About us

Engage seeks to educate New Zealanders on government relations to improve democracy for us all.

Why we exist

Following the conclusion of a highly anticipated meeting arranged for a client, the Founder of Engage - Holly Bennett - walked away with a happy client. The client turned to her and said: “We couldn’t have done it without you.” This was Holly’s penny drop moment: they should be able to, everyone should be able to.

And so Engage came to be.

As New Zealand’s leading government relations education organisation, Engage sets out to teach hundreds of New Zealanders every year how to engage with the government about the things that matter to them. Engage wants to grow the expertise in government relations and cultivate the next generation of open-minded leaders.

Importantly, Engage wants to shift deep-rooted, long held perceptions that lobbying is for the elite, the wealthy, the influential. The truth is that access to government and having your voice heard is a democractic right, and Engage wants to empower you to use it.

By empowering you, Engage can help New Zealand maintain a healthy democracy. 

Grounded in the view that the true power of knowledge lies, not in the act of concealing but in sharing, Engage holds steadfast the following whakatauki:

Ko te manu e kai ana i te miro, nōna te ngahere. Ko te manu e kai ana i te mātauranga, nōnā te ao.

The bird who feasts on the miro berry, theirs is the forest. The bird who feasts on knowledge, theirs is the world.

Who we are

sassico testimonial image

Holly Bennett

Founder and Approved Facilitator

sassico client logo

A fulltime lobbyist, Holly (Te Arawa, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Pikiao) lives in Tamaki Mākaurau. She is committed to sharing her government relations experience with other

Holly’s mission is to open the door to the government relations industry in Aotearoa so that everyone can have their voice heard by the country’s legislators.

Graduating with a law degree from the University of Auckland Holly’s legal career started with the Ministry of Justice, where she worked at the coal face in New Zealand’s busiest court, before moving to Wellington to work in policy. Holly was admitted to the bar in 2013 and holds a current practising certificate.

More recently Holly worked on the other side of the industry in which she now operates: as a Ministerial Advisor and In-House Legal Counsel in the Beehive.

An avid networker and proud millennial, Holly continues to look for ways to innovate government relations in Aotearoa, ensuring the expert industry is something everyone can access.

What participants say

Before the session, our company was lost. We weren't able to recognise when our government relations were going good or going bad, let alone understand the reasons behind the outcomes. Thanks to Holly and the LOBBYLITE course, we now have much more clarity around our mistakes and how we can turn our failures into successes moving forward. It personally opened my eyes to how simple government relations can be with the right advice and resources, and strongly recommend the course to anyone who wants to engage with the government in an effective way.

James Koo Former Chief Executive, Niesh

Holly is an outstanding government relations consultant. She has the understanding of how to navigate government that only comes from experience and tenacity. Her advice is practical, easy to understand and her bubbly personality makes it a joy to work with her

Vivek Kumar Chief Executive, Quicksense

A fast paced, valuable, engaging and pragmatic workshop. Great to have a clear strategy for 2019 locked and loaded. ‘Central Government on Steroids’. Highly recommended.

Erin Wansbrough Chief Executive, SODA Inc

I would highly recommend the LOBBYLITE course! Even with my considerable experience working in the government and local government space, I still found that I learnt heaps! In particular, the make up and organisational and operational structure of our government. Understanding this can be quite powerful in so far as knowing what the internal communications channels look like and knowing the roles and responsibilities of the support staff…. I enjoyed Holly's delivery style which is relaxed but frank, this keeps things interesting and high energy from start to finish, without it dragging on. Well done, keep up the great work team!

Lee Timutimu Chief Executive, Arataki Trails

The LOBBYLITE course contains critical information about how to influence government thinking and direction that affects you, your business, your lifestyle, or your vocation. Having your voice heard is essential and LOBBYLITE taught us who to reach out to, who to canvas, which party or parties to talk to, when to start doing this, and how...in theory and with a practical session where you literally start planning your first lobbying! LOBBYLITE is taught in a short 4-hour session and you are literally entertained and surprised every minute of it with the dynamite Holly Bennett. If you get the chance to attend a LOBBYLITE course...take it!

Andrew Johnson Founder, Respondly

The LOBBYLITE training was just what the team needed to break the barriers to how to connect and communicate to Government. The presentation, tools and information shared with our businesses was so empowering. We developed an engagement plan to set up how we were going to develop partnerships and understand the political arena. Holly’s professional and fun personality drew the team in more and more and they became very interested in how the government actually works. As the Co-director/Owners of Cultivate Tribe and Hokioi Builders we recommend the training to all groups. I can see how this can support businesses from many angles.

Natasha Willison-Reardon Director, Cultivate Tribe

ENGAGE Guild

Members of the Engage Guild recognise and commit to the ethos that a better understanding of how to engage with government about the things that really matter to us, will improve our democracy for all.

Their financial contribution allows Engage to support our vision for the expert industry be something everyone can access.

Engage uses these donations to provide both reduced cost and free of charge seminars, strengthen our offerings and improve the nation’s understanding of what it means to ‘lobby’. If your organisation would like to become a member of the Engage Guild get in touch.

TBC

TBC

TBC

TBC

TBC

TBC

Secrets, savings and special events - sign up for Engage-in-brief, our free monthly newsletter to get more of Engage delivered directly to your inbox.