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How we do it


We envision a more equitable, caring, and flourishing society.

Everything we do, every day, contributes to a flourishing mauri ora for all living things.


To better enable people to create good lives that work for each and all people and planet.

The mission of Catalyse is to uncover what matters to people in a place and to assist positive change to happen by uplifting what is already there. We activate local potential in ways that catalyses action and regenerates communities by understanding what matters collectively in a place, imagining new possibilities, believing these imaginings are possible and acting to make them happen.

We build on what’s there already, changing systems and growing communities as we go by bringing strategy, design, evaluation, and creativity together with local leadership, participation, and a collective hunger for positive change.



Our core value is aroha.  

We aim to do everything we do from a foundation of aroha. 


Our understanding of aroha is based on work by Ruth Makuini Tai. She says: 

“Maori language and practice holds the memory of a time when the force of Aroha was understood and respected by all. Aroha is the creative force behind all dreams. Aroha defines great leadership, ensures personal success, and inspires us to go the extra mile.”  

Aroha means love. Aroha is a compound word, with parts that include Aro, Ro, Hā, Oha.  

  • ARO is to face or turn towards, to pay attention to, to focus, to look intently at or pay heed to. It is also “seat of feelings” and “to be in the presence of”.

  • RO is inner, within, introspection.

  • HA is life force, breath, taste, energy.

  • OHA is generosity, prosperity, abundance, wealth. It is to be plentiful, a keepsake or a gift and it is also to greet. 

Aro, Ro, Hā, Oha - these words give aroha many layers of meaning offering a profound message of love and connection that is more than the sum of its parts. Our work, our way of being and doing, honours and continues to learn from indigenous approaches, especially matauranga Māori. We are enormously grateful for the generosity of those steeped in these knowledges for their sharing with and supporting of us. 

To support aroha in action, in our work and lives, we base our activities on practices of respect, equity, generosity and togetherness. 

RESPECT means we honour the histories and vitality of the places we are in and accept people for who they are, even when they are different from us, and even when we don’t agree with them. We choose to bring curiosity to our practice, to pay attention to the stories and perspectives of people and place, to find out what matters to them and how we might add value by working together. We will not work with those whose actions, policies, or values promote hate, harm, or loss of dignity of others.

GENEROSITY is about being kind, compassionate, and encouraging. It is hospitality, welcome, and abundance. There is more than enough to go around so that everyone and every place can live good lives. For us, generosity is key to moving beyond the transactional, the extractive, the separate, and the self-absorbed. It means caring, sharing, gifting, and reciprocating for the benefit of the collective, as we grow the capacity to change things and to sustain things that matter.

EQUITY is core to the achievement of justice. We engage with difference and co-create the conditions for diversity and inclusion to flourish. This means we work to eliminate barriers by developing fair systems, procedures, and resource distribution. We seek to create safe, effective, and unbiased opportunities for full participation and benefits for all, especially those directly affected (both people and place). It also means we actively consider our own perspectives, biases and privileges and are open to changing ourselves.

TOGETHERNESS means we can get more done, more effectively, and with more innovation when we work respectfully together towards collective goals. Together, we can be more than the sum of our parts because everyone – whatever our position in society - has something to offer and to learn and every place has its own unique offerings. By using positive, affirming, and strengths-based approaches, we collectively build on the best of what already is to create new imaginings and genuine results that are the best of what can be.

Our way

Together, we can make a difference

We activate locally-led transformation to co-create a more equitable, inclusive and flourishing society 

Catalyse is a social change agency. We believe in a society where everyone - each and all of us - as well as the places we share, have the capacity to adapt, thrive, and flourish. Our work tells us that this is a shared vision, and everyone has some things to offer and some things to learn, when it comes to effecting positive change.

Our way of thinking and doing is based on the acknowledgment that people and place are inseparable. We are only, each, truly flourishing when all of us, and the living beings and systems we live within and alongside, are also flourishing.

“Flourishing”, to us, means we are seeing sustainable success socially, culturally, environmentally, economically, politically and institutionally.

We work with people in local communities, organisations, and systems, building on what is already there and accelerating progress towards what matters collectively. We work in ways that generate conditions for positive change so what we create together lasts, growing local capacities and competencies as we go.

Tailored to your situation and goals, we offer proven strengths-based, participatory ways of understanding, inspiring, engaging and evaluating 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. 

We believe now is a time to give more than we take. It is time to heal, learn and regenerate by working with, and from, our strengths, together. Because, together, 1+1=3.

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