Reflecting on the RANZCP New Zealand Conference 2022

Last month, the College welcomed psychiatrists from across Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia to Tāhuna (Queenstown) for our annual New Zealand Conference. Coinciding with Mental Health Awareness Week 2022, a total of 477 delegates joined the sold-out hui taumata (conference) in-person and online over three days, from 26–28 September.

A high calibre series of international and local speakers captured the attention of attendees, presenting on diverse and fascinating topics. Three distinguished international keynote speakers, Professor Roger McIntyre, Professor John O'Brien and Professor Sophia Vinogradov, joined the hui taumata virtually.

Notable highlights include Professor Sophia Vinogradov’s discussion of cognitive training methods and neuroplasticity in the context of schizophrenia, and Associate Professor Caroline Bell and Dr Ruqayya Sulaiman-Hill’s presentation of early findings from their project examining the psychological sequelae of the 15 March 2019 terror attacks on the Muslim community in Christchurch. Dr Ben Beaglehole discussed the psychological effects of disaster, including the impacts of the Canterbury earthquakes on population mental health.

Associate Professor Suresh Muthukumaraswamy delivered a sceptical look at the use of psychedelic drugs in medicine, dissecting the methodologies applied in the existing literature. His presentation highlighted the importance and implications of critically appraising the academic materials we encounter, particularly those surrounded by mainstream media interest, or ‘hype’.   

Congratulations were extended to Dr Allister Bush and Mr Wiremu NiaNia, recipients of the Mark Sheldon prize for noteworthy contributions to Indigenous mental health in Australia or Aotearoa New Zealand, awarded for their mahi (work/efforts) in Māori mental health.

A high level of academic excellence was on show, with 22 posters, 65 abstracts, and four concurrent streams of presentations. The awards presented to acknowledge the next generation of talented researchers in the field of psychiatry included:

  • The Dawn Short Prize for Distinction – Best Presentation by a medical practitioner currently registered with, or a recent graduate of, an Aotearoa New Zealand-based RANZCP training programme, awarded to Dr William Taft for his poster on psychosis in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth in Northern Territory, Australia
  • The New Zealand Medical Schools Program Prize - Best Oral Presentation awarded to Miss Kun-Ka Leger-Yoshihara for her presentation on therapeutic psychiatric ward design.
  • The New Zealand Medical Schools Program Prize - Best Poster Presentation awarded to Mr Roan Upson for his poster on New Zealand medical student perspectives on psychiatry before and after attending a RANZCP conference.

Alongside the engaging and thoughtful discussions within symposiums, networking events provided the opportunity to develop and strengthen professional connections. The conference dinner saw 159 guests embark on a scenic voyage across Lake Wakatipu on the TSS Earnslaw, followed by a fantastic gourmet BBQ meal at the Walter Peak Station.

We extend our gratitude to all those who attended and event supporters, AIMedical International Pty Ltd, Hospital Staff Solutions, and Evolution Healthcare. We look forward to another successful event next year in Rotorua, 11-13 September 2023.


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