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Making Change Together

We are passionate about creating change that matters with you!
We engage communities, grow relationships, build strategies and create tools to support people and place to flourish.

*to catalyse is to activate and synergise
so that the result is more than the sum of the contributing parts.
Very often almost no trace of the catalyst is visible,
except to those most closely involved.



We believe that good change is possible

We also believe that local people know a lot about what can work best for them and their places. Every group of people and every place has strengths, and the capacity to adapt and thrive. So, like a catalyst, we inspire, support and facilitate positive change by engaging communities and organisations to imagine and create good lives for each and all, people and place. 


We do this by bringing strategy, design, evaluation, and creativity together with local leadership, participation, and a collective hunger for positive change.


Activating good change takes us to a wide range of places and sees us work with a huge variety of innovative people. Recently, we have been growing capacity for locally-led placemaking in Kaipātiki, engaging local people in tactical urbanism in Takapuna, evaluating community-led development in Whananaki and mentoring and developing resources with community workers in the disability sector in the Bay of Plenty and Otago.

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1+1=3 when we work together

We actively contribute to systems change too. We initiated and deliver the Kūmara Awards and Ako Ako webinar series nationally for Placemaking Aotearoa as well as chair Grow Space here in Tāmaki Makaurau.


We collaborate with others across Aotearoa in our roles at Inspiring Communities, Powerdigm and Placemaking Aotearoa and internationally with IACD (Scotland), PlacemakingX (USA) and Synergia Institute (Canada).



Skills and knowledge
we offer

Our team
and partners

Samples of what
we have done

Our 'Why'
and 'How'

Tools you might
find useful

that inspire us



we can make a difference

Every place and every person, we believe, has something to offer and something to learn. We value trust and relationship and know that we can get more done, with more innovation and in more effective ways, when we work together.


We work collaboratively with communities, organisations, businesses and government across Aotearoa and beyond, helping to vision, plan and understand the differences their activities are making. 

Tailored to your situation and goals, we offer proven strengths-based, participatory ways of understanding, inspiring and accelerating how local people – those who live, work, learn, play, care and invest in a place - can be part of making their places work well and flourish now, and into the future.


Our services








Our people

Catalyse is a multi-disciplinary team of trusted, curious and skilled collaborators. Drawing on a wide range of training and experience, we co-develop approaches with you and build on and help grow local skills as we go. This way positive change takes root and develops in ways that work best for the people in your place. 

We love our work! Collectively, our team has over 40 years experience successfully activating good change, and we keep learning.

We are happy to talk!

If you would like to explore working with us to create good change in your community, book a free conversation


Kind Words

Brave, Generous and Humble

The fields of “community development”, “community empowerment”, “placemaking” and myriad other terms that have become catch cries in inverted commas are difficult, emotional and highly complex landscapes to traverse. There are very few people/organisations who are able to make these journeys with the level of kindness, skill, empathy and wisdom that Catalyse brings. Working between the extremes of knowing that what exists in community needs to be protected, and knowing that our systems need to change, Denise and her team are consistently brave, generous and resolutely humble.

 — Frith Walker

Head of Placemaking
Eke Panuku Development Auckland


First-rate Community Development

Denise is a first-rate community development theoretician, practitioner, consultant, presenter, facilitator, trainer and mentor. She helps communities and organizations to plan their own direction and to identify and build on their own strengths. Incredibly well networked across New Zealand and beyond, Denise enables different sectors and places to learn from one another and to coalesce for more powerful and holistic results.

Jim Diers

Community Builder, Consultant
Lecturer and Facilitator, Seattle