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Waitangi Associates 

Michael James Consedine (1940 - 2008)

More than 500 people recently packed the Sacred Heart Hall in Addington for the funeral of Michael James Consedine, who died after a long battle with illness, aged 67.

Mike, the eldest of five siblings from a strong Catholic family with Irish roots, grew up in Addington and attended the local Catholic school before going to St Bedeís College. An accomplished all round sportsman in his youth, Mike worked first as an electrical apprentice before joining the Bank of New Zealand, working in both Christchurch and Greymouth. He then spent five years in the Riccarton and Mosgiel seminaries training for priesthood and attended both Canterbury and Otago Universities. He joined the Probation Department and continued his studies. Upon graduation, he realised his real interests lay in psychology and human development and a great desire to care for people in need. They were interests which would lead to his lifelong passion to understand human nature and relational community and lead him into fields of psychotherapy, social justice and spirituality.

Mike left the Probation Department to train as a psychiatric nurse at Cherry Farm and lived at nearby Waitati. He had finally found his calling. Nursing for Mike would never be just a job. It was his vocation and it gave a practical outreach to his interests. In later life, despite having become an internationally acclaimed psychotherapist and supervision trainer on both sides of the Tasman, he always proudly referred to himself as a psychiatric nurse.

After some years, Mike and his family settled in Addington near his new workplace, Sunnyside Hospital. It was as supervisor of in-service education at Sunnyside Hospital for the next 12 years that Mike developed his innovative side. He became a leader in the therapy of psychodrama and remained a passionate advocate of it for the remainder of his life. He held office in the Australia and New Zealand Psychodrama Association, being president for a term. It was at Sunnyside that he developed his skills and interest in supervision, which was just emerging as a process of importance not only for nurses, but for other professions.

Mike was a genuine pioneer of supervision processes for mental health nurses. Over the following 15 years, he wrote many papers and was invited to deliver workshops on supervision training throughout New Zealand and Australia. He conducted extensive training programmes in Sydney, Canberra, Newcastle and Townsville, places he returned to frequently. In addition, during tours to the UK in 1998 and 2003, he delivered training workshops in Newcastle-on-Tyne, Bradford, Newport (Wales), Dundee and Belfast. His pioneering work and success in supervision training among mental health nurses led to its acceptance in other sectors of nursing, particularly in palliative care and care of the elderly. The profound influence of Mike on his supervision trainees was recognised at the two-hour vigil on the eve of his funeral when a playback theatre group in psychodrama style acted out some of the more interesting stories from his life as a supervision trainer.

Mike was a poet - and a good one. While poetry was a flower which didnít bloom for him until late in life, when it did it came with a flourish. His year on dialysis following kidney failure, followed by a trip to Ireland after his transplant, triggered a Celtic passion for poetry which somewhat surprised him. He wrote several hundred poems and published four slim volumes of his work. His son Seth read one of Mikeís poems at his funeral. Called The Leaf , it begins:

Suddenly the leaf was there,
arriving with a small sharp soft sound;
multi-coloured in its autumn death coat
now just sitting there wrapped up tight
against the approaching winter,
yet still open enough for a brief conversation.

Mike had an abiding interest in spirituality and explored many dimensions of it. He meditated for many years and had a great love for creation-centred spirituality. This was often manifested in his poetry. He challenged conventional institutional thinking on many religious issues yet eventually found solace in the best of his early traditions.

It would be a mistake to define Mike purely in terms of his work. He was a family man, a loving husband and father and took great pride in the accomplishments of his three children and their partners. The birth of his only grandchild Nikolai last June brought him special delight. He leaves a rich legacy.

Michael James Consedine, born 25 December 1940, died 25 January 2008, survived by his wife, Julie Mernick, his sons Nathan and Seth, daughter Anna, daughter-in-law Yulia and grandson Nikolai.

Robert Consedine

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Waitangi Associates 

Waitangi Associates