Joel Agnew

Joel Agnew

Born and raised in Canterbury, Joel Agnew wasn’t after convenience when selecting the right university for his postgraduate studies.

Specialist Clinician at Stop

Joel Agnew

“I was looking for the best,” says Joel, 25, who graduated with his Master of Counselling with First Class Honours from the University of Waikato’s Te Kohinga Mārama Marae on Monday.

From the mid-1990s until recently, “Waikato stood out as the first and initially the only university in the world to run a programme entirely within a narrative practice paradigm.

“When applying for the programme, I worked as a community youth worker with rangatahi and tamariki, and a residential youth worker in specialist group homes and secure units across Canterbury.

“I was looking for something that both professionalised and developed my skills and fit with my values”.

For the past 27 years, Waikato Counsellor Education staff have been active in teaching narrative approaches to therapy, publishing Narrative Therapy in Practice in 1997, and Moemoeā: Māori counselling journeys in 2017. 

Today Waikato is considered a leader in this field with several local and international publications produced yearly.

“This degree adds weight to my personal and professional voice. It has been a space where I am surrounded by care, expertise, and passion for effective counselling practice and academic rigour.

“My classmates and academic supervisors both invited me to engage in a deconstruction and reconstruction process for a new way of being in the world as a person and as a counsellor”.

He particularly enjoyed Discourse and Counselling Psychologies - a partially online paper that includes an on-campus workshop with an overnight noho marae at the University's Te Kohinga Mārama Marae, and a five-day noho marae at Maniaroa Marae at Mokau.

“Woven together on this course are narratively informed ideas that include and centre Tikanga Māori. Cultural safety is of vital importance when considering the effects of colonisation and the location of our practice as narrative practitioners within an Aotearoa context”

Joel and his 19 classmates participated in a day trip to Parihaka, in Taranaki to learn about Māori passive resistance to land confiscation and the ongoing effects of colonisation for Tangata Whenua.

Joel now works as a Specialist Clinician at STOP - a community-based assessment and intervention service for people who have engaged in harmful sexual behaviour in the South Island.

Yet, his sights are still set on further study.

“I’d love to have a crack at PhD study. I’m convinced narrative practice is on the cutting edge of counselling in New Zealand and globally.”

Although born in Timaru, at age 2, Joel moved to Rolleston where he attended Rolleston Primary School and Middleton Grange School in Riccarton, Christchurch. He’s been heavily involved in community events, youth groups, camps, school activities and sports clubs for as long as he can remember.

Joel Agnew