Embracing Te Tiriti O Waitangi, Fostering Community.
Exciting seismic shifts are happening in New Zealand’s cultural political landscape. The regular use of Te Reo, recognition of Te Ao Māori, and a growing understanding of Te Tiriti o Waitangi demonstrate a movement with the potential to radically re-orientate Aotearoa New Zealand to be a better place for all.
Community-led development (CLD) is one strand that can support this movement achieve effective and lasting change. By fostering connections between diverse groups, we can help shape the aspirations of local communities, grow local leadership and support new relationships that are inclusive and restorative.
CLD views communities as adaptive, complex systems. Communities are living social groupings that are critical in shaping the wellbeing of people and the environment. CLD recognises and affirms the talents and resources that people already have and has a default setting that backs people to contribute to their own wellbeing and development.
Inspiring Communities (IC) is a network of CLD practitioners with a deliberate focus on ‘place’, understanding that transformative change becomes more possible when contributions of all those who have an interest or connection to a place are activated.
This naturally brings into the conversation mana whenua, the people who are of that place, along with the history of what has happened between the many groups connected to place.
We must foster the respect and understanding of all groups, including, where feasible, opposing groups. This isn’t easy. But by hosting conversations between people with diverse backgrounds and views we help foster healthy and resilient communities and facilitate a deeper appreciation of our diversity – as well as what we hold in common.
Globally there is growing interest in locally led change. The challenges of inequity, climate change, racism and environmental restoration are renewing interest in the key role local citizens hold. This is reinvigorating the old concept of the Commons – those resources or parts of nature that one cannot own. These trends reflect emerging fields in science that flow across many disciplines and emphasise a more inter-connected, relational and natural world view. This ‘new’ thinking within ‘western’ science circles has similarities with indigenous knowledge systems that have been passed between generations and survived the challenges of colonialism.
This ‘freeing’ up of knowledge from narrowly defined Eurocentric world views enables indigenous knowledge like Mātauranga Māori to claim its rightful place in helping shape more just and sustainable ways of living.
Whananaki on the east coast of Northland is an example of this approach in action. Locals have set aside many years of the ‘us and them’ mindset to bring the best of both worlds together for the betterment of their place. The community is noticing that shift and say their place is much richer for it.
A number of initiatives have flourished; from development of the marae, to planning a local community hub, a youth-led social enterprise project working to produce natural and Māori medicinal plant-based balm and bath bomb products, to the development of a large-scale native nursery. An indigenous lens has been applied to pest and weed eradication. Previously, contractors from outside the district did the work. Now, the contractors key role is to teach locals the skills so that the community develops self-reliance practices. While it will take longer, the expertise will remain in place with the community.
Whananaki local Pam Armstrong says the adoption of community-led development approaches sitting alongside Mātauranga Māori has firmly shaped their vision for a culturally connected caring community. You can read her full account here.
This bringing together of different world views is not a new concept for Aotearoa. In 1840, Te Tiriti o Waitangi brought together two markedly different world views into one document – albeit with numerous versions. Mātauranga Māori met rational European science and law.
The shared intent of both parties entering into the agreement was a desire for an agreed framework to guide the on-going boundaries and relationship between all parties. Unfortunately, a great opportunity was squandered by the colonial mentality of European controlled governments.
By 1840, Māori had already demonstrated their adaptive capacity to integrate European technology into their tikanga. Imagine what could have formed if Pākehā demonstrated the same openness to integrating Te Ao Māori at this historical juncture?
To arrive at an agreement, Māori debated and interpreted Te Tiriti’s value and meaning from their indigenous body of knowledge and the significant evidence they had accumulated on the relatively new arrivals. In contrast the overarching British approach was informed by over three hundred years of conquering and colonising and the legal and political frameworks that had been established to maintain their global empire.
The resulting power imbalance and the brutal suppression of rangatiratanga (chieftainship) meant the opportunity to jointly shape the interpretation and application of Te Tiriti was radically diminished.
From a Mātauranga Māori perspective a ‘deal’ between different groups requires ongoing work from everyone that is party to it for it to maintain value and aliveness. Clearly for the majority of New Zealand’s Pākehā history this didn’t happen. The current Te Tiriti movement is addressing this fact, as one party to the agreement plays catch up. Community-led development and its related tools provide helpful resources to address this neglect and support bringing life to the vision it established.
And what of the role for government and its institutions? A current trap is their failure to appreciate how their way of working reflects dominant Eurocentric assumptions. Communities as living systems are not well served by either market-driven or state-driven responses. Non-financial transactions are invisible and not considered in policy solutions.
Policy analysis has become a craft that minimises the deep wisdom and insights of people experiencing the issue and their capacity as actors in driving solutions. Open participatory conversations in communities are different to government hosted consultations.
If government maintains the same operating system, then it risks the outcomes being simply a new Treaty veneer – lacking the necessary deep systemic change required to do justice to our foundation agreement. Too many command and control or paternalistic approaches erode the connectedness between citizens and the Crown.
Te Tiriti is not a problem to be fixed or conversely the answer to all our problems but must be valued as a resource to guide on-going innovation and renewal.
Crown leadership, exercised correctly, is essential to honouring Te Tiriti. CLD necessarily extends the range of leadership styles. It values community leaders as hosts and brokers of relationships. This contrasts with our common expectation for leaders to have all the answers. CLD places an emphasis on open processes, sharing of information and hosting conversations. On-going learning and adaptive approaches are encouraged as opposed to rigidly sticking to set plans and timeframes.
While not a speedy process, it has potential to deliver more lasting solutions (which ends up being the quickest route to the desired destination). Inspiring Communities practitioners know well the wisdom of moving slowly to go far!
Rather than placing the sole responsibility on a narrowly defined Government to fix the problem, local communities’ step into their leadership and become part of on-going solution seeking and sense-making processes. What evolves may look different in each place with unique local context and history shaping different priorities.
CLD can embellish the current Te Tiriti o Waitangi movement. It can help reenergise citizens and is able to hold the diversity and contradictions that exist in our complex world. This shifts Te Tiriti from being seen by most Pākehā as a ‘Māori’ issue, to it being a special and unique resource for all citizens to pave new approaches. In doing so, we can strengthen the vitality of local communities, strengthen democracy, foster connections between diverse groups, develop leadership and affirm the strengths and taonga already within our places.
Me Mahi Tahi Tātou – Working Together
This workbook was written after two Auckland CLD initiatives partnered with Inspiring Communities to trial a Leaderful Communities Workshop process. Called Me Mahi Tahi Tātou – Working Together, it explored community leadership as well as how to build collaborative leadership skills and capacity.
A number of insights were identified over the four sessions which have formed the workbook Me Mahi Tahi Tātou:
- It is important to be invited to a workshop by someone who is known and trusted
- Diverse backgrounds and experiences brought diverse expectations
- Common aspirations include learning new skills, gaining a better understanding about leadership and meeting others from their communities in similar situations.
- Using lots of local examples helps make it real for people
Inspiring Communities Publication, Learning by Doing has a chapter dedicated to Leading in and leaderful communiites
Mapping Community Strengths and Assets
Taking a strengths-based approach is one of the core principles of community-led development. This resource describes how to take a strength- or asset-based approach and is a useful tool to help explore and capture the gifts, talents and strengths in your community.
Tensions, Learning and Adaptation
Leaders can help create and model a non-defensive climate of learning, reflection and inquiry where people can give and receive feedback and find a way forward. Effective leaders take time to reflect on their own thoughts, assumptions, feelings and behaviours. This allows them to understand the part they can play, and what is beyond their control or is not a priority to try to change right now.
The Leadership as Learning Framework describes four interwoven dimensions of change: personal, relational, structural and cultural. These are also identified in our Quadrants of Change framework as important areas to pay attention to if we want to impact and sustain transformation in communities.
Leadership is a bit like riding a surfboard on an always moving sea. Sometimes the tides ebb and flow gently and simple habits like being open to feedback help us re-balance. We can go from vulnerable “I don’t know” moments back to our strong selves with relative ease. Other times, bigger waves dump us into stormier waters. Rip-currents might even push us towards the edge of chaos. We come up against the darker sides, the challenges, the not so helpful behaviours, attitudes, and ways of thinking and acting. To escape from drowning in rip-currents we have to swim in not so obvious directions, finding our inner strengths and other resources around us, to come up with responses that we may never have thought of before. While it’s not a comfortable place to be in, the collision of these lighter and darker sides actually provides a creative space for innovation, learning and dynamic change.
The centre column of the Leadership as Learning framework reminds us of some of the resources we can draw on to lead us through the normal tides, waves and rip-currents of community leadership. The inner two columns on either side of the centre show some of the constructive leadership behaviours, attitudes and actions we can apply in the normal movements of the regular tides. These might look like polar opposites, but each has their time, place and use.
The outer two columns identify more destructive responses that can happen if we take positive leadership responses to any extreme. For example, the dark side of being strong can be a big, controlling ego; the dark side of vulnerable can be paralysing self-doubt. The framework encourages us to not get stuck in any one place but to see this as a sea that needs to keep moving to stay alive, learning, growing and innovating. As leaders, that means being aware and constantly adapting to what’s needed for each new wave or situation.
Let’s take a brief look at each of these four layers, helping you explore this framework with some reflective questions about what you can do to grow:
- your own leadership
- the leadership of others around you
- the leadership of organisations you work in
- the leadership of communities you live and work in
Each section includes a fictional story to illustrate the ideas offered. You can also read some of our Inspiring stories that highlight the many amazing things that communities are already doing.
Here we try to unpack some of the back story of the leadership challenges and responses that often sit behind such fantastic results. We hope these stories and ideas will support you to work with the complexities and messiness of CLD work and encourage you to hang in there to make things happen.
How to bring the community together to plan
Learn how to plan a successful Community Hui – use our event planning guide to attract your people, develop your event’s purpose and integrate the right processes for success.
How to organise and facilitate a successful community visioning hui.
Working with Tāngata Whenua
Relationship-building between tāngata whenua (people of the land) and tāngata tiriti (all others who have come here) organisations, groups and communities is a core component of Community-Led Development in Aotearoa. The following resource provides three different tools to support communities in developing relationships with tāngata whenua.
Inspiring Communities is committed to a Treaty-honouring Aotearoa in which people actively participate in shaping their communities. Here’s some information on Our Engagement with Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Leadership as Learning Framework
Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi. Engari, he toa takatini
Success comes from the strength of the collective, not of the lone individual
What if we saw a leader’s role as creating the conditions for everyone to play a part, rather than expecting leaders to know or carry everything? This resource is designed to help you:
- Question your assumptions about leadership
- Identify some common foundations to help encourage the diversity of people, pathways, projects and processes supporting effective CLD
- Work with constant change and adaptation
- Consider what you can do to grow
- your own leadership
- the leadership of others around you
- the leadership of organisations you work in
- the leadership of communities you live and work in
A stakeholder is any person or organisation that has an interest or influence in what you want to achieve. Once you have identified your purpose or outcome, it’s useful to think about who might be useful to engage with to support to support your community-led change efforts.
So let’s get started
There are many different ways that stakeholder mapping can be approached. They generally involve a mix of:
Levels of stakeholder participation and collaboration
Stakeholders can collaborate with you at varying levels. Some will want to be more involved than others.
A final check
- Are these stakeholders reflected in your stakeholder scan? How?
- Who else might have a stake in the outcomes but not have influence, money or an initial desire to be involved?
- What else can you do to engage with and involve them?
Being an Effective Supporter of CLD
Engaging in and with communities requires mindfulness and good preparation around the why, who and especially the how. Those who engage as ‘experts’ are more likely to be met with suspicion and mistrust. Someone who engages from a place of learning, inquiry, curiosity, facilitation, humility, and relationship is more likely to be welcomed. You might have some expertise, but locals are “context experts” who know stuff about this place that you don’t.
The resource below contains some useful reminders about what matters when we show up in communities as an outsider wanting to help, or having been asked to help. Even if we are an insider, these rules will still usually apply.