Ageing Well Symposium “far exceeded expectations”

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April 22, 2024

Over the past decade, the Ageing Well National Science Challenge has funded hundreds of researchers, community partners, and associated stakeholders across the motu to tackle the most important ageing-related issues facing our generations.

Two aspects of our kaupapa have been critical to our success and essential for creating meaningful change in Aotearoa New Zealand. The first being the strong relationships we have fostered with communities and researchers as partners in this mahi; the second is ‘knowledge exchange’ – sharing knowledge reciprocally with our communities. These twin pillars of our kaupapa inspired ‘The Ageing Well Journey: from vision to reality | Ka mua ka muri’.

The Ageing Well Journey was a two-day symposium held at Te Papa in Wellington on April 10 and 11, 2024.  The event featured many different speakers from around the country, who identified the achievements of the Challenge, facilitated further conversations about the shared priorities for our work, and planted many seeds for the future of ageing well in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Professor David Baxter, Director of Ageing Well, was thrilled with the turn out.

“We were so pleased with the event and the support of our whānau. We featured many of our research projects and helped stimulate engaging kōrero. Importantly, we were also able to highlight key areas related to ageing well, such as policy impact, and led the conversation about ageing in Aotearoa – working toward a more future-focused, solutions-based approach”, said Professor David Baxter.

“We went into the event with a set of strategic goals, and the event far exceeded our expectations in that respect,” he added.

We went into the event with a set of strategic goals, and the event far exceeded our expectations in that respect." -- Prof David Baxter

Symposium recap

Our mihi whakatau and welcome was given by Ageing Well Chair, Dr Will Edwards.
Hinerangi Edwards was our unflappable MC for the duration of the event.

We were so pleased to secure Dr Ganesh Nana as our keynote speaker. Ganesh is a noted economist and presented on ‘Ageing Well and the economy – what comes first?’. His presentation gave our audience members much food for thought – taking a considered approach to ageing, and challenging conventional economic paradigms focused on the monetary economy, rather than people and communities.

One of our favourite quotes from his presentation was:

“Ageing well in a complex world requires an economic system that is subservient to the needs of the community. The value that is delivered must be aligned to the rights and values that we agree to.”

Ageing well in a complex world requires an economic system that is subservient to the needs of the community." -- Dr Ganesh Nana

Following lunch and networking was a Policy and Advocacy session, led by Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie, former Ageing Well Director and current Departmental Science Advisor at MBIE, and Sarah Clark, CEO of the Social Workers Registration Board, and a long-standing member of our Strategic Advisory Group.

We were fortunate to hear from Jane Wrightson (NZ Retirement Commissioner), Carolyn Cooper (NZ Aged Care Commissioner), and Dr Kay Saville-Smith (Director of CRESA; Chief Science Advisor, Ministry of Housing and Development), who joined Louise and Sarah on a panel discussion during the session. We were also fortunate to hear from Professor Ian Town, Chief Science Advisor to the Ministry of Health, sharing his thoughts on the Ageing Well Policy Journey.

After the session, we were treated to a high-energy exercise break, led by the amazing team from Rauawaawa, dancing to Poi E.

The afternoon session featured presentations from six fantastic early career researchers who each had three minutes to share their research journeys with our attendees. In addition, Callie Corrigan presented some of her findings from her project on the Ageing Well Te Tiriti Journey.  We then finished the session with the launch of the new Ageing Well book: Ka Mua Ka Muri: A decade of Ageing Well in Aotearoa and beyond.

MC Hinerangi Edwards and Dr Robin Olds concluded the first day with a kōrero to recap the day’s key messages and preview Day Two.

Day 2

Day Two opened with the session ‘Māori and Pacific Leadership in Ageing Well Research’, led by Dr Ofa Dewes and Dr Joanna Hikaka, two of our key researchers from the Challenge.

We enjoyed diverse presentations from a variety of academic researchers, community researchers, and other stakeholders, including talks on ensuring equity in older people’s healthcare delivery, how to demonstrate impact post-research funding, and best practices in co-creation research with kaumātua. We were also fortunate to have Katrina Bryant, of the Ageing Well-funded Taurite Tū kaupapa Māori whānau wellness programme, lead us through a short session of the gentle strength-based exercises which form part of the programme.

The afternoon’s Health and Wellbeing session, led by Professor Ngaire Kerse, featured topics such as novel developments for stroke patients, effectively utilising the broad range of interRAI data, and a ‘deterioration early warning system’ for those in aged residential care.

The final panel discussed Resilience in Ageing and Future Directions, with Chief Executive of Age Concern, Karen Billings-Jensen kindly stepping in at the last moment due to illness, and the three directors of Ageing Well: Professor David Baxter, with Co-Directors Associate Professors Diane Ruwhiu and Tracy Perry.

Ageing Well Chair Dr Edwards wrapped up proceedings at our last public-facing event as a Challenge, encouraging everyone to further the kaupapa of Ageing Well in their mahi.


The team at Ageing Well wishes to thank all those who attended the symposium for their contribution to our kaupapa. The kōrero, the presentations, the energy in the room would have been completely different had you not been there. Ngā mihi!

The lead speakers arranged their sessions with engaging and enriching voices. Many thanks to Dr Ganesh Nana, Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie, Sarah Clark, Dr Ofa Dewes, Dr Joanna Hikaka, and Professor Ngaire Kerse for their significant contribution to our programme. Ngā mihi!

We wish to thank our conference organisers Auaha (Sandra Julian, Amy Van Eerden, and Kara Beattie) for their invaluable assistance in preparing for and running this event for Ageing Well. Additionally, we would like to acknowledge the mahi of Naomi Best and her team at Tākina Events for their vital contributions at the event space in Te Papa. He tino pai!