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New Plymouth Workshop OGP Ideas 30 March 2021

Active Citizenship

 It’s really hard to know how on earth you can influence government.

People want to be involved in the decision making. They vote then they forget about it for three years because its so out of their control.

Many people have a complete lack of faith and feel like they don’t know what they could do to influence things. Need to build some faith.

There is belief out there that trying to have your voice heard is a waste of time.

Need to acknowledge there is a political party and others that advocates for people not to vote.

Joe Public is thinking do the politicians actually listen? Not just central but local.

Can we provide examples around how a submission could make or has made a positive change.

Need work on how government loops back to the public.

Regional Councillor has a Facebook page where she posts everything relevant going on for her community.  Good way to relay information. Many people don’t understand they are public documents.

There needs to be more open environments where people can feel free to come forward. Central government needs new ideas to start creative discussions. Encourage more situations where the wider community can show up.

Difference between elected officials and staff. I end up going to both to get answers. That’s a speed bump for many, not everyone has that relationship.

There’s a big hierarchy at the council. CEO makes decisions for staff to follow and councillors don’t often vote against it.

There is a disconnect between voting and what actually changes. We need a dashboard showing I voted – this is the result 2 years later. Average person doesn’t know and can’t see a connection. Take the Public Service Act 2020, who did I vote for that made that happen.

Concept – close the gap between generations. Youth Voice Taranaki will have widespread representation.

Youth can go into retirement villages, brainstorm creative ideas and actually get funding for good ones. Can also educate other communities about where they can go to access info.

A key point is more civics education is schools which encourages more discussion at home with kids and parents. Including how MMP works, have mock parliament. In Scotland the voting age is 16 for some elections and more convos are happening before youth leave home.

When gathering groups together to discuss issues, if somebody is paid the message is going to get back. Best people are not here talking, they’re working. How do we reach these people? Online doesn’t work for many.

People need to be able to see a pathway of how their feedback gets back to the top.

Take referendums, who actually decides? Citizens need to know their voice will be heard.

How do you identify good information from bad information?

Making submissions is not the purpose of active citizenship it may be the product of healthy active citizenship or a healthy government. People want to feel as though there is a clear purpose.

It would be good to get Wellington talking, holding sessions with a sample of the public.

Active Citizenship is increases wellbeing in communities, it is about building communities they want to live in and trying to change things that aren’t working. It’s not just about lobbying government but a wider expression of the health of a community, or not.

There are increasingly less places for people to come together. Mainstream churches have lost 40%, sports groups, music groups, common groups are winding down. Social media isn’t helping, isn’t the same as a real community with real friends. It’s unusual for people to sit around a table.

There are barriers to active citizenship. People have significant demands on them to survive. Rising costs and social expectations.

Citizen ethic is a cultural skill to grow, does not happen overnight. We’re losing the capacity to do it. A sense of greater community has decreased.

The gaze has shifted beyond national view to the states Europe etc. Many have lost connection with their local community.

Raukura – battles, conflict. Looking at people who had forgotten to garden together.

Ask young people what is your contribution to the common good which is anti-individual/consumeristic which requires a large cultural shift.

There is distrust and scepticism in local government and this feeds of people’s fear. Public pride has decreased. We still don’t have a great idea of why people distrust government, could do more research in that area. Has been some done by OECD.

There’s a distrust in government but also in scientific and media bodies, corporations.

There has been a societal shift with young people. They have been passionate about protests, women’s rights, black lives matter, cannabis conversation, disability etc. Youth have energy and its their future we’re playing with. We underestimate youth.

Need to provide safe environments that are inclusive and open. Allow access and a chance to be vocal.

We could have citizens assemblies. They go back to ancient Greek times and the sortition method. They have been successful in Scotland and Ireland. Randomly selected groups so the demographic is represented. Come and discuss issues. People are paid for their time and can build relationships.

Money is key, how well resourced is the process. There is a disconnect between aspiration and practicability for this vision. COVID showed what resourcing and money can do to achieve a result wit political powers invested. Need budget allocation for this work.

Use what worked in COVID. Multiple people to relay messages so its not so dictational. Use experts, consistent messages and a streamlines pathway for people to follow. Accessible language utilising tech, sign language, te reo Māori.

The 1980’s social and economic transformation, neoliberalism had effects like not being able to buy a house through the focus on individual financial future. Not being able to afford to live effects wellbeing and affects your capavity to do this. There is also a huge drop in how many people are members of political parties along with churches etc. People enagge with political parties they idenitfy with. Look to history too, NZ troops were more socialist while British troops were much more hierachical. The wellbeing of NZ troops were better, exposing a lot of scoial constructs. It’s important for New Zelaanders to have belonging, a feeling of identity – tūrangawaewae.

Part of our identity is looking beyond ourselves to determine what is our contributon to the common good, how am I taking care of what we commonly value. Need to spread word of good news to increase wellbeing. People protect what they care about. Ask people why they volunteer? A lot do to make the collective better.

Could do more reaerch on active citizenship and whether its dropping. Some NZ univeristies are looking at it. Putman in America has looked at a decrease in group singing groups – a decreases in group thinking.


Use the new code of conduct to reinforce the culture we want to see. Need to be employing the right people and that people are recruited for having the right values and principles that are in the act. Involve HR.

Public don’t know who to talk to in government agencies, who are we supposed to contact. You need a culture shift within government.

There are barriers to impacting policies. There is an old boys network regarding who you need to talk to or be connected to in order to have the right conversations to impact different sectors like health. Bring that barrier down.

We don’t usually see anyone except the Minister talking about topics, what about the experts. It’s hard to trawl through watered down information for the technical information. Increase transparent access to the experts who can explain info.

COVID was serendipitous in the way it changed our sense of belonging, We have a greater sense that we are a team of 5 million. As Ashley Bloomfield said the only appropriate use of power if to empower others.

We should have more ability to see what government is doing and challenge it like COVID. Daily press conferences available on a multitude of channels, some of this behaviour could be adapted for other issues.


We are going backward in terms of sifting through fake news to get reliable info. It’s getting worse and social media is pushing people into echo chambers. Now truth is non existent which I despair over in terms of the COVID vaccine.

The OIA can have some perverse outcomes. Staffers have avoided using their work phone or going through non tech channels so they cannot get OIA’d. If you’re not using an official channel or paper trail the recollection can get lost. People have tried to conceal government business.

Jaron Lanier – removal of algorithms, social network. What is happening with the algorthim charter for government? What are they and what is government using them for? Should be mandatory. Could notify public when algorithms are using their information.

Government uses Microsoft and data is held in Australia. Good to have information around this.

Could there be a website of New Zealand’s current agreements with involvement with countries around the world. MFAT?

RMA – its public consultation might be a step backwards, seems like some decisions have already been made. Some reforms are proposed. Show how it will affect a regular person. Should be an open and collaborative process.

Twitter – pop ups questioning validity of content, so you’re prompted to think about whether its fake news. There is an opportunity for other systems to take on learnings and the impact of it. Utilise new ways to regulate social media.

Remove some of the commercial imperative, bias of media like RNZ. Have a TVNZ channel where any organisation can send true information. Could subscribe it for genuine updates. Youtube could be better. Parliament TV could be used for other purposes.

Government could help media to help build trust. It needs to be a concerted effort between many. Could you use the Media Council and Kris Faafoi? Look at Voice of America funded by govt, multilingual unbiased.

Could have a New Zealand owned social media platform use digital identity to register for it.

If something happens it would be good to be able to search for information about it. Youtube clips etc. People want to know the original source, who was there, what happen. I want to go and see it so I can make up my own opinion. Centrally managed place, site or independent source.

Could have MPs have armchair sessions talking about cabinet papers etc.

Review of vocational education – where did that initiate? Affects a huge amount of people, farmers, doctors etc. Lack of visibility and transparency in these big changes.

It would be good to have a dashboard of political commitments that are tracked through from election promise to action.

We sign over all of our data. Commercial sensitivity to protect what’s done with procurement is almost an excuse. And in regard to official information.

Explain why or why don’t things get implemented. Explain our position on cameras on boats, bodycams, 1080, surveillance. Show weighing up of threatening privacy and freedom.