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OGP ideas from Dunedin Community House 25 March 2021

Active citizenship and partnership 

If a city becomes a refugee resettlement city there must be interpreters available, for example they were needed for Afghan former refugees being resettled in Dunedin.

  • Refugees have 6 weeks to learn about what and where they’re coming to. They need to engage with own community in new place but you don’t want segregated ghettos. Need inclusive engagement. Ask the people what they need, for example the former refugees in Mosgiel.

General public don’t know councillors, not using platforms enough.

Being an active citizen needs to be accessible.

People will turn out if they’re grumpy or they won’t engage.

People will disagree and say they don’t understand a mayor, not knowing the 15 people who contributed to that decision.   

Presence in school, early on, of election process etc.


There is a lack of key stakeholder engagement prior to legislative change.

Government departments are not talking to each other, need to be more joined up.

Hard to engage if typically they don’t get anywhere, nothing happens or they find it scary. Even if someone says thank you for the feedback. This is the case at all levels.

There is a difference between communications v engagement v effective engagement. This is affected by resourcing constraints or short time frames. For example 1 month to do engagement v effective engagement taking as long as it takes to figure the issue out.

Need to break down what’s happening for average member of public in the city, have different levels of explanations.

Use community leaders effectively to engage the public.

There have been community initiatives to engage with councillors in a casual setting like over tea at a café but the interest dies down after starting strong, how do you sustain it.

Young people – need engagement all the way through, they’re the next cohort coming through.

Could be engaging more with school councils or school boards.

Govt representatives going to talk to the Otago University Political Studies group about real social/housing issues, like family violence and hoarding, facing New Zealanders and what government does was effective. Need more of these interactions.

The Ignite model ( has been really effective, joining up university students with non profits and community organisations. Both the students and the organisations get huge value out of it.

Even if you try and engage with the community properly in their place it can be really hard. A lot of people are generally suspicious and there needs to be an increase in trust.

Also need to acknowledge public servants getting proper training. With a new government and a wellbeing approach changes some jobs from just landlord to working on wellbeing too. Requires a culture shift.

  • Potentially use link workers in between. Social prescribing.

The process of NGOs applying for money could be improved. A lot is based on who you know. Even if a group was prepared to fund an initiative they may not be connected without those personal relationships. It’s similar if you need to talk to someone in local government.

We need more joint up government agency work. Healthy Homes initiative with MOH, MSD, EECA, Kāinga Ora and MBIE.  was a great example of amazing outcomes for New Zealanders when different agencies came together to work on these complex issues.

Warm belly, warm house, affects education. Support people at a basic level so they can be bothered engaging. If parents get adequate support they role model for their children.

The answers are at ground level.

Take the RMA, worried that the scope is too narrow without a proper cost benefit analysis, not recognising linkages.

Support community led initiatives that provide everyday service without stigma. They are good at fostering personal connections.

It’s hard for the public to find who to talk to about something in local and central government. How do you find the right person?

Swaps with people from front line and management would be great or swaps with people in other government organisations so people can gain understanding and potentially do their job better.

A good example of getting news of whats happening and what to engage in is the Dunedin City Council’s He Pānui Pāpori, a free newsletter every 2 weeks.

Community advisors are crucial. Need to be properly funded. Or roles similar like a community networker that used to work in the Community House. Spent their day calling up, figuring out peoples needs and connecting groups/people to resources.

 A good example is asking the community, no rules or barriers, what do you want to see?

People want to know how info kept about them is being used.

Councils, local, central government should be using workshops more, less debate if people are well informed.  

Urgent consultation then hears from tactical political groups and not everyone.

For Cabinet decisions, incorporate workshops and debate openly.

Access radio does a good segment called round the boards where they talk to Community Board representatives weekly (about the topics of the day find out how you can have your say, and profile the people who are making a difference in their communities) – from the website

Need to have appropriate languages and sign language interpreters when communicating things to the public. There are a lot of language or ability barriers that stop people engaging.

Good to see more Pasifika voices coming through but we need more.

Information we get doesn’t go to the right place, always pale male stale.

Take National Radio which reaches a lot of people but very English. We need to get more important community, government messages out on the ethnic radio channels to people who need the information.

Look at the rural community too, we know from personal experience, farms are extremely busy, you need to try and go to their place or meet them half way and use their language.

Government needs to build more trust and foster more 1 on 1 relationships with representatives. With the RMA there is a lot of uncertainty. Older farmers don’t think government is on the same side.

Field days are an opportunity to go, network with so many, even just an hour. How can you justify not going.

Be intentional about it. Have an advocate sharing good stuff. Government needs to be more intentional about what they say and how they say it and the timing of it.

Hark back to superannuation. Need politicians thinking past 3 years.

At a local level anything can just get done. If you have community leaders who persuade people to get together and build the community up.

For government submissions, need a better platform. Where you can look at other submissions, like and comment, rank top 5. You can see if someone’s done yours or be inspired.

Do something sensible and something easy for something like RMA submissions. It isn’t okay to have to write something for days.

The Dunedin City Council 10 year plan consultation document is a good example of communications for the public. A4, people actually liked it. Plain English, accessible to anyone you find on the street.

Customers of the council feels very removed. You need to link it to peoples daily lives. People are residents because many are paying rent, they’re not ratepayers. Make language accessible to everyone.

Do not forget those who are digitally excluded. Many rural residents still don’t have a decent internet connection to participate.

Intergenerational solutions are needed. Gather people together. Food is key. Help people in the community help their people.

Move away from blame culture. Allow trials of stuff to happen like safe at schools. Push back on inaccuracies in a reasoned way. Hammering at an issue and being adversarial is a kiwi trait.

Economic and social initiatives need to be joined up.

Living standards framework is very high level. What does it mean to you in Dunedin? Had to figure out  what that looks like. Need more assistance here from the treasury.

OGP plan should be published in multiple languages.


Make a platform with easy to understand information. Make it clear for people to understand what has been done with their feedback.

Utilise Parliament TV more.

Central government is to scared of being truthful because of that and the politics. We need more of a cross party approach. More maturity needed to work together for the good of the country. Start getting more cross party agreements. Put political bullshit aside. Invest in long term things.

Need to fight the bias towards click bait. Our headlines are awful. Can the government communications departments be working with the media differently to help? Need people to bridge the gaps.

If you read the Otage Daily Times and TV1 News they are completely different stories. It’s really hard for the public when they’re relying on that as their information. Or you have social media where people put on whatever they like. Can central government agencies have more control in this space?

When the media are so aggressive it makes it hard for agencies to keep that social capital and be innovative. There’s only focus on mistakes, which happen sometimes or one side of the story, there’s little celebration of the good stuff. It’s simple stuff like how your word a headline especially when there are vulnerable members of the public involved in the story.