Staying on the Edge – Reflections from Darwin
Our CLD Coordination and Practice Lead, Megan Courtney, shares her experiences at the World Community Development Conference in Darwin, June 2023. Reflecting on indigineous leadership, the progress and growing commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and decolonisation here in Aotearoa and the importance of forming trust and enduring relationships. She also delves into the differing perspectives around community development practice standards and professional qualifications, and what role of CLD has in the community.
I was humbled and reminded about what matters on day one, by one of our own keynote speakers Ani Pahuru-Huriwai from Wharekahika in Te Tai Rāwhiti. Persistence, connection to whenua and identity, trust and relationships, thinking intergenerationally, family, heart and hard work, activism and aroha. Take 25 minutes when you can to learn from Ani’s story.
The message that Ani and many other indigenous leaders shared over the following days focused on the work we all need to do in community development to better enable indigenous voice and leadership:
- Do your homework before you come talk to us – understand Te Tiriti and decolonise
- Form enduring relationships, not fleeting ones
- Act, just don’t extract
- Be useful – know what can you bring to the table
- Act with compassion and aroha – give of yourself to help Māori achieve… add to our heart, don’t give Māori a heart attack!!!
- Help us be the ones who lead and decide who, what, why, and how
- Look after indigenous intellectual property, take care of how you share it
- Listen to your community
When it came to conference conversations around culture and community, I was struck by how far Aotearoa has come in the last decade when it comes to valuing indigenous leadership and world views. While we’ve still got a long way to go, I do get a sense things have moved from the edge, to being much more mainstream.
If we see local people as ‘agents of change’, then setting an expectation that they need a formal qualification to do this work runs counter to validating their key role as experts of their place.
Which reminded me too, it’s time Inspiring Communities took another look at the CLD capability framework we developed back in 2018. While we purposefully separated out the different roles that local residents, paid community activators and connections, and enabling organisations play in community-led change, I think it’s probably time for a next iteration!
Written by Inspiring Communities CLD Coordination and Practice Lead, Megan Courtney