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400 Waikato people prioritise ten vital areas for community

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE from: Momentum Waikato Community Foundation, NIDEA University of Waikato, NAR Foundation, Trust Waikato, WEL Energy Trust, Waikato Tainui, D.V. Bryant Trust, and Ngati Haua Iwi Trust.

29 August 2016

400 Waikato people prioritise ten vital areas of community hopes and opportunities

Over 400 Waikato residents came together during May to discuss their most important community priorities and the things they love most about living in Hamilton city, Waikato and Matamata-Piako districts.

Top ten priorities for action were identified through a process of four open town-hall style brainstorming sessions and four invitation-only sessions with youth and Iwi Maaori.

The objective of these sessions was for people in the community to name what they believe are the most vital areas of community need and opportunity.

From the top ten, the top three priorities for action were:

1. Working together to improve community connectedness

2. Developing better education and pathways for youth

3. Solving problems with affordability, availability and quality of housing

And the one thing the 400 participants most loved about the Waikato was its diversity.

Identifying the community priorities was achieved through a project called Waikato Vital Signs, led by Momentum Waikato Community Foundation in partnership with six Waikato philanthropic trusts - D.V. Bryant Trust, NAR Foundation, Ngati Haua Iwi Trust, Trust Waikato, WEL Energy Trust, and Waikato-Tainui - along with the National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis (NIDEA), University of Waikato.

“We’ve completed the formidable task of collating feedback from the community brainstorming sessions, and over the next seven weeks we will gift this information back to our community.

“We want Waikato people to talk about this at the BBQ, the beach, the board table and the breakfast table,” said Cheryl Reynolds Momentum Waikato Chief Executive.

Momentum Waikato is part of an international network of community foundations through which the team has met President of Community Foundations of Canada Ian Bird. He has seen how other community foundations around the world have implemented similar Vital Signs projects. Mr Bird said the Waikato community is taking Vital Signs one step further, achieving a world-first.

”Waikato Vital Signs has engaged people in a thoughtful, inclusive process to better understand the priorities of the community and respond in a way that will have a truly lasting impact.

“The kind of response and participation we’ve seen in Waikato Vital Signs has set a positive benchmark for other community foundations around the world.” Reynolds said one of the objectives of the Waikato Vital Signs project is to enable Waikato people and organisations to focus their energy and their giving into projects deemed most important by local people.

“At Momentum Waikato, the community feedback we’ve gained will help us maximise our donors’ impacts by targeting community investments towards transformational change.” “Being part of this innovative, pioneering project is something local people can be really proud has happened in our community. We are in a waka together, doing something we’ve never done before – it’s both incredibly exciting and very humbling,” she said.

Momentum Waikato and its partners will release the report as easy-to-understand infographic panels each week until mid-October, when the full report will be available.

People can follow the release of this information on the Momentum Waikato website, and through local media and social media channels.

Waikato Vital Signs Partners comments: Ngati Haua Iwi Trust General Manager, Lisa Gardiner: In response to the top two priorities identified by the community, Ngati Haua Iwi Trust General Manager, Lisa Gardiner, confirmed that “education and community connectedness were in line with some of the top priorities for the Trust.” D.V. Bryant CEO, Lindsay Cumberpatch: He said it was no surprise to the Trust that access to social and affordable housing emerged as the third highest priority for action. “Safe, secure, and affordable housing is a key to individual, family/whanau and community wellbeing. We’re very keen to work with other partners in exploring possibilities for co-funding the building of additional social and affordable housing stock in our region,” he said.

Trust Waikato Chief Executive Dennis Turton: He said he believes the outcomes from the Waikato Vital Signs project will assist the region’s philanthropic trusts in gaining a fuller understanding of what the pilot communities want funded. “Trust Waikato recognises the value in listening to communities about the issues they face. By continuing to work collaboratively and strategically with other funders in the region, much can be achieved together,” said Dennis Turton.

Dr John Ryks, Director of NIDEA, University of Waikato: He said, “The Vital Signs approach has provided an innovative way of bringing together statistical information about the Waikato population across cultural, social, economic and environmental domains, with the views and experiences of the wider community.”

Attached - posters: 1_WVS_Your_Report.pdf

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