Academic journal article The New Zealand Journal of Music Therapy

Invited Essay: A Brief History of Music Therapy Governance and Administration in New Zealand (1974 to 2016)

Academic journal article The New Zealand Journal of Music Therapy

Invited Essay: A Brief History of Music Therapy Governance and Administration in New Zealand (1974 to 2016)

Article excerpt


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 1 7. 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).

Two historical threads interweave the beginnings of a national body for music therapy in New Zealand (Croxson, 2001). In 1974, Bill Keith, an Auckland audiologist, brought music therapy pioneers Paul Nordoff and Clive Robbins to New Zealand to work with children with hearing impairments and learning disabilities. Around the same time, New Zealand pianist Mary Lindgren met, and later studied with, British music therapy pioneer Juliet Alvin. Mary's energy and drive contributed to the establishment in 1975 of the New Zealand Society for Music Therapy (NZSMT). We honour her name and pioneering work through one of our MThNZ grants, the Lindgren Project Fund. Another key figure from this era, philanthropist Sir Roy McKenzie, became a significant supporter and benefactor from these early days until his death in 2007.

Over the next 2 5 years this organisation worked to raise the profile of music therapy in New Zealand: publishing newsletters, establishing the Annual Journal of the NZSMT, and lobbying politicians and policy makers in health, education, justice, welfare, and community services (Croxson, 2001). The society, through the significant time and energy of many individuals, brought international music therapy clinicians, researchers, and educators to New Zealand for training courses, conference presentations, workshops, and professional development courses (Croxson, 2001,2002, 2003, 2007; Krout, 2003).

In 1995, the New Zealand Association for Music Therapists (NZAMT) was established alongside the existing NZSMT, with the following aim:

[To] develop and maintain professional standards in music therapy in New Zealand, provide input into music therapy training programmes, ensure that a high standard of supervision was maintained, and to link with other relevant associations as appropriate. Activities included professional development days, the development of a Code of Ethics and work towards Standards of Clinical Practice for Music Therapists, job descriptions and register/s, pay scales, copyright documents, professional indemnity insurance, and the development of a music therapy training programme. (Rickson, 2014)

These developments provided a strong foundation for further developments in the new millennium, particularly the approval in 2000 of a masters programme in music therapy, and the appointment in 2002 of the first tertiary programme leader, Dr Robert Krout. A significant driver behind the establishment of this course was Dr Morva Croxson, Registered Music Therapist, President Emeritus of MThNZ and former Chancellor of Massey University. The Master of Music Therapy programme enrolled its first students in 2003 at the Wellington campus of Massey University, and was then absorbed into New Zealand School of Music (NZSM), a collaboration between Massey University and Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) (2005 to 201 5) and now part of VUW alone. …

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