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Community Engagement Charter

A number of new Tauranga city candidates Erika Harvey, Andrew Hollis, Heidi Hughes, Dawn Kiddie, Tina Salisbury, A.j. Tuhoro and current Kelvin Clout have chosen to initiate a change to Council’s engagement with our community ahead of the elections this year. They have shared with all other candidates in a spirit of collaboration and not competition so this change would benefit our community and our City Council who is elected.

Tauranga City Council has not done well historically at identifying and engaging our communities and we all know this needs to change for effective governance and successful planning for our city. Our communities are filled with wisdom and have a much clearer idea of what is needed in their communities that the elected members do. We can do so much more together as a city of people engaged and invested in our city’s future.

Why are we doing this?
To initiate a commitment from our City Council to approach community engagement and community partnership in a more effective and beneficial way for all.

It is an invitation to commit together to find a new way forward right off the back of the election, regardless of who is elected.

This is not a self serving agenda. The group of candidates who are presenting this initiative did not all know each other before this election season began. Each of us are standing for Council because of our love for the City and the people who live here. So rather than use it for our own gain to get elected, we decided to open it up to all standing candidates to participate in. This is an initiative for the benefit of our city no matter who is elected.

What are our hopes for making this charter public?
For two reasons: Firstly, to let the public know we are committed to change the culture and practice of our City Council around authentic community engagement, therefore benefitting our city and those who live, work and play here. Secondly, it will hold accountable those who agree to it, to actually follow through with action after the election.

Those who have chosen not to put their names to it, are not necessarily against it in principle. Some of them simply needed more information before deciding and our deadline was tight to get it out before voting begins. Those against it, well, their words will speak for themselves.

We did not want this to be simply a good idea that is bought into for electioneering and then become just another empty promise afterwards. This gives the public a little more assurance that we mean what we say, even if we are not the ones elected, there is an initiative started, and committed to publicly pre-election, to make a difference post election for all of our benefit.

Practically, it works. It produces great returns for the community and City Council. Increases engagement from residents and more trust in the City Council, it increases buy-in from the community and partnership in decision making. Authentic community engagement reduces costs and delays in poorly planned projects and expensive consultants, our city is full of wisdom and skill.

We all know that council haven’t done this well, although may have been some desire to do so. All of the current re-standing Councillors have said they agree to this Community Engagement Charter which begs the questions, why haven’t they initiated it before now? The fact is only some of us may be elected and will be in a position to bring this powerful change to the way council functions going forward, but all of us have influence in the city and we all want to create positive change.

What it is: A commitment to move forward collaboratively, with our diverse community, to find a new way of partnering in decision making, projects and plans for our city, based on models that are working in City Councils around the world today.

What it isn’t: There is nothing set in stone about ‘how’ this will take place. That is for those elected to determine, with the community, after the election. For a change to happen, it requires a commitment to a culture change and a process change, that involves more voices than just those standing for election, and they need to all be at the table to make those decisions together.

We wanted to start the conversation and present it in a way that it has more traction than merely an election promise to get votes, each of us want to change the culture of our City Council around authentic, empowering, community engagement and the best way is together.

Those who have signed their name to the Community Engagement Charter are:

Kelvin Clout, Erika Harvey, Andrew Hollis, Heidi Hughes, Dawn Kiddie, Tina Salisbury, & A.j. Tuhoro, Larry Baldock, Jako Abrie, Greg Brownless, Danny Cancian, Rick Curach, Matthew Gill, Bill Grainger, Peter Gregson, Deborah Johnston, Anna Larsen, Terry Molloy, Max Mason, Steve Morris, Suzi Paige, Rob Poad, Barry Pollett, John Robson, Josh Te Kani


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