A brief history of music therapy governance and administration in New Zealand (1974 to 2016)

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Heather Fletcher
BA (Hons), Grad Dip Music Therapy, PGCertHSc (Child & Adolescent Mental Health), NZ RMTh
President, Music Therapy New Zealand

Keywords: Music therapy, Music Therapy New Zealand, governance.


This paper celebrates the work of the New Zealand Society of Music Therapy (NZSMT), operating for the past 10 years as Music Therapy New Zealand (MThNZ). It is timely to record the society’s progress, so that this collective knowledge can be carried forward as new and younger members pick up the mantle.

The paper will, therefore, give a brief history of the early years of the society, reflect on its development, acknowledge turning points, celebrate achievements, and look to the future as the society continues to honour its mission: making connections that realise the potential in people.

I have been invited to write this essay in my capacity as President of MThNZ, and have consulted with Presidents Emeriti, Morva Croxson and Daphne Rickson, both pioneers of music therapy in New Zealand. When I arrived in New Zealand in 2005, I joined NZSMT and became Registered Music Therapist (RMTh) number 17.

Things have changed a bit since then – for example, New Zealand now has over 70 Registered Music Therapists, and the organisation has been rebranded as Music Therapy New Zealand (MThNZ). I have served on MThNZ committees since 2006, including the MThNZ Council (Chair, 2011-2014), the New Zealand Registration Board, and the now disbanded Education Training and Professional Practice Forum (ETPP) (Convenor, 2008-10).

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