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OGP ideas from Christchurch Community House session 23 March 2021

Active citizenship and partnership

People need good “crap detectors” to spot misinformation – education needed

Issue with the media focus on reporters as celebrities and the overall adversarial tone. What replaces the fourth estate as it is? Media should not be leading govt.

Algorithms muddy the water on social media. People think they are in solidarity with people and that they’re on the right track. How do you educate people about algorithms. Or can we enforce social media to use them less. It’s a blatant misuse of the digital world where you are the product on social media. Must be talked about in terms of hate speech too.

Third sector are under resourced to utilise social media.

Volunteering Canterbury is looking at behaviours over a 10 year period. If 8 year olds get involved in the community early on, what are the effects on voting later on.

Community house model works to help community find things or help them out practically like the photo copier. Great potential to get bang for buck.

Support these houses for third sector. All people get audited by charities commission at same time. MP says we’re being supported by DIA but there’s a lack of collaboration between third sector organisations. There should be an umbrella look and trampoline model instead for conversations.

Participation can be driven by identifying and harnessing passion – these are more likely to lead people (especially rangatahi) getting involved in third sector organisations. Bring this into the educational process to empower the sector

ACE (adult and community education) can help with this – has been misunderstood and become political football, but is a way to support new passions in adult community (i.e. capture those who have left school with some gaps)

Value in thinking about what’s happening in schools in parallel with ACE.

Sustainable Ōtautahi Christchurch have the POD Project which promotes civics education inside and out of formal education. Acting as an interface between third sector in civil society and young people. The third sector groups work on some many different things, most young people can find a passion project within these offerings. Some young people are trying to save the world and facing burnout and others need to be to get passionate about which can be the source of active citizneship. Can’t undersetimate moving towards empowerment.

Why do people not vote? Answer that. Nothing happens. Need to get people who are on the fence.

There are algorithms around “I won’t vote”.

Young person need to be taught it’s okay not to copy their parents political preferences. These conversations don’t go on in every home.

School strike for climate is a good example to use as strength together not by themselves.

Agenda 21 – Rio Summit Sustainable Cities Trust

Electoral commission isn’t pitching at the right audience. Young people are getting the mess we will leave behind. Find right messenger, communicate that way they actually talk.

Set up a register for groups who can partner with young people so they feel like they’re making a difference, helpful for kids who don’t know where to start.

Theres some problems with the term – it’s an individual term based on a citizen model and westminster system.

Third sector has an opportunity to work together as a network to make change.

Can govt create a cooperative space for third sector to allow independent voices.

Remove the public service “filter” – let decision-makers hear the unfiltered voice of the community.

Careful how active citizenship is framed up – aim to get consensus rather than outright numbers – “majoritarianism”. It’s an individual term from the Westminster voting system.

Teach concept of solidarity (Myles Horton) versus individualism, kids are not learning about it. Example of many small trusts created to address single issue rather than as means of making change in multiple spheres.

Research links between volunteering at an early age and later voting frequency

Opportunity to influence - for example enable/encourage/resource remote select committee appearances.

The Commission for the Future in the late 70s-early 80s were talking about some of these concepts back then – we are not starting from scratch.

There have been past examples of Community Forums in Christchurch by Gerry Brownlee except nothing happen from all the great discussions. The Commission for the future is another example which was a melting pot for decisions. These are still relevant today.

Where does the responsibility for calling out fake news lie. There is a fear for our own democracy if untruths are allowed to rumble on.

Resource based ability. People are so stretched with head down thinking that there’s no breathing space to think differently.

Workshops that ask what do you care about have been powerful. Individual question but many of the stories are shareable in wider world and it’s easy to come up with a common list between a group of people as answers share the same essence. There is something in here for government to explore, the collective agenda or exploring us-ness. With those similarities there is also an appreciation for the diversity in the room. Related to citizen assemblies.

Horticultural hall rebuild, many didn’t have access to attend. There needs to be interpreters and accessible spaces for citizen assemblies if they occur. An atmosphere of mutual respect. Have to be part of the fabric and frequent, people need to see their voice being listened to and improvement happening to keep momentum.

Democracy is deeper then 3 year cycles about decision making and empowering people.


Take principle of “nothing about us without us” used in disability sector and apply more widely – an organised voice for lived experience

Really important to educate people to think bigger than just themselves, more than empathetic but really trying to think about how it is to stand in someone else’s shoes.

Build collective awareness or peoples’ agendas and commonly held priorities – what creates the “us-ness” of a community.

Beware of “professional voices” with vested interests

Better relationship between local and central govt

Migrant communities value self-determination and the ability to positively integrate

Appreciate diversity

Adopt subsidiarity practices – devolve decision making where you can to reinvigorate local democracy (Mike Reid wrote about this in the New Zealand context)

Look at the example of citizen’s assembly in North Canterbury on climate change

Central govt should support the third sector – duplication of back office functions and audit expectations are a burden that could be centrally addressed to support the continuity of citizens’ groups

Third sector can get lost in the fog of multiple rapid consultations. Pace your consultations and coordinate them across govt. A timetable would be better, the short time seems deliberate.

Be genuine and transparent in your consultation process

Value place based perspectives

Funding models create resource constraints means community organisations can’t “look up” from survival and their BAU to see new opportunities to work together – with other third sector organisations or government organisations

How do you measure the values of the Public Service Act? It needs something to be measured against and to be reflected to the general public.

You shouldn’t have to go to Wellington to participate in any Select Committee. We the people should be easily accessing them from wherever. 

Public submissions go through a filter of bureaucracy, summarising what you put through. You don’t get to check if you’re properly represented. You should have the right to reply to a summary.

Consultation is just a con from neoliberal period. It’s often a tactic to draw people in, always too much information, closes too quickly, feedback ignored and box ticked. It’s hard to come back to public and say trust us.

Responsiveness can only happen if we move on from governance split framework. Elected officials appoint CEO and officials talk through CEO to staff. The approach to decision making used to be more transparent. Managerialism needs to be examined.

Transparency and accountability

Follow good literacy and accessibility rule

Managerialism from 1980s reforms have helped drive lack of transparency – needs to be clearer split between governance and management

Overreliance by ministers on “operational matters” – barrier to openness

The purpose of the government is set in parliament (speech from the throne) – transparency re the direction of travel, and if you change your mind, say why

Where is the evidence of success? You have to ask to find

Community House model and similar for finding and sharing information and helping to support communities

Build on transparency and set expectations

Local government piece needs to be worked on. Why can’t information be handed over the counter.

Civil servants should be giving all advice to Ministers, their own agendas as well.

Christchurch council purposefully withheld information from Ministers. The Ombudsman report was scathing but there are still staff members there acting in the same way. Need openness.

What is hidden behind the commercial sensitivity reason?

If a department is swamped is that a pointer that things aren’t being done early enough? Is resourcing appropriate.

OIA – people have to resort to the Chief Archivist to see where documents ended up when you are kept from information.

When heads of agencies are appointed some do not make sense, meet standards or the public don’t know about changes. The public should be able to say that person appointed doesn’t meet the requirements or match the role in regards to their skill set.

Government needs an actual purpose to be accountable for. We don’t have a constitution. Look at Matike Mai Aotearoa’s work the working group of constitutional transformation. Iwi leaders forum and consultation. There are interesting questions here for Crown and Māori.

The Speech from the throne in 2017 had a very clear purpose of the government. Part of this work is to address what that purpose is. Manaakitanga, Katiakitanga, whanaungatanga was mentioned, what is that in practice. Something missing from this open government conversation is what direction are we going in as a country? Some people are interested and some are fearful. People need a sense of where we are going. This work needs to be tied into long term insights breifing.

Government can change its mind if it says why it needs to.

Media – traditionally held government to account, now much more into own celebrity and confrontation. Interviews like Jack Tame interviewing UN secretary general are too extreme, political with a barrage of questions.

Media are not for the state they are more trying to find scandal. Need to train journalists better or TV3 will turn into Fox. Hard to find good reporting.

Government needs to be able to tell the public what has gone wrong or whats happening without being attacked. Need to develop a code with the media with values that are kept to. Need manner and respect, let people speak and be gracious. We will have to call out bad media like we’re asked to call out bullying in the community. Use the broadcasting complaints better.

Need to go where the public is and be mindful of what the public wants. Media is driven by what they think we want to hear. Is the media comfortable with setting the agenda, there was some corrupt journalism in the lead up to the last election.

Government dished out money for COVID, we need follow up to see what’s been successful. Analysis by IR on who got the subsidy. In terms of policy, what worked and why, measure it.

Government websites are structures in an opaque, camouflaged way. Make key terms easier to search for, [see Christchurch City Council website].