Widening or Deepening, a constant challenge

Reflections on the Christchurch Conference

A strong group from Motueka, made our way South to Christchurch for the Anthroposophical Conference in early October, some by car, some by plane, and some in a cantankerous old van but all were richly rewarded.  Highlights for many included some exquisite artistic performances, especially the highly polished and evocative presentation. This opened the Conference and connected its impulse to the place and history of the land and people of Te Waipounamu, the South Island. This experience was deeply moving and much appreciated by those who were present. Many thanks are due to those whose imagination, artistry and hard work brought it together alongside a whole evening of musical performance, eurythmy and speech later in the Conference, another rare and most enjoyable gift.

A most sombre note came on the first full day of the Conference when the announcement was made of the accidental death of Robyn Hewetson’s son, Gwillym, in a base-jumping incident in Switzerland. The thoughts and caring good wishes of the Conference flowed and continue to flow to Robyn who was attending the Conference, and to her family.

The keynote lectures on the esoteric history behind spiritual streams active in our Movement today and in the past by the anthroposophical author, Luigi Morelli from America, while appreciated  by  many,  proved challenging for some, due both to the huge scope they encompassed and the level of background  knowledge they perhaps at times  presumed in the listeners.  This question of “accessibility” perhaps reflects the constant tension between ‘widening’ and ‘deepening’ in the public presentation of anthroposophical knowledge. Hopefully, Luigi’s talks and the availability of his books at the bookstore sowed seeds for further inquiry and research amongst some who may have   found it difficult to engage fully with the material presented.

The organisers adopted an ingenious method for ensuring that conference goers had ample opportunity to reflect on conference themes and questions, working together in facilitated small groups which met, with changing composition, over three occasions. This brought a definite liveliness and substance to the experience of conference. Along with the generous breaks this feature ensured everyone had many opportunities to meet, share and converse.

A rich and exciting range of workshops was on offer ranging from eurythmy, singing, explorations of civil society questions and threefold questions, amongst others, and much inspiration and enjoyment was reported from participants.  Much appreciation goes to all  the  presenters who put so much time and effort into making these experiences possible.

A notable first during the Open Space afternoon was a presentation by Marinus La Rooji, a Class Holder from Christchurch, on the nature and work of the School of Spiritual Science and its First Class which aroused lively interest and answered questions in an informative way for those enquirers who found their way to it.

In the plenary concluding session, staged as a “Fish-bowl” with speakers moving in and out from the “audience” in an evolving stream as the spirit moved them, there was a reflection on whether the Conference theme “Falling apart – holding the Centre. How do we create Our Future?” had been addressed through the Conference. There was a sense that while the theme may not have been examined “head-on” many attending had experienced, in different ways, the central dynamic expressed in the theme and were looking forward to Facing their Futures with renewed strength and inspirations when they returned home.

Christchurch has a reputation for mounting innovative and rich anthroposophical conferences, which was confirmed again this year. So, it is delightful to think that members there have undertaken to host the 2019 conference as well – don’t miss it!

Alistair Munro, Motueka


A first impression from one Steiner Teacher… ASOP conference CHCH 2018

Kia ora to Simone Hamlet for a breathtaking conference opening linking the beauty of both Steiner soul and Te Ao Maori. This made the conference dynamic and relatable to me in 21st century Aotearoa.

I found the layout of rooms and workshops easy to negotiate and the Anthroposophists relatable and friendly human beings!

I appreciated that in this conference there was space to talk, skilfully facilitated too. We had time to process and suggest our own ideas for further discussion. This helped the feeling of inclusiveness, as I know I was not the only one trying to work out how to incorporate Anthroposophy into my own life and work.

The keynote Luigi Morelli was grounded in real environmental and social change concerns as well as facilitation and Non-Violent Communication practise. So, I sat up to listen to this man’s daily lectures and deep reflections, sharing his study of Aristotle and Plato and the ‘Convergence of the Michaelic Streams in Our Time’. Fascinating history and perspective and some spiritual gems as well as new deep thinking for me to take away and integrate over time. 

Some commented later that they needed visuals on a screen to keep focused (especially I think because the sound system was not ideal until the last day). I was happy however with the visuals we were given to hand, though I was on the edge of my seat (to hear, and because I love the learning)!

My workshop was Singing. Vanya was fabulous as an upbeat fast but not too fast flowing teacher with a beautiful choice of spiritual, fun and cultural waiata. We quickly became a close group and sang for our supper!

My choice of discussion group was ‘How Anthroposophy can be of value for abused and neglected children’. What a useful discussion that was too for each of us I believe, with new contacts made.

My two discussion groups were important as a way of integrating what we were digesting! Feminism was discussed well in one group as we felt we needed the female perspective in the history presented in Anthroposophy.

The morning and afternoon tea kai I participated in was varied and healthy and yummy. Thank you team cooks!

Another thank you to Simone for allowing me to go into another beautiful, deep, and sometimes for me dreamy childlike space each morning with her eurhythmy presentations.

I enjoyed the humour from well-known participants who shared in the bigger group over the three days, including Herbert Wolpert’s amusing and effective feedback circle style at the end.

A huge thank you to the CHCH team who did a superb, well thought out job on all fronts!

Shirley Sweet