The state of our communities

Ronji Tanielu, Alan Johnson
Salvation Army
Publication date:
Local boards:

Linwood | Papakura | Porirua

This is an interesting time in our nation’s history. After nine years we have a new government full of promises, new ideas and zeal. Yet some of the social issues we face in Aotearoa are deeply entrenched, complex and severe. In this flurry of activity and action, it could be easy to miss some details, to possibly forget certain things. We at The Salvation Army are acutely aware of this risk, and that is one of the reasons why we have prepared this State of Our Communities report.

This report is a ‘snapshot in time’ of three local communities in Aotearoa New Zealand: Linwood (Christchurch), Papakura (South Auckland), and Porirua (Wellington). Over the past two months we have undertaken over 300 face-to-face qualitative interviews in these communities, completed eight in-depth qualitative interviews with key individuals from these communities, and compiled a set of relevant social progress statistics and indicators. We have undertaken this project to capture the experiences and aspirations of people living in these communities. We submit that recording and researching these social realities is important because the issues in these communities are symptomatic of the social issues and realities facing many families and communities around Aotearoa New Zealand. We believe that these three communities give us valuable insights into what is also going on in the rest of the country.

Key themes emerged that expressed these communities: the environment, housing, crime and safety, community resilience, changing perceptions and how others viewed their community. Subsequently, four overarching themes became very evident: the local economy (jobs and businesses), housing, crime and safety, and children and youth.

These meta-themes tell the narrative of what is happening in our communities. People held a pride and passion for their community. But they were also realistic and brutally honest about the enormity of the social issues facing their community. Although some of the issues were their own doing, most were due to pressures outside of their control. In all three communities, people wanted more jobs, particularly for their young people. They want more businesses and revitalisation in their public spaces and shopping areas. Our people are facing massive housing challenges, especially high rents, unfit social housing and high house prices. According to the locals, these housing-related issues have led to more problems involving disengaged youth and other antisocial behaviours. The people were particularly concerned about gangs, drugs and begging in their communities.

But the people had real hopes, dreams and aspirations for themselves and their communities. They wanted all people to be decently housed, and they wanted better outcomes and facilities for their children, young people and elderly. They wanted safer communities, and hoped that their youth would be more engaged in positive activities and get jobs. They want the young and old to mix, and all people to have enough and to be free of intimidation, inequality and poverty.

Therefore, we present this State of Our Communities 2017 report to our government and local communities. We hope it is informative and challenging, and that it honours the experiences, aspirations and voices of the people of these three vibrant communities.

See also:

The summary report: The state of our communities. Summary 

Salvation Army

Last updated: 2017-12-06