Tackling poverty with local answers

Workshop on August 31 is open to everyone.

Workshop on August 31 is open to everyone.

GUEST SPEAKER: Dr Carwyn Jones will be among the speakers and presenters at the Tackling Poverty NZ workshop in Gisborne on August 31. A senior law lecturer at Victoria University, Dr Jones’ research interests are in the Treaty of Waitangi and indigenous legal traditions. Picture by VUW Image Services

A WORKSHOP looking to tackle poverty from a grassroots level rolls into Gisborne at the end of August, and everyone is encouraged to attend.

Tackling Poverty NZ is a one-day workshop tour which brings the community together to identify causes of and solutions to poverty.

Participants will hear national perspectives on poverty from Treasury New Zealand’s chief economist Dr Girol Karacaoglu and Victoria University senior law lecturer Dr Carwyn Jones, and local perspectives from Virginia Brind of Hauora Tairawhiti, Manu Caddie of Hikurangi Enterprises, and Leighton Evans of Eastland Community Trust.

Dr Jones has links to Wairoa, being of Ngati Kahungunu and Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki descent, and has worked with them on their recent Treaty claim.

“There are real issues in the region. There are opportunities and services people have in other parts of the country they just don’t have in the smaller regions. It makes life really hard for people there.”

His talk will address opportunities that can come out of Treaty settlements.

“Not suggesting there will be overnight change, but there are opportunities to transform economies and engage with government and social services delivery, trying to ensure they are not neglected.”

Mr Caddie says it is a good opportunity for Tairawhiti to come up with its own solutions, rather than looking to central government.

“We have the answers right here. We just need opportunities like this to come together and make plans as communities, come up with our own measures of what it means to have a good life here.

“We need to protect what we have and acknowledge income levels are less important than health and wellbeing now and into the future, creating a region where everyone has the same opportunities to live a healthy, fulfilling life that rebuilds our biodiversity to leave the environment better than we found it.”

Many causes of poverty

Gisborne District Council strategic planning and policy manager David Wilson says there is a range of causes of poverty in the region.

“We know the district has some of the lowest income and education levels, and highest unemployment in the country.

“The purpose of the workshop is to find out what problems and issues the community see as being important for us specifically.

“Is it lack of education? Lack of transport? Then look at how we as a region can tackle them and what role council can play.”

The McGuinness Institute, which is behind the workshop tour, undertook a three-day workshop in December last year with Treasury to explore ways to reduce poverty in New Zealand.

McGuinness Institute chief executive Wendy McGuinness says younger participants encouraged them to take the model to the regions.

“They convinced us we needed a national conversation with local solutions.”

So far they have run workshops in Queenstown and Manawatu, with another this week in Rotorua and two more in Northland in September.

There have been great turnouts so far she says, with 60 people turning up in Manawatu and 70 already registered for Rotorua’s workshop.

“Not often are such a broad range of skills and experiences brought together to nut out a policy.”

They are interested in a “bottom-up approach” and trying new ways to address complex problems.

“It is about people taking back control and training up communities — a catalyst for making things happen.”

They chose areas that were more “challenged”.

“Local communities that are very integrated and small enough that they can be proactive. It is a strength in small towns. There is this innovation you get in small places and not in cities.

“We are very hopeful they will come up with something great in Gisborne.”

Mayor Meng Foon will open the Gisborne workshop, which will feature presentations throughout the morning. Afternoon discussions will focus on challenges and opportunities facing the local community.

Participants will then present their proposals for local solutions at a public event that night. Those ideas will be made into a discussion paper.

A WORKSHOP looking to tackle poverty from a grassroots level rolls into Gisborne at the end of August, and everyone is encouraged to attend.

Tackling Poverty NZ is a one-day workshop tour which brings the community together to identify causes of and solutions to poverty.

Participants will hear national perspectives on poverty from Treasury New Zealand’s chief economist Dr Girol Karacaoglu and Victoria University senior law lecturer Dr Carwyn Jones, and local perspectives from Virginia Brind of Hauora Tairawhiti, Manu Caddie of Hikurangi Enterprises, and Leighton Evans of Eastland Community Trust.

Dr Jones has links to Wairoa, being of Ngati Kahungunu and Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki descent, and has worked with them on their recent Treaty claim.

“There are real issues in the region. There are opportunities and services people have in other parts of the country they just don’t have in the smaller regions. It makes life really hard for people there.”

His talk will address opportunities that can come out of Treaty settlements.

“Not suggesting there will be overnight change, but there are opportunities to transform economies and engage with government and social services delivery, trying to ensure they are not neglected.”

Mr Caddie says it is a good opportunity for Tairawhiti to come up with its own solutions, rather than looking to central government.

“We have the answers right here. We just need opportunities like this to come together and make plans as communities, come up with our own measures of what it means to have a good life here.

“We need to protect what we have and acknowledge income levels are less important than health and wellbeing now and into the future, creating a region where everyone has the same opportunities to live a healthy, fulfilling life that rebuilds our biodiversity to leave the environment better than we found it.”

Many causes of poverty

Gisborne District Council strategic planning and policy manager David Wilson says there is a range of causes of poverty in the region.

“We know the district has some of the lowest income and education levels, and highest unemployment in the country.

“The purpose of the workshop is to find out what problems and issues the community see as being important for us specifically.

“Is it lack of education? Lack of transport? Then look at how we as a region can tackle them and what role council can play.”

The McGuinness Institute, which is behind the workshop tour, undertook a three-day workshop in December last year with Treasury to explore ways to reduce poverty in New Zealand.

McGuinness Institute chief executive Wendy McGuinness says younger participants encouraged them to take the model to the regions.

“They convinced us we needed a national conversation with local solutions.”

So far they have run workshops in Queenstown and Manawatu, with another this week in Rotorua and two more in Northland in September.

There have been great turnouts so far she says, with 60 people turning up in Manawatu and 70 already registered for Rotorua’s workshop.

“Not often are such a broad range of skills and experiences brought together to nut out a policy.”

They are interested in a “bottom-up approach” and trying new ways to address complex problems.

“It is about people taking back control and training up communities — a catalyst for making things happen.”

They chose areas that were more “challenged”.

“Local communities that are very integrated and small enough that they can be proactive. It is a strength in small towns. There is this innovation you get in small places and not in cities.

“We are very hopeful they will come up with something great in Gisborne.”

Mayor Meng Foon will open the Gisborne workshop, which will feature presentations throughout the morning. Afternoon discussions will focus on challenges and opportunities facing the local community.

Participants will then present their proposals for local solutions at a public event that night. Those ideas will be made into a discussion paper.

The Tackling Poverty NZ workshop will take place on Wednesday, August 31, at Waikanae Surf Life Saving Club from 9.30am to 5pm. There will be a public presentation by the participants from 6pm to 7.30pm, followed by refreshments.

If you're interested in attending either the workshop or the public presentation, register at www.tacklingpovertynz.org

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