It wasn't so obvious at the time, but...

It wasn’t so obvious at the time but looking back it's clear that 2015 was about building a foundation for 2016 and beyond. Creating Collaborative Solutions was a big step forward, and the year also saw the rapid expansion of our involvement in:
•    Family Dispute Resolution
•    Industry - Community Collaboration
•    A range of interesting one-off mediation projects.

Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)

Since the FDR Act came into effect in April 2014, parties to disputes regarding care of, and contact with children, and other guardianship issues have been required to engage in mediation before filing proceedings in court.

Between June 2014 and December 2015 we received over 400 referrals to mediation. Interest levels have grown rapidly with a 100% increase in the number of cases referred, from 15 to more than 30 each month over the past 18 months. Just as exciting has been the increased confidence that parties are showing in the mediation process, and the skills they learn to help resolve their own issues through their direct involvement in mediation.

In 2015, Collaborative Solutions was approved by the Ministry of Justice to provide partially funded FDR to parties whose income exceeds the level where they would otherwise qualify for full funding. The advantage is that two parties pay just $448.50 each for a full mediation process. Clients or lawyers can contact us directly for this service.

The Collaborative Solutions FDR mediation team provides fully funded and subsidised FDR across the Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Lakes and King Country regions.

Industry - Community Collaboration

By supporting neighbours, interest groups and others to participate in meetings, ask questions and raise concerns, industry can reduce the impact of their operation on their community, who in turn contribute to operational and process improvements within the industry.

In this exciting and developing field, the idea of industries assisting people to have a voice when those people are sometimes in opposition to what they do seems somewhat paradoxical, but is hugely beneficial.  

Ongoing examples of our work in this field include:

Waihi Gold Mine
In 2015 we continued our involvement with Waihi through facilitation of the Correnso Underground Extension Project liaison group meetings and vibration workshops. Tim has been involved in facilitating a community collaboration process in Waihi for the past 13 years and the innovative investment by Newmont Waihi Gold has proven very constructive. The new owners of the Waihi mine, Oceana Gold, are continuing the collaboration process in the same spirit. The next community meeting is scheduled for March 2016.

Tuakau Protein
We have been facilitating meetings between the rendering plant and the Tuakau community for over four years now. The ongoing and regular attendance of members of the Tuakau community and by senior management of Tuakau Proteins Ltd has demonstrated their commitment to addressing issues in a positive and constructive way. Participants report that effects of the plant have improved over the last four years, and the last six months has seen Tuakau Proteins make very significant investment in plant improvements to the benefit of both parties. 

In 2015 we were invited to facilitate community liaison group meetings for Fonterra. The new milk powder drying plant under construction at Lichfield will be the largest in the southern hemisphere. While the construction process and Fonterra’s engagement with its community have been very positive, a plant of this size cannot help but raise questions and have an effect. Fonterra’s use of independent facilitation has been very positive and participants have told us the community collaboration process is working well. Based on the success of this process Fonterra have asked us to facilitate a meeting with neighbours and others interested in the operation of its cream, protein and whey plants in Edgecumbe. The first meeting of this process will be held this week, and will be another interesting test of the Industry - Community Collaboration process. 

The industry – Community Collaboration process relies on the genuine good will and participation of individuals, communities and the industries involved. It is exciting to work alongside such a positive process and see the improvements and developments that are possible when people work side by side.

One-off Mediation Projects

One of the most rewarding aspects of the mediation and facilitation work we do is the variety of issues that arise and the range of interesting people we meet.

2015 featured mediation subjects including; relationship property, disputed wills, sporting organisations, bullying and harassment, the operation of a private trust, relationships between social service organisations, a senior management dispute in a large corporate, dissolution of business partnerships, conflict management advice to a utility service provider and change management in a public health organisation.

The truly exciting thing about the collaboration concept is the rapidly growing and diverse application of our dispute resolution and facilitation skills to new processes and opportunities.


Please contact us if you have any questions or any ideas or suggestions about how the collaboration process can be applied and expanded.

About Co-Lab

Why Collaborative Solutions?

The word collaborative derives from the Latin for working together. Good facilitation, mediation and engagement entails providing an environment where working (well) together is not only possible, the resulting outcomes are enhanced and parties develop skill and insight that enables them to deal with problem situations better in the future.

Because they have originated from what is traditionally known as a “soft skills” environment there is an assumption that outcomes from facilitation and mediation are not robust or durable, however the reverse is the case.  Beyond assisting people to reach agreement, facilitation and mediation provide for better communication, better understanding (of the problem and the solution) and the opportunity to establish agreements based on precision, detail and improved trust.

I hope that articles, stories and updates on this website will provide some good practical examples of existing and developing uses of mediation and facilitation.