Sharing responses and reflections for around the country to the three directions:

  1. Connecting the spiritual impulse to the 21st Century
  2. Outreach – develop connections with a wider spectrum of society
  3. Supporting initiative

It has been wonderful to hear and read members’ responses to the three directions the council put forward early this year. To be clear it was never our intention to bind ourselves into the wording but rather provide an impulse, the wording of which could evolve and transform in the work. Turn ‘Connecting the Spiritual Impulse to the 21st century’ around and you have ‘Connecting the 21st century to the Spiritual Impulse’ or change it to ‘21st century living from the wellspring of anthroposophy’. Each is an expression of the individual and how we think. Is formulating such a theme an abstract exercise, after all is this not what anthroposophy is about? My first response is ‘of course it is’ but the question arises, are we engaged with the present and what do we see manifesting through the work within the Society?

Considering responses from different centres, aspects of the conversations reflected local life while others expressed the life of the Society. Three questions threaded through the conversations in Auckland: Why are we dwindling? Where are the people? What is the significance of the Society today?

In New Zealand our numbers have remained fairly stable and of late there has been a slight increase, perhaps more important is to think: where is the activity? While there is much activity in the movement, the ‘traditional’ locations such as Steiner centres are not necessarily buzzing with life. In Wellington we see the premises fully active each day through the work of the Aurora medical group. People put their energy into their work and thus the workplace has become the hive of activity with few people finding the time or energy to meet in the evenings. New forms are evolving in the greater society and in Auckland the need for the Society to evolve new forms was recognised.

As new initiatives emerge our warm interest helps to connect and engage. Good listening skills provide tools to respond in ways that are relevant and in tune with the time. We have the possibility to walk beside people without having to direct or lecture them.

In Wellington, conversation focused on similar themes. Positive reflections were an appreciation for the processes the Council is taking in communicating and listening, particularly the website and the use of plain English.

Feedback  included a wish list with some big ideas such as a short-term or long-term residential facility in NZ for on-going community activities, and an ‘anthroposophical angle’ in a weekly column on contemporary NZ issues. We would love to have more details wrapped around these initial ideas: What would the activities be? Who could pen the column?

In Christchurch people reflected on the after effects of the earthquakes. The experience was, and remains as, a strong sense of isolation expressed in the words “We are alone” a sentiment experienced more widely than Christchurch. There is a perceived need for more meeting points in the South Island and the realisation that funds could be used to support proposals that would sustain greater interaction and shared activities. One could be in the nature of reaching out to younger people. The following was raised: Young students are questioning the way of the economic system, can we give credible insight/ideas/add to discussion to meet their questions?

In summary, Auckland came up with one defining word, RELEVANCE. Where is our relevance (as a society)? What is the relevance? How can we be relevant? Wellington brought COMMUNITY BUILDING. There is a need for the Society to be attractive to Steiner School teachers and parents, bio-dynamics, and doctors and nurses. Christchurch raised CREATIVE CONNECTING and being in relationship. Together these give us a temperature gauge of how our various members from around the country are feeling towards the Society and the work we do.


Looking beyond the Society to the movement it has been a pleasure to follow the path of Henry Harmer, from Hawke’s Bay, through his first year of eurythmy training. It is so important that we have young people taking up such professions as eurythmy. In New Zealand the number of pedagogical eurythmists is dwindling. To work in education, a eurythmist needs to be a professional teacher just as they need the right skills and training to work therapeutically. While there are a number of outstanding eurythmy teachers, in the past many have fallen by the wayside. An increasing number of eurythmy training opportunities overseas offer a degree, which when recognised in New Zealand, provides the possibility for a eurythmist to do the one-year teaching degree. This is a lot of study and for all who take it up, the challenge remains to keep the creative and artistic alive and integrated in the actual teaching practice.

This situation is representative of the present time. In a number of professions people are challenged to maintain a healthy relationship between structure and creativity while not getting lost in the one-sidedness of either. As long as there is movement between form and chaos, the creative forces can live and bring transformation. Considering this, the year’s theme World Transformation and Self Knowledge in the Face of Evil is always near.

Alfred Schütze in describing the polarity or two faces of evil 1, speaks of the necessity of evil and describes how when opposite forces come into relationship they tend to balance one another out. In the counter play of the two a third will always be found.  He describes how between ambition and indolence we find perseverance, between effusiveness and coldness, compassion. His point is to move from thinking that results in judgements such as right or wrong, good or bad, to finding the third element. Without meeting evil we cannot be free. Working with polarities we experience opposing forces at work. What we can also observe is that when these forces come into relationship they begin to balance one another out. For example, courage is needed in the struggle between cowardice and recklessness. In learning to recognise what it is I am confronting and in coming to understand my response, I can overcome what is limiting me. Finding the courage to face the bad as well as the good means we engage with the polarities. In making choices and taking responsibility for them, we move towards freedom. 

In these winter months I’ll be on the road travelling to different parts of the country, meeting people and I look forward to hearing those stories and capturing those sparks of inspiration as I travel!


There are inspirational people all around us. They are not always on the world stage but their actions may well attract attention. Observing what is happening in the workplace, we know that much good work is being done. You only need to walk through the entrance of an organisation to get a sense of how well it is working and how strong the human interaction is. The strength of our human relations both within and beyond the Society is the fuel for the light. As a stranger, walking through foreign cities in the dark of winter, the warm glow of light in a window can invoke a sense of longing. Light does not need to blaze, a small flame can awaken a memory of what our true intentions are. I am reminded of words in a verse from Steiner2:

O joy, when the human flame blazes

Even where it rests

O bitterness when the human thing is bound

Where it would be active.

All around the country people are working together and creating sparks of inspiration. We would love to hear something from each region. The ‘living living-room’ showed how easy it can be to create a living space. Visiting Christchurch for a number of years I have observed how their Wednesday evening group has grown. Certainly they passed through a major crisis that I would wish on no one. The majestic city centre as it once stood, has vanished and there remains much work to be done, yet a group of people find the interest and energy to come together on a weekly basis to share and wrestle with their thoughts and questions. The simple recipe is interest and the will to work together.

Sue Simpson, General Secretary


1 ‘The Enigma of Evil’ Alfred Schütze

2 I would enkindle every human being

Out of the spirit of the cosmos

That he become a flame

And fierily unfold the essence of his being.

The others they would take

From out of the waters of the cosmos

What extinguishes the flames and lames all being from within

O joy, when the human flame blazes

Even where it rests

O bitterness when the human thing is bound

Where it would be active.

From a notebook of Rudolf Steiner’s