A strong, thriving, collaborative community sector is essential to enable, support and sustain community wellbeing and resilience in Nelson Tasman. While there are many effective community groups and organisations in our region, many are small, with limited capacity to do more than their core business. There is no overarching regional community entity resourced to support strategic sector collaboration, capability building and influencing. This gap hinders the community sector’s ability to collectively progress key issues & opportunities for greater impact and means our voice in regional planning and decision making often goes unheard.
But we can change this. There appears strong support for the creation of a new regional community entity of some sort. In the recent Te Tauihu community sector survey, 72% of respondents indicated their support for a new entity with a focus on networking, strategic direction, training and fundraising support. This builds on earlier research undertaken by a Community Coalition Leadership Group 2020-2021 which looked at the feasibility of a new community agency for Te Tauihu.
There are opportunities for a bicultural approach to the development and operation of this new entity, working in ways that honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi, further iwi priorities, and support Te Tauihu Intergenerational Strategy aspirations. Early and ongoing engagement with iwi and Māori organisations will explore if and how a regional community sector entity could support and be guided by Māori-led voice, leadership and outcomes.
There are also many great regional community agency models in other parts of Aotearoa we can learn from as we look to develop our own. Take a look at what SociaLink does in the Western Bay of Plenty and the mahi Community Waikato leads.
So what might a new regional community agency do?
Discussions to date have identified a number of potential roles that a new agency could or should be involved in. These are summarised below:
- Organisational effectiveness and efficiency – providing shared backroom functions and services such as HR, governance, health and safety, policy and funding application support, financial admin, fund holding and accountability reporting, to enable smaller groups, initiatives and organisations to focus on ‘doing’ their mahi in community.
- Sector networking, training, and sector development – convening and supporting key sector networks, forums and hui as needed, developing and facilitating a sector-led programme of training and support, generating/providing information, research and insights pertinent to the sector, providing an ‘umbrella’ for new or emerging groups and initiatives.
- Strategic voice and advocacy – convening and communicating sector voices and perspectives, enabling community representation on key regional inter-sector bodies and working groups.
Here are the documents for the feasibility study by Development Mechanics completed in March 2021.
Executive summary A feasibility study for a community agency for Te Tau Ihu