.
Be prepared to be active if necessary.
Length of time, diversity of people (professionals and community) setting the scene, providing
direction NOT necessarily structure to generate fuller discussion.
Don’t get it so contained and safe that the spark doesn’t happen.
Consider a wide range of formats and techniques. Choose those that are most appropriate to
the particular participants. Use home groups and holding group to keep taking the pulse of the
event and then adapt proceedings to address the issues raised.
More loosening up activities i.e. chanting or artistic works to get the mind and body working
together.
Do it this way.
Welcome diversity. Be willing to let go and not lay out what will happen. Written info about
dialogue important – a really different way of being from how we usually meet together in
groups, so useful to have a common understanding.
More structure. Provide equitable information from different sides so people come with some
knowledge. Have smaller groups reporting back to the circle.
Organizers may need to intervene if the process collapses, have contingency plans to use in this
case.
It is important to have time to work together with others holding the event to establish a sense
of trust and alignment about the process by using the process within the organizational
meetings.
Excellent communication skills and readiness to draw in and not react.

15. Additional Comments

If another GE dialogue happens make sure all the food is GE free and organic as this will
provide an essential experience of whole food to all participants. The food for this dialogue
was incredible. Thank you.
What now happens? What’s next?
Could have perhaps had pre-event info relating to the topic which could help with some first
day dynamics (different levels of knowledge). Home groups very good idea to break down big
group dynamics.
Thank you for the opportunity of participating.
You did a great job so many thanks to you all.
Very positive meetings on many levels – processes have been begun and the products will come
later and be bountiful.
Fantastic team. I have huge respect for you all.
Great concept, well held, productive on many levels.
Thanks to the holding group. You did a great job. I appreciate the way the holding group kept
open to and responding to what was happening in the group.

67
Thank you MORST for helping us to do this thing. We are making history. We are a growing
culture.
Thank you. It was a privilege to be a part of it.
Awesome.
Ka pai kai.
A good start.
This was a landmark event.
Thank you very much to the organizing group for all your work.
Thank you to the organizers for a brilliantly organized event.
It’s been a gift to me personally as well as politically. A way of coming out of isolation. The
child care was fantastic. I was so grateful for the flexibility of my son being able to move
between the group circle and the common room. I felt very relaxed as the parent of a 4 year old
who is shifting between dependence and independence.
Well done. A great event. Wonderful people and a hell of a lot of work. Keep going.
Thank you deeply.
Awed at the invitees’ willingness to come and engage.
Many thanks for the vision of the organizers and facilitators. Excellent.
Contact pre event could have been a lot better for me. I wasn’t 100% about dates for e.g. till the
day before it started. The holding group did a wonderful job. I would have welcomed your
involvement in the circle earlier. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your work and
commitment to this process.
Thank you.
Thank you to MORST for backing and entrusting this event to HPx, Tauhara and the scientists
involved – shows real foresight and commitment towards positive change.
Thank you for the insight into a way to develop a train of thought and lay the foundation for
decision-making.

68
Evaluation ….. from the Throne
(the governance position)!

Whats working for you [about the Event!]

What isn’t working about it

70
Insights, suggestions, Eureka moments.

71
8.4 DOCUMENTATION ARISING FROM THE DIALOGUE ON
GE
• The GE Information Bulletin #22

• Article in Tauhara Newsletter

• Article for the Taupo GE Free group

73
No. 22 May 2004

Editorial GE Dialogue builds understanding


This month we present our view of a


In honour of a significant recent event in New Zealand, attended by members of


unique Dialogue event in New


the GE Information Service, we have chosen to depart from our usual ‘published
Zealand which built understanding

news’ format.

between various groups involved in ○

Over four days in April a group of about 40 people gathered to converse over
the GE issue.
the GE issue, using a process called Dialogue. What was unusual was that

Coincidentally, a review in The


participants represented viewpoints from across the board, and did not just

New York Review of Books covers


debate with one another. Instead we talked both in large and small groups about
similar ground, discussing the loss of

motivations, shared values, personal experiences and responsibilities. Technical


trust in science as it becomes more


details were offered, prejudices were confronted.


anonymous and more tied to com-

This process of dialogue humanised the concerns of all sides in the issue and

mercial results.

wandered through technical, spiritual, metaphysical and political matters. With both

The Bulletin also covers the USA’s quiet reflection and passion, participants focussed on personal responsibilities.

complaint at the World Trade A lack of trust was acknowledged around science, business, activism and the

Organization against the European


media - and trust was built among representatives of these sectors during the

Union’s ban on GE crops; Bayer’s four days of dialogue. Participants also acknowledged the roles of both gut

retreat from crop release in the UK;


instinct and rationality in the way positions are formed.


and Venezuela’s ban on GE crops. There were no grand resolutions to be passed to, and perhaps ignored by,

In the spirit of Dialogue we also officials. But important and valuable connections were made, connections which

might have previously been regarded as impossible.


include both a New Scientist story


on problems with GE corn in Argen- What changed? What difference will it make? All the participants will be asking

tina, and another story quoting that question. Certainly impressions of the ‘other’ changed. The conversations

Argentinean officials who disagree will no doubt continue among individuals who were there and with their wider

with the claims. communities.


How does it change the Bulletin?



To be clear, the usual Bulletin format is a compilation of edited versions of


published news stories from credible sources, reproducing the stories’ words to

The items in this Bulletin are excerpts from


reduce the possibility of misrepresentation. The website offers the full stories

articles which remain the copyright of the


original owners. The material is edited for and links so readers can observe the editorial process and catch up on detail that

brevity and published here for educational and was dropped from the shortened items.

public interest use only.


Full items and web links to source where


The choice of stories of course represents our editorial position, reflecting our

concern over the responsible use of genetic engineering. But the Bulletin is not

available, can be found at www.GEinfo.org.nz


along with PDF and Word versions of all intended to stand alone in media space. We observe that society has access to

Bulletins that can be downloaded free.


other editorial positions in other publications. We do not seek to be ‘balanced’

Hard copies of the Bulletin are available. for we recognise that the Bulletin itself has a role to play in balancing the editorial

Single issues can be purchased for $5. You choices of other publications.

can also take out an annual subscription,


covering a minimum of 10 issues, for $35. For its usual content the Bulletin is reliant on published material. We choose

stories which have a factual base and add to the sum of knowledge on the issue.

The GE Information Bulletin is a project


We avoid name-calling and personalisation of the issue. The headlines are those

of the GE Information Service. It presents a


regular digest of significant information from of the original stories, and often have the typical news style of overinterpretation

an international range of sources. - we accept this as a consequence of our decision to keep editorial change away

We rely on donations, grants and sponsorship. from the items. Sometimes one story is chosen over another in order to have a

Please support our work to promote informed


less strident headline, or to avoid name-calling.

debate regarding the responsible use of genetic


engineering. So, with our perspective widened by the GE Dialogue at Tauhara, what can

we offer for the Bulletin to do differently? At the least, we offer a commitment to


Supporters have no editorial influence.


editorial decisions made in a spirit of connection and co-operation rather than


The GE Information Service


PO Box 78121, Grey Lynn conflict. We offer a willingness to be part of a process of positive change. And

Auckland, New Zealand we issue a warning, film-credit style - “Note that all people occurring in these

Phone (09) 620 5243


stories are real. With most of the same bits that you have - with families,

Editor: Stuart Sontier


problems, successes, values, concerns and desires.”

Email: editor@GEinfo.org.nz

Web: http://www.GEinfo.org.nz Whatever our positions on GE, we share a common humanity.



continued over
The GE Information Bulletin – No. 22 May 2004

100 staff await first GM application Germany: GM restaurant food must be marked


NZ Herald, April 30, 2004 (New Zealand) Reuters, March 31, 2004 (Germany)



Environmental Risk Management Authority staff numbers Restaurant and canteen food containing GMOs must be



have doubled over the past two years to nearly 100 to cope clearly marked when new rules on GMO labelling take


with new responsibilities, including handling such applica- effect in April, the German government said on Wednesday.



tions. [But] no application for commercial release of On April 18 new European Union rules mean food on


sale in shops will have to be labelled if it contains GMOs.


genetically modified organisms has been filed with the


Government regulator – and none is on the horizon either. Animal feed sold to farmers will also have to be labelled.



ERMA chairman Neil Walter said “This would be the first- “If canteens or restaurants use GM food this must be


ever release of a GMO in New Zealand and it’s going to clearly marked on the menu or in a notice,” Junior German



require a very, very careful consideration and evaluation by Agriculture and Consumer Protection Minister Alexander


the authority. “It won’t be quick and it won’t be cheap.” Mueller said. “It is now the responsibility of the private



Mr Walter said Erma’s job was to “find the balance point” sector to fulfil its labelling responsibilities,” he added.


and its decisions had to take into account issues besides http://www.GEinfo.org.nz/052004/04.html



science and technology. “We have got to look at the impact


Biotech rice plans are stalled


on the economy, on the environment, on people’s health,


on cultural, ethical and spiritual beliefs.” LA Times, April 10, 2004 (USA)



http://www.GEinfo.org.nz/052004/01.html The California Department of Food and Agriculture denied

Ventria Bioscience’s application to grow more than 120


Bt cotton benefits short-lived: study


acres of rice engineered with human genetic material for


Financial Express, February 10, 2004 (India) use in medicine in California because federal regulators

There is some bad news for Indian farmers who have haven’t issued a permit. The Sacramento-based company

started growing a type of genetically modified cotton said it had not yet applied for federal regulatory approval.

containing the bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) gene. The Bt gene State officials also said the public needed more time to

produces a toxin called “cry1ac” that kills bollworms. comment on an issue that had roiled California’s $500-

A study released by entomologists K Chandrasekar and million rice industry. Many rice farmers fear consumer

G T Gujar at Indian Agricultural Research Institute in New perception will turn against their crops and cost them

customers in biotechnology-adverse Europe and Japan if


Delhi has cast doubts on the long-term benefits of Bt


cotton. It found that the protection afforded by Bt gene is Ventria’s permit were granted.

http://www.GEinfo.org.nz/052004/05.html

at best for six years – the bollworm develops “31-fold


resistance to the toxin “cry1ac” within six generations.”


Wheat Board snuffs GM canola trial


This means that cotton farmers may have to go back to


Daily Telegraph, April 1, 2004 (Australia)


spraying pesticides after six seasons unless scientists come

out with Bt cotton hybrids that produce a high dose of the The New South Wales Government has ruled out a 3000

cry1ac toxin. The scientists say their findings “mandate the hectare trial of genetically modified canola after strong

necessity of Bt resistance management.” opposition from the Australian Wheat Board.



Development of resistance to Bt cotton is not unknown. NSW Agricultural Minister Ian Macdonald said three

In China the expected life of Bt cotton was found to be 7 to small research trials for GM canola would go ahead to test

10 years in areas under Bt cotton exceeding 70 per cent. varieties of GM canola plants against traditional canola.

http://www.GEinfo.org.nz/052004/02.html Today’s announcement dashes the hopes of



agri-business giant Monsanto, Bayer CropScience and


US seeks WTO sanctions for EU over GM ban


Australian Oilseeds Federation, which had hoped to trial


Guardian, April 27, 2004 (UK) the 3000 hectares of GM canola this year.

The United States has filed a complaint with the World http://www.GEinfo.org.nz/052004/06.html

Trade Organization demanding the European Union lift its


Angola bans GM cereal imports

ban on GM crops and pay $1.8 billion in compensation for


Bridges Trade BioRes, April 2, 2004 (Online)


the loss of exports over the past six years, described as the

biggest in WTO history. The case has global implications if Angola became the latest African country to ban the import

the US wins, ensuring that no country will be able to bar of GM seeds and grain, including in GM food aid, unless

GM products without facing trade sanctions. they are milled prior to arrival. The country thereby joined

The US is determined to press the case, and intends to Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique and Lesotho, which had

bring a second, to prevent the mandatory labeling and set the same conditions for imports in 2002. Zambia

tracing of GM crops, which became EU law this month. continues to ban the import even of milled GM cereals.

The feelings of the rest of the WTO nations are unclear. The Angolan standard setting body has called for the

WTO officials are aware that overly severe penalties for establishment of national biosafety regulations on the sale

adhering to the majority of its people’s wishes against GM of transport of GMOs, based on the precautionary

products will likely make the world body unpopular. approach.


http://www.GEinfo.org.nz/052004/03.html http://www.GEinfo.org.nz/052004/07.html

2
The GE Information Bulletin – No. 22 May 2004

Pew Report spurs debate over biotech regulation Argentina’s bitter harvest


Pesticide & Toxic Chemical News, April 5, 2004 (USA) New Scientist, April 17, 2004 (UK)



The Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology released a Soya is being blamed for an environmental crisis that is



lengthy report on the US review process for future biotech threatening the country’s fragile economic recovery.


food products. Th[e ensuing] debate cuts across the usual Over the past eight years, GM soya farmers have taken



industry versus consumer lines, with some regulators and over a huge proportion of Argentina’s arable land, leading



industry officials privately conceding that the current system to regular complaints by peasant families that their crops


is – if not broken – at least in need of preventive have been harmed by glyphosate and other herbicides.



maintenance. The existing regulatory framework was Driven by the world’s demand for soya to feed to cattle,


assembled during the Reagan administrations from a from 1997 to 2002 the area under soya cultivation increased



patchwork of existing laws and regulations and given to by 75 per cent and yields increased by 173 per cent. In the


USDA, FDA and EPA to administer in a coordinated fashion. early years there were also clear environmental benefits.



The report acknowledges that current ag biotech Some years ago, however, a few agronomists started to


products have been widely adopted without evidence of sound alarm bells, warning that the wholesale and



food safety or environmental problems. However, it said unmonitored shift into Roundup Ready soya was causing



“the potential complexity of future products may challenge unforeseen problems. In a study published in 2001,


the ability of the existing Coordinated Framework for agricultural economics consultant Charles Benbrook



Regulation of Biotechnology to continue to protect public reported that Roundup Ready soya growers in Argentina


health and the environment and maintain public trust.” were using more than twice as much herbicide as

http://www.GEinfo.org.nz/052004/08.html ○

conventional soya farmers, largely because of unexpected


problems with tolerant weeds. Among his predictions were

Venezuela: GM crops to be prohibited


shifts in the composition of weed species, the emergence


Venezuelanalysis.com, April 21, 2004 (Venezuela) of resistant superweeds, and changes in soil microbiology.

President Hugo Chavez Frias has announced that the Many see Argentina’s experience as a warning of what

cultivation of genetically modified crops will be prohibited can happen when production of a single commodity for the

on Venezuelan soil, possibly establishing the most sweep- world market takes precedence over concern for food

ing restrictions on transgenic crops in the Western Hemi- security. When this commodity is produced in a system of

near monoculture, with the use of a new and relatively


sphere. Though full details of the administration’s policy on


genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are still forthcom- untested technology provided by multinational companies,

the vulnerability of the country is compounded.


ing, the statement by President Chavez will lead most


immediately to the cancellation of a contract that Venezuela http://www.GEinfo.org.nz/052004/11.html



had negotiated with the US-based Monsanto Corporation.


GM soya saved us, says angry Argentina

Chavez emphasized the importance of food sovereignty



and security – required by the Venezuelan Constitution – as Daily Telegraph, April 18, 2004 (UK)

the basis of his decision. Instead of allowing Monsanto to The New Scientist article, published in Britain last week,

grow its transgenic crops, these fields will be used to plant made national headlines when it said that Argentina’s

yuca (an indigenous crop), Chavez explained. pioneering use of GM soya had caused “superweeds” to

http://www.GEinfo.org.nz/052004/09.html

overrun the country and had led to health problems.


New Scientist quoted experts who warned that GM crops


Bayer deals blow to GM crops


could destroy the soil’s natural micro-organisms and create


BBC, March 31, 2004 (UK)


“superweeds”. Small farmers blamed glyphosate for crop

GM crop growing has been shelved for the “forseeable failure and loss of livestock.

Many involved directly in Argentine agriculture said last


future”, according to the government.


Bayer CropScience was the only firm eligible to grow week that they disagreed with that analysis.

herbicide resistant maize in the UK. But it has decided not Gabriela Levitus, executive director of Argenbio [which]

to cultivate the crop, Chardon LL, blaming government led the protests, said her council had studied the environ-

constraints for making it “economically non-viable”. mental consequences of using glyphosate and found it

In a statement, Bayer CropScience said government- harmless to other plants, livestock and farm workers. She

imposed conditions would stall GM maize production for rejected claims that GM crops reduced the levels of bacteria

too long. “These uncertainties and undefined timelines will and other micro-organisms in the soil as “a complete lie”.

make this five-year old variety economically non-viable.” Eugenio Cap, co-author of a study [that] found that the

But environment minister Elliot Morley defended the expansion in soya growing had helped increase rural

government’s stance. He said: “We do not apologise for the employment from 700,000 in 1995 to about 900,000 in the

fact there is a tough EU-wide regulatory regime on GMs. It late 1990s and concluded that it had made farmers £4 billion

a year richer, said: “It is highly irresponsible to write an


applies to the whole EU not just the UK. We always said it


would be for the market to decide the viability of growing article describing the soya programme as a disaster when in

GM once the government assessed safety and risk.” effect it saved a society from economic catastrophe.”

http://www.GEinfo.org.nz/052004/10.html http://www.GEinfo.org.nz/052004/12.html

3
The GE Information Bulletin – No. 22 May 2004

Review: The Dawn of McScience possession of the few, when personal goals are advanced


The New York Review of Books, March 11, 2004 at the expense of national ones, or when the prospect of



Science in the Private Interest: Has the Lure of Profits Corrupted
profit breeds dishonest dealing.


A decade later, many of these predictions have come true.


Biomedical Research? by Sheldon Krimsky (Rowman and Littlefield)


When scientists ask colleagues to share their data, genetic


In a letter to the apostolic nuncio in Poland [in] 2002, John discoveries, for example, are frequently withheld. This



Paul II wrote that the pre-eminence of the profit motive in proprietorial approach to new research findings is increas-


conducting scientific research ultimately means that science ing, especially in commercially sensitive disciplines. Lack



is deprived of its epistemological character, according to of collaboration with other scientists prevents investigators


which its primary goal is discovery of the truth.


from confirming and extending new discoveries.


Sheldon Krimsky, a physicist, philosopher, and policy Not surprisingly, there is a strong association between


analyst now at the Tufts University School of Medicine, puts


commercial sponsorship and the conclusions scientists draw


it more bluntly. In Science in the Private Interest, a strongly from their findings. Scientists who argue in favor of a



argued polemic against the commercial conditions in which particular product are more likely than their neutral or critical


scientific research currently operates, he shows how colleagues to possess a financial stake in the company that



universities have become little more than instruments of is funding their research or the product they are studying.


wealth. This shift in the mission of academia, Krimsky claims, There is the growing view that science must be reclaimed



works against the public interest. These subtle yet insidious for the public interest. Krimsky argues this case vigorously.
changes to the rules of engagement between science and ○


For him, public interest science is “research carried out
commerce are causing, in Krimsky’s view, incalculable injury primarily to advance the public good.”

to society, as well as to science.


An alternative view is that a dissolution of the


[He] makes a telling comparison of journalists and public partnership between science and commerce is neither

officials, groups for whom monetary conflicts of interest, now possible nor desirable. Instead of possibly choking off

endemic in science, are anathema to their professional ethics. innovation by legislating against the judicious commercial

American historian Steven Shapin, in his forceful development of scientific research, a better way to proceed,

exploration of the basis for scientific knowledge in the according to John Ziman, a respected philosopher of

seventeenth century, links the origins of English experimental science, is to let this work proceed unhindered while at the

philosophy with the cultural importance of truthfulness –


same time protecting the “non-instrumental” functions of


”the gentlemanly constitution of scientific truth”. He argues science that are currently under threat.

that our personal knowledge of the world depends to a large Sustaining some form of non-instrumental science – which

degree on what others tell us. Our understanding therefore practically means not routinely applying the litmus test of

has a moral character, based as it must be on trust. In


wealth creation to every new idea or hypothesis – is important


constructing a body of reliable individual knowledge, not only for inquiry into fundamental theoretical questions but

trustworthy people are crucial. In the seventeenth century, also because society needs a model of independent critical

the concept of the gentleman embodied these notions of rationality for the proper conduct of democratic debate, judicial

trust. Lying was seen as incompatible with a civilized society. inquiry, and consumer protection. But non-instrumental

A series of social conventions followed from this claim – the science can only be protected by organizations whose

importance of face-to-face conversation, the centrality of funding decisions are determined by disinterested scientists

“epistemological decorum.” Secret scientific knowledge and


themselves, whether in university departments, charitable


commercial exploitation of discoveries thus have a long and foundations, or government agencies.

much-abhorred history within science, whatever scientists [This] partial solution poses its own dangers. In a brief

might claim in order to justify themselves today. and tantalizing epilogue to his social history of truth,

Still, most scientists and academic leaders will reject this Shapin speculates about the way trust and credibility are

negative attitude toward collaborations between science and manipulated in the modern era. He notes that we are told

industry. The argument for partnership seems entirely things about the world by people whom we do not know,

reasonable. Science aims to acquire knowledge but needs working in places we have not been. Trust is no longer

money to invest in research. Industry wants to develop bestowed on familiar individuals. We trust the truth of

products for a profit, but needs a sound base of knowledge specialized scientific knowledge without knowing the

on which to do so. Their interests are complementary. authors of its claims. The gentleman has been replaced by

But something changed dramatically in the early 1980s to the scientific expert, personal virtue by the possession of

push academia and industry closer together. The emerging


specialized knowledge, a calling by a job, a nexus of


biotechnology industry became the driving force behind this face-to-face intervention by faceless institutions.

marriage of opportunities. The federal government enacted a If expertise is found to be shaped by motives of personal

list of statutes that mandated the National Institutes of gain and if the reputations of institutions are stained by

Health to cooperate with the private sector. In 1991, William private advantage (as they increasingly are) then trust will

Raub, then acting director, commented that the American be as vulnerable to commercial corrosion now as it was to

body politic traditionally has erupted in anger when publicly ungentlemanly behavior in the salons of seventeenth-

financed activities yield undue private gain, when


century English experimentalists.


information intended for the many becomes the exclusive http://www.GEinfo.org.nz/052004/13.html


4
June 2004 Issue 146

Tauhara News
Tauhara Retreat &
Conference Centre
A Place for Everyone

Tauhara Centre
Acacia Heights Drive
PO Box 125
TAUPO

Ph: 07 378 7507


Fax: 07 378 7528
Email:
tauhara@tauharacentre.org.nz
www.tauharacentre.org.nz

Greetings to you all from Tauhara


The past three months seem to have flown by with lots of different groups and
Inside activities happening here. Tauhara always looks so lovely in the autumn as the
big trees shed their leaves - a credit to the hard work and planting done by the
Greetings from Tauhara early gardeners and our thanks to Murray Neverman for his recent pruning
The GE Dialogue
work. We have had several visits from people who were involved in those early
Calendar of Events
days and it is always interesting to learn more about the history of Tauhara and
to honour and acknowledge the vision that is expressed so well by the words of
Looking Ahead welcome as shown above. We would also like to thank the efforts of Dennis
Tauhara Working Bee Hamlin who has restored the photos of the original founders in the Library and
Tony Backhouse reframed them with fade proof glass. A further thanks to Vernon and Mathew
Winter Heart Politics Smith for installing the second window in the hall which is looking great.
Qigong for Cancer Patients
Aramaic Jesus It was a delight to have Hamish and Ba Miller here for a weekend teaching
Swami Muktidharma about dowsing and Ley Lines and they are working towards joining in another
Women's Gathering event being planned here next March to explore local energy lines. The GE
Cool Schools
Men’s Gathering
Dialogue, held here over four days at the end of March, was a very satisfying
12th Masters Gathering event that took a lot of energy to prepare for but well worth it for all involved.
Firewalking
We welcome Bruce as a long term volunteer and also David Stevens as part
time cook to give Catherine some time off - David spent many of his early
Reflections on Venus Transit years at Tauhara learning about the kitchen when Catherine was cooking here
Unification Poem in the eighties! We look forward to reconnecting with our extended Tauhara
family over the Winter Solstice weekend coming up soon. Meanwhile, regards
from Andrew, Moira, Catherine, Nasir, Linda, Bill, Bruce and other volunteers.

On-Going Events at Tauhara


There are ongoing events at Tauhara such as the full moon meditation each month 7.30 pm on the day of the full
moon June 3, July 2, Aug 1, Sept 29. Also Dances of Universal Peace one Tuesday each month–see the calendar for
these dates. Contact Moira at the Centre if you would like to be on the contact list for local events.
THE TAUHARA G.E.DIALOGUE

From March 22nd to March 25th, Tauhara co hosted a gathering that was known as the GE Dialogue
and it proved to be a fantastic opportunity to provide space for genuine listening to take place around a
very divisive subject. Friendships were formed by people on opposite sides of the debate which opened
the way for deeper understanding of the issue from both sides of the fence.

The event grew out of a morning get together at the 2002 Summer Heart Politics Gathering when Robin,
a Genetic Scientist attending for the gathering for the first time, asked that she could talk in a non threat-
ening way with others who were interested in learning more about the issue. About 15 people came to-
gether and everyone listened intently while each person was given the chance to speak on how they
viewed Genetic Engineering in relation to their lives.

Robin was so impressed by the process that she went back to her scientific community and, together
with fellow scientists and people from Heart Politics and Tauhara, eventually formed a team that re-
ceived funding from Ministry of Research Science and Technology to hold a GE Dialogue at Tauhara .

The team, known as the holding group, met over a


number months and created an invitee list that was a
cross section of people representing science, journal-
ism, activism, religion, business, law, medicine, arts
and different cultures. The team worked really well
together and the month before, a planning weekend
was held at Hahei in the Coromandel (see picture)
which added cohesion and focus for the Dialogue.

The event began with a welcome to the forty one participants, walking around the grounds of Tauhara
and acknowledging the pla ce and its people before entering into the hall. Childcare was provided
throughout the weekend which worked very well. All the sessions were held in the hall apart from the
small home group that each participant was in which met each day for about an hour. The dining room
provided space for excellent conversations as did the hot pools during time out.

The dialogue process differs from debate and discussion in that the latter two both imply actively de-
fending a point of view whereas dialogue allows for the flow of language. Whoever is speaking is re-
spectfully listened to without interruption and, in between speakers, there is a pause to allow space for a
response to emerge rather than a defensive response be instantly given.

It takes time for a group to reach the place where dialogue can easily flow and this group certainly took
a day or two to settle into the process with a number of uncomfortable edges being reached and worked
through. By the Saturday evening, when we had a celebration time together, it was delightful to have
Green Peace activists playing alongside GE scientists in a way where humanity mattered and the integ-
rity of relationship with each other was actively demonstrated in fun and laughter.

On the Sunday morning the group really came together with a sense of harmony and shared intent that
we all wanted the world to be a better place for ourselves and our children. By actively talking together
and hearing where we were each coming from, we were much better placed to move forward construc-
tively around this very diverse issue and take the best choices possible. There were no defined outcomes
but much deeper understandings both about the science of genetics and the need to create an environ-
ment that is sustainable for future generations. Above all, names that had been associated on both sides
as odorous, became humans willing to actively listen to each other and create new possibilities for work-
ing out solutions together. All in all a very humbling and truly exciting process.

The holding group are preparing a report which will be available next month from the Centre and we at
Tauhara are looking to host future events here to create dialogue on other issues.

This perspective was written by Moira Lilburn from the Tauhara Centre.
ARTICLE FOR THE TAUPO GE FREE GROUP
After months of careful planning, a GE Dialogue gathering was held at the Tauhara
Centre for four days over ANZAC weekend. The participants, who were invited from
across a broad spectrum of stakeholders in the GE issue, came from as far away as
Dunedin in the south and Kerikeri in the north.

The concept grew out of a small group sharing held one morning at Tauhara during
the summer Heart Politics in Jan 2003 when a gene scientist felt listened to for the
first time amongst a group of about 15 predominantly GE Free NZ supporters.

This led to an initiative between Tauhara, Heart Politics people and gene scientists
forming a holding group and receiving funding for the GE Dialogue from MORST.
There will be feedback from this group once the evaluation has taken place but in the
meantime, Andrew Lilburn, the manager at Tauhara writes:

“Over the time we spent together, people began to put aside their preconceptions and
judgements of the different positions represented in the room and started to listen in
an ‘open hearted’ way to each other.
Plenty of time and space was created to allow people to be able to connect with others
in a variety of ways that meant entrenched positions began to soften.
The scientists in the room heard how consumers felt about their work and the activists
learnt more about what is and isn’t GE and the progression that has happened in the
scientific world to get to where we are now. The journalists learnt how distortion
around the issue stops real learning taking place and the artists added their unique
perception about what is life.
All conversation was held in a way that allowed people to speak knowing that the
listening would be respectful and supported and that the issue was being talked about
not the person. Talk about values and ethics emerged that was reaching deeply into
the questions being asked.
The last evening together was spent in celebration of the potential of dialogue and it
was heart warming to see people mixing and singing together where previously they
had been antagonistic to each other because of the views they held.
For me personally, it was rewarding to see that New Zealanders can be of diverse
backgrounds and viewpoints and yet not let those views prevent them from listening
to others and arriving at new understandings about the issue.”

Andrew Lilburn

80