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Council leading the way in community engagement


Wairoa District Council has received national recognition for its educational approach to community engagement.


The Council was commended for its focus on education as part of its Long-Term Plan Levels of Service pre-engagement with its approach, design and development upheld as a Taituara (Local Government Professionals Aotearoa) model of best practise for community engagement.


The commendation was given at the Taituara awards ceremony earlier this month with the Council praised for its district-wide programme of work and selected to make a presentation at a local government conference later in the year.


Council’s pre-engagement approach was designed by Group Manager of Information and Customer Experience Kimberley Tuapawa, whose vision was tomix up the way Council interacts with the community enabling people to have meaningful input into the 10-year vision.

“As part of our pre-engagement strategy we developed an interactive budgeting tool so people could look at where Council currently spends its money, and how, by changing where the dollars are spent, that can affect the services we deliver.

“This tool enabled people to look at the whole picture. There are certain set costs we can’t avoid, and we wanted people to understand the broad range of services Council provides and the costs of big-ticket items like transport, three waters, compliance and leadership/governance.

“The interactive tool, which was available online and in hardcopy, provided us with well-informed meaningful information that enabled people to tell us where their priorities were.

Taituara Chief Advisor Raymond Horan said there were aspects of the entry that resonated with the panel. 


“Judges felt there was a far stronger higher education element in Wairoa’s entry than in others we’ve seen this year and in previous years. The careful evidence-base design that drew on the principles of higher learning stood out for us and were fundamental to the success of the programme.”   


Dr Tuapawa said Council’s goal was to present information in an effective way to educate and engage the community.


“We applied what we know works to a new type of classroom. Instead of a lecture theatre, we have a district.


“The transformative ‘educate then engage’ approach was the aim in achieving meaningful community participation to Council’s Long-Term Plan pre-engagement on Levels of Service. The challenge was to build our community’s knowledge to enable people to contribute effectively.


“The approach was grounded by a range of adult learning theories that were clear and people were able to make sense of it and fit in with what they already knew.


“From the concept development to content design, from resource build to engagement and delivery, the aim was to ensure our people were supported to build their knowledge and engage successfully.


“We all benefit when Council’s decision-making is based on informed community feedback. So, we aimed to deliver content in a way that ensured our people understood what we were saying.”


Wairoa Mayor Craig little said it is great to see Wairoa District Council being recognised for innovation and high standards.


“We recognise community engagement is vital and for Wairoa to be acknowledged as leading the way at a national level is tremendous.


“Well done to Kimberley and her team for stepping outside the box to ensure our engagement was as meaningful as possible.”


Feedback from the pre-engagement phase was then fed into the 2021-31 Long-Term Plan Consultation Document which Council is currently consulting on.


24 May 2021

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